But it is also important in a broader context. Walton is joining a significant list of national players who in one way or another have entered the Milwaukee scene and then departed or reduced their interest.
I came, I got involved, I got frustrated, I didn’t see much change, I moved on. That has been the summary of a parade of those who have found Milwaukee a difficult environment for change.
And there are others (the large and impressive KIPP network of charter schools comes to my mind first) that have declined even to try Milwaukee for similar reasons.
Fifteen years ago, Milwaukee was called by some “ground zero” for school reform. Now, you rarely see national attention to Milwaukee education, at least not for positive reasons. The Walton decision underscores that.
It’s a curious thing, since you would think the current political dynamics in state government would make this a time for enthusiasm among private school choice, charter schools and innovations in the structure of urban education. In some ways that’s true, but in surprising ways, it is not.
In short, I’d attribute this to the entrenched nature of the way we do things, the continuing strength of those opposed to the things Walton favors and missteps by those who favor what Walton favors.
Milwaukee was among a handful of cities targeted in recent years by Walton. Walton had a fairly short list of Milwaukee grants, but they were generally large — frequently in the mid six figures.
Category Archives: School Climate
The Wal-Mart-ization of higher education: How young professors are getting screwed
In 2009, Money Magazine published a survey titled “The 50 Best Jobs in America.” Their reporters analyzed job data and conducted an online survey of thirty-five thousand people, taking into account such factors as salaries, flexibility, benefit to society, satisfaction, stress, job security, and growth prospects. The proverbial college professor sat high on the list at No. 3, with a median salary of $70,400 for nine months’ work, top pay of $115,000, and a ten-year growth prospect of 23 percent. College teaching earned “A” grades for flexibility, benefit to society, and satisfaction, and a “B” for job stress, with 59 percent of surveyed professors reporting low stress.
While acknowledging that “competition for tenure-track positions at four-year institutions is intense,” Money claimed that graduate students with only a master’s degree could find a part-time teaching job: “You’ll find lots of available positions at community colleges and professional programs, where you can enter the professoriate as an adjunct faculty member or non-tenure-track instructor without a doctorate degree.”
Similarly, the 2000 “American Faculty Poll” conducted by the academic pension giant Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) seemed to corroborate the high job satisfaction rate for professors. “The poll found that 90 percent of the faculty members surveyed were satisfied with their career choices and would probably make the same decisions again,” reported Courtney Leatherman, in her Chronicle of Higher Education story about the survey.
Finding cheaters using multiple-choice comparisons
An interesting method by which I found out that people were cheating on my final exam.
I use different versions of midterm examinations to discourage cheating in my population biology class (~200 students). When the course started, I used to do the same thing for the final exam, but it was a little more complicated, because the final exam is administered by the registrar’s office, not by me and my teaching team.
At some point, somebody advised me not to bother with versions: the registrar’s office is supposed to be professional about administration, and they usually mix people who are taking different exams in the same room, so I stopped bothering with different versions for the final exam for a year or two. I do it again now, and you’ll see why.
In the year in question, my exam was given in two separate medium-sized rooms. My class was alone in these two rooms. I received a report from the invigilators in Room 1 about suspicious behaviour. They had warned a couple of students for acting strangely, and then warned them again. They weren’t prepared to say that they were sure that the students were cheating, but wanted me to compare their answer slates. In retrospect, they should have left the students alone until they were ready to sign a complaint against them (or until they had cheated enough to have it proved against them).
Higher Academic Achievement May Require Higher Standards
While at the gym last week, I overheard two fathers discussing the homework their elementary and middle school children were bringing home. The general feeling was that the homework was too hard and that students were being asked to do complex tasks in earlier grades than when the dads were kids. They lamented about how things are so different today – even teaching math differently!
But with parents, educators and employers saying that students are not academically prepared, there seems to be a disconnect between what people say they want in terms of educational attainment for our schoolchildren in general and what parents want in terms of educational demands on their kids.
Of the 65 developed countries that participate in the PISA international assessment of 15 year-olds, the United States ranked 36th in math, 28th in science and 24th in reading. Making things worse, the scores for U.S. students have actually fallen in each category since the last assessment in 2009. Without changes to our current education system, our students – and our country – will likely find it more challenging to compete.
Parents: not happy about something at school? Here’s how to complain
ne of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from a friend in the restaurant business. If I were planning to complain about any part of my meal or service, he said, I should wait until I had eaten all I was going to eat that night. He illustrated this warning with examples of what can happen to food prepared for awkward customers, and so I’ve followed this advice ever since. It’s a good principle: don’t complain to people on whom you’re relying – unless there’s no way they can wipe your steak on their bum or drop a bogey in your soup.
As with restaurants, so with schools. The difference with schools is that you’re likely to be stuck with them for a lot longer than one meal. So think carefully before putting on your Mr Angry face and marching into the school for a spot of ranting.
Indiana School Choice Report
Indiana Department of Education (PDF):
This is the 2015 update to the Choice Scholarship Program Annual Report originally released on January 27, 2014. This version of the report includes updates for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years.
The report provides an overview of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, which was passed as part of House Enrolled Act 1003-2011(Public Law 92-2011) and provides Choice Scholarships to students in households that meet income and eligibility requirements. The program provides funds to assist with the payment of tuition and fees at a participating Choice School.
For the 2011-2012 school year, Choice Scholarships were limited to 7,500 students. For the 2012-2013 school year, Choice Scholarships were limited to 15,000 students. Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the student cap was removed and Choice Scholarships were available to any student that met eligibility and income requirements. During the 2013 Session of the Indiana General Assembly, the program was further expanded to include eligibility components related to special education, siblings, and failing schools.
Information on the School Choice Program may be found in I.C. 20-51, 512 IAC 3, and 512 IAC 4 or by accessing information on the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) website at the following link http://www.doe.in.gov/choice.
Teacher Union Lobbying: “We’re saying, ‘OK. We used to have sway top down and the only way we get back there again is to educate people at the local level.’”
Either way, membership is down more than 50 percent from the union’s 98,000-member levels before Gov. Scott Walker signed his signature legislation in 2011 that significantly diminished collective bargaining rights for most public employees.
WEAC’s lobbying dollars have dropped dramatically, too.
A decade ago, WEAC spent $1.5 million on lobbying during the 2005-2006 legislative session, state records show. The next session: $1.1 million. During the two sessions leading up to the passage of Act 10, WEAC spent $2.5 million and $2.3 million, respectively.
But during the 2013-14 session, after Walker signed the bill into law, the union spent just $175,540. It was the first time in at least 10 years that the union was not among the state’s top 12 lobbying spenders, according to the Government Accountability Board.
“That has a big effect on the political landscape,” said Mike McCabe, former executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political spending. “They often were the No. 1 lobbying spender among interest groups and they obviously don’t have the capacity to do that anymore.”
But Brey said it’s part of a strategy that WEAC was working on before Act 10. She said instead of relying on a lobbyist, the local focus is more effective because legislators have to explain their votes in their communities.
“At some point you have to look someone in the eye and explain just what you’re doing to their neighborhood public school and why,” she said.
Related: $1,570,000 for four Wisconsin Senators.
I’m glad that Ms. Beck included spending data.
How To Save Our Public Schools
Democrats and Republicans alike, he says, must first recognize that public education is a “broken, government-run monopoly serving the needs of adults at the expense of the needs of children.” The only way forward, Klein says, is to offer underprivileged families real educational choices, breaking the states’ monopoly on education and the perverse union rules strangling public education all across the nation.
Start by leaving your comfort zone and funneling capital away from your wealthy alma mater and toward the poor neighborhoods, where your generosity is truly needed. “A lot of people say to me, ‘I won’t give to public schools because I don’t think it will do anything,’ ” Klein says. He sends such skeptics to tough neighborhoods where charter schools run by the likes of KIPP, Success Academy, and Achievement First are making a real difference.
Consider a 2006 Robin Hood Foundation fund-raiser evening, where $45 million in donor support for new schools was matched by the charity’s board, raising $90 million in minutes. Klein, as the city’s chancellor, quickly agreed to kick in another $90 million from his $12 billion capital budget, and two architecturally stunning charter schools delivering quality education have since been built in blighted neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
“Imagine what these kids feel like, when they walk into their school and it’s the Taj Mahal? Go talk to those kids if you are looking for impact,” says Klein. That made me press him for practical help, and he promptly offered to try to organize for interested Barron’s Penta subscribers who emailed us they wanted to see such impact up close—a tour of a new charter school making a difference somewhere in the U.S. Subscribers who want a tour need only shoot us an e-mail.
Which gets us to his final point: Spend political capital, as well. Charter schools are great, Klein says, but voucher programs are the only way to quickly scale up high-quality alternatives to the busted and dangerous public schools currently entrapping our kids. Such programs allow a disadvantaged family to apply the tax-dollar equivalent of a public education—almost $20,000 a year in New York City—toward a private education of their choice.
Why schools are failing our boys
He hasn’t been allowed outside at school all week; it’s too cold. Yet this son has spent happy hours outside at home this week, all bundled up, moving snow with the toy snowplow, creating “snowmobile trails” in our yard with his sled and shoveling both our walk and our neighbors. Because he wants to.
This morning, as always, my son was up and dressed before the rest of the household; he likes time to play Minecraft before school starts. But he also cleaned the dirty glass on the woodstove, started the fire and brought wood into the house. Because he wants to.
And it hit me this morning: He would have done great in Little House on the Prairie time.
We’re reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, one of the books in the Little House series, aloud right now. Back then, boys (and girls) primarily learned by doing. Kids between the ages of 5 and 18 weren’t corralled into schools and kept apart from real life; out of necessity, boys worked on the farms and girls helped in the house. Entire families worked together to survive, and along the way, boys and girls learned how to function in the real world.
Young researchers should take the time to educate themselves on STEM career-related statistics.
Like many PhD students in their fourth year, there are two things constantly on my mind: one is my research, and the other is my post-graduation plan. I am currently a graduate student in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) PhD programme, which is designed to be 4-5 years long. The course puts a strong emphasis on developing post-graduation plans early on, so I started researching career options in my 2nd year.
I came across some statistics from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that painted a dire picture of career prospects in academia. Coincidentally, I joined CSHL’s Bioscience Enterprise Club around the same time to learn about alternative careers, and was taken aback by the abundance of career options available for PhDs: research in industry, publishing, science writing, teaching, public policy, finance, consulting, patent law, biotech startups, and more.
Researching career options early on has given me ample time to identify rewarding career paths, and to get involved in extra-curricular activities. Having done the research, I plan on applying the data science skills that I have developed over the course of my PhD to a career in industry.
As I get closer to graduation, I find myself much more prepared for what’s to come and strongly believe that considering career options early on is crucial for any PhD student. Therefore, I would urge all graduate schools to insist that their students do the same, especially in the current academic climate. For those who haven’t been introduced to the stats, I’ve put together a short summary for you.
Educating school teachers (2006)
This report, the second in a series of policy reports on the results of a four-year study of America’s education schools, focuses on the education of classroom teachers, the people who have the greatest impact on our children’s learning in school.
Teacher education has taken on a special urgency because the United States needs to raise both the quantity and quality of our teacher force. The country is experiencing an acute shortage of teachers. At the same time, we are asking teachers to increase student achievement to the highest levels in history in a new standards-based, accountability-driven system of education. To address both demands simultaneously is an enormous challenge, made even more difficult because the nation is deeply divided about how to prepare large numbers of high-quality teachers.
We don’t agree about what skills and knowledge teachers need or how and when teachers should learn them. This is the context for the second report. The first report focused on the education of school administrators.
The third report will examine the quality of education research and the preparation of the scholars and researchers who conduct it. The final report will be an overview of America’s schools of educa- tion, where the overwhelming majority of our school leaders, teachers, and scholars are educated.
One of N.J.’s Top Superintendents Explains What’s Wrong with the Opt-Out Movement
Remember, we’re arguing about standards that have been in place for five years and assessments that haven’t even been given yet. Can we wait two weeks before passing judgement?
