10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints

Don Goble:

Building a digital legacy is an issue I believe doesn’t garner enough attention in our personal and professional lives. In fact, some of the heaviest users of online tools and social media are our young students, who are growing up as a generation of visual learners and visual attention seekers. This is in fact the Facebook and YouTube generation, and the reality is that many teens are unconcerned about the dangers of sharing personal information online.
A highly respected education advocate, Kevin Honeycutt, once asked me if any of us from our generation (GenX and before), had ever made a mistake in puberty. He then asked if our mistakes are “Googleable.”
The reality is that our mistakes from puberty are not “Googleable”. But our students’ mistakes are. “They’re on the record you see, ” Kevin continued, “so if they’re gonna do it (live online) anyway, I think it behooves us a educators to help our students shape and build a positive legacy.”
With that in mind, I have developed some important facts and opinions that our students should be completely aware of as they live in their digital world, creating digital footprints along the way.


Principal Battling Cancer Surprises Students at Rally


An annual event for Monroe Elementary School in Janesville will be a fundraiser for the school’s principal. Principal Lori Burns remains on medical leave battling stage four breast cancer. She surprised her students by returning to school Thursday for their pep rally to kick off “Monroe Madness,” the school’s annual students verses staff basketball game. After three weeks, Burns returned to Monroe Elementary School to cheers, high fives and applause. “I have lesions on my brain, on my liver, my lungs and my vertebrae.

College Degree Required. But Why?

Suzanne Lucas:

A bachelor’s degree is now required for jobs that used to be held by high school grads. Could this actually hurt your business?
There’s an idea that the person with a degree is “better” than a person without one. Indeed, The New York Times recently reported on the relatively new phenomenon of companies hiring people with college degrees for jobs that historically didn’t require college degrees. Are you doing this in your business?
If so, I have to ask, better for what? Yes, having a four year degree does show a degree of dedication. You have to pick a major, take class after class, write paper after paper and work on dreaded group projects. (Which, in my humble opinion, should be banished off the face of the educational earth unless the professor is willing to act as a proper manager, which most are not.) But, anyway, in theory you learn some things and you demonstrate that you have stick-to-itiveness. This is worth something.
But what? You also have to assume that no one enrolled in college, shelled out fantastic amounts of tuition and studied for hours to memorize the philosophies of 40 different dead people with ambitions of becoming an administrative assistant. No, they had other goals.

Student-Loan Delinquencies Among the Young Soar

Ruth Simon & Rachel Louis Ensign:

The number of young borrowers who have fallen behind on their student loan payments has soared over the past four years, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said in a report released Thursday.
According to the report, 35% of people under 30 who have student loans were at least 90 days late on their payments at the end of last year, up from 26% in 2008 and 21% at the end of 2004.
The new figures, which exclude borrowers who are still in school or aren’t yet required to make payments, show that young Americans are having a tougher time repaying college loans as debt loads increase and job prospects remain shaky.

Smithsonian Launches Quests Program To Encourage Discovery and Collaboration

Kevin Hudson:

The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies has launched Smithsonian Quests, a digital badge program designed to foster project-based learning and inspire students to explore their own ideas and interests.
To earn digital badges, students complete a series of online activities and submit their work for review by Smithsonian education experts. All quests engage students in exploring a topic of interest, either as part of a formal standards-aligned school curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.
Activities offered include subjects such as creative writing, photography, oral histories, and graph-making. The cross-curricular, standards-aligned programs are intended to prepare students for college and future careers by incorporating knowledge and skill-building into the quests, according to a Smithsonian release.

New ‘flipped classroom’ learning model catching on in Wisconsin schools

Matthew DeFour:

On a typical school night, while most chemistry students are solving homework problems, Verona High School junior Alison Ford is watching her teacher lecture on her iPod Touch.
The next day in class she huddles with two classmates to work on equilibrium equations based on the recorded lecture while her teacher moves between groups of students to answer questions about the assignment.
“It’s a lot nicer because instead of tying up class time trying to explain everything, it really allows you to learn at your own pace,” Ford said.
Welcome to the “flipped classroom,” a learning model that is going viral across Wisconsin and the nation. It’s being employed not only in local elementary and high schools, but also at Madison Area Technical College, UW-Madison and even the Madison Fire Department.

