Category Archives: Student Support

Don’t expect less of low-income minority students and their families

Esther Cepeda

We’ve heard for years that when it comes to African-Americans, Hispanics and low-income minority communities in general, expectations for academic achievement are low.

Indeed, the Center for American Progress found in 2014 that 10th-grade teachers thought African-American students were 47 percent, and Hispanic students were 42 percent, less likely to graduate college than white students.

But parents and families of these students disagree. They want public schools to be rigorous and to set high expectations for their children.

According to a new nationwide survey conducted by the Leadership Conference Education Fund on the attitudes and aspirations of African-American and Hispanic parents — who were interviewed in person and via landline and cellphone, in both English and Spanish — a third of African-Americans and a quarter of Latinos do not believe that the nation’s schools are really trying to educate low-income students in their communities.

This belief goes hand in hand with these parents’ certainty that their students should be challenged more in school than they currently are to help ensure they are successful later in life.

This could be a potentially groundbreaking insight if we can get it into the heads of teachers.

You see, educators insist they have a particularly difficult time teaching low-income and minority students because these kids tend to show up in classrooms lacking the fundamentals of a stable home — reliable schedules, quiet places to study, nutritious meals, enough sleep, the ability to control impulses — that set them up for success in the classroom

If a child doesn’t do homework and does not participate constructively in class or show the adults in school respect — perhaps because the child does not have the basic routines and resources a college-educated teacher might expect at home — it becomes easy for teachers to believe that his or her parent must not care about the child’s education.

According to Wade Henderson, the Education Fund’s president, not only are minority parents (which his group calls “new majority parents,” since students of color are the new majority in schools) highly interested in their children’s education, they are “a sophisticated group of respondents who are savvy consumers of public education, want more funding for schools and more rigor for their kids.”

Interestingly, though one might have expected such a survey to confirm that African-American and Hispanic parents prioritize racial issues at school — due to news headlines about violence in schools and the school-to-prison pipeline — the parents who responded actually listed good teachers as the No. 1 important quality, by far, of a great school. Good core curricula and parental involvement rounded out the top three.

Not to say that diversity is completely unimportant to these families — it is in the eighth spot on a list of nine factors for ensuring great schools — but it certainly takes a back seat to the same qualities that white parents expect from their schools: adequate funding, low class size and high standards.

A full 90 percent of both African-American and Latino parents said that they believe expectations for low-income students should be either the same or higher than those of other students.

And both minority groups take personal responsibility quite seriously, saying that when low-income students succeed, it is mostly because of the support they receive at home. Their student’s own hard work is seen as the next biggest reason, while few parents cited schools as the driving factor in a low-income student’s success.

This is, potentially, a revelation for school systems, administrators and teachers who have for years equated poor educational outcomes for students with a lax attitude at home about academic potential.

If the results of this survey truly reflect the mindset of minority parents, then it bodes well for schools to partner with them. After all, education leaders are always talking about how crucial parents are to the task of catalyzing changes necessary to ensure low-income community schools meet their academic potential.

At a bare minimum, these findings should provide education policymakers a new lens through which to view low-income and minority students: Don’t underestimate them — and don’t expect less of their parents and families, either.

If schools endeavor to push these kids harder and expect them to achieve on par with their white peers, they are likely to find that parents, too, will rise to the challenge of helping their students succeed.

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How To Save Our Public Schools

Richard C. Morais:

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

Jennifer Fink:

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.

Julie Gould:

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.

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.

The Myth of Charter-School ‘Cherry Picking’

Eva Moskovitz:

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.

Thoughts on the Technical Track

Dan McKinley:

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.

Closing the math gap for boys

David Kirp:

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

To Protect His Son, A Father Asks School To Bar Unvaccinated Children

Lisa Aliferis:

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.

How to Build a Better Learner

Gary Stix:

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

Jason Koebler:

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.

Most Chicago public school students who switch schools after closing “bad schools ” chose higher performing institutions

Lauren Fitzpatrick:

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.

Why lowering (UK) tuition fees is more complicated than you think

Chris Cook:

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.

For parents, now begins the anxious waiting game for college financial aid

Jeffrey Selingo:

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.

Standardized testing opponents find themselves on the wrong side of civil rights

Laura Waters:

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”

Cracking Down on Skipping Class

Douglas Belkin:

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.

Private colleges are a waste of money for white, middle class kids

Max Ehrenfreund:

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.

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

Jessica Brondo Davidoff :

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.

Doctorates Up, Career Prospects Not

dog Lederman:

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.

The Einstein Paper Project Launches

Carl Straumshein:

The Einstein Papers Project, the decades-long effort to compile and preserve the scientist’s professional work and personal writings, is today opening to the public as a free searchable database containing thousands of documents.

The launch of the Digital Einstein Papers includes more than 5,000 documents that span the first 44 years of Albert Einstein’s life. As the organizations collaborating on the project — the California Institute of Technology (the project’s home), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (which houses the Albert Einstein Archives) and Princeton University Press — work to sort through tens of thousands of articles and letters, the website will grow to one day feature what the publisher said may be the first free digital collection of a prominent scientist’s complete works.

“The best Einstein source is now available to everyone, everywhere through the web,” said John D. Norton, a University of Pittsburgh professor of history and philosophy of science who wrote his dissertation on the history of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. “This is a great moment for Einstein scholarship.”

Teaching Essay Writing in Pyongyang

Suki Kim:

Essay was a much-dreaded word among my students. It was the fall of 2011, and I was teaching English at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea. Two hundred and seventy young men, and about 30 teachers, all Christian evangelicals besides me, were isolated together in a guarded compound, where our classes and movements were watched round the clock. Each lesson had to be approved by a group of North Korean staff known to us as the “counterparts.” Hoping to slip in information about the outside world, which we were not allowed to discuss, I had devised a lesson on essay writing, and it had been approved.

I had told my students that the essay would be as important as the final exam in calculating their grades for the semester, and they were very stressed. Each student was supposed to come up with his own topic and hand in a thesis and outline. When I asked them how it was going, they would sigh and say, “Disaster.”

I emphasized the importance of essays since, as scientists, they would one day have to write papers to prove their theories. But in reality, nothing was ever proven in their world, since everything was at the whim of the Great Leader. Their writing skills were as stunted as their research skills. Writing inevitably consisted of an endless repetition of his achievements, none of which was ever verified, since they lacked the concept of backing up a claim with evidence. A quick look at the articles in the daily newspaper revealed the exact same tone from start to finish, with neither progression nor pacing. There was no beginning and no end.

Milwaukee ranks high for teachers climbing pay scales, report says

Erin Richards:

When it comes to how fast teachers can climb the salary ladder, Milwaukee Public Schools is a better than average place to work, according to a new report that studies the nuances of teacher compensation in more than 100 large districts.

After adjusting for cost-of-living, the report ranked Milwaukee 16th among the big-city districts studied, based on teachers’ likely lifetime earnings and the number of years it would take them to reach a salary of $75,000.

But a recent adjustment to the MPS salary schedule — not captured by the report, which is based on 2013-’14 figures — would likely drop the district lower on the list.

The report, “Smart Money: What Teachers Make, How Long It Takes And What It Buys Them,” was released Wednesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington, D.C., think tank. It reviewed 2013-’14 teacher salary schedules for 113 school districts.

The report concludes that most school districts need to rethink their compensation systems, because offering traditional salary schedules with no way for educators to accelerate their earnings may be a hindrance to attracting and keeping high-quality talent.

America doesn’t have an education problem, it has a class problem

Matt Phillips

Since its birth, the US has always defined itself as a egalitarian meritocracy, fundamentally distinct from the class-ridden societies of Europe.
And at times, this has even been true. On the eve of the American Revolution, the income distribution of American colonists was far more equal than those of the mother country. “Indeed, New England and the Middle Colonies appear to have been more egalitarian than anywhere else in the measurable world,” wrote economic historians in a 2012 paper. (To be clear, it’s difficult to consider a slave-holding society egalitarian at all. It was brutally unequal. But from an income distribution perspective, American colonists—meaning white men—were better off than their counterparts in Europe.)

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Hypereducated and on Welfare

Alissa Quart:

Brianne Bolin thought her master’s degree in English would guarantee her at least a steady income. But like hundreds of thousands of others with advanced educations, she barely makes enough to feed herself and her son. Alissa Quart reports on a growing segment of Americans: the hypereducated poor.

Professor Bolin, or Brianne, as she tells her students to call her, might as well be invisible. When I arrive at the building at Columbia College in Chicago where she teaches composition, I ask the assistant at the front desk how to locate her. “Bolin?” she asks, sounding puzzled, as she scans the faculty list. “I’m sorry, I don’t see that name.” There is no Brianne Bolin to be found, even though she’s taught four classes a year here for the past five years. She doesn’t have a phone extension to her name, never mind an office.