Also in the comments section, Anne Clark, who never takes fools lightly, has her own responses to anti-testers. She notes that there was plenty of opportunity for public comment during the adoption of Common Core and PARCC, that instructional time devoted to PARCC tests is de minimus compared to traditional testing schedules, and that the movement towards uniform standards and assessments has always been bipartisan. She’s also not afraid to call out Save Our Schools-NJ, one of the primary instigators of N.J.’s hysteria:
Yet, we have no useful method to track academic progress despite the DPI’s decades long WKCE adventure.
K-16 Governance: An Oxymoron? Wallace Hall Was Right About UT All Along
When Hall was early on the board, the university revealed to regents there were problems with a large private endowment used to provide off-the-books six-figure “forgivable loans” to certain faculty members, out of sight of the university’s formal compensation system.
Hall wanted to know how big the forgivable loans were and who decided who got them. He wanted to know whose money it was. He was concerned there had to be legal issues with payments to public employees that were not visible to the public.
University of Texas President William Powers painted the law school slush fund as a problem only because it had caused “discord” within the faculty. He vowed to have a certain in-house lawyer get it straightened up. Hall, who thought the matter was more serious and called for a more arms-length investigation and analysis, thought Powers’ approach was too defensive. In particular, Hall didn’t want it left to the investigator Powers had assigned.
“I had issues with that,” Hall says. “I felt that was a bad, bad deal. The man’s a lawyer. He lives in Austin. The people in the foundation are his mentors, some of the best lawyers in the state. They’re wealthy. He’s not going to be in the [university] system forever. He’s going to be looking for a job one day.”
But Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and other members of the board of regents did not share Hall’s concerns. “I was overruled,” Hall says. “That’s when I first felt like, one, there’s a problem at UT, and, two, the system has set up a scheme that gives the opportunity for a less than robust investigation.”
Since then, the university’s own in-house investigation, which cleared the law school of any real wrongdoing, has been discredited and deep-sixed. The in-house lawyer who did it is no longer on the payroll. The matter has been turned over to the Texas attorney general for a fresh investigation.
The head of the law school has resigned. The president of the university has resigned. Cigarroa has resigned.
Next, Hall questioned claims the university was making about how much money it raised every year. He thought the university was puffing its numbers by counting gifts of software for much more than the software really was worth, making it look as if Powers was doing a better job of fundraising than he really was.
When Hall traveled to Washington, D.C., to consult with the national body that sets rules for this sort of thing, he was accused of ratting out the university — a charge that became part of the basis for subsequent impeachment proceedings. But Hall was right. The university had to mark down its endowment by $215 million.
The really big trouble began in 2013 when Hall said he discovered a back-door black market trade in law school admissions, by which people in positions to do favors for the university, especially key legislators, were able to get their own notably unqualified kids and the notably unqualified kids of friends into UT Law School.
Local education issues that merit attention include:
A. The Wisconsin DPI’s decades long WKCE adventure: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”… It is astonishing that we, after decades of DPI spending, have nothing useful to evaluate academic progress. A comparison with other states, including Minnesota and Massachusetts would be rather useful.
B. Susan Troller’s 2010 article: Madison school board member may seek an audit of how 2005 maintenance referendum dollars were spent. A look at local K-12 spending (and disclosure) practices may be useful in light of the planned April, 2015 referendum.
C. Madison’s long term disastrous reading results, despite spending double the national average per student.
D. Teacher preparation standards.
Former admissions director: Parents, calm down. Let Harvard go.
Like many who have worked in college admissions, she has heard it: All the worries from parents about “what they can do” to get their kids into Ivies.
And she has read about a cluster of suicides that some attribute to stress, pressure on achievement.
As a former admissions officer for some top schools, she has some cutting advice for parents:
Forget the top schools. Forget formulas to ace admissions. Forget achievement at all costs.
“Since 2004, student loan balances have more than tripled, at an average annualized growth rate of about 13 percent per year, to nearly $1.2 trillion, in 2014.”
Meta Brown, Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert van der Klaauw:
Our data indicate that both increased numbers of borrowers and larger balances per borrower are contributing to the rapid expansion in student loans. Between 2004 and 2014, we saw a 74 percent increase in average balances and a 92 percent increase in the number of borrowers. Now there are 43 million borrowers, up from 42 million borrowers at the end of 2013, with an average balance per borrower of about $27,000.
The heterogeneity of borrower indebtedness is very pronounced. As shown in the chart below, nearly 39 percent of borrowers owe less than $10,000, and the median balance is about $14,000. At the high end, more than 4 percent of borrowers, about 1.8 million people, owe more than $100,000.
Already a friend to charter schools, Wisconsin could see more growth under budget proposal; one size fits all continues in Madison
“That charter authorizer is without accountability, if you will, to the voter in any way,” she said. “And so why would we want to do that? That’s what I would like explained to me. Why would that be a good thing for the state of Wisconsin? Honestly, I can’t fathom what the justification would be other than if I’m one of the big chains (of charter schools) that wants leverage into Wisconsin.”
Madison School Board member Ed Hughes wrote against the proposal on his education blog last week, saying the proposal allows new authorizers to “operate with a free hand in the state’s largest urban areas.”
Walker included a similar proposal in his 2013-15 budget but it was pulled out. Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, also has proposed similar legislation in the past. She said in an interview Tuesday that more communities than Milwaukee and Racine should have the option of an independent charter school.
She pointed to Madison Preparatory Academy, an independent charter school proposed by the Urban League of Greater Madison geared toward low-income, minority students that was voted down by the School Board in 2011.
“In some cases there will be opportunities where school boards say, ‘No, we don’t want that,’ as Madison did, and it seems there should be another option for those families,” she said.
The proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board.
Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.
An interview with Henry Tyson.
A focus on adult employment.
Was Moynihan Right: What happens to children of unmarried mothers
Sara McLanahan & Christopher Jencks:
200119436-002In his 1965 report on the black family, Daniel Patrick Moynihan highlighted the rising fraction of black children growing up in households headed by unmarried mothers. He attributed the increase largely to the precarious economic position of black men, many of whom were no longer able to play their traditional role as their family’s primary breadwinner. Moynihan argued that growing up in homes without a male breadwinner reduced black children’s chances of climbing out of poverty, and that the spread of such families would make it hard for blacks to take advantage of the legal and institutional changes flowing from the civil rights revolution.
Moynihan’s claim that growing up in a fatherless family reduced a child’s chances of educational and economic success was furiously denounced when the report appeared in 1965, with many critics calling Moynihan a racist. For the next two decades few scholars chose to investigate the effects of father absence, lest they too be demonized if their findings supported Moynihan’s argument. Fortunately, America’s best-known black sociologist, William Julius Wilson, broke this taboo in 1987, providing a candid assessment of the black family and its problems in The Truly Disadvantaged. Since then, social scientists have accumulated a lot more evidence on the effects of family structure. This article will offer some educated guesses about what that evidence means.
Ranking the top open admission New Jersey high schools by SAT scores
Today’s vo-techs now operate some of the most elite public schools in New Jersey and the nation. U.S. News and World Report ranked Biotechnology High School in Freehold, part of the Monmouth County Vocational School District, 11th best in the nation and best in New Jersey among public schools. High Technology High School in Lincroft, another MCVSD school, ranked 20th nationally. Bergen County Academies, part of the Bergen County Technical Schools district, boasts thirty-six 2015 National Merit Semifinalists in a school with about 250 students in each grade level. These schools are smaller than the typical public school and more selective, requiring entrance exams as part of a competitive application process.
So it’s not surprising that these academies had the highest total-mean-scores during the past school year on the Scholastic Aptitude Test that students take as part of the college application process. High Technology High topped the list with a mean of 2195 out of a possible 2400. (Scores are for seniors and members of the class of 2014.) Its total enrollment was just 286 students, with an enviable 11-to-1 student-teacher ratio in 2013-2014. Six other schools had mean scores higher than 2000: Academy for Mathematics, Science and Engineering in Morris County Vocational; Bergen County Academies; Biotechnology High in Monmouth; Middlesex County Vocational Academy of Math, Science and Engineering Technology; Union County Magnet High School; and Academy of Allied Health and Science in Monmouth.
Is teaching about instruction or selection?
Teaching is commonly associated with instruction, yet in evolution, immunology, and neuroscience, instructional theories are largely defunct.
We propose a co-immunity theory of teaching, where attempts by a teacher to alter student neuronal structure to accommodate cultural ideas and practices is sort of a reverse to the function of the immune system, which exists to preserve the physical self, while teaching episodes are designed to alter the mental self.
This is a theory of teaching that is based on the inter-subjective relationship between teacher and learner. This theory posits that teaching does not, as is commonly assumed, take place via instruction from teacher to students, but rather through a process of selection in the learner’s brain, stimulated by materials and activities utilized by the teacher. In this theory, the mechanism that drives the selection process in learners’ brains is co-regulated emotional signaling between teacher and learner. From this perspective, the power of formative assessment is that it intrinsically carries with it emotional aspects for both learner and teacher, in that it provides a feedback relationship between them both, and so, according to the Greenspan & Shanker theory of cognitive symbolic development, promotes cognitive development.
– See more at: http://beta.briefideas.org/ideas/b0b3c84a223e16c8f066b8770831a962#sthash.kKerYg1g.dpuf
Research results from Madison schools suggest compassion, kindness can be taught
To do the study, the researchers secured permission from the parents of 68 Madison students during the 2012-13 school year. All were in the district’s 4K program.
Thirty children were randomly assigned to classrooms where they received twice-weekly kindness lessons for three months. Children in the control group did not receive the lessons.
The curriculum is rooted in adult mindfulness-based practices adapted to a child’s developmental ability, said Laura Pinger, the curriculum’s lead designer.
She and the other researchers are affiliated with the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, the UW-Madison effort founded by Richard Davidson, an international leader in mindfulness training.
When letting your kids out of your sight becomes a crime
We all want what is best for our children. We want them to be happy and successful, and we want to protect them from harm. But what if we are protecting them from extremely remote threats while ignoring the things that most endanger their well-being? What if police and child welfare officials, the experts whom we empower to protect our children, are pursuing phantom problems while neglecting those who are truly at risk?
One recent Saturday afternoon, six police officers and five patrol cars came to my home in Silver Spring. They demanded identification from my husband and entered our home despite not having a warrant to do so. The reason for this show of force? We had allowed our children to walk home from a neighborhood park by themselves.
A few hours later, a Montgomery County Child Protective Services (CPS) social worker coerced my husband into signing a “temporary safety plan” for our children by threatening to take the children “right now” — a threat she backed up with a call to the police. In the weeks that followed, another worker from the agency appeared at our door with the police and insisted that he did not need a warrant to enter our home. He also interviewed our children at school without our knowledge or permission.
High-fliers in the classroom Programmes that place bright and ambitious graduates in poor schools are spreading around the world—and show what it takes to make a difference
“IT’S not enough to have a dream”, reads a banner over the whiteboard in Nancy Sarmiento’s Baltimore classroom. Most of her 12-year-old pupils qualify for a free or cheap lunch. About 70% of the school’s new arrivals last September had reading and mathematical skills below the minimum expected for their grade. Americans call such schools “disadvantaged”. Whatever the label, most countries have schools where most children are from poor families, expectations are low, and teachers are hard to recruit. And in most, the falling prestige of the teaching profession makes matters worse.
But Ms Sarmiento, who graduated from a four-year biology degree course a year early, had to see off fierce competition to win her teaching spot. Teach for America (TfA), the scheme that placed her, accepts just one in six applicants. It looks for a stellar academic record and evidence of traits that distinguish the best teachers in tough schools, including leadership, resilience and motivation to help the poor. Recruits get five weeks’ training and pledge to work for two years in a disadvantaged school.