Internet ‘Addiction’ Linked to Druglike Withdrawal

Deborah Brauser
So-called “Internet addiction” is associated with increased depression and even druglike withdrawal symptoms, new research suggests.
A study of 60 adults in the United Kingdom showed that those who were classified as high Internet users had a significantly greater decrease in positive mood after logging off their computers than the participants classified as low Internet users.
“Internet addiction was [also] associated with long-standing depression, impulsive nonconformity, and autism traits,” report the investigators, adding that the latter is “a novel finding.”
“We were actually expecting that people who used the net a lot would display enhanced moods after use — reflecting the positive reinforcing properties of the net,” coinvestigator Phil Reed, DPhil, professor and chair in the Department of Psychology at Swansea University in the United Kingdom, told Medscape Medical News.
“So the key finding of an immediate increased negative mood, the withdrawal effect, was something of a surprise. But the more we looked into the literature, the more it seemed to fit the notion of an addictive disorder,” added Dr. Reed.
He noted that the main takeaway message for clinicians is that some people may experience disruptions to their lives from excessive Internet use — and that this can affect both their psychological and physical health.
In addition, patients “may need help exploring the reasons for this excessive use and what functions it serves in their lives.”
The study was published online February 7 in PLoS One.

Madison Mayor Paul “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools” Soglin Asked Sarah Manski to Run for the School Board; “Referred” her to MTI Executive Director John Matthews

Matthew Defour

Manski declined to name the other people who recruited her and has not returned calls since last Friday.
Soglin said when he spoke to Manski he did not know who the other candidates were or which seat she was going to run for.
“I thought she would be a good candidate committed to public education,” Soglin said. “The only discussion I had with Sarah Manski was her candidacy for the School Board. There was nothing else to discuss.”
Soglin said he was “disappointed for our community and disappointed for her” at the news of her withdrawal.
Matthews said in an email that Soglin referred Manski to him for a discussion about her candidacy, but that the grad school application never came up. He said he learned Manski would be moving to California when she called him at 6 p.m. on Feb. 20, the night before she announced her withdrawal from the race.

Related: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools” by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.
Madison’s long time disastrous reading results and the school board.
2013 Madison School Election Intrigue (Public!)
Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections, here.
I’m glad DeFour continues to dig.

2013 School Board Elections – Connor: Madison liberals hurting communities of color

Derrell Connor:

When Sarah Manski pulled out of the school board race because her husband was accepted to graduate school in California, many asked, myself included, why would she wait until after the primary to do so?
Now we know: It was all part of a plan to silence Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice manager at the YWCA in Madison, and also a person of color. Mirilli was unfairly and falsely targeted by Sarah Manski and her husband Ben as someone who was part of a movement to privatize public schools.
When I heard about this, I immediately assumed several members of Madison’s white elite progressive community was behind this. I believe that there is a movement in this community to silence anyone that doesn’t walk in lockstep with the status quo. They will trample over voices of color in order to preserve it.
I was accused by some of rushing to judgment. Yet I have not heard any of these people call for an investigation into who else knew about Manski’s plan and when.
In my last column, I wrote that Madison’s communities of color needed to become involved and engaged. They need to get off the sidelines and get in the game.
What I failed to add to that was it’s also hard to become a part of the game when it’s rigged against you.
If these had been two Republicans placing first and second in this primary with a Democrat finishing third under the same circumstances, progressives would be storming the Capitol right now. There would be hard-hitting editorials in progressive newspapers accusing conservatives of rigging elections, not the fluff pieces that we’ve been reading.
Madison’s communities of color are constantly told by white progressives that people like Governor Scott Walker, radio talk show host Vicki McKenna and blogger Dave Blaska are the enemy. While some may agree, they haven’t been the ones silencing, patronizing and marginalizing folks of color in Madison. That distinction belongs to the liberal establishment in this community.
You have consistently done the most harm to us, and it stinks. We’re tired of it.
As a former Urban League board member and chair, I am also disgusted by the way this organization has been treated by some of Madison’s political establishment. The Urban League has been at the forefront of many issues concerning the disenfranchised and people of color in this community, in particular, education. Yet over the past couple of years they have been treated like garbage.
Ever since CEO Kaleem Caire shined a bright light on an achievement gap and low graduation rates for students of color that has plagued the Madison Metropolitan School District for decades — even offering an idea to help to address it — Caire has been painted as a right-wing operative with the intent to privatize and destroy public schools. Almost anyone else who supported Madison Prep has been labeled the enemy because communities of color are asking for a better future for their children.
The smear campaign began with Nichele Nichols failed run for school board last year, and now Mirilli this year.
While I’m angry about what happened to Mirilli, I’m also happy she decided not to run as a write-in candidate. She had no chance of winning and running would have made white progressives in this city feel better about themselves.
They’d say, “At least she had a chance.”
Make no mistake about it: She had no chance. Everyone knows it.
I understand that it’s not fair to paint all white liberal progressives in Madison with a broad brush. Many are just as outraged by what’s been happening to folks of color in this community as we are.
If you sit by and watch while it happens and fail to stand up for what’s right, you become just as complicit as the ones who are doing it.
To the communities of color in Madison, I say this: Don’t forget what happened here. If there was ever a time to organize and become engaged, it is now.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board Election, here. And, GRUMPS resurfaces.