The mother of a disabled eight-year-old boy named Finn, Bolin rushes in late to the lobby—she’d offered to give me a tour of her workplace. Her red hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and red electrical tape is wrapped around the left temple of her black geek-chic glasses; they broke a few months ago, and she can’t afford a new pair. Bolin dressed up for the occasion: a black vest (from a thrift store, she’ll tell me later), jeans (also thrift), and a brass anatomical version of a heart dangling at her throat from a thin black string. This is a rare and coveted evening off for her—Finn’s father’s fiancé agreed to babysit—but so far she’s too agitated to enjoy it. She just learned that the woman and Finn’s father, a blacksmith, are getting married in a few weeks, and they won’t be able to take care of the boy during that time. It’s all on her, again.

Data-Driven Parenting App Gives Personalized Tips for Every Kid

Kyle Vanhemert:

In 2012, P.J. Gunsagar and Dylan Arena founded Kidaptive and released their first iPad app, Leo’s Pad. It stars Leo, a young inventor with a treehouse laboratory, and combines segments of animated story with a variety of mini-games. It’s been downloaded over 800,000 times, with an App Store rating hovering near five stars. Kids love it.

But there is science hiding behind the fun: A tool, built on cutting-edge research in developmental psychology, that closely tracks the cognitive progress of its young users and adjusts the app’s difficulty accordingly. It’s a toy, but it’s one that gathers a tremendous amount of data on how it’s being used.

Now, Gunsagar and Arena want to put that data to use to help parents. Kidaptive’s new free app, Learner Mosaic, serves up ideas for backseat games and dinner table discussion topics that reinforce the skills being learned in the Leo’s Pad app. It takes the latest understanding of what kids ages five and younger should be learning, dices it into activities that are manageable for overworked parents, and surfaces those activities at just the right time in a kid’s development. The vision, as Gunsagar puts it, is to put a really smart preschool teacher in every parent’s pocket.

What It Felt Like to Be a ‘Suspicious’ Black Teenager

Gary Fields:

As one of the few black male reporters at The Journal, I’ve had experiences over the years that are unknown among my white colleagues, though anything but unique among other black men. We’ve all had our encounters; we’ve all been in situations where being black becomes synonymous with being suspicious, where demanding rights and respectful treatment can be seen as resisting law enforcement.

So after the grand jury’s decision on Monday not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., I found myself thinking back on episodes in my own life. My first thought was: What’s the difference between a 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound, black 17-year-old and a 40ish, 5-foot-6-inch black man? Depending on the circumstances, I knew, not much.

It was the late 1970s, and I was that large, 17-year-old, high-school kid—getting good grades and college-bound. I was walking home from Bowlero, a bowling alley in Alexandria, La., on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was carrying my bowling bag, complete with a 16-pound ball, shoes and a towel.

River of Booze: Inside one college town’s uneasy embrace of drinking

Karin Fischer & Eric Hoover :

The supplies are rolling in. At 1 p.m. on a Thursday, three delivery trucks line College Avenue. Around the corner, five more clog East Clayton Street. In downtown Athens, the center lane belongs to those who bring the booze.

Out come the boxes. Budweiser and Blue Moon, Bacardi Gold and Southern Comfort, Red Bull and rainbows of mixers. Stacked high on dollies, the goods are wheeled into bar after bar, each catering to students at the University of Georgia, where the iconic iron Arch stands within sight. Cutters Pub, On the Rocks, the Whiskey Bent. The blocks just beyond campus boast dozens of bars that own the late-night hours, when undergrads press themselves into crowds fueled by Fireball shots and beer as cheap as candy.

Athens, home to the flagship university and some 120,000 people, could be almost anywhere. This college town, like many others, celebrates touchdowns, serves early-morning cheeseburgers, and pours many flavors of vodka. When the sun goes down, some students get hammered, just as they do in Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor, and Eugene.

For kids, screen time is a luxury and a liability

Leslie Anne Jones:

It obviously wouldn’t be ethical to test for the effects of a whole childhood spent in front of screens on children. A few years ago, researchers came up with perhaps the next best thing. Affixing colorful lights and speakers broadcasting Cartoon Network sounds to mouse cages, they subjected young mice to six hours of “television” for 42 days straight.

Seattle Children’s Research Institute director and pediatrician Dimitri Christakis presented the spooky results at a TEDx Talk in Washington: In an observation box, the control mice traveled along the perimeter—your standard, cautious, don’t-get-caught-in-the-open mouse behavior, while the media-binge rodents scurried all around and every which way. They’d turned into hyperactive risk-takers.

The Charter-School Windfall for Public Schools

Eva Moskovitz:

Upon his re-election in 2006, then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein offered the free use of underutilized school facilities to a bumper crop of charter schools opening that year—including my first. Fueled by this policy, charter-school enrollment in the city grew from 11,000 to almost 70,000 by the end of Mr. Bloomberg’s second term in 2013, and my one school grew to 22.

As the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools—free public schools open to all children in New York City through a random lottery—I’ve seen firsthand how allowing “co-location” with district schools has helped charter schools and their students thrive. Success Academy currently has 32 schools spread across the Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens boroughs and recently was granted approval from our chartering authority, the State University of New York, to open 14 more.

Jobs for young Southerners: Thanks for nothing

The Economist:

BAKING everyday might sound fun, particularly at this time of year. But for one recent graduate of the University of Georgia, working in a cake shop for six months quickly turned from sweet to sickly. At her birthday party recently she warned sweet-toothed friends that she just couldn’t face another black forest gateau.

This was not the career she had in mind when she pursued a degree in linguistics, but getting a good job in the South is tough if you’re young. A new report from MDC, a non-profit based in Durham, says that more than 30% of those under 25 in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina are “underemployed”: they are either looking for a job, settling for part-time work or giving up on the search entirely. This is quite a bit higher than the overall underemployment rate in those states, which is less than 15%. This makes it hard to secure a return on the cost of tuition, particularly as the price of a degree continues to rise. Tuition costs at public universities in Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, for example, have risen by 50% since fiscal year 2008.

Why are young people having such a tough time in the labour market? Part of the problem is competition. Many Southern cities, with their low cost of living, cheap property prices and good weather, attract graduates from across America, and there aren’t enough jobs to employ them all. Houston saw a 50% increase in graduates aged between 25 to 34 in the 12 years since 2000; Nashville saw a 48% leap. Newcomers clash over the available jobs, and residents with inferior credentials are easily displaced. Those who fail to become knowledge workers often end up shunted into the growing service sector, doing the kind of jobs (serve coffee, fix up houses) that techie types are too busy to do for themselves. “Talent recruitment is not balanced against talent development in the South,” says David Dodson, president of MDC. “It’s almost like a colonial economy, because the benefits accrue to those that come from someplace else.”

Make School Targets the Gap Year….

Make School

We’re building the college experience we wished existed, an education rooted in theoretical foundations with heavy emphasis on the technologies, tools and practices relevant to today’s industry. We believe in learning by doing, studying takes a back seat to creating. We believe the app is the new resume, a portfolio of products is more powerful than any credential. We believe coding is the world’s first superpower, our graduates will help make the world a better place. Our goal is to help inspire and educate the next generation of superheroes.

To our team, thank you for believing in us and pouring your heart and soul into teaching others. To our students, thank you for taking a chance on a new style of education and inspiring us everyday. To our investors, friends and family, thank you for supporting us and motivating us to overcome the challenges we’ve faced. We’re blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing community as we attempt to tackle one of the most difficult and important problems facing tomorrow’s economy.

Online education run amok? Private companies want to scoop up your child’s data.

Caitlin Emma:

Massive open online courses, first envisioned as a way to democratize higher education, have made their way into high schools, but Washington is powerless to stop the flood of personal data about teenage students from flowing to private companies, thanks to loopholes in federal privacy laws.

Universities and private companies this fall unveiled a slew of free, open-access online courses to high school students, marketing them as a way for kids to supplement their Advanced Placement coursework or earn a certificate of completion for a college-level class.

But when middle and high school students participate in classes with names like “Mars: The Next Frontier” or “The Road to Selective College Admissions,” they may be unwittingly transmitting into private hands a torrent of data about their academic strengths and weaknesses, their learning styles and thought processes — even the way they approach challenges. They may also be handing over birth dates, addresses and even drivers license information. Their IP addresses, attendance and participation in public forums are all logged as well by the providers of the courses, commonly called MOOCs.

Google’s education privacy practices are worth a look.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: LinkedIn data show the US is losing out on the immigrants it covets most

Max Nisen:

The United States is still the world’s most popular destination for highly skilled professionals. But it doesn’t seem to have quite the allure it used to.

In fact, professional migration to the US has declined substantially since 2001, according to a new study (pdf) that used a massive dataset culled from LinkedIn career histories.

LinkedIn data scientists Bogdan State and Mario Rodriguez found that while 27% of migrating professionals chose the US in 2000, just 12% did in 2012. The drop for professionals in science, engineering, technology, and math fields was even steeper, from 37% to 15%. The trend holds across degree types (with the data based on the highest degree earned):

A proposal to rate teacher preparation programs

Erin Richards:

But Jeanne Williams, past president of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and chair of the educational studies department at Ripon College, said the state is already preparing to release educator preparation program report cards, in accordance with a state law passed in recent years to strengthen teacher training.

Those will report graduates’ pass rates on required licensure exams and provide data about where graduates get employed.