Google boss warns of ‘forgotten century’ with email and photos at risk
Cerf called for the development of “digital vellum” to preserve old software and hardware so that out-of-date files could be recovered no matter how old they are.
“When you think about the quantity of documentation from our daily lives that is captured in digital form, like our interactions by email, people’s tweets, and all of the world wide web, it’s clear that we stand to lose an awful lot of our history,” he said.
“We don’t want our digital lives to fade away. If we want to preserve them, we need to make sure that the digital objects we create today can still be rendered far into the future,” he added.
The warning highlights an irony at the heart of modern technology, where music, photos, letters and other documents are digitised in the hope of ensuring their long-term survival. But while researchers are making progress in storing digital files for centuries, the programs and hardware needed to make sense of the files are continually falling out of use.
Google, Facebook and governments are storing, mining, selling and aggregating all of this…..
Disabilities and online education
Advocates for the deaf on Thursday filed federal lawsuits against Harvard and M.I.T., saying both universities violated antidiscrimination laws by failing to provide closed captioning in their online lectures, courses, podcasts and other educational materials.
“Much of Harvard’s online content is either not captioned or is inaccurately or unintelligibly captioned, making it inaccessible for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” the complaint said, echoing language used in the M.I.T. complaint. “Just as buildings without ramps bar people who use wheelchairs, online content without captions excludes individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Harvard, said that while he could not comment on the litigation, Harvard expected the Justice Department to propose rules this year “to provide much-needed guidance in this area,” and that the university would follow whatever rules were adopted.
Contract teaching at a Canadian University
Today, I had a perfectly reasonable request from a student who wanted to review an exam from last term. I was unable to comply with this request because to do so would be to give my employer more of my time for free. As a dedicated teacher, I am extremely sad about this, because I would like to give my students the very best learning experience that I possibly can.
So what makes a mild-mannered Physics instructor turn into a seething rebel? The blunt answer is that I, along with many of my colleagues in Higher Education in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia are being shamelessly exploited by our employers. We do not have permanent jobs, we have to eke out an existence by patching together many temporary contracts to try and earn enough to survive on. We go by many different names — in Canada we are Contract Instructors or Sessional Lecturers. In the US, Adjunct Professors. We are highly qualified, I have a PhD, and often have experience outside academia. I have worked as a scientist or scientific programmer in the nuclear engineering industry and in the biosciences sector. This counts for little.
Governance Diversity: Measure would allow tech colleges to run charter high schools
Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges could establish independent charter high schools staffed by college instructors, under a proposal being circulated by two Republican lawmakers that aims to better prepare students for the workforce.
Rep. Tom Weatherston (R-Racine) says charter high schools focused on occupational education or technology could attract students who would not otherwise be college-bound and help them attain the skills Wisconsin employers need.
His vision, outlined in a draft bill he and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) are circulating for cosponsorship, is to allow students to attend a charter high school run by the tech college for four years, then continue in the college to earn an associate degree after just one more year.
“There are a lot of young people in my district lacking the knowledge that technical education is out there,” Weatherston said. “Especially with the current systems, they’re required to graduate high school before they can get into technical programs.”
Options already exist for Wisconsin high school students to take classes at technical colleges, though Weatherston counters that some districts don’t let students participate in them.
More broadly, the potential bill would be the latest proposal aimed at expanding public charter schools in Wisconsin that operate independently of traditional school districts — something public-school supporters have opposed.
Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015-’17 budget proposal calls for creating a different avenue to spawn more independent charter schools: a new state board that would authorize nonprofit entities to oversee such schools around the state.
He made the same proposal in his previous biennial budget.
A failed Republican-backed bill last session would have allowed all the University of Wisconsin System campuses, plus technical colleges and regional state education agencies to approve operators to open charter schools.
Generally, teachers unions and many district administrators are not on board with these ideas. That’s because independent charter schools are public schools run like small businesses, with nonunion employees that don’t answer to local school boards.
Critics say that the schools divert students, and by extension, state revenue, away from traditional public schools they would have otherwise attended.
Advocates say without so much government bureaucracy, independent charters can be more innovative than a typical public school.
While lots of districts operate their own charter schools staffed by district employees, independent charters exist only around the Milwaukee area currently.
Most answer to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee or the City of Milwaukee. State law also allows UW-Parkside to authorize charter schools.
One technical college, Milwaukee Area Technical College, can as well, but MATC has never exercised that authority.
One unusual aspect of the Weatherston-Wanggaard idea is that it would have the tech colleges run the charter high schools themselves, rather than overseeing a charter-school management company to run the potential high school.
The bill would allow instructors at the college to teach at the high school, ostensibly without a state teaching license typically required of K-12 educators.
Weatherston said tech-based charter high schools could offer programming relevant to careers such as dental hygienist or HVAC technician.
He said general education classes could have a technical career focus, such as math for bookkeeping.
“I think we should keep it broad-based and allow the market to drive what kind of curriculum they offer,” he said.
But some educators worry about autonomy.
“Communities deserve to have local control over their schools, and this proposal appears to allow high schools to be dropped into their towns without input,” Betsy Kippers, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said in a statement Tuesday.
Options already exist for high school students to take occupational or technical education classes at local colleges.
The Legislature last session also approved a new program called Course Options that lets students at all grade levels take up to two classes at a time from approved educational institutions outside their home school, at no cost.
Approved institutions include the University of Wisconsin System institutions and state technical colleges.
Waukesha County Technical College started a special program two years ago that allows local high school seniors to apply to spend a portion of their day taking credit-bearing classes in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, and printing and publishing. Students admitted to the program don’t have to pay for the college classes. State Superintendent Tony Evers is scheduled to visit that program at WCTC Dual Enrollment Academy on Wednesday.
Some districts have even started their own specialty schools to meet that niche. LakeView Technology Academy is a specialty high school in the Kenosha Unified School District that allows students to earn up to the equivalent of one year of tech college credits and one semester of engineering credits upon graduation.
About Erin Richards
Erin Richards covers K-12 education in urban and suburban Milwaukee, as well as state politics related to education issues.
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PolitiFact: Checking in on Scott Walker education promises
6:00 a.m. – New today from PolitiFact Wisconsin:
High school under fire for assignment on political ideology
Feb. 10, 2015 – A parent at Nathan Hale High says a teacher marked “conservative/Republican” the correct answer for the statement: “We should not help the poor, it’s a waste of money.”
Problems swirl around new state test tied to Common Core
Feb. 9, 2015 – As Gov. Scott Walker calls for scrapping a new state achievement test after just one year, the exam is coming in over budget and lacking key functionality. (4)
Rural schools get mixed bag of benefits in Walker’s budget
Feb. 8, 2015 – Leaders of financially struggling rural school districts say the governor’s proposed budget both gives relief and takes it away.
Study: Even for college-educated blacks, road to full-time work is rocky
Months before he graduated from college, Jeramey Winfield was sending out resumes and applying for jobs online in Chicago.
The media studies major hoped to jump from Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire right into the Chicago workforce, in marketing or event planning, so he could get his own apartment and begin helping his family financially. But after more than a year of networking, sending out applications and asking mentors for help, Winfield still doesn’t have a full-time job. In fact, he said, he’s rarely been called back for an interview.
“I had this picture in my mind of working downtown, taking the train in and contributing to my profession,” said Winfield, who often wears dapper, fitted business suits. “I had this vision of helping my mom out, since she struggled to raise five of us. I wanted to give her some relief.”
Preparing Effective Teachers
Like so many teachers, when I first entered the classroom, I believed that I would be effective. Then I met Mohammed, and Jose, and Efrain. Mohammed was defiant. He refused to do work, disrupting the learning of my other students. Most days, Jose hid under his desk. Efrain turned eleven in 4th grade because he was retained in El Salvador before coming to the U.S. and couldn’t read a word in English or Spanish. I wanted more than anything to help these students. In fact, I wasn’t helping them. I was like most first year teachers. I needed more training. I needed coaching. I needed a veteran teacher who could guide my practice.
What I felt most acutely in those first few months of teaching was that all of the students in my class would be better off it they were across the hall in Mrs. Lewis’ class. Debbie Lewis was a skilled veteran teacher. She was the kind of teacher my kids deserved.
In the beginning, I despaired of ever becoming that teacher. But slowly that year, my teaching got better. That year, Debbie talked me through every challenge I experienced in my classroom, from instructional failures to behavior issues, and helped me problem-solve so that I did better the next day. She worked with me to create a class-wide behavior system that even Mohammed wanted to follow. Together, we differentiated my lesson plans so Jose and Efrain would make progress. Debbie wasn’t the only one. Other coaches came into my classroom to equip me with skills to become more effective.
Your lifetime earnings are probably determined in your 20s
Ah, your 20s: A decade of self discovery, smartphone dating and shopping for IKEA coffee tables — right?
A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York sends a more sobering message to millennials: Your first 10 years in the labor market likely shape your lifetime earning potential.
“Across the board, the bulk of earnings growth happens during the first decade,” wrote economists Fatih Guvenen, Fatih Karahan, Serdar Ozkan and Jae Song, who studied the career paths of about 5 million workers over nearly 40 years.
The jump in pay could be largely driven by the steep learning curves early in your career, said Guvenen, an economics professor at the University of Minnesota.
The Paradoxes of Education Reform Critics: “asymmetric incompetency”
There’s a lot of important, nuanced debate to be had between the most optimistic education reformers and those who are more skeptical. But I think there are many, though of course not all, on the education reform critic side who tie themselves in knots telling inconsistent stories about education in this country. So here are the most common paradoxes of that movement. This isn’t to say those who criticize some or even many aspects of education reform embody all these paradoxes, but I would argue they are relatively common. I think education reform critics spend a lot of times opposing individual policies or ideas or changes, and so it is hard to tie all of those disparate criticisms together into a coherent vision that also explains what education policy should be. These paradoxes, I would argue, identify a problem.
1. Administrators can’t be trusted with firing, but are perfect at hiring.
One of the arguments for lots of job protections in schools is that you can’t trust administrators to decide who to fire. If you give them discretion, they will fire good teachers who they don’t like, or who do anything other than toe the administration line, or for other cronyism reasons. On the other hand, we are told that firing more teachers won’t solve anything because we most teachers are good at their job or at the most just need more coaching. So while we can’t trust administrators to fire competently, we also have arrived at a place where their hiring decisions involve impeccable foresight to never make a bad hiring decision. It’s a strange paradox of asymmetric incompetency.
The Myth of Charter-School ‘Cherry Picking’
There is a concept called the big lie, which holds that if you repeat a falsehood long enough and loudly enough, people will begin to believe it. Sadly, fearing the success of charter schools in New York City, the United Federation of Teachers and other education-reform opponents have been telling a big lie for years.
The UFT and its backers have kept up a steady drumbeat of false claims against charter schools in New York City: Charters cherry-pick their students, push out those who need extra support, and generally falsify their impressive results. Well, a recent report from New York City’s Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded, nonpartisan agency, proves that these accusations are false. Unfortunately, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is among those city officials who believe the big lie.
No profit left behind
A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas. The review also found Pearson’s contracts set forth specific performance targets — but don’t penalize the company when it fails to meet those standards. And in the higher ed realm, the contracts give Pearson extensive access to personal student data, with few constraints on how it is used.
POLITICO examined hundreds of pages of contracts, business plans and email exchanges, as well as tax filings, lobbying reports and marketing materials, in the first comprehensive look at Pearson’s business practices in the United States.
The investigation found that public officials often commit to buying from Pearson because it’s familiar, even when there’s little proof its products and services are effective.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, for instance, declined to seek competitive bids for a new student data system on the grounds that it would be “in the best interest of the public” to simply hire Pearson, which had done similar work for the state in the past. The data system was such a disaster, the department had to pay Pearson millions extra to fix it.
The issues are not only on the supply side. Wisconsin’s decade plus use of the weak and largely useless WKCE is worth a deeper dive.
Buy side issues merit equal attention.
Ms. Simon deserves applause for digging deep. It is so rare in our ever more expensive K-12 world.