Beyond the Buzz, Where Are MOOCs Really Going?

Michael Horn & Clay Christensen:

Everyone’s going MOOC-crazy these days. From frequent media coverage of online courses and platforms like Coursera, edX, Udacity, and Udemy to discussions about the complexities and business models of online education, the excitement around MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) has finally “bubbled” over.
The question is not just whether MOOCs are going to disrupt traditional education, but how. Is it just about lower costs and access? Is it really going to be a Napster-like moment with entrenched “Teamsters in tweed” worried about the erosion of their research, publishing, and teaching?
This is where we can leave the realm of hype and commentary to draw on our own years of research into disruption theory. Because the curious thing about the MOOC wave of disruption is that the market leaders — not just upstarts from the edges — are the ones pioneering it. And that rarely happens.

Curse of Cursive Handwriting: It’s absurd to teach children this way

Philip Ball:

There’s something deeply peculiar about the way we teach children to play the violin. It’s a very difficult skill for them to master–getting their fingers under control, holding the bow properly, learning how to move it over the strings without scratching and slipping. But just as they are finally getting there, are beginning to feel confident, to hit the right notes, to sound a bit like the musicians they hear, we break the news to them: we’ve taught them to play left-handed, but now it’s time to do it like grown-ups do, the other way around.
Alright, I’m fibbing. Of course we don’t teach violin that way. We wouldn’t do anything so absurd for something as important as learning an instrument, would we? No–but that’s how we teach children to write.
It’s best not to examine the analogy too deeply, but you see the point. The odd thing is that, when most parents watch their child’s hard-earned gains in forming letters like those printed in their storybooks crumble under the demand that they now relearn the art of writing “joined up” (“and don’t forget the joining tail!”), leaving their calligraphy a confused scrawl of extraneous cusps and wiggles desperately seeking a home, they don’t ask what on earth the school thinks it is doing. They smile, comforted that their child is starting to write like them.

California’s expensive education failure

Conn Carroll:

“Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said in his January State of the State address. “If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify.”
Bad news, governor: California is already failing its children. And it wasn’t always this way.
According to RAND Corp., as late as the 1970s California’s public schools still had an “excellent” reputation. Then, in 1975, Brown (in his first stint as California’s governor) signed the Rodda Act, giving government unions the power to take money directly out of government employees’ paychecks.
The California Teachers Association quickly poured this new revenue stream into an organizing drive, more than doubling the union’s ranks. The Golden State’s politics have never been the same since — nor has the quality of its public schools. Between 2000 and 2010, the CTA spent more than $211 million to influence California voters and elected officials. That is more money than the oil, tobacco and hospital industries combined.
The CTA’s first big political victory came in 1988, when it helped pass Proposition 98, which amended the California Constitution to mandate that at least 39 percent of the state budget be spent on K-12 education spending. Since then, California teacher salaries have skyrocketed and are now among the highest in the nation (only Massachusetts and New York pay more).

Students to e-textbooks: no thanks

Nicholas Carr:

Because the horse is not dead, I feel I’m allowed to keep beating it. So: Another study of student attitudes toward paper and electronic textbooks has appeared, and like earlier ones — see here, here, here, for example — it reveals that our so-called digital natives prefer print. The new study, by four researchers at Ryerson University in Toronto, appears in the Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education. “Although advocates of digitized information believe that millennial students would embrace the paperless in-person or online classroom, this is not proving to be the case,” they write, as studies to date find “most students reiterating their preference for paper textbooks.”
They point out that a lot of the research up to now has started “with the assumption that the innovation [in e-textbooks] is an improvement over previous technology”:

Undergraduate students are generally assumed to be skilled in using digital resources for acquiring the knowledge necessary to achieve success in tests and exams. However, researchers often overlook students’ personal beliefs about how they learn and study most effectively. Their resistance to replacing paper textbooks with e-textbooks together with an ongoing desire to be able to print electronic content suggests that paper-based information serves students’ needs better in the educational context.