Williams did not agree with using test scores of students taught by the new teachers to review their programs that trained them.

She said several studies had shown that using student test data to evaluate teacher preparation programs is “not valid or reliable because of the numerous intervening variables that can affect student performance,” such as poverty, school climate and rates of teacher turnover in a school.

National Council on Teacher Quality reviews and ranks teacher preparation programs.

When A stands for average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education receive sky high grades. How smart is that?

Thinking too highly of higher ed

Peter Thiel:

Perhaps the least controversial thing that President Obama ever said was that “in the coming decades, a high school diploma is not going to be enough. Folks need a college degree.” This vision is commonplace, but it implies a bleak future where everyone must work harder just to stay in place, and it’s just not true. Nothing forces us to funnel students into a tournament that bankrupts the losers and turns the winners into conformists. But that’s what will happen until we start questioning whether college is our only option.

Is higher education an investment? Everyone knows that college graduates earn more than those without degrees. Maybe that earning power comes from learning valuable skills, networking with smart people or obtaining a recognized credential. Well, maybe — it’s hard to say exactly, since “college” bundles so many different things into one arbitrary package. And if all the most ambitious kids in our society go to college just because it’s the conventional thing to do, then what happens on campus might not matter, anyway. The same kids would probably enjoy a wage premium even if they spent four years in the Peace Corps instead.

COMMENTARY: Every Camden kid deserves good education

Yasmin Rios:

I was born and raised in North Camden and still live here today. There are good people here who chose to stay and raise their families when they could have left for a better future. People here work hard and want what is best for their children so that they can have a better future than my generation has.

I attended elementary and middle school in the city but never made it out of seventh grade. I was held back twice and tagged as a troublemaker. As a result it felt like I was trapped in middle school. Since I had nowhere to go, I just dropped out. I did get my GED. Then I worked in factories. Now I work as a housekeeper at a local hotel.

Until this year, my children were going to a public elementary school because it was the closest. The school wasn’t working for them and my children were headed down a path similar to mine. They hated school. Classrooms were out of control and there were no consequences for bad behavior. They didn’t know how to do homework when they got home in the afternoon, and they didn’t want to go to school in the morning. They wanted to give up.

Then this past summer I learned about Mastery’s North Camden Elementary when I saw fliers and people representing the school were on my street talking with the neighbors. I decided to enroll them because I really wanted to try something different for my children. Today, my children can’t wait to get to school. They love their teachers. And I love that there is real structure there, unlike where they came from.

Harvard’s Asian Problem

Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court declined to draw a clear line on racial discrimination in university admissions in last year’s Fisher v. University of Texas decision. Now new lawsuits are moving to challenge how far colleges can go in using racial preferences.

A group called Students for Fair Admissions filed lawsuits Monday against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina in federal court. The suits argue that the schools use race…

Graduates of Elite Colleges See a Payoff

Lindsay Gellman:

Sure, it’s nice to have a graduate degree from Yale, but a new study finds that attending an elite undergraduate institution counts for an awful lot when it comes to lifelong earnings.

A researcher at the Vanderbilt University Law School found that people with advanced degrees from elite schools and undergraduate diplomas from less-selective institutions earn less than people who attended elite schools for both their graduate and undergraduate degrees.

The results hold up across a broad swath of graduate programs, from law degrees to M.B.A.s. And those who attended less elite undergraduate institutions are unlikely to ever close the salary gap, according to the study.

Joni Hersch of Vanderbilt Law School said the survey results came as somewhat of a surprise, but suggests that it’s not really undergraduate education driving the pay disparity, but instead the social status of graduates of elite colleges.

The parents of students at elite colleges tend to be better-educated than the parents of those at less competitive schools, Hersch said; the children of educated parents tend to have more early networking opportunities and understand certain social cues.

“It’s the vacations you can talk about, the small talk you can make, what wine you order in restaurants” that could make the difference in a hiring manager’s decision, said Hersch, who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida.

Here Comes The Student Loan Forgiveness

Jeffrey Dorfman

President Obama is in the process of expanding a student loan forgiveness program through his executive power (the infamous pen). Whether constitutional or not, he appears to believe that he can add more students to the eligibility list for a program he created by regulation in November 2013. This “Pay-As-You-Earn” program is partly about lowering the monthly payments to make student loans more affordable for graduates, but mostly it is the foot in the door to student loan forgiveness.

Under the latest version of President Obama’s giveaway to former college students, people with student loans that meet certain income eligibility standards will only need to pay 10 percent of their discretionary income for a maximum of 20 years. Discretionary income is the amount you earn above the poverty line for your family size. If a borrower works for a government or in a job defined as public service, they only have to pay for 10 years. After that, the remaining balance is forgiven.

College Applicants Sanitizing Social Media Profiles

Natasha Singer:

Admissions officers at Morehouse College in Atlanta were shocked several years ago when a number of high school seniors submitted applications using email addresses containing provocative language.

Some of the addresses made sexual innuendos while others invoked gangster rap songs or drug use, said Darryl D. Isom, Morehouse’s director of admissions and recruitment.

But last year, he and his staff noticed a striking reversal: Nearly every applicant to Morehouse, an all-male historically black college, used his real name, or some variation, as his email address.

On Common Core Reading

NPR:

All week we’ve been reporting on big changes in reading instruction brought on by the Common Core State Standards: a doubling-down on evidence-based reading, writing and speaking; increased use of nonfiction; and a big push to get kids reading more “complex texts.”

Whatever you think of these shifts, they’re meaningless ideas without a classroom and kids to make sense of them. That’s today’s story, as we round out our series on reading in the Core era.

It’s mid-morning at Watkins Elementary in Washington, D.C. From the fourth floor, Amy Wertheimer’s fifth-grade classroom looks out over a red-brick grid of rowhouses and, looming over it all, the U.S. Capitol. But every back is to the view as Ms. Wertheimer calls her kids to the reading rug.

To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents With Tips

Motoko Rich:

With research showing language gaps between the children of affluent parents and those from low-income families emerging at an early age, educators have puzzled over how best to reach parents and guide them to do things like read to their children and talk to them regularly.

A new study shows that mobile technology may offer a cheap and effective solution. The research, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research this month, found that preschoolers whose parents received text messages with brief tips on reading to their children or helping them sound out letters and words performed better on literacy tests than children whose parents did not receive such messages.

Pediatricians are now advising parents to read daily to their children from birth. Some communities are developing academic curriculums for home visitors to share with parents of babies and toddlers, while other groups are mounting public information campaigns for parents on the importance of talking, reading and singing.

Related: Madison’s disastrous long term reading results.

Watch Harvard Students Fail the Literacy Test Louisiana Used to Suppress the Black Vote in 1964

Open Culture:

This summer, we revisited a literacy test from the Jim Crow South. Given predominantly to African-Americans living in Louisiana in 1964, the test consisted of 30 ambiguous questions to be answered in 10 minutes. One wrong answer, and the test-taker was denied the right to vote. It was all part of the South’s attempt to impede free and fair elections, and ensure that African-Americans had no access to politics or mechanisms of power.

How hard was the test? You can take it yourself below (see an answer key here) and find out. Just recently, the same literacy test was also administered to Harvard students — students who can, if anything, ace a standardized test — and not one passed. The questions are tricky. But even worse, if push comes to shove, the questions and answers can be interpreted in different ways by officials grading the exam. Carl Miller, a resident tutor at Harvard and a fellow at the law school, told The Daily Mail: “Louisiana’s literacy test was designed to be failed. Just like all the other literacy tests issued in the South at the time, this test was not about testing literacy at all. It was a … devious measure that the State of Louisiana used to disenfranchise people that had the wrong skin tone or belonged to the wrong social class.” (Sometimes the test was also given to poor whites.) Above, you can watch scenes from the Harvard experiment and students’ reactions.

Community Colleges Make Four-Year Degrees Pay Off

Mark Schneider:

With college costs soaring and the job market for new grads sputtering, one trend is worth watching: more and more states are authorizing community colleges to grant bachelor’s degrees. Already, more than 20 states — now including California, which enrolls one out of every four of the nation’s community college students — have authorized community colleges to grant these degrees.

Turf will be an issue as this trend continues, but there is a division of labor between community colleges and universities that makes sense. Community colleges can and should be encouraged to develop bachelor’s-degree programs in career and technical areas and to avoid the liberal arts degrees that are integral to the mission and education delivered by universities. In any case, turf isn’t the bottom line in this coming shift. The bottom line is the bottom line: Do the technical and career-oriented degrees in which community colleges specialize pay off in the labor market?

Q&A: Lamar Alexander On Education In The New Congress

Claudio Sanchez:

What’s your first priority?

Our first priority is to fix No Child Left Behind. The Republican proposal to fix NCLB would give states the option — not mandate — to take federal dollars and let those dollars follow children to the schools they attend. We want to expand choice, but my view is that the federal government shouldn’t mandate it. … Republicans would [also] transfer back to states the responsibility for deciding whether schools are succeeding or failing. Tennessee, Texas or New York would decide what the academic standards would be, what the curriculum would be, what to do about failing schools and how to evaluate teachers.

Do you support the Common Core State Standards?