The worst of all forms of teaching, except for all the others
One can easily look at the concept of a didactic lesson and tear it apart. All the pupils know and can do different things. They will all pick up new concepts at different speeds. They will all require different amounts of practice to master a new skill. Nuthall found that pupils already knew 50% of what was taught. The problem is, they all knew differing parts of the domain. It’s not like you can cull 50% of the curriculum, because different pupils didn’t know different thing.
Whenever the teacher is talking, what they’re saying will be unnecessary to a certain portion of the class. This sounds like a real problem, right? Little Jonny already understands how to add fractions. Why are we making him listen to it being explained again?
Prescription: individualised instruction and eradicating teacher talk. The drive for overwhelming differentiation and reduced explicit instruction does, in part, seem to have its roots in this noble aim not to waste pupils’ time listening to stuff that’s too hard or too easy*. All they want is for everyone to be in the goldilocks zone of optimal porridge temperature.
When Children With Autism Grow Up
The heat that afternoon was intense. Weather maps across Iowa were deep red, and warnings flashed across the screen. A high school football player on the other side of the state had died from heat exhaustion the week before. Cornfields wilted and shrank into hills of despondent brown.
I was running late as I parked and shuffled to a dilapidated satellite classroom building. I introduced myself to a teacher sitting at a desk and told him that I was there to meet a 21-year-old man named “Scooter” — a childhood nickname, I’d later learn, that had stuck. (I’ve changed all names and some details to protect him and to comply with privacy laws.) I needed a summer job after my first year of grad school, and he needed staff.
My experience with autism had been limited to movies and anecdotes from friends who worked in “the field” — care industry shorthand for post-institutional residential and community-living nonprofits supporting people with developmental disabilities. (“We’re always looking,” the agency had said, and hired me without any sort of drug screening and a cursory, astonishingly fast background check. The drug screening was my only concern while filling out applications.)
School Vouchers have new champions on the Hill
At Republicans’ recent retreat, Messer listened to GOP strategist Alex Castellanos promote school choice as one of a handful of issues that should make up a new agenda for the party.
“I thought, oh gosh — maybe I’m onto something here,” Messer said.
School choice has always been a hard sell in Washington: GOP lawmakers from rural states and those with powerful unions don’t stand to gain much from pushing the issue. In wealthier districts, too, parents may not feel they have much to gain if they are satisfied with their well-funded public schools. Other members of Congress don’t see why it’s worth the time.
“It’s an interesting challenge: Republicans believe this will be good for vulnerable kids and kids that need help,” said Frederick Hess, education policy director at the American Enterprise Institute. “But it’s also a fact that their local superintendents, and school boards, and kids, and parents are saying, ‘We don’t think this is a good idea’ in many cases.”
Thoughts on the Technical Track
My views on the merits of having a technical track align with those of many people in our industry. Management is a different job, with different skills. They’re not necessarily more difficult skills, they’re just different. By and large they’re unrelated to the day-to-day labor of the people who build technology products.
It doesn’t make any sense to divert your technical talent into a discipline where they will need to stop doing technical work. (That’s in the event that they intend to be effective managers, which I concede might be an unrealistic expectation.)
Other people have made this case, so I’ll just proceed as if we agree that there must be a way forward for people that are great programmers other than to simply graduate into not programming at all.
It’s Etch A Sketch time in Wisconsin for education policy
Every two years for the last couple decades or so, the governor and Legislature pick up the state education policy Etch A Sketch, turn it over, shake it and draw a new picture. The game also goes by the name of the biennial budget process.
In days gone by, the new picture often wasn’t all that different from the old one. Some new money here, some new rules on how to spend it, some new patterns for what was expected from kids. There were sometimes bigger deals, like in the mid-90s when it was decided to hold down how much school districts could spend and how much teacher compensation could go up in exchange for the state paying more of the total bill.
With the rise of private school vouchers starting in Milwaukee, state budget season became prime time for controversy over changing the rules on money, accountability and who could participate.
Then came 2011. Whoa, what an Etch A Sketch event that was. Take the whole system of teacher unions and contracts, turn it over, shake — presto, the screen was blank. Amazing. In the new etching, school spending was cut and teachers bore the brunt by paying more for health and retirement benefits.
Camden Update: “Our Students Have the Potential to Change the World”
I graduated from Camden schools, and the quality of the education my children were getting has been far below what I received. I’m glad that the District is finally making some changes, and I’m glad that parents like me have more and better options to choose from.
That’s Camden parent Mary Jane Timbe, an alumna of Camden Public Schools who has a child at Mastery North Camden and another at Woodrow Wilson High School. She made that comment at Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard’s “State of the Schools” report yesterday at Woodrow Wilson High School.
Indeed, the district, New Jersey’s neediest, concurs with Ms. Timbe’s assessment. Superintendent Rouhanifard, appointed eighteen months ago when the State took over the long-failing district, noted in this most recent of his quarterly updates to the community, that “the School District is falling short. He went on to itemize the steps he will take to move the district forward, particularly at the high school level and with student and staff engagement.”
There is good news to report, although Rouhanifard was careful to note that the occasion of his update to the community “is not a celebration, but a public accounting.” Graduation rates are up 6%. Students feel significantly safer in the hallways and bathrooms. High school freshmen and sophomores are beginning to spend more time on reading and math and the district is in the midst of overhauling its vocational programs. (According to the Star Ledger, “absolutely zero high school students earned a vocational program certificate last year, despite hundreds of students enrolled in vocational education classes.”) Next week the Rouhanifard will begin a series of “Teacher Roundtables” and the week after that he’ll launch “Student Leader Roundtables” in order to enhance collaboration with stakeholders.
Chicago’s schools Hard work rewarded Rahm Emanuel’s school reforms are working
Some of the toughest decisions Mr Emanuel had to make in his first term concerned schools. He demanded merit pay for teachers and a longer school day (Chicago’s was only 5 hours 45 minutes) and earmarked for closure 50 half-empty schools in poor districts. Teachers went on strike for the first time in 25 years, but Mr Emanuel got the longer day and the closures went ahead in 2013. The teachers kept their seniority-based pay system.
Mr Emanuel ploughed some of the money saved by closures into charter schools, which made him even more unpopular with the teachers’ unions. But charter schools have worked well in Chicago. The Noble Network, which already runs 16 charter high schools with 10,000 pupils and plans to have 20,000 by 2020, has an attendance rate of 94% (compared with 73% for Chicago public schools) and a drop-out rate of only 0.4% (compared with 4.7%). It also gets better results on the ACT, a college-readiness test. It has an even higher percentage of minority students (98% compared with 92% at Chicago public schools), and slightly less public funding.
States weigh turning education funds over to parents
A radical new concept in school choice will come up for vote in at least a half-dozen states from Virginia to Oklahoma in the coming months, as lawmakers consider giving hundreds of thousands of parents the freedom to design a custom education for their children — at taxpayer expense.
Twenty-one states already subsidize tuition at private schools through vouchers or tax credits. The new programs promise far more flexibility, but critics fear they could also lead to waste or abuse as taxpayers underwrite do-it-yourself educations with few quality controls.
Called Education Savings Accounts, the programs work like this: The state deposits the funds it would have spent educating a given child in public schools into a bank account controlled by his parents. The parents can use those funds — the amount ranges from $5,000 to more than $30,000 a year — to pay for personal tutors, homeschooling workbooks, online classes, sports team fees and many types of therapy, including horseback riding lessons for children with disabilities. They can also spend the money on private school tuition or save some of it for college.
K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The College Loan Bombshell Hidden in the Budget Obama’s new repayment program comes with a record $22 billion shortfall.
In obscure data tables buried deep in its 2016 budget proposal, the Obama administration revealed this week that its student loan program had a $21.8 billion shortfall last year, apparently the largest ever recorded for any government credit program.
The main cause of the shortfall was President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to provide relief for borrowers drowning in student debt, reforms that have already begun to reduce loan payments to the government. For more than two decades, budget analysts have recalculated the projected costs of about 120 credit programs every year, but they have never lowered their expectations of repayments this dramatically. The $21.8 billion revision—larger than the annual budget for NASA, or the Interior Department and EPA combined—will be tacked onto the federal deficit.
“Wow,” marveled Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Whether or not it’s good policy to help borrowers with their payments, it’s obviously costly for taxpayers.”
The 40 million Americans with student loans are now saddled with more than $1.2 trillion in outstanding debt. And with higher education costs rising much faster than inflation, the already massive program has been growing at a spectacular clip; direct government loans alone increased 44 percent over the last two years despite an aura of austerity in Washington. The Obama administration has tried to ease the burden for some borrowers by reducing their payments to 10 percent of their income and forgiving their loans after 20 years; this year, the Education Department plans to make all borrowers eligible for that “pay-as-you-earn” relief.
College Marketing Madness
What is college? To Madison Comer, a confident 6-year-old, it is a very big place. “It’s tall,” she explained, outlining the head of Tuffy, the North Carolina State mascot, with a gray crayon. “It’s like high school but it’s higher.”
Elizabeth Mangan, who plans to be a veterinarian because she loves her puppy, pointed out that she, too, would attend North Carolina State. “Me and Madison are going to the same college,” she said.
And what is college? “It’s someplace where you go to get your career.”
Is College Worth it?
Earlier this month, after announcing his plan to make community college free, President Obama lauded a college degree as “the surest ticket to the middle class.”
New research in the prolific field of “Is College Worth It?” suggests it’s not that simple.
“‘Ticket’ implies a college degree is something you can just cash in,” said Alan Benson, assistant business professor at the University of Minnesota. “But it doesn’t work that way. A college degree is more of a stepping stone, one ingredient to consider when you’re cooking up your career. … It’s not always the best investment for everyone.”
Benson, along with M.I.T.’s Frank Levy and business analyst Raimundo Esteva, co-authored a new paper, released this week, examining the value of public university options in California. Factors like how long it takes to complete a degree — often longer than four years — and whether students make it to graduation, he learned, can significantly diminish the value of pursuing higher education.
Closing the math gap for boys
ON a recent afternoon, the banter of boisterous adolescents at Edwin G. Foreman High School, in a poor, racially and ethnically mixed Chicago neighborhood, echoed off the corridor walls. But Room 214 was as silent as a meditation retreat. Inside, 16 ninth- and 10th-grade African-American and Latino boys were working, two-on-one, with a tutor. They’re among 1,326 boys in 12 public schools in this city who are sweating over math for an hour every day.
Kids like these fare worst on every measure of academic achievement, from test scores to graduation rates. On the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the average reading and math scores of eighth-grade black boys are barely higher than those of fourth-grade white girls, and Latino boys score only marginally better. Dropping out is a near-certain ticket to poverty, and these youngsters quit or are pushed out at a dismaying rate. Only 57 percent of young black men and 62 percent of young Latino men graduate from high school in four years, compared with 79 percent of young white men.
The teenagers in Chicago’s math-tutoring-on-steroids experiment fit this dismal profile. They were as many as seven years behind in reading and 10 in math — 16-year-olds with the skills of third graders. The previous year they missed more than a month of school, on average, and when they did make an appearance they were often banished to the school disciplinarian. Nearly a fifth of them had arrest records. Not only were they disproportionately likely to drop out, they were also prime candidates for the school-to-gang-to-prison pipeline
University of Texas Endowment Tops $25 Billion, Passing Yale
Michael McDonald & Lauren Streib:
The University of Texas endowment surpassed Yale University’s as the second-wealthiest in U.S. higher education, according to an annual survey released Thursday by Commonfund and the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
The value of the Texas System’s fund grew 24 percent to $25.4 billion in the year ended June 30, the biggest after Harvard University’s $35.9 billion. Yale’s endowment, which had ranked second since at least 2002, increased 15 percent to $23.9 billion.
FT’s 2015 MBA Rankings
The year-over-year changes in MBA programs at the best business schools tend to be minuscule, if there are any changes at all. MBA experiences never undergo revolutionary change. Truth is, they evolve over time, little by little.