I support giving states the right to decide whether to [adopt] the Common Core or not.

What about higher education? There’s a lot of pressure to hold institutions more accountable for the $200 billion they get in federal aid and to bring the cost of college down.

The cost of higher education is more affordable than people think. At a community college, average tuition is $3,600. At a four-year public institution, it’s $8[,000] to $9,000. Many students can get a Pell Grant they don’t have to pay back, up to $5,000. We lend $100 billion every year in student loans at an interest rate of about 4 percent to people with no credit history. Tennessee is the first state to say two years of community college is free. I expect more states to do that.

I’m [also] working with [Colorado Democratic] Sen. Michael Bennet to take the 108-question student-aid application form, known as FAFSA, and reduce it to two questions: ‘What’s your family income?’ and ‘What’s your family size?’ … The complexity of the form is discouraging students from attending college. So the greatest barrier to more college graduates is this federal application form.

Charter School in NYC Pays Teachers 125K. Gets Same Results as Most Other Charter Schools in NYC.

Neerav Kimgsland:

When the media gets a charter school story wrong, I usually suspect political bias.

Progressive media outlets often underplay the effectiveness of charter schools, while conservative outlets overstate their impact.

But sometimes everyone misses a major part of the story.

All of the following media outlets reported on Mathematica’s study of The Equity Project: Vox.com (leans left), the Wall Street Journal (leans right), National Public Radio (leans left), the National Review (leans right), Shanker Blog (leans left).

Most of these education writers are top notch.

But all of them, I think, missed the mark.

The Mathematica Study; The CREDO Study

The Equity Project is a charter school in New York City. It pays teachers $125,000.

Mathematica just completed a rigorous study and found that, over four years, The Equity Project delivered an additional 1.6 years of math gains and .4 years of ELA gains.

Minneapolis Schools Implement Explicit Racial Bias in Suspensions

Robby Soave:

The good: Minneapolis Public Schools want to decrease total suspensions for non-violent infractions of school rules.

The bad: The district has pledged to do this by implementing a special review system for cases where a black or Latino student is disciplined. Only minority students will enjoy this special privilege.

That seems purposefully unconstitutional—and is likely illegal, according to certain legal minds.

The new policy is the result of negotiations between MPS and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Minority students are disciplined at much higher rates than white students, and for two years the federal government has investigated whether that statistic was the result of institutional racism.

Related. Madison’s problematic discipline policy.

Discipline & school violence forum

Scientists have unlocked a state of child-like fast learning in the adult brain

Fiona MacDonald:

When we’re young, our brains are able to form new neural connections extremely quickly – an ability known as “plasticity” that allows us to learn how to walk, talk and play all in the space of a few years. But, as we get older, this ability fades and, sadly, it takes us longer to learn new things.

Now scientists from Stanford University in the US have managed to unlock child-like plasticity in the adult brains of mice by interfering with a protein known as PirB (or LilrB2 in humans).

The breakthrough is pretty exciting as it could not only lead to new mind-enhancing drugs, but could also help us work out how to make the brain more malleable and better able to recover from damage.

Fearful Parenting Is Contagious

Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow:

On Immunity: An Inoculation
Eula Biss
Graywolf Press, $24 (cloth)

After my daughter was born, whenever I heard about parents who refused vaccines, I’d feel a flare of hostility. Not because I couldn’t relate to them—as an easily spooked new mom, I could relate all too well. No mother is thrilled to see a needle jabbed into her child. It hardly helps to know that the needle contains a substance derived from a disease-causing agent. Even leaving aside the debunked autism claims, the visceral reality of vaccination runs counter to every parental instinct.

But I had decided to trust the experts and not think about it too much. My daughter’s blue immunization book was fully up to date. Hearing about parents who opted out reminded me of my unease. Their existence was also an implicit rebuke; thinking of them put me on the defensive. They would, I imagined, deem me a bad mother, negligent and misinformed. I all but wanted to shout, “I know you are but what am I” at my hypothetical anti-vaxxer adversaries.

In On Immunity, Eula Biss’s quietly impassioned new book, the author evinces no such hostility (and considerably more maturity). She does attribute one pitch-perfect line to her father, a doctor who serves as the wry voice of reason in the book. Biss is groping for words to explain the phenomenon of chicken pox parties as alternatives to vaccinations. “I say, ‘Some people want their children to get chicken pox because,’ and pause to think of the best reason to give a doctor. ‘They’re idiots,’ my father supplies.”

This backpack designed for poor kids does so much more than carry books

Joonji Mdyogolo:

South Africans Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane are co-founders of the business Rethaka. Their brand of Repurposed Schoolbags are made from recycled and reinforced plastic shopping bags. Many of the recipients come from poor families.

But it’s so much more than a bag. Because the kids often live in shacks and remote areas with no electricity, Repurposed Schoolbags are built with some other smart features. On the outside of the flap is a pocket for a solar panel, which charges on the long walk to and from school. That screws onto a Consol glass jar that the kids use as a lamp at home when doing homework in the evenings. The bag is also reflective because many of these kids wake up at the crack of dawn and walk in the dark to get to school on time.

I taught my black kids that their elite upbringing would protect them from discrimination. I was wrong

Lawrence Otis Graham:

I knew the day would come, but I didn’t know how it would happen, where I would be, or how I would respond. It is the moment that every black parent fears: the day their child is called a nigger.

My wife and I, both African Americans, constitute one of those Type A couples with Ivy League undergraduate and graduate degrees who, for many years, believed that if we worked hard and maintained great jobs, we could insulate our children from the blatant manifestations of bigotry that we experienced as children in the 1960s and ’70s.

We divided our lives between a house in a liberal New York suburb and an apartment on Park Avenue, sent our three kids to a diverse New York City private school, and outfitted them with the accoutrements of success: preppy clothes, perfect diction and that air of quiet graciousness. We convinced ourselves that the economic privilege we bestowed on them could buffer these adolescents against what so many black and Latino children face while living in mostly white settings: being profiled by neighbors, followed in stores and stopped by police simply because their race makes them suspect.

But it happened nevertheless in July, when I was 100 miles away.

Related: The Poverty & Education Forum.

Don’t fight school choice in Camden

Arthur Barclay:

Why does a Rutgers University professor from one of the most affluent towns in New Jersey want to take away great schools from Camden families?
Everywhere I turn, Julia Sass Rubin seems to be talking for Camden’s poor. Just last week she told one of the state’s largest newspapers: “People in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. It’s just not going to be high on their list.”

Excuse me? That deeply offensive comment toward low-income families in Camden shows not only her complete disregard of our families, but a dangerous misunderstanding about what our families want.

Meanwhile, Madison continues with its monolithic, one size fits all K-12 governance model.

Minneapolis offers students a wide variety of choices.

UNC students blame capitalism, white supremacy for academic scandal

Kate Griese:

UNC students blamed racism and heteropatriarchal capitalism for the recent UNC academic scandal during a rally Wednesday afternoon.
A report released last week found that special classes were created for student athletes in order for them to remain grade-eligible to participate in games.

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill blamed racism and heteropatriarchal capitalism for the recent academic scandal that has plagued the university.

Gathering Wednesday afternoon, members of the Real Silent Sam coalition gathered to share their response to the recently released “Investigation of Irregular Classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” which found that certain classes in the former African and Afro-American Department were created simply to keep athletes grade-eligible.

“I think that, intentional or not, words have a lot of power and the language and proceedings of this investigation have shown that we don’t value athletes and we don’t value black studies.”

How the “performance revolution” came to athletics—and beyond.

James Suroweicki:

The arms race centers on an obsessive scrutiny of every aspect of training and performance. Trainers today emphasize sports-specific training over generalized conditioning: if you’re a baseball player, you work on rotational power; if you’re a sprinter, on straight-line explosive power. All sorts of tools have been developed to improve vision, reaction time, and the like. The Dynavision D2 machine is a large board filled with flashing lights, which ballplayers have to slap while reading letters and math equations that the board displays. Football players use Nike’s Vapor Strobe goggles, which periodically cloud for tenth-of-a-second intervals, in order to train their eyes to focus even in the middle of chaos.

Training is also increasingly personalized. Players are working not just with their own individual conditioning coaches but also with their own individual skills coaches. In non-team sports, such as tennis and golf, coaches were rare until the seventies. Today, tennis players such as Novak Djokovic have not just a single coach but an entire entourage. In team sports, meanwhile, there’s been a proliferation of gurus. George Whitfield has built a career as a “quarterback whisperer,” turning college quarterbacks into N.F.L.-ready prospects. Ron Wolforth, a pitching coach, is known for resurrecting pitchers’ careers—he recently transformed the Oakland A’s Scott Kazmir from a has-been into an All-Star by revamping his mechanics and motion.

Then there’s the increasing use of biometric sensors, equipped with heart-rate monitors, G.P.S., and gyroscopes, to measure not just performance (how fast a player is accelerating or cutting) but also fatigue levels. And since many studies show that getting more sleep leads to better performance, teams are now worrying about that, too. The N.B.A.’s Dallas Mavericks have equipped players with Readiband monitors to measure how much, and how well, they’re sleeping.

On Student Loan Debt

Michael Haltman:

The cartoon below provides a tongue-in-cheek alternative payback method for unemployed or under-employed recent college graduates!

Currently the recent college graduate unemployment rate in the nation is running in the range of 8.5% compared to the overall national average under 6% (new employment data will be released tomorrow).

This statistic, when coupled with an average individual student loan debt burden of more than $29,000 and outstanding aggregate student loan debt nationally above $1 trillion, poses a problem.

In addition there are few parents of college-age students who haven’t heard the stories of college graduates unable to find full-time work in their chosen field instead taking part-time jobs or unpaid internships simply to build their resume.

On B-School Test, Americans Fail to Measure Up; “Improve K-12 Math”

Lindsay Gellman:

New waves of Indians and Chinese are taking America’s business-school entrance exam, and that’s causing a big problem for America’s prospective M.B.A.s.

Why? The foreign students are much better at the test.

Asia-Pacific students have shown a mastery of the quantitative portion of the four-part Graduate Management Admission Test. That has skewed mean test scores upward, and vexed U.S. students, whose results are looking increasingly poor in comparison. In response, admissions officers at U.S. schools are seeking new ways of measurement, to make U.S. students look better.

Domestic candidates are “banging their heads against the wall,” said Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of mbaMission, a New York-based M.B.A. admissions-consulting company. While U.S. scores have remained consistent over the past several years, the falling percentiles are “causing a ton of student anxiety,” he said.

we continue to play in the “C” (D?) leagues.

Madison’s disastrous reading scores.

Math forum audio and video. Math task force.

Madison School Board Accountabilty Commentary.

Seeing Red: Stanford v. Harvard

Meg Bernhard:

STANFORD, Calif.—Stanford buzzes. Walk across any of the 8,000-plus acres of earthy-red tiles and dusty, rolling hills of the university’s grounds and you’ll find yourself dodging hundreds of bicycles, whose moving gears and wheels make the campus hum.

More than 13,000 bikes belonging to students and faculty traverse campus daily, according to the school’s website, and it’s no wonder why. Stanford University, a massive tract of land that occupies what was once Leland Stanford’s Palo Alto Stock Farm, is its own city, so large it requires an individual zip code.

In a way, the constant motion of Stanford’s bikers is indicative of the university’s dynamism. Even the university’s motto, “Die Luft der Freiheit weht”—or, “The Winds of Freedom Blow”—nods at Stanford’s focus on the cutting-edge of research and education in the 21st century.

Thousands of bikes decorate the Stanford campus.

The Teachers Unions First Lost The Media; Have They Now Lost Everyone Else, Too?

Andrew J. Rotherham & Richard Whitmire:

This may mark one of the great missed opportunities in education. With a sympathetic president as a partner, national union leaders could have spent the last five years telling their members the truth: The nation’s classrooms are changing fast, now at 50 percent poor and minority students, and our schools are simply not good enough for too many students. So the entire education sector, including teachers, must change as well.

But they didn’t. Instead, union leaders spent the last five years telling their members that change was not necessary. You are blameless, they insisted in their fight against “reformers.” You’re being demonized. Poverty is to blame, not our schools.

Those demanding change, they insisted, are “corporate reformers” out to “privatize” your schools. What’s needed instead, they told their teachers, was a massive digging-in to block those very changes.

Stanford MBA’s shift away from tech

Poets & Quants:

Lured by some of the most exorbitant pay packages ever given to MBAs, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business made finance once again the industry of choice this year. Nearly three of every ten MBA graduates at Stanford, or 29% of the Class of 2014, accepted job offers in finance, up from 26% last year. So much for all those reports suggesting that finance is out of favor.

The increase, largely due to more acceptances in private equity, investment banking and investment management, came at the expense of the technology industry and consulting. Last year 32% of Stanford’s graduating MBAs rushed into tech. This year, the percentage fell to just 24%. Consulting fell to 16%, down three full percentage points from the 19% who chose to become consultants last year. For the consulting industry, it’s one of the lowest draws out of the Stanford pool ever. Only five years ago, in 2009, 32% of the class headed into the field.

Lies, Damned Lies, and College Admissions

Steve Cohen:

College-application season is shifting into high gear, and with it comes anxiety and abuses—on both sides of the admissions desk. Some wealthy parents will pay private counselors more than $40,000 for “tweaking” their kids’ essays, on the implicit promise that these consultants have connections inside admissions offices, where many once worked. For their part, admissions directors want more applications so that they can reject a higher percentage of qualified kids. By boosting their rejection rates, they improve their school’s position in most rankings. While the current admissions system works well for a small number of colleges and over-achieving kids, for everyone else, the process is broken. Colleges, government, and the media all share in the blame.

Recently, Inside Higher Education, with Gallup’s help, published its annual survey of college- admissions officers. The report was sobering: 93 percent of the college-admissions officers surveyed said they believed colleges lie about key data they report, such as average SAT scores of admitted students. Why? It makes their schools appear more selective, which attracts more applicants. Sixty-five percent of admissions officers said that their institution did not meet its enrollment goals last year.

FL families begin using new parental choice scholarship accounts

Redefined Ed:

One of the nation’s newest parental choice programs is shifting into higher gear.

PLSAFamilies of hundreds of Florida students with significant special needs, including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, have been given the green light to begin using Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts for the 2014-15 school year.

So far, parents of more than 1,200 students have been awarded PLSAs, which give them the resources and flexibility to access a range of educational services, including private schools, tutors, therapists, curriculum and materials. The Florida program is the second of its kind in the country, and some education policy experts see it and a similar program in Arizona as models for a new wave in parental choice.
– See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2014/11/fl-families-begin-using-new-parental-choice-scholarship-accounts/#sthash.aUCDrsjl.dpuf

97 Percent of Md. Teachers Receive ‘Effective’ Grades

WNEW:

A report card released Tuesday for Maryland public school teachers reveals nearly three percent of those educators are rated ineffective, the Maryland State Department of Education says.

Evaluations completed for the 2013-14 school year show that 97 percent of teachers were rated either “highly effective” or “effective” in the state’s three-tiered rating system.

The majority of those teachers, about 56 percent, were rated effective, while 41 percent received the highly effective rating and almost three percent were found ineffective.

MSDE says schools in the highest quartile for poverty and minorities have more ineffective and fewer highly effective teachers than schools in the lowest quartile for poverty.

‘We have to do better’ – Trenton school officials seek reversal of low test scores

Jenna Pizzi:

For students from third to eighth grades, achievement has remained stagnant over the last five years. Last school year, the district had 26.9 percent of third graders ranked as proficient or above in language arts. That proficiency stayed in the low 20 percent range for grades four through seven. In eighth grade, 42.2 percent were ranked as proficient or higher in language arts and literacy.

Math scores hovered between 44 and 32 percent proficient in the 2013-2014 school year for grades three through six. For grades seven and eight, scores sank to 20 and 25 percent, respectively.

In the HSPA test given to 11th graders, there was a 71 percent proficiency in language arts and a 39 percent proficiency in math. There has been an improvement in language arts in the last four years, said Edward Ward, supervisor of instructional technology and accountability.

Johnson said her team is crafting a response by gathering information from teachers in high achieving schools in the district about their best practices and proven methods while also examining what works throughout the state and country.

Via Laura Waters.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Philadelphia schools crippled by budget “crisis” ($2,814,500,000 budget or $21,425/student!)

PBS Newshour:

JOHN TULENKO: Last month, about 1,000 ninth graders marched to the football field at Northeast High School for a very different kind of kickoff ceremony.

WOMAN: We are doing a mock graduation. It’s an opportunity for our incoming ninth grade class to make a commitment. We want to put the urge in them that they promise they are going to be right back here in June 2018.

JOHN TULENKO: But hanging over this ceremony and the odds students will graduate is a school budget crisis that’s been called the worst in the country. Northeast has 3,000 students and two principals, Sharon McColskey and Linda Carroll.

SHARON MCCOLSKEY, Northeast High: In past years, operating budgets were probably 10 times what ours is right now, if not more.

Just the thought of opening the schools with what we have in the bank, real or in our budget, was really scary.

Philadelphia’s 2014-2015 $2,814,500,000 budget for 131,362 (2013–14) students. That’s $21,425 per student!

Related: Philadelphia school reform commission cancels teacher union contracts.

K – 12 tax and spending climate: Child poverty in U.S. is at highest point in 20 years, report finds

Gale Holland:

Child poverty in America is at its highest point in 20 years, putting millions of children at increased risk of injuries, infant mortality, and premature death, according to a policy analysis published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

As the U.S. emerges from the worst recession since the Great Depression, 25% of children don’t have enough food to eat and 7 million kids still don’t have health insurance, the analysis says. Even worse: Five children die daily by firearms, and one dies every seven hours from abuse or neglect.

Pushing back on reckless critique of charter schools

Crystal Williams:

Who is Julia Sass Rubin and what does she have against my kids?

Yesterday, the Rutgers University associate professor was quoted in The Star Ledger saying that “people in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. . . .It’s just not going to be high on their list.”