So it may come as a surprise when an annually published ranking that purports to measure the quality of these programs shows dramatic, if not shocking, changes in a single 12-month period.
That’s the case yet again with The Financial Times’s 2015 ranking published today (Jan. 25). Nearly one in every three–or exactly 33 of 100–experienced double-digit gains or falls. Unexplainably, the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business plunged 30 places to 85th this year from 55th only a year ago. What happened? The school got a new dean who hasn’t had time to change anything in the MBA program.
College Admissions Racket: They’re Not Going to Let You In Anyway
After losing interest in attending the University of Chicago, high school senior Sarah Schmoller didn’t bother to apply before the Jan. 1 deadline. The university, though, wouldn’t take no for an answer. Over winter break, the school offered to extend the deadline to Jan. 5 so that Schmoller could “sleep in, and eat cookie after delicious cookie” and “take these extra days to relax a bit.” When she didn’t respond, an e-mail signed by admissions director Daniel Follmer popped up in her inbox on Jan. 7, giving her two more days. “We’re Missing Your Application,” the subject line read.
This year, at least a dozen elite colleges, including Chicago, Duke, Dartmouth, and Columbia, have offered extensions of once-sacrosanct January admissions deadlines. The University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, and Bates are among schools whose admissions deans said they were doing so for the first time, aside from individual hardship cases or such emergencies as storms and major website failures.
University Of Texas Looks To Limit Administrative Bloat
Bill McRaven, the new Chancellor of the University of Texas System, has announced his intention to take a “hard look” at administrative expenses on the System’s fifteen campuses. Given the research demonstrating the decades-long explosion in administrative personnel and expenses nationwide, McRaven’s hard look promises to expose some even-harder truths about the phenomenon commonly referred to as university “administrative bloat.”
Benjamin Ginsberg’s 2011 book on the subject, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters, came as a thunderclap to the world of higher education. Forty years ago, reports Ginsberg, “U.S. colleges employed more faculty than administrators. But today, teachers make up less than half of college employees.” “Forty years ago, the efforts of 446,830 professors were supported by 268,952 administrators and staff. Since then, the number of full-time professors increased slightly more than 50 percent, while the number of administrators and administrative staffers increased 85 percent and 240 percent, respectively.” Adjusting for inflation, from 1947 to 1995, “overall university spending increased 148 percent. Administrative spending, though, increased by a whopping 235 percent. Instructional spending, by contrast, increased only 128 percent, 20 points less than the overall rate of spending increase.” Senior administrators have done particularly well under the new regime. From 1998 to 2003, deans and vice presidents saw their salaries increase as much as 50 percent, and “by 2007, the median salary paid to a president of a doctoral degree-granting institution was $325,000.”
To Protect His Son, A Father Asks School To Bar Unvaccinated Children
Carl Krawitt has watched his son, Rhett, now 6, fight leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years. For more than three of those years, Rhett has undergone round after round of chemotherapy. Last year he finished chemotherapy, and doctors say he is in remission.
Now, there’s a new threat, one that the family should not have to worry about: measles.
Rhett cannot be vaccinated, because his immune system is still rebuilding. It may be months more before his body is healthy enough to get all his immunizations. Until then, he depends on everyone around him for protection — what’s known as herd immunity.
But Rhett lives in Marin County, Calif., a county with the dubious honor of having the highest rate of “personal belief exemptions” in the Bay Area and among the highest in the state. This school year, 6.45 percent of children in Marin have a personal belief exemption, which allows parents to lawfully send their children to school unvaccinated against communicable diseases like measles, polio, whooping cough and more.
Newspapers Persecute Schools For Enforcing The Rules
I’m sure I’ve moaned about this before, but the Daily Mail often annoys me with its hypocrisy about school discipline. It seems to run two, contradictory, types of stories on school discipline. The first type is the “school discipline is not strict enough” story. Here are some examples of Daily Mail stories either calling for better discipline or reporting sympathetically on others doing so (found after Googling “Daily Mail School Discipline” and “Daily Mail Behaviour in Schools”):
Public engagement: hidden costs for research careers?
It is often assumed that academics’ efforts to engage the public are inherently a good thing.
The Public Understanding of Science movement has long backed the idea that the public must be included in science governance if science is to achieve openness, transparency and accountability, and that this approach helps to preserve public trust and confidence in science, or restore it where it has been lost or fractured.
Over the years, there has been a shift in emphasis from communication and understanding to dialogue and debate, captured by the term “public engagement”. This has come to symbolise a wider shift in higher education from universities as “ivory towers” to universities as transparent, porous, public institutions. Public engagement is touted by its advocates as a means with which to mobilise and empower the public and academe through a two-way relationship of trust, respect and interdependency, leading to collaboration and even co-production. These are honourable ambitions, which the academic community would do well to be guided by.
The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. That’s a problem
“MY BIG fear,” says Paul Ryan, an influential Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is that America is losing sight of the notion that “the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.” “Opportunity,” according to Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, “is slipping away.” Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, thinks that “each element” of the sequence that leads to success “is eroding in our country.” “Of course you have to work hard, of course you have to take responsibility,” says Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state, “but we are making it so difficult for people who do those things to feel that they are going to achieve the American dream.” When discussing the chances of ordinary Americans rising to the top, politicians who agree about little else sound remarkably similar.
Before the word meritocracy was coined by Michael Young, a British sociologist and institutional entrepreneur, in the 1950s there was a different name for the notion that power, success and wealth should be distributed according to talent and diligence, rather than by accident of birth: American. For sure, America has always had rich and powerful families, from the floor of the Senate to the boardrooms of the steel industry. But it has also held more fervently than any other country the belief that all comers can penetrate that elite as long as they have talent, perseverance and gumption. At times when that has not been the case Americans have responded with authentic outrage, surmising that the people at the top are, as Nick Carraway said, “a rotten crowd”, with bootlegging Gatsby better than the whole damn bunch put together.
Peshawar massacre: Pakistan replies with ‘weaponised’ teaching
Following last month’s Taliban school massacre, Pakistan is allowing teachers to carry weapons. The BBC’s Shahzeb Jillani visits a school in Peshawar where staff are now serving as armed guards.
On a cloudy morning in January, Mohammed Iqbal is conducting a rare physical fitness class inside the courtyard of Government Higher Secondary School Number 1. The sprawling campus of the all-boys school is one of the biggest and oldest government institutions in Peshawar.
The school has a large playground for sports activities. But it’s not been much in use since the Taliban massacre at the nearby Army Public School, which killed about 150 people, mostly children.
Until that atrocity, Mr Iqbal’s main job was to plan sports activities for his pupils. He now doubles as the school’s chief security officer, with a gun tucked under his long shirt.
“It’s my personal gun which I have started carrying with me to school,” he says as he pulls out a 9mm Beretta pistol.
How to Build a Better Learner
Eight-month-old Lucas Kronmiller has just had the surface of his largely hairless head fitted with a cap of 128 electrodes. A research assistant in front of him is frantically blowing bubbles to entertain him. But Lucas seems calm and content. He has, after all, come here, to the Infancy Studies Laboratory at Rutgers University, repeatedly since he was just four months old, so today is nothing unusual. He—like more than 1,000 other youngsters over the past 15 years—is helping April A. Benasich and her colleagues to find out whether, even at the earliest age, it is possible to ascertain if a child will go on to experience difficulties in language that will prove a burdensome handicap when first entering elementary school.
Benasich is one of a cadre of researchers who have been employing brain-recording techniques to understand the essential processes that underlie learning. The new science of neuroeducation seeks the answers to questions that have always perplexed cognitive psychologists and pedagogues.
How, for instance, does a newborn’s ability to process sounds and images relate to the child’s capacity to learn letters and words a few years later? What does a youngster’s ability for staying mentally focused in preschool mean for later academic success? What can educators do to foster children’s social skills—also vital in the classroom? Such studies can complement the wealth of knowledge established by psychological and educational research programs.
Illinois Says Rule-Breaking Students Must Give Teachers Their Facebook Passwords
Update, 1/22/15: The Triad district has sent out a press release with more information about when it would ask for a student’s social media password. The full letter suggests there has been misinformation in the press but does not refute anything Motherboard has reported. More about the letter can be found at the bottom of this post.
School districts in Illinois are telling parents that a new law may require school officials to demand the social media passwords of students if they are suspected in cyberbullying cases or are otherwise suspected of breaking school rules.
The law, which went into effect on January 1, defines cyberbullying and makes harassment on Facebook, Twitter, or via other digital means a violation of the state’s school code, even if the bullying happens outside of school hours.
A letter sent out to parents in the Triad Community Unit School District #2, a district located just over the Missouri-Illinois line near St. Louis, that was obtained by Motherboard says that school officials can demand students give them their passwords. The full letter is embedded below.
“If your child has an account on a social networking website, e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ask.fm, etc., please be aware that State law requires school authorities to notify you that your child may be asked to provide his or her password for these accounts to school officials in certain circumstances,” the letter says.
Parenting Advice from America’s “Worst Mom”
The damning criticism she endured, including a threat of arrest for child endangerment, intensified her desire to encourage anxious parents to give their children the freedom they need to develop the self-confidence and resilience to cope effectively with life’s many challenges.
One result was the publication in 2009 of her book “Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts With Worry).” A second result is the Free Range Kids Project and a 13-part series, starting Thursday on Discovery Life Channel, called “World’s Worst Mom.” In it, Ms. Skenazy intervenes to rescue bubble-wrapped kids from their overprotective parents by guiding the children safely through a sequence of once-forbidden activities and showing their anxious parents how well the children perform and how proud they are of what they accomplished.
The term “helicopter parents” applies to far more than those who hover relentlessly over their children’s academic and musical development. As depicted in the first episode of the series, it applies to 10-year-old Sam’s very loving mother who wouldn’t let him ride a bike (“she’s afraid I’ll fall and get hurt”), cut up his own meat (“Mom thinks I’ll cut my fingers off”), or play “rough sports” like skating. The plea from a stressed-out, thwarted Sam: “I just want to do things by myself.”
Commentary on Indefinite Tenure
A specter haunting the academy today is of an intellectually wizened white male professoriate refusing to step aside for au courant, energetic, ambitious, and of course diverse younger faculty. Part of a larger concern with tenure itself, the fear in question is that tenured old-timers, of which I am one, are holding fast to financial and administrative perks, limiting institutional control and stifling institutional development in the process.
Sometimes the fear is expressed openly. Intractable seniors, according to a recent, widely debated Chronicle Review post (“The Forever Professors”) often “crush the young” through their “selfish[ness].” A law school colleague argues that, having enjoyed our share of university bounty, responsible seniors should facilitate succession by quickly and gracefully exiting the stage. Such a development might be contrasted with what is actually happening today: seniors in effect extorting rich buyouts to retire.
More of the time, of course, the critique is not explicit. Yet who among us seniors has not felt the sting of “what are you still doing here, gramps” looks from junior law faculty and deans?
A visceral response to critics may be tempting here, but we must show our maturity. Beating up the young for impertinence would show both ignorance and hypocrisy. Inter-generational, oedipal struggle, we have learned, is the way of the world, and, it must be admitted, many of us felt the same way 30 years ago about our predecessors in law. They would never have gotten their jobs in the competitive environment of 1985, we self-righteously told ourselves, just like we would not get ours in today’s environment, when two good law review articles are required just for a job interview.
Education and class: America’s new aristocracy
WHEN the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination line up on stage for their first debate in August, there may be three contenders whose fathers also ran for president. Whoever wins may face the wife of a former president next year. It is odd that a country founded on the principle of hostility to inherited status should be so tolerant of dynasties. Because America never had kings or lords, it sometimes seems less inclined to worry about signs that its elite is calcifying.
Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types—a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law—but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves.
Now they are beginning to find out, (see article), because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.