And about a month ago, in her quest to restrict the choice that parents like me have, she falsely suggested that the school my child attends in Newark loses more black boys to attrition than the district schools and that our school doesn’t serve “difficult” black boys.

Nothing could be further from my reality.

Newsroom Open House

The Simpson Street Free Press will celebrate 23 years of academic success – Sunday, November 2, 12-3pm. Visit Dane County’s first after-school (and summer) youth center dedicated solely to core subject academics. Meet our student writers and see academic achievement in action. Get a newsroom tour from local kids who tackle achievement gaps everyday – with writing and hard work. Preview data that shows real results. SSFP students will thank all of you, the many Friends and supporters who make this youth center, and our students, successful. Location: South Towne Mall, 2311 West Broadway.

The Simpson Street Free Press (SSFP) delivers core subject academic instruction in after-school settings. Students (ages 8-18) write and produce five separate youth newspapers, including a new bilingual publication: La Prensa Libre de Simpson StreetSSFP graduates (now in college) supervise younger students. SSFP also operates a network of youth book clubs. The goal of the SSFP is to foster literacy, spark student success, and bridge achievement gaps.

The SSFP formula accomplishes multiple outcomes. Central to SSFP pedagogy is across the curriculum instructional practices. Lesson plans are designed to support in-school learning. Students encounter predictable connections to the school day. Young writers conduct research, use technology, write and read extensively. They learn practical and transferable academic strategies. They acquire real-world workplace skills. School grades and attendance are measured.  SSFP students participate in civic discourse and influence their peers. As their name suggests, free speech and journalism are great ways to spark learning.

Innovation in Education: An Empty Promise

Mike Crowley:

Innovation is among the most abused buzzwords in education today. While few doubt the need for schools to innovate, often, it seems, some school leaders – innovation chasers – those who are keen to attach the label of “innovator” to themselves, have failed to understand what innovation really means.

Horace Dediu has coined the term “innoveracy” to describe those who suffer from innovation illiteracy, the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation. This, he contends, is rooted in a “misuse of the term and the inability to discern the difference between novelty, creation, invention and innovation”. I tend to agree with Dediu’s perspective: too often what is falsely celebrated as innovation is, in reality, mere novelty.

Disastrous reading results remain job number one.

This University Teaches You No Skills—Just a New Way to Think

Issie Lapowsky:

Ben Nelson says the primary purpose of a university isn’t to prepare students for a career. It’s to prepare them for life. And he now has $70 million to prove his point.

Nelson is the founder and CEO of a new experiment in higher education called Minerva Project. He says when it comes to learning, job training is the easy part. With the emergence of online courses, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to acquire the hard skills you need to land a job. “Why would you spend a quarter of a million dollars and four years to learn to code in Python?” he says. “If that’s the role of universities, you’d have to be insane to go to universities.”

But that doesn’t mean Nelson believes the country’s liberal arts colleges are doing a particularly terrific job either. He argues most schools do little more than teach students a core canon of information, a practice he says is archaic, given how much information people have access to these days. “Today, it’s absurd to say you need to know this information and without this information, you’re not an informed person,” he says.

7 countries where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free)

Rick Noack:

Since 1985, U.S. college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition fees keep rising. In Germany, they’ve done the opposite.

The country’s universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October, when Lower Saxony became the last state to scrap the fees. Tuition rates were always low in Germany, but now the German government fully funds the education of its citizens — and even of foreigners.

Explaining the change, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, said tuition fees “discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

What might interest potential university students in the United States is that Germany offers some programs in English — and it’s not the only country. Let’s take a look at the surprising — and very cheap — alternatives to pricey American college degrees.

UNC-Chapel Hill Should Lose Accreditation

Brian Rosenberg:

I have read many responses to the report of corruption at Chapel Hill. Some argue that those at the center of the activities were simply trying to help at-risk students, to which my response is that awarding credits and grades without providing instruction is not “help” in any sense that I can accept. In the case of student athletes, I see it as closer to exploitation for the benefit of the university. Some argue that this behavior is widespread among institutions with highly visible Division I sports programs and therefore should provoke no particular surprise or outrage.

I hope that this last claim is untrue. If it is, however, the only way to alter such behavior is to respond with force and clarity when it is uncovered. Reducing the number of athletic scholarships at Chapel Hill, or vacating wins, or banning teams from postseason competition, is in each case a punishment wholly unsuitable to the crime. The crime involves fundamental academic integrity. The response, regardless of the visibility or reputation or wealth of the institution, should be to suspend accredited status until there is evidence that an appropriate level of integrity is both culturally and structurally in place.

Anything less would be dismissive of the many institutions whose transcripts actually have meaning.

How Standing Desks Can Help Students Focus in the Classroom

Holly Korbey:

The rise of the standing desk may appear to be a response to the modern, eat-at-your-desk, hunched-over worker chained to her computer, but history paints a different picture: Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all stood while they worked. Donald Rumsfeld had a standing desk, and so did Charles Dickens. Workplaces are moving toward more standing desks, but schools have been slower to catch on for a variety of reasons, including cost, convenience, and perhaps the assumption that “sit down and pay attention” is the best way to learn.

Mark Benden, Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Texas A&M Health Science Center, is looking to change all that. Too much sitting is bad for our health, he said, and students are now facing a host of challenges that may stem in part from too much time in a chair, including obesity and attention disorders. So five years ago, Benden and his team began studying what happened to students when they got out of their traditional seats and moved to standing desks.

The riddle of black America’s rising woes under Obama

Edward Luce:

A paradox haunts America’s first black president. African-American wealth has fallen further under Barack Obama than under any president since the Depression. Yet they are the only group that still gives him high ratings. So meagre is Mr Obama’s national approval rating that embattled Democrats have made him unwelcome in states that twice swept him to power. Those who have fared worst under Mr Obama are the ones who love him the most. You would be hard-pressed to find a better example of perception-driven politics. As the Reverend Kevin Johnson asked in 2013: “Why are we so loyal to a president who isn’t loyal to us?”

The problem has taken on new salience with the resignation of Eric Holder. America’s first black attorney-general has tried to correct the gulag-sized disparities in prison sentencing between blacks and whites. His exit leaves just two African-Americans in Mr Obama’s cabinet. Given the mood among Republicans, it is hard to imagine the US Senate confirming a successor to Mr Holder who shares his priorities.

Mr Obama shot to prominence in 2004 when he said there was no black or white America, just the United States of America. Yet as the continuing backlash to the police shooting of an unarmed young black man in Ferguson has reminded us, Mr Obama will leave the US at least as segregated as he found it. How could that be? The fair answer is that he is not to blame. The poor suffered the brunt of the Great Recession and blacks are far likelier to be poor. By any yardstick – the share of those with subprime mortgages, for example, or those working in casualised jobs – African-Americans were more directly in the line of fire.

From Isaac Newton to the Genius Bar: Why it’s time to retire the concept of genius.

Darron McMahon:

Geniuses are a dying breed.

And yet, they seem to be all around us. We live at a time when commentators speak without irony of “ordinary genius” and claim to find it everywhere. From the “genius bar” at the local Apple Store to bestselling books that trumpet “the genius in all of us,” geniuses seem to abound. But if we consider the idea of “genius” as it has evolved across history, it starts to look like we don’t really need geniuses as we once did. It may be that we don’t need them at all. The increasing banality of genius in the contemporary world has begun to dissolve it as a useful category.

The modern genius emerged in 18th-century Europe as the focal point of a secular devotion of the sort previously reserved for saints. Like the prophets of old, these geniuses were conceived as higher beings endowed with natural gifts—intelligence, creativity, and insight took the place of grace. They, too, were granted a privileged place in the order of creation. As one astounded contemporary asked of Isaac Newton, among the first exemplars of the modern genius, “Does he eat, drink, and sleep like other men?” His virtues, commented another, “proved him a Saint [whose] discoveries might well pass for miracles.” Newton had revealed the laws of the universe—had he not?—he had seen into the mind of God.

Just like their saintly predecessors, the bodies of “geniuses” were treated as holy relics. Upon his death in 1727, Newton was buried in Westminster Abbey, resting place of the saints, and though his skull and bones were left intact (contemporaries marveled instead at his tomb, his death mask, and the many items he had owned and touched), the remains of other geniuses were picked over and venerated as the relics of the special dead. Three of Galileo’s fingers were detached when his body was exhumed in 1737; Voltaire’s heart and brain were absconded with at his death in 1778. Admirers fashioned rings from the repatriated bones of René Descartes during the French Revolution, and the skull of the great German poet Schiller was housed in a special shrine in the library of the Duke of Weimar in the early 19th century.

How Apple’s Siri Became One Autistic Boy’s B.F.F.

Judith Newman:

Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his B.F.F. Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them. After a while I heard this:

Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”

Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything.

The Ivy League is ripping off America!

Robert Reich

Imagine a system of college education supported by high and growing government spending on elite private universities that mainly educate children of the wealthy and upper-middle class, and low and declining government spending on public universities that educate large numbers of children from the working class and the poor.

You can stop imagining. That’s the American system right now.

Government subsidies to elite private universities take the form of tax deductions for people who make charitable contributions to them. In economic terms a tax deduction is the same as government spending. It has to be made up by other taxpayers.