America is one of only three advanced countries where the government spends more on schools in rich areas than in poor ones. Its university fees have risen 17 times as fast as median incomes since 1980, partly to pay for pointless bureaucracy and flashy buildings. And many universities offer “legacy” preferences, favouring the children of alumni in admissions.
Many schools are in the grip of one of the most anti-meritocratic forces in America: the teachers’ unions, which resist any hint that good teaching should be rewarded or bad teachers fired. To fix this, and the scandal of inequitable funding, the system should become both more and less local. Per-pupil funding should be set at the state level and tilted to favour the poor. Dollars should follow pupils, through a big expansion of voucher schemes or charter schools. In this way, good schools that attract more pupils will grow; bad ones will close or be taken over. Unions and their Democratic Party allies will howl, but experiments in cities such as battered New Orleans have shown that school choice works.
Familiar themes in Madison, where one size fits all reigns, while spending double the national average per student.
Most Chicago public school students who switch schools after closing “bad schools ” chose higher performing institutions
Though most of the 11,000 students who were pushed out when Chicago Public Schools permanently closed their schools in 2013 ended up at schools the district deemed higher-performing, a third still landed at schools with CPS’ lowest rating.
When closing a record 50 schools, CPS promised children would end up in better schools but just 20 percent of students ended up at schools with the district’s top rating, according to a new report published Thursday by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Via Molly Beck.
Look at the UK’s free school lunch policy
WHILE five-year-old Lewis Heudi gets a hot school meal his older brother Sebastian does not.
Staff at Woodstock Primary School can see the situation is unfair and are trying to do something about it.
But they have missed out on Government funding that would have allowed them to build new kitchen facilities to provide hot lunches for all pupils.
The county council bid to the Department for Education for about £1.1m for six schools following the government’s free school meals scheme for infants aged four to seven.
Under the government scheme, pupils across the country aged four to seven get free school meals but Key Stage Two pupils aged seven to 11 have to pay for hot lunches.
Three schools were awarded grant funding but Woodstock Primary, in Shipton Road, was not one of them.
Why lowering (UK) tuition fees is more complicated than you think
Labour is toying with the idea of fiddling with the English university tuition fees system, but doing so may have counterintuitive effects.
Early in the parliament, Labour said their preferred policy was to introduce a £6,000 upper limit on what universities in England can charge students each year – not £9,000, as it currently stands. But they haven’t committed to it – and there are a range of good reasons why they might not.
First, it would rile the universities. Labour has sought to soothe their concerns by promising university vice-chancellors it would make up the difference in their institutions’ income.
But this is probably not a good deal for the universities, who have no guarantee that this money – which could eventually increase the usual measure of public spending by around £2bn a year – would not be taken from their other state-backed budgets. Nor do they know how it would be distributed.
Kaiser study: Clusters of unvaccinated children in Bay Area
Researchers have identified several geographic hot spots in the Bay Area where parents are not vaccinating their children, triggering concern about potential outbreaks of dangerous and preventable infectious diseases.
This unique study — which uses statistical software to match electronic medical records to home addresses of Kaiser patients — reveals precisely where physicians can target their vaccination efforts and detect disease outbreaks quicker.
One cluster is in the East Bay communities of El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda, where parents rejected vaccines for 10.2 percent of children. The second was in the northern part of San Francisco, as well as Marin County and the southwestern part of Sonoma County, with a 6.6 percent rate of vaccine refusal.
“Anecdotally, doctors have reported that a lot of parents in a particular neighborhood or county have hesitations about vaccines,” said lead investigator Dr. Tracy A. Lieu of Kaiser’s Division of Research, based in Oakland. “This is the first time we’ve used computers to actually find these clusters.”
The Rising Costs of Youth Sports, in Money and Emotion
“What I hope parents understand is that there are some three million high school players and by the time they scale that down to the quarterback position there are a couple of hundred thousand starters,” he said. “Then you get to Division I and II, and there are 360 quarterbacks. When you get to the N.F.L. there are 64. When you think about the odds, that’s not very good odds.”
Even so, he said, football can provide children with opportunities they might not have had otherwise. Mr. Trombley agreed, saying he looked at baseball and football as sports that might get him into a better college than he would otherwise.
“There is no question that baseball got me into Duke University,” he said. “I think I lucked out making it a profession. It just kind of happened by accident. It wasn’t all or nothing. We stress that with our kids: It’s wonderful to play a sport, but it could go away.”
Yet today, Mr. Trombley, 47, a financial adviser in his hometown, Wilbraham, Mass., laments that the highest level of youth sports may be out of reach for many children. He said the farthest he ever traveled for a game was a couple of towns over, but recently his family drove hours to a weekend-long high school tournament in New Jersey.
Mark Hyman, an assistant professor at George Washington University who has written books on youth sports, said that parents whose goal is to give their children the best chance in life or to get them a scholarship to college were not looking at the statistics.
“Parents think these investments are justified; they think it will lead to a full ride to college,” he said. “That’s highly misinformed. The percentage of high school kids who go on to play in college is extremely small. In most sports it’s under 5 percent. And the number for kids getting school aid is even smaller — it’s 3 percent.”
His advice? “What I tell parents is if you want to get a scholarship for your kids, you’re better off investing in a biology tutor than a quarterback coach,” he said. “There’s much more school dollars for academics.”
For parents, now begins the anxious waiting game for college financial aid
For the many high-school seniors who already have submitted their college admissions applications, the season of waiting for an acceptance letter has begun. For their parents, there’s a different anxiety-ridden waiting game: For the financial-aid offers that will spell out just how much this is all going to cost.
Paying for college is now a lot like buying a plane ticket. You have no idea how much the person sitting next to you is paying because most schools discount their tuition to maximize their enrollment numbers and revenue. It’s no different than the airlines trying to fill as many of their seats at the highest prices.
The average discount for first-year students at private colleges is now a staggering 46 percent. But who gets a discount and how big of one a student gets is less straightforward than ever before. It used to be that colleges awarded their own aid dollars based mostly on a student’s finances: the more your family made, the more you usually paid, unless you were an exceptional student the school really wanted.
But with more and more colleges widely employing the practice of “enrollment management” during the past three decades, the distribution of financial aid has become a lot less predictable. Now everyone, regardless of income, believes they deserve some sort of financial help. Half of colleges “front-load” their aid, meaning they give more to students the first year of college than in the subsequent years, hoping an emotional attachment will keep students enrolled.
64 Dartmouth College students face discipline over cheating
Up to 64 Dartmouth College students — including some athletes — could face suspension or other disciplinary action for cheating in an ethics class this past fall.
Dartmouth officials said students implicated in the cheating scandal misrepresented their attendance and participation in the undergraduate course, “Sports, Ethics & Religion.”
The class used electronic hand-held “clickers,” registered to individual students, to answer in-class questions. Officials at the Hanover, N.H., college said the students charged with cheating either gave their clickers to classmates instead of attending class themselves, or helped others cheat by using the clickers to answer questions on their behalf.
Some of the students have been found in violation of the school’s honor code and have been told they will be suspended for one term, a college official with knowledge of the proceedings said.
Students gain access to Stanford Admissions files
The Fountain Hopper started in September and gained a widespread following with an irreverent take on campus news, sent out two or three times a week by e-mail to most undergraduates. The students who run it soon turned their attention to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law known by the acronym Ferpa that was passed in 1974 and amended several times since. It stipulates that students have a right to see their educational records.
Not quite knowing what to expect, the Fountain Hopper leaders got several students, including some who are not involved in the newsletter, to request every record the university had on them. At least one student has received the records, and said he was surprised by what he got back: several hundred pages, including a log of every time his electronic identification card had been used to unlock a door, and those admission records.
On Thursday night, the Fountain Hopper sent messages to its subscribers, urging them to request their records and describing the process, with a set of links to click on, showing them where to send the request and how to word it. A Fountain Hopper staff member said that in less than 24 hours, more than 700 people had clicked on all of the links.
Standardized testing opponents find themselves on the wrong side of civil rights
On Monday U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined his wish-list for the next iteration of No Child Left Behind. It will be the seventh generation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which began in 1965.
Duncan again emphasized the administration’s support for mandatory standardized testing of children in grades three through eight.
The anti-testing cadre gave a collective hiss on the internet. Nothing new there: opposition to annual standardized student assessments is the new craze. But, remarkably, sloganeers of “toxic testing,” including teacher union leaders and suburban parents, find themselves at odds with some of America’s most prominent civil rights groups.
From a statement issued earlier this month from an umbrella group called The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights”
New Jersey Education Association’s Finances
Having Chris Christie as governor doesn’t seem to have affected the New Jersey Education Association’s revenues, but it certainly affected its political spending. The union sent $1 million to its candidate PAC, $5.5 million to Garden State Forward and $3 million to One New Jersey (both SuperPACs).
NJEA also spread cash to outside advocacy groups both large and small. It contributed $550,000 to the Education Law Center and $5,000 to FairTest.
NJEA executive officers do particularly well salary-wise, plus each receives an annual $1,000 in clothing allowance.
Total membership – 200,314, up 5,356
Total revenue – $126.5 million (90% came from member dues), up $2.7 million
Budget surplus – $3.2 million
Commentary on Wisconsin’s K-12 Governance model
So now, Walker wants to go back to letting parental choice drive quality?
There are those who agree. George Mitchell, a central and adamant figure in the history of voucher advocacy, sent me an email last week, saying, among other things:
“If there was a true open enrollment system in Wisconsin that included private and charter schools, a system that ALL parents were eligible for, a system that did not give ‘public’ schools a decided fiscal advantage, there would be an accountability revolution.
“This would require that the state provide parents with Consumer Reports-style information. The result, among other things, would be a meaningful reduction in the number of low-performing schools.”
Mitchell added, “…given the demonstrable inability of officials and experts in Madison to craft an alternative, what could go wrong in giving true parent-based accountability a try?
“Such a system would not be perfect. I only argue that it would be (far) better compared to the current system.”
There was little evidence that Republican legislative leaders were buying Walker’s idea that there was no need for bureaucrats to create steps for dealing with low success schools.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was quoted saying that passing a bill that didn’t include state-initiated ways aimed at change “would just be political theater.” Rep. Jim Steineke, majority leader of the Assembly, posted an essay online, saying, “It is unconscionable that we would look at the children left at these schools and tell them that by slapping a grade on their schools, we have somehow accomplished something.”
On the one hand, you have to ask if Walker is serious about what he said — or is he, perhaps, striking a posture that might help position him in the race for the Republican presidential nomination? If he’s serious, will he really push for no new government-based accountability steps, except something like better report cards?
Superkids K-2 Core Reading Program From Rowland Reading Foundation
Zaner-Bloser via a kind reader:
Rowland Reading Foundation, of Madison, Wisconsin, today announced the acquisition of its Superkids Reading Program by Zaner-Bloser, an educational publisher providing curricula and digital resources in literacy, language arts, writing instruction and handwriting.
The Superkids program is a rigorous phonics-based literacy curriculum that integrates reading with writing, spelling and grammar for students in kindergarten through second grade. It features a cast of characters called the Superkids whose adventures are told in its books and online materials.
The program was written by Pleasant Rowland, creator of American Girl®, and developed by Rowland Reading Foundation, whose mission is to improve reading instruction in the primary grades. In addition to its Superkids curriculum, the Foundation provides classroom coaching and professional development for teachers and conducts research into effective reading instruction.
“Teaching children how to read and to love to read has been my personal passion and the focus of my career,” said Ms. Rowland, chairman of Rowland Reading Foundation. “As I approached retirement, I wanted to find a good home for Superkids. I believe Zaner-Bloser is that good home, not only because of its long commitment to literacy for young children but, of greater importance, because the missions and values of our two organizations are so closely aligned.”
Disastrous reading results have long been a challenge in Madison.
Cracking Down on Skipping Class
Skipping class undetected for a game of ultimate Frisbee might become a thing of the past as more universities adopt mandatory-attendance policies and acquire high-tech trackers that snitch when students skip.