Campus Is this the end of the collegiate bacchanal?

Heather MacDonald:

It is impossible to overstate the growing weirdness of the college sex scene. Campus feminists are reimporting selective portions of a traditional sexual code that they have long scorned, in the name of ending what they preposterously call an epidemic of campus rape. They are once again making males the guardians of female safety and are portraying females as fainting, helpless victims of the untrammeled male libido. They are demanding that college administrators write highly technical rules for sex and aggressively enforce them, 50 years after the proponents of sexual liberation insisted that college adults stop policing student sexual behavior. While the campus feminists are not yet calling for an assistant dean to be present at their drunken couplings, they have created the next best thing: the opportunity to replay every grope and caress before a tribunal of voyeuristic administrators.

The ultimate result of the feminists’ crusade may be the same as if they were explicitly calling for a return to sexual modesty: a sharp decrease in casual, drunken sex. There is no downside to this development.

A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned

Via Grant Wiggins:

The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys.

I have made a terrible mistake.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!

This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching my own classes; I am the High School Learning Coach, a new position for the school this year. My job is to work with teachers and admins. to improve student learning outcomes.

As part of getting my feet wet, my principal suggested I “be” a student for two days: I was to shadow and complete all the work of a 10th grade student on one day and to do the same for a 12th grade student on another day. My task was to do everything the student was supposed to do: if there was lecture or notes on the board, I copied them as fast I could into my notebook. If there was a Chemistry lab, I did it with my host student. If there was a test, I took it (I passed the Spanish one, but I am certain I failed the business one).

My class schedules for the day
(Note: we have a block schedule; not all classes meet each day):

Ford celebrates 30th anniversary of high school science & technology program

Ford Motor Company:

The new Ford Blue Oval STEM Scholarship Program will provide $500,000 in scholarships over four years to 50 students to pursue qualifying STEM degrees

To be considered for the scholarship program, students must have been associated with one of three Ford-supported STEM programs – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, Ford Next Generation Learning or Ford High School Science and Technology Program

More than 10,000 participants have completed the Ford High School Science and Technology Program to date, some of whom continued on in Ford’s internship program and are now Ford employees

Ford today announced a new Ford Blue Oval STEM Scholarship Program during the kickoff of its 30th annual High School Science and Technology Program (HSSTP). The new scholarship program will provide $500,000 in scholarships over four years to 50 students interested in pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematic (STEM) fields.

Felicia Fields, group vice president, Human Resources and Corporate Services, made the announcement as she spoke to HSSTP participants and employee volunteers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center during the first session of the 2014-15 program.

Why the White House Fudged the Numbers on Student Loans

Liz Peek:

Unfortunately, it turnsout the numbers are bogus.

In keeping with a White House that talks a good game on transparency but that is cloaked in secrecy, the Department of Education moved the goalposts at the last minute, changing how the default rates were calculated and thus sparing some colleges from tough penalties. It has so far refused to say which schools were given a reprieve, though it appears likely that black colleges were the major beneficiaries.

The academic world has been anxiously awaiting the Department of Education’s annual announcement on student loan defaults. As of this year, schools with three consecutive years of default rates above 30 percent (or one year above 40 percent) will risk losing federal financial aid. The review was expected to clobber the for-profit sector, but also to penalize some smaller schools characterized by higher-then-average

The Secret Sauce of College Admissions

Dr. Brian Mitchell:

Moody’s issued a report last week pointing to a basic discrepancy in how we view college admissions that underscores the collapse of the college tuition-dependent finance model.

In its report, Moody’s noted that applications to private colleges rose 70 percent from 2004 to last year but the annual total of new high school graduates rose only five percent. The credit rating agency argued that the rise in applications created a perception of far greater selectivity than actually occurred at many colleges and universities.

While the argument made centered upon private colleges and universities, the same may be said for many public sector institutions. Indeed, it seems that the only group isolated from this perception was a handful of the most selective colleges and universities, whether private or public. In these cases, global branding, consumer perceptions, alumni “feeder” and job placement networks, and financial aid policies may play a larger role to assure more broadly-based, genuinely highly selective admission classes.

The truth is that selectivity is often based on how you measure and value it. Many colleges and universities have “carve out,” “conditionally accepted,” or wait list graduates lined up to create the illusion of far greater selectivity than actually exists. Thus, while the aggregate applicants/admit number may be correct, the route to acceptance may vary widely depending on what each candidate brings to the table.

Higher Education’s Aristocrats

David Francis Mihalyfy:

Last week, the Barack Obama Foundation announced that the University of Chicago is one of four finalists to house the Obama Presidential Library, according to its mission of finding a site that reflects “President Obama’s values and priorities throughout his career in public service.”

If Obama chooses UChicago, however, he risks tying his legacy to the American university that perhaps most exemplifies higher education’s current crisis of mission. Rather than being institutions that prioritize free inquiry, research, and high-quality education, universities are increasingly acting like the worst of Wall Street, where anything goes in order make a buck for the people at the top.

The latest sign of identity crisis at UChicago? Hefty pay raises to a large number of top staff, who have enriched themselves at great cost to their institution.

New analysis of tax data from publicly available IRS 990 forms shows that eight high-level UChicago administrators have received more than $7.6 million in compensation increases since 2007-2008, even as the school moved toward and suffered a credit downgrade.

Ranking Universities Based on Career Outcomes

Navneet Kapur:

More than ever, students go to college because they want to get jobs — good jobs. To that end, students and parents want to know which schools give them the best chance at getting a desirable job after graduation. This is where we can help.

By analyzing employment patterns of over 300 million LinkedIn members from around the world, we figured out what the desirable jobs are within several professions and which graduates get those desirable jobs. As a result, we are able to rank schools based on the career outcomes of their graduates.

Defining “desirable jobs”
We define a desirable job to be a job at a desirable company for the relevant profession. For example, we define desirable finance jobs as finance jobs at companies desirable for finance professionals.

We start with identifying desirable companies for each profession.We let the career choices of our members tell us how desirable it is to work at a company. To illustrate this, imagine there are two companies, A and B. If more finance professionals are choosing to leave company A to work at company B, the data indicates that getting a finance job at B is more desirable. This is based on the hypothesis that when a professional moves from one company to another, she gives the company she moves to a strong vote of confidence.

Explore Linkedins’ University rankings.

The six paths of the typical US college graduate—and why they’re all wrong

Andrew Yang, via Kate Zellmer:

There are currently six prominent paths for achievement-minded recent college graduates: financial services, management consulting, law school (still), med school, and grad school/academia. The sixth is Teach for America, which continues to draw approximately 5,000 graduates (and 50,000 applicants) a year from universities across the country.

Parenting as a Gen Xer: We’re the first generation of parents in the age of iEverything

Allison Slater Tate:

On the days that I drive the middle school carpool, I purposely choose a route that takes us past a huge river. Some mornings, the water looks like glass; others, it reflects the moody clouds above with choppy waves – either way, it’s gorgeous. Every time we drive past it, I point it out to my car full of 12-year-olds: “Look at the water today. Isn’t it beautiful?” No one in the car looks up. They are all looking down at their phones, playing games with each other, texting a friend or watching a YouTube video. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I will get a mercy grunt out of one or two of them in reply.

It struck me recently, after one of my quiet carpool rides, that my generation of parents – we of the soon-to-be or recently 40 year old Gen X variety, the former latchkey children of the Cold War and an MTV that actually played videos, former Atari-owners who were raised by the the Cosby Show and John Hughes, graduated high school with the kids from 90210, then lumbered through our 20s with Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey and flip phones – is perhaps the last to straddle a life experience both with and without the Internet and all its social media marvels. After all, I didn’t even learn to use e-mail until I was 19 and a sophomore in college in 1993, and only for a slightly cringe-worthy reason: a cute boy at another college asked me to e-mail him.

Guilty until proven innocent: How letting my kid play alone outside led to a CPS investigation

Kari Ann Roy:

Monday. Late-morning. Hotter than hot.

Not even 24 hours home from vacation, and I was going through the piles of mail. There was a knock at the door, which was weird because no one ever knocks on our door unless it’s the UPS guy, and he doesn’t come until dinnertime. Corralling the crazy barky dog, I looked out the front-door window and saw a woman I did not know — and my 6-year-old.

I whipped the door open, trying to figure out what was happening. The woman smiled. My son frowned. And as soon as the door opened he flew into the house, running as far away from the woman as he could.

Online Learning is Just as Effective as Traditional Education, According to a New MIT Study

Lauren Landry:

More than 7.1 million students are currently taking at least one online course. Despite the apparent popularity, however, educators have given the trend low marks.

But a new study from MIT suggests naysayers should think otherwise. Massive open online courses are not only effective, researchers have discovered, they are as effective as what’s being traditionally taught in the classroom — regardless of how prepared or in the know students are.

Researchers’ findings have been published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, and co-author David Pritchard, MIT’s Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, knows they will be controversial.

“A number of well-known educators have said there isn’t going to be much learning in MOOCs,” said Pritchard to MIT News, “or if there is, it will be for people who are already well-educated.”