At Villanova University, student ID cards track attendance at some lectures. Administrators at University of Arkansas last semester began electronically monitoring the class attendance of 750 freshmen as part of a pilot program they might extend to all underclassman. And at Harvard, researchers secretly filmed classrooms to learn how many students were skipping lectures.
The moves reflect the rising financial consequence of skipping too many classes and, consequently, dropping out. More than four in 10 full-time college students fail to graduate in six years. Many are stuck with crippling student debt and no credentials to help them pay it back. Graduation rates also figure into closely watched school rankings.
Academic Job archives
Around last year at this time, I became interested in what the archived editions of the MLA Job Information List could tell us about how the profession has changed over time. The MLA provided page-scans of all the JILs going back to 1965, and Jim Ridolfo used commercial OCR software to make them searchable. Once the documents were searchable, finding the first occurrence of various key words and graphing their frequency over time became feasible. One detail that became clear to me as I read each single issue of the JIL was that the formats differed enough to make graphs of relative frequencies somewhat misleading. Some of the editions are three times the size of others, and even normalizing over years doesn’t necessarily help here. So this image, for example, of the relative frequency of “shakespeare” in the JIL, needs additional interpretation:
College Ratings and Affordable Education
On Friday, December 19, 2014, the Department of Education released its much-awaited “College Ratings Framework” paper. One key goal of the proposed ratings system is to help students, particularly those who are underprivileged, make better, more affordable college choices. Will the new ratings system help achieve this goal?
There are reasons to believe that students from the middle- and lower-income tiers of society are not making affordable college choices. College debt has been rising sharply over the past several years, with $33,000 now being the average amount owed by a graduating student. For poorer students, college debt is even higher, even with financial aid factored in. Furthermore, this figure does not account for the nearly 50 percent of freshmen who will never graduate, in many cases because high college debt forced them to drop out.
Such debt seems high compared with what it should be, especially for lower-income students. The national average for annual college tuition at a four-year public college is a little less than $7,500. At a public community college, it is $3,000. However, the “net price” (i.e., including living costs and supplies), for a stay-at-home, in-state, low-income student, after considering grants and scholarships and living costs, is substantially lower. For example, while tuition at San Jose State University (which, incidentally, is the single largest source of engineers who work in Silicon Valley) is $7,500, equal to the national average, the net price for a stay-at-home student with a family income of $40,000 is $5,500. And the net price for such a student at Foothill College, a community college from which students may transfer to San Jose State University, is $3,300. In such a case, over a four-year period, a student who spends two years at the community college and then transfers to the four-year college will accumulate debt of $17,600, even if the student and his family are unable to contribute anything.
Considering K-12 Governance Changes
While those ideas get batted around, here’s what’s been going on in state-run districts in other states:
The Louisiana Legislature created the Recovery School District in 2003 and gave it more latitude to reshape the landscape of schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Today the Recovery School District comprises 57 independent charter schools enrolling more than 30,000 students in New Orleans, according to the organization’s annual report.
The standardized test scores for the district rose faster than any other public school system in the state, according to results from spring 2013.
But others have questioned reports of academic improvement for children in the system.
The Achievement School District in Tennessee was created in 2010 as a result of the state’s winning application for Race to the Top federal education funds.
According to its website, the district intends to be overseeing 30 schools and about 10,000 students by 2015-’16.
The goal of the Achievement School District is to boost the state’s bottom 5% of schools into the top 25% of schools, either by running them itself, or selecting charter school management companies to do so. The Achievement School District answers to the Tennessee Department of Education.
Long term disastrous reading results surely merits more than status quo governance.
Inside a Chinese a Test a Prep Factory
The main street of Maotanchang, a secluded town in the furrowed hills of eastern China’s Anhui province, was nearly deserted. A man dozed on a motorized rickshaw, while two old women with hoes shuffled toward the rice paddies outside town. It was 11:44 on a Sunday morning last spring, and the row of shops selling food, tea and books by the pound stood empty. Even the town’s sacred tree lured no supplicants; beneath its broad limbs, a single bundle of incense smoldered on a pile of ash.
One minute later, at precisely 11:45, the stillness was shattered. Thousands of teenagers swarmed out of the towering front gate of Maotanchang High School. Many of them wore identical black-and-white Windbreakers emblazoned with the slogan, in English, “I believe it, I can do it.” It was lunchtime at one of China’s most secretive “cram schools” — a memorization factory where 20,000 students, or four times the town’s official population, train round the clock for China’s national college-entrance examination, known as the gaokao. The grueling test, which is administered every June over two or three days (depending on the province), is the lone criterion for admission to Chinese universities. For the students at Maotanchang, most of whom come from rural areas, it offers the promise of a life beyond the fields and the factories, of families’ fortunes transformed by hard work and high scores.
The Hidden Student-Debt Bomb
It is time to re-evaluate how we measure the performance of student-loan programs—particularly whether borrowers are or are not meeting their obligations. The traditional measures of nonrepayment—delinquencies and defaults—might be fine for most types of loans, but not for outstanding student loans, nearly all of which are held or backed by the federal government. Lawmakers have provided students with options that let them punt on repayment without triggering delinquency or default. Lately, students have been availing themselves of those options at rising levels.
The forbearance benefit, for example, lets borrowers postpone payments for up to three years. By law, loan-servicing companies have a lot of discretion to grant forbearances, and getting one usually takes only a phone call on the part of the borrower. Some borrowers might have to complete a simple form and meet a payment-to-income test. But overall it is the easiest and fastest way for a borrower to suspend student-loan payments.
What are the best ways to learn a language as an adult?
I set up a routine where I did the same things every day.
In the mornings, I woke up and wrote out longhand the regular and irregular verb tables for 1.5-2 hours. I managed to get through an entire pad of paper in two weeks. I still believe that writing things out by hand is the best way to memorize things.
While I wrote, I would listen to Michel Thomas’ language learning mp3s (http://www.michelthomas.com/). On the CDs you listen as he teaches French to other English speakers. It’s really helpful to hear other students make mistakes that you can learn from, just like a regular classroom environment. In two weeks I listened to the foundation, advanced and language building courses twice.
I would run for 45-60 minutes in the early afternoon in the French countryside listening to catchy French music. Music is a great way to learn the intonation of a language and train your facial muscles as you sing along.
Free speech is so last century. Today’s students want the ‘right to be comfortable’
Have you met the Stepford students? They’re everywhere. On campuses across the land. Sitting stony-eyed in lecture halls or surreptitiously policing beer-fuelled banter in the uni bar. They look like students, dress like students, smell like students. But their student brains have been replaced by brains bereft of critical faculties and programmed to conform. To the untrained eye, they seem like your average book-devouring, ideas-discussing, H&M-adorned youth, but anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in their company will know that these students are far more interested in shutting debate down than opening it up.
I was attacked by a swarm of Stepford students this week. On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious feministic Oxford students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings ‘who do not have uteruses’ should get to hold forth on abortion — identity politics at its most basely biological — and claimed the debate would threaten the ‘mental safety’ of Oxford students. Three hundred promised to turn up to the debate with ‘instruments’ — heaven knows what — that would allow them to disrupt proceedings.
Commentary on education reform and status quo governance
There is growing evidence that the corporate-sponsored education reform project is on its last legs. The crazy patchwork of half-assed solutions on offer for the past decade have one by one failed to deliver, and one by one they are falling. Can the edifice survive once its pillars of support have crumbled?
Teach For America: This project had as its central premise the idea that what was wrong with the teaching profession was that not enough really smart people were becoming teachers. So we will recruit some high flyers and fill the gaps in high needs schools. And because these folks are sooo smart, they do not need the year or two of preparation that regular old teachers needed – they could learn to crunch data, manage a class and prepare for tests in just five weeks. And if they leave after a couple of years, that’s ok too. They can transform education as the next generation of leaders and policymakers, because they will have brains that classroom experience, and TFA’s no excuses philosophy to guide them.
But this year TFA is hitting some serious headwinds. They are finding that recruitment has dropped for some reason, and the organization is even closing its New York training institute office. Perhaps students have been finding out some of the problems with the program, discovering in advance that five weeks is not adequate preparation for the challenge of teaching in a challenging school. Perhaps potential recruits have encountered TFA alums sharing their experiences, or even some of those organizing to resist the program. And word may have leaked out that TFA is not the best vehicle for those concerned with social justice – given that corps members are sometimes being used to replace veteran teachers.
We cannot pass laws that declare others “accountable” for making sure 100% of our children will be proficient and act as though we have accomplished something. It is time to go back to basic premises, and in every community, ask ourselves what we want from our schools? How can we meet the challenge of educating all our children – not leaving any behind? The answers will not come easily or cheaply. But just as a previous generation faced the challenge of the 20th century Civil Rights movement, our generation must respond.
Status quo governance has a substantial price as well – see Madison’s long term disastrous reading results -despite spending double the national average per student.
Turkish schoolboy accused of insulting president is released from custody
A Turkish teenager has been released from custody after his arrest for allegedly insulting the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, caused uproar.
The 16-year-old student, Mehmet Emin Altunses, was taken away from his school on Wednesday and jailed for making a speech during a student protest in which he reportedly said Erdoğan was regarded as the “thieving owner of the illegal palace”.
It was a reference to a government corruption scandal as well as a controversial 1,150-room palace Erdoğan inaugurated in October.
New Orleans parents need more help choosing a public school, report says
New Orleans public school parents are happy with their children’s schools and tend to think the system is headed in the right direction, but need more good options and more information.
That’s according to a December report on school choice from the Center on Reinventing Public Education that gathered the feelings of 4,000 parents and guardians in New Orleans and seven other cities, including Detroit, Mich., and Washington, D.C.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans abolished default neighborhood school assignments. Now, every family chooses a school, and it can get complicated. Adding to the challenge, there is no central administration: the system is decentralized, with both state and local administrations overseeing mostly independent charter schools.
The report praises the city’s efforts to make school choice easier for parents. New Orleans was the only city that has made “significant” investments in parent information, enrollment and transportation, the report said. For instance, several organizations issue guides to schools that include test scores, lists of extracurricular activities and the like.
High Teacher Scores Bring New Scrutiny
The vast majority of teachers and principals across New York got high grades for their work last year, state data showed Tuesday, prompting top education officials to call for tougher evaluations.
The release marked the first time New York City teachers received ratings under a new state-imposed system that aims to be more rigorous and objective than in the past.
State data showed 9.2% of city teachers were deemed highly effective, 82.5% were effective, 7% developing and 1.2% ineffective.
Outside the city, teachers got even better reviews, partly because each district had some leeway in setting goals for performance. Beyond city borders, about 58% were deemed highly effective. Last year was those districts’ second under new evaluation systems.
Related: When A Stands for Average.
Via Laura Waters.
U.S. Child Study Canceled After $1.3 Billion
The U.S. government canceled one of its most ambitious health research projects, an effort to follow 100,000 children from before birth through adolescence, after spending about $1.3 billion since 2007 without it ever really getting off the ground.
Run by the National Institutes of Health, the study was to collect data on child health and development in the hope of discovering insights into autism and other maladies.
Administrative difficulties and the project’s spiraling costs alarmed NIH Director Francis Collins, who ordered an evaluation of the study after the National Academy of Sciences raised concerns in a June 16 report.
The project was authorized by Congress in 2000 yet never got past a small pilot study to test research methods. The study “as currently designed is not feasible,” Collins said in a Dec. 12 statement on the NIH’s website.
Elsevier retracting 16 papers for faked peer review
Sixteen papers are being retracted across three Elsevier journals after the publisher discovered that one of the authors, Khalid Zaman, orchestrated fake peer reviews by submitting false contact information for his suggested reviewers.
This particular kind of scam has been haunting online peer review for a few year now, as loyal Retraction Watch readers know. This one is a classic of the genre: According to Elsevier’s director of publishing services, Catriona Fennell, an editor first became suspicious after noticing that Zaman’s suggested reviewers, all with non-institutional addresses, were unusually kind to the economist’s work.
Elsevier has actually hired a full-time staff member with a PhD in physics and history as a managing editor to do the grunt work on cases like this. Flags were first raised in August, at which point the ethics watchdog went to town digging through all of Zaman’s other publications looking for suspicious reviews coming from non-institutional addresses provided by the scientist, an economist at COMSATS Information Technology Center in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
2015: Reimagine College
In 2015 we are likely to see such a full-blown invasion and transformation of higher education. This will have profound and beneficial consequences for the education and finances of millions of young Americans and their parents.
Pressure for change and the signs of radical reorganization of college and universities have been gathering in recent years, with such things as the growth of online course, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and upstart colleges offering low-cost degrees. The higher-education establishment has ignored or tried to dismiss the warning signs – just as travel agents and the old phone companies did.
But 2015 could open the floodgates. If you have a child in middle or high school, here are four things you can expect to see when you are planning for their college in the next few years:
K-12 cannot be far behind.
School Finds Music Is the Food of Learning At Voice Charter School in Queens, Students Have Outperformed Their Peers Academically
Academically, students at Voice did significantly better than the city average on New York State math exams last year, with 70 percent of its students passing, compared with 39 percent citywide. Their English performance was less impressive, but with 39 percent passing, it still beat the citywide average of 30 percent.
The children, each in a uniform of a sky-blue shirt and navy skirt or slacks, are instructed to be quiet in the hallways and asked not to shriek during gym class, to protect order as well as their voices. But what really distinguishes the school are the sounds. Songs in English, Spanish, Japanese and German drift through the buildings, pens rhythmically tap against any convenient hard surface, and little bursts of music surface even where they are not meant to be.
College ratings draft light on details
The highly anticipated draft release issued Friday morning was delayed twice before officials settled on an “end of the fall” deadline. (The winter solstice is Sunday.) It’s largely a list of things the department is considering in its analysis of which institutions offer students and families the biggest bang for their buck.
And half the metrics — all of which aim to measure accessibility, affordability and outcomes — can’t even be measured right now. All told, it could be at least a few years before the system that the Obama administration envisions will be in place, though the plan is to rate more than 4,000 two- and four-year colleges by the start of the next academic year. And it will have to survive any challenges by Congress or the next administration.
“The question is, will we actually see ratings for the 2015-16 school year,” said Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University and expert on college ratings. “I’d be surprised … to be honest.”
But in the draft, the department didn’t back down from that schedule. Officials want more input on the ratings framework, which they say was “based on extensive consultation with stakeholders and experts,” and are taking comments through Feb. 17.
Sizing Up the College Rating System
Last year, President Obama announced that his administration would, by the beginning of the 2015 academic year, rate America’s colleges “on who’s offering the best value, so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.”
Then the president charged the Department of Education with figuring out how, exactly, to build a rating system so that schools that enroll low-income students and give them a good, affordable education would be rewarded and recognized while those that don’t would be penalized and shamed.
This has proved to be a complicated task.
Private colleges are a waste of money for white, middle class kids
Many parents whose kids have their eye on an exclusive, private college face a difficult question: Is it worth unloading your life’s savings or having your child take on tens of thousands of dollars in student loans?
The average four-year private college costs over $42,000 a year for tuition, room and board, after all, while the average four-year public school costs less than half that — $18,943 for in-state students, according to the College Board. So the question is really, really important, especially at a time when nearly half of recent college grads have a job that doesn’t even require a degree.
Fortunately, for many Americans — white, middle-class kids — there’s an easy answer: Don’t pay more to go to a private college.
That means choosing the University of California over Pomona, the State University of New York over NYU and the University of Maryland over nearby American or George Washington.
Identifying Autism from Neural Representations of Social Interactions: Neurocognitive Markers of Autism
Marcel Adam, Vladimir L. Cherkassky, Augusto Buchweitz, Timothy A. Keller, Tom M. Mitchell::
Autism is a psychiatric/neurological condition in which alterations in social interaction (among other symptoms) are diagnosed by behavioral psychiatric methods. The main goal of this study was to determine how the neural representations and meanings of social concepts (such as to insult) are altered in autism. A second goal was to determine whether these alterations can serve as neurocognitive markers of autism. The approach is based on previous advances in fMRI analysis methods that permit (a) the identification of a concept, such as the thought of a physical object, from its fMRI pattern, and (b) the ability to assess the semantic content of a concept from its fMRI pattern. These factor analysis and machine learning methods were applied to the fMRI activation patterns of 17 adults with high-functioning autism and matched controls, scanned while thinking about 16 social interactions. One prominent neural representation factor that emerged (manifested mainly in posterior midline regions) was related to self-representation, but this factor was present only for the control participants, and was near-absent in the autism group. Moreover, machine learning algorithms classified individuals as autistic or control with 97% accuracy from their fMRI neurocognitive markers. The findings suggest that psychiatric alterations of thought can begin to be biologically understood by assessing the form and content of the altered thought’s underlying brain activation patterns.
The MBA is losing its magic
Terence Tse and Mark Esposito:
hat is the staying power of an MBA education? Why year after year do students sign up for the countless MBA programmes across the world? Are they after new skills? Maybe. Eager to learn about the latest academic research output? Unlikely. Keen to go through a learning experience? Possibly. In search of a networking opportunity? Most certainly.
But perhaps a principle motive is to boost their career prospects. The notion that the harder you work, the higher you will climb the corporate — and therefore social — ladder is rooted in our DNA. Very often, this also translates into the higher you are in the corporate echelons, the more successful you are. For many, an MBA degree promises to deliver this; for anyone wishing to progress in their career, just get an MBA and its magic will do the rest.
The SAT is meaningless because it’s so easy to game
I scored a perfect 1600 when I took the SAT test in 2004.
A year after graduating from Princeton, I founded and ran The Edge in College Prep, an elite test preparation and admissions counseling company. Now, as the founder of Admittedly, a college advisory platform and an expert on these high stake tests, I’m convinced they shouldn’t be such a large part of the higher education decision-making game.
There are many, many reasons to take issue with these tests. But one of the reasons which resonates most with me is that it is so easy to improve someone’s score by 20%, 30% even 40%. That kind of improvement shouldn’t even be possible on a test that is supposedly designed to measure aptitude.
Our Teacher Diversity Problem Is Not Just About Recruitment. It’s About Retention.
As a fifth-grade student in Clarksville, Tennessee, a small city near Nashville, I constantly got in trouble. Just about every day, I came home with a pink slip. I didn’t always know what I’d done wrong. But I knew the pink slips weren’t good and that three of them added up to detention. That’s where I—one of only a few black students at the school—spent countless afternoons.
The teacher, who was white, told my mother that I moved around too much and finished assignments too quickly. The teacher said she didn’t understand me; she suggested I get tested for attention deficit disorder.
My mother had a different interpretation. You were “a black student she couldn’t control,” she told me recently. “She wanted a reason for that.”
I was the child of an Army officer, so we moved around a lot. I attended seven different public schools in six states before leaving home for college. In all, I had just one black teacher: Mrs. Bishop, at MacArthur Elementary School in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. That year was my strongest academically. I’m convinced there was a reason for that.
A black hole for our best and brightest
The thing Deborah Jackson remembers from her first interviews at Goldman Sachs is the slogan. It was stamped on the glass doors of the offices in the investment bank’s headquarters just off Wall Street, the lure of the place in two words, eight syllables: “Uncommon capability.”
Jackson joined Goldman in 1980, fresh from business school and steeped in the workings of government and finance. She found crackerjack colleagues and more business than she could handle. She worked in municipal finance, lending money to local governments, hospitals and nonprofits around the country. She flew first class to scout potential deals — “The issue was, can you really be productive if you’re in a tiny seat in the back?” — and when the time came to seal one, she’d welcome clients and their attorneys to Manhattan’s best restaurants.
As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up
A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published.
Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years — allowing machines to mimic the human mind — are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.
And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.
Americans Want Democratic Candidates Who Will “Modernize the Teaching Profession”
Third Way, a global research group, has a report today on a recent survey that asked voters what they want to hear from Democratic candidates on the American public education system. The authors note that as recently as twenty years ago, Democrats were widely trusted by voters on education issues, but that support has faltered. Currently, Democratic candidates best GOP candidates by only eight points when voters consider which party will more reliably protect and improve public education. Regard for teacher unions has fallen as well:
In addition, to the extent that the endorsement of teachers’ unions was crucial in the past to a Democratic candidate’s election, the numbers no longer tell that story. Only 20% of voters say they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who is endorsed by the national teachers’ unions—a mirror image of the 21% who say that endorsement would make them less likely to support that candidate. A solid majority of voters (54%) say it would make no difference, including 59% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, 62% of liberals, and 46% of teachers.
Doctorates Up, Career Prospects Not
Universities are awarding doctoral degrees at an accelerating pace, despite the fact that the career prospects of those who receive their Ph.D.s appear to be worsening.
That dichotomy is among the starker findings of the annual data on doctorate recipients from the National Science Foundation, drawn from a survey sponsored by the foundation and other federal agencies and conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The data may for some reinforce the idea that institutions are turning out more Ph.D. recipients than can be absorbed, at least in some fields.
American universities awarded 52,760 doctorates in 2013, up 3.5 percent from nearly 50,977 in 2012 and nearly 8 percent from 48,903 in 2011. Those large increases followed several years of much smaller increases and one decline (in 2010) since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008, as seen in the chart below.
NEW REPORT: Most U.S. Colleges Violate Students’ Free Speech Rights
Foundation for individual rights in education:
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its 2015 report and interactive infographic on campus speech codes across America today. FIRE’s findings show that more than half of the 437 schools analyzed maintain policies severely restricting students’ right to free speech.
“Most universities continue to enforce speech codes that don’t satisfy First Amendment standards,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “For the seventh consecutive year, however, the percentage of speech codes has dropped, and we’re happy to see that. But the federal government’s efforts to address sexual harassment on campus are leading a number of universities to adopt flatly unconstitutional speech policies.” Lukianoff added, “The greatest threat to free speech on campus may now be the federal government.”
Major findings from Spotlight on Speech Codes 2015: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses include:
K – 12 tax and spending climate: ongoing property tax increases and the “lost middle class”
One day in 1967, Bob Thompson sprayed foam on a hunk of metal in a cavernous factory south of Los Angeles. And then another day, not too long after, he sat at a long wood bar with a black-and-white television hanging over it, and he watched that hunk of metal land a man on the moon.
On July 20, 1969 — the day of the landing — Thompson sipped his Budweiser and thought about all the people who had ever stared at that moon. Kings and queens and Jesus Christ himself. He marveled at how when it came time to reach it, the job started in Downey. The bartender wept.
On a warm day, almost a half-century later, Thompson curled his mouth beneath a white beard and talked about the bar that fell to make way for a freeway, the space-age factory that closed down and the town that is still waiting for its next great economic rocket, its new starship to the middle class.
Meanwhile, Madison schools’ plan to seek additional property tax increases (2015 referendum – pdf board document) to find bricks and mortar. This proposal, rather ironically, perpetuates decades long demographic gaps.
Professors Grow Weary of Idea That Technology Can Salvage Higher Education
“They would just blather something,” said Arnold, who teaches higher education and educational administration. “They didn’t have a conversation. It was more like a hoop-jumping exercise.”
That was around 2008, and Arnold has avoided assigning online discussions ever since.
Like other faculty nationwide with memories of failed experiments such as these, she’s pushing back against the widespread notion that technology can necessarily improve teaching and cut costs.
“We are fooling ourselves that we’re getting more efficient,” she said.
It’s been a high-stakes bet. Universities and colleges are marketing themselves to tech-savvy teenagers while promising higher productivity and financial savings. They will pour $10.4 billion into education technology this year, according to the Center for Digital Education, from computers to in-class gadgets such as digital projectors and wireless “clickers” that let students answer questions electronically.