The group, comprised of researchers from MIT, Harvard and Tsinghua University, completed a before-and-after test on students taking “Mechanics ReView,” an introductory mechanics course offered on massive open online learning platform edX. Researchers then conducted a similar test on students taking the class residentially, discovering:

Splitting classes by ability undermines efforts to help disadvantaged children, finds research into English primaries

Richards Adams:

Splitting pupils as young as six into classes based on ability – known as streaming – makes the brightest children brighter but does little to help the rest to catch up, according to new research into schools in England.

The analysis of the progress made by 2,500 six and seven-year-olds in state primary schools in England, conducted by academics at the Institute of Education in London, found that the use of streaming appears to entrench educational disadvantage compared with the results of pupils who were taught in all-ability classes.

But, does the other approach make a difference? Madison’s experience with English 10 and small learning communities has not moved the needle.

Bad behavior is the elephant in the classroom

Tom Bennett:

Finally, Ofsted address one of the most serious impediments to children’s learning in the UK: low-level disruption. It’s amazing how much time and money is invested in poking through the grisly entrails of neuroscience, cognitive psychology and school structures in order to establish how we can squeeze a carat or two more gold out of the school goose’s ileum, when there’s piles of the stuff to be scooped up elsewhere.

Behaviour. It’s always been about behaviour. From the day I stepped into a classroom, the biggest obstacle I faced in getting students from average A to brilliant B was how they behaved, or didn’t. My first day, a student started dealing skunk at the back of the room; by the end of it, someone had told me to f*** Off, twice (and that was just the head, ho ho). But they weren’t the biggest problems for teaching; the Kryptonite for learning was the low-evel stuff – the chatting, the sullen refusals, the phones, the rocking, the headphones, paper-throwing. Everything that doesn’t look like anything special in description, but collectively erodes the lesson like a universal solvent.

I’ve been writing about this since before the first incarnation of Noel Edmonds. I’ve been running the TES behaviour forum for almost six years, and working with hundreds of schools, coaching, training and advising on behaviour. And this report is spot-on.

Why Federal College Ratings Won’t Rein In Tuition

Susan Dynarski:

College costs have been rising for decades. Slowing — or even better, reversing — that trend would get more people into college and help reduce student debt. The Obama administration is working on an ambitious plan intended to rein in college costs, and it deserves credit for tackling this tough job.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to work, at least not in controlling tuition at public colleges, which enroll a vast majority of students. The plan might dampen prices at expensive private colleges, but some of them may close if they can’t survive on lower tuition.

The program is an attempt to rate colleges according to practical measures like dropout rates, earnings of graduates and affordability. The aim is to improve the quality of higher education while also bringing down costs.

The lessons of student debt

Gillian Tett:

Now, Warren is not the only person decrying this state of affairs: the spiralling cost of education provokes widespread alarm these days. But what is notable about Warren is that she is one of the few politicians who openly attacks the financial industry, US Treasury and Federal Reserve alike. This, of course, is the key reason she is unlikely to ever become a serious contender for the Democratic Party nomination: Warren’s outspoken comments have created many enemies in Washington and Wall Street. But her willingness to articulate unpleasant facts – such as the shocking explosion in student loans – is also a key reason she commands strong populist support in some quarters. Political giants such as Clinton ignore this at their peril; even (or especially) at a time when America is supposed to be enjoying an economic “recovery”.

Taxpayer subsidized student loans should be the exception rather than the rule.

Following in a Sibling’s Footsteps

Kaitlin Mulhere:

The college enrollment decisions of older siblings could be an important cue to whether and where their younger siblings attend college, according to a new study by researchers from Harvard University and the College Board.

Ultimately, the research aims to determine the power of peers’ decisions on college enrollment, and siblings are the easiest peers to identify in available data.

The study found that 69 percent of younger siblings enrolled in the same type of college as their older sibling (either a two-year or four-year institution), while 31 percent of younger siblings applied to the college their older sibling attended.

Most impressive to the researchers was that about 20 percent of younger siblings actually enrolled at the same college as their older sibling.
The positive relationship between older and younger siblings’ college choices was similar across demographic groups and was stronger between siblings who resemble each other more in academic skills, age or gender. That suggests the relationship between siblings’ college choices may be more than a simple coincidence, said Joshua Goodman, an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Delaware attempts to restructure school governance

Matthew Albright:

The Delaware Department of Education says six low-income schools in Wilmington are failing, and the way to fix them is to make the more than 200 teachers reapply for their jobs – and to hire elite principals at each school who won’t have to follow most district rules while earning annual salaries of $160,000.

Mark Murphy, secretary of education, says it’s necessary for teachers to reapply for their jobs to ensure that every educator in the six “priority” schools has the commitment and skill to improve student achievement, as measured by the state’s standardized tests.

Outrage is bubbling among teachers, parents and school administrators in the schools – Bancroft Elementary, Stubbs Elementary and Bayard Middle in the Christina School District and Warner, Shortlidge and Highlands elementary schools in Red Clay School District.

They contend this is a state takeover, not a school turnaround.

The state asks that districts sign a Memorandum of Understanding by month’s end to begin establishing a plan for each school, all of which serve students who come from neighborhoods grappling with poverty.

The Case for Delayed Adulthood

Laurence Steenburg:

ONE of the most notable demographic trends of the last two decades has been the delayed entry of young people into adulthood. According to a large-scale national study conducted since the late 1970s, it has taken longer for each successive generation to finish school, establish financial independence, marry and have children. Today’s 25-year-olds, compared with their parents’ generation at the same age, are twice as likely to still be students, only half as likely to be married and 50 percent more likely to be receiving financial assistance from their parents.

People tend to react to this trend in one of two ways, either castigating today’s young people for their idleness or acknowledging delayed adulthood as a rational, if regrettable, response to a variety of social changes, like poor job prospects. Either way, postponing the settled, responsible patterns of adulthood is seen as a bad thing.

Deja vu: School report card shows vulnerable students left behind in Madison

Jeff Spitzer-Resnick:

Black, Hispanic and low-income students, as well as students with disabilities and English language learners, show proficiencies well below those of the district as a whole, Jeff Spitzer-Resnick points out on his blog.

“While overall the Department of Public Instruction considered that MMSD ‘meets expectations,’ a closer examination of vulnerable student populations suggests many MMSD students are not receiving an education which will prepare them adequately for adulthood,” writes Spitzer-Resnick, an attorney who has blogged before about school district accountability.

Citing information from the Report Card detail available here on the DPI website, Spitzer-Resnick compares district-wide levels of proficiency in reading and math with consistently lower levels among students of color, low-income students and those with disabilities or limited English language skills.

Hardly a recent issue, unfortunately. Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.

More, here.

Meanwhile, Madison continues to support wide low income variation across its schools.

The Single Best Idea for Reforming K-12 Education; ” Stop Running the system for the sake of the system”

Steve Denning:

I have been asked for my “single best idea for reforming K-12 education”. When you only have one shot, you want to make it count. So I thought I would share my idea here, in case anyone has a brighter insight.

Root cause: factory model of management
To decide what is the single best idea for reforming K-12 education, one needs to figure out what is the biggest problem that the system currently faces. To my mind, the biggest problem is a preoccupation with, and the application of, the factory model of management to education, where everything is arranged for the scalability and efficiency of “the system”, to which the students, the teachers, the parents and the administrators have to adjust. “The system” grinds forward, at ever increasing cost and declining efficiency, dispiriting students, teachers and parents alike.

Given that the factory model of management doesn’t work very well, even in the few factories that still remain in this country, or anywhere else in the workplace for that matter, we should hardly be surprised that it doesn’t work well in education either.

But given that the education system is seen to be in trouble, there is a tendency to think we need “better management” or “stronger management” or “tougher management”, where “management” is assumed to be the factory model of management. It is assumed to mean more top-down management and tighter controls, and more carrots and sticks. It is assumed to mean hammering the teachers who don’t perform and ruthlessly weeding out “the dead wood”. The thinking is embedded in Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind.

These methods are known to be failing in the private sector, because they dispirit the employees and limit their ability to contribute their imagination and creativity; they frustrate customers, and they are killing the very organizations that rely on them. So why should we expect anything different in the education sector?

Much more on a focus on adult employment, here.

The big college ranking sham: Why you must ignore U.S. News and World’s Report list

Matthew Segal:

If you are like many young Americans, you have probably seen U.S. News and World Report’s newest college rankings, which were released last week. Ignore them.

First, you won’t be surprised with the results (hint: It was a toss-up between Harvard, Yale and Princeton for the top spot). Second, these rankings exhibit a callous disregard for college affordability, prioritizing schools that spend more money on flashy amenities rather than scholarships and grants. Third, the magazine glamorizes selectivity, which creates a culture of exclusion that shuns low-income students the hardest.

Over the past 30 years, college tuition increased by roughly 1,120 percent and the gap between high- and low-income kids with access to it has widened – from 31 percent to 45 percent. With college students’ biggest worry being their student loan debt, one would think that affordability would factor into U.S. News and World Report’s ranking formula. You would be wrong. Not only are they not considered, but often the ranking methods actually encourage higher college spending in other, less needed areas.