The Arcane Rules That Keep Low-Income Kids Out of College

Sarah Carr:

One spring afternoon, O. Perry Walker High School Principal Mary Laurie made her way to the school’s courtyard, where a lone student sat at a picnic table with a large stack of papers in front of him and a frustrated look on his face. Laurie recognized the student as a shy senior with one of the highest GPAs in his class.
The documents, it turned out, were all from Tuskegee University. Tuskegee had accepted the 18-year-old, offering him a full scholarship. But they required a $500 deposit within the next few days if he wanted to secure his spot. The student had no idea what to do.
“If that’s where you want to go, let me know,” Laurie said. “I’ll try to get the five hundred dollars.”
The student said nothing.
“You want to go to college, baby?” Laurie asked gently.

Poverty’s Prominent Role in Absenteeism

Marc Cutillo:

“Half of life is just showing up.” I once loved repeating that to my students who were regularly absent from school. Like all good quotes, it owns a perfect blend of simplicity, adaptation, and sublimity. I used to love saying it, that is, until a young child curtly responded, “Sometimes I can’t find a way to show up.” I wasn’t sure if he meant that, or if he was attempting to create his own unique axiom, but it certainly struck me. After all, if he cannot find a way to show up to school, how can we expect him to succeed?
Chronic absenteeism–missing more than 10 percent of school a year–occurs at rates three to four times higher in high-poverty areas, according to a study of six states conducted by Johns Hopkins University in May of last year. In these low-income communities, it is normal to find a quarter of the class missing every day, with some students missing 30 to 40 days a year–a fact that, as an inner-city English teacher, I regularly witness firsthand.
The most alarming part is that multiple studies across various states show kindergartners to have the highest rate of absenteeism outside of high school students. Educators and policymakers have known for years that falling behind before 3rd grade has a high correlation not just with high school dropout rates, but with incarceration rates as well. Children this young are not playing hooky or uninterested in learning–five minutes alone with any 1st grader yields more questions than you can answer without jumping on Wikipedia. The reasons these children stay home can all be traced to poverty.

Blaska debates an opponent of parental school choice

David Blaska:

Over the past week, I have been debating one Jeff Simpson over at Forward Lookout, the Progressive Dane-inspired blog site he shares with Madame Brenda and Lukas Diaz. Jeff is an appointed member of the Monona Grove School Board, a defender of teachers unions, an opponent of parental school choice, and a reliable messenger for ever-higher school spending. (Last spring Simpson testified during MG school budget hearings in favor of a $13 million hike in MG school district property taxes.)
I highlight this discourse as an example of the “one-size-fits-all” mentality that controls the education establishment, which is resistant to educational reform. It is a command-control philosophy one would have thought discredited at the fall of the Berlin Wall.

When Teachers Choose Pension Plans: The Florida Story

Matthew M. Chingos (PDF):

Why such fervor? Such anguish? In an era of budgetary belt tightening, and in the wake of the 2008 market crash, state and local policymakers are finally awakening to the impact of teacher-pension costs on their bottom lines. Recent reports demonstrate that such pension programs across the United States are burdened by almost $390 billion in unfunded liabilities. Yet most states and municipalities have been taking the road of least resistance, tinkering around the edges rather than tackling systemic (but painful) pension reform.
Many have suggested that one solution to the pension crisis is to offer teachers the option of a 401(k)-style plan (also known as a “defined contribution” or DC plan) in lieu of a traditional pension (known as “defined benefit” or DB plans). We see much merit in that approach, but we also wondered whether this alternative would appeal to teachers. Would certain types of teachers–new, veteran, more educated, etc.–naturally gravitate to one type of retirement plan or the other? Might it be the case that more (or less) effective teachers or teachers in harder-to-staff subjects would prefer DC plans due to their portability or other advantages (real or perceived)? If so, this would suggest that offering alternatives to traditional DB pensions could be a useful tool for improving teacher quality and/or supply. If the opposite is true, this could raise concerns about moving away from traditional DB systems.
To investigate these possibilities, we turned to Professor Martin West of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who is also an executive editor of Education Next and deputy director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG). West tapped his colleague Matthew Chingos, now a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy. This dynamic duo advised us that Florida was uniquely positioned to address our questions, it being one of just two states that allow teachers to choose between DB and DC plans, and the only place, at least for now, that can link information about teachers’ pension-plan decisions with administrative data on those same teachers and their students (including value-added achievement data).

Predatory Privatization: Exploiting Economic Woes to “Transform” Higher Education

Sara Goldrick-Rab:

Milton Friedman must be dancing in his grave at the moment. In every economic crisis there’s an opportunity to impose change, he professed, and no smart leader let such an opportunity pass by. Especially when it comes to undermining public goods.
Leaders of MOOC movements across the nation, including here at home in UW-Madison, are telling us that this is simply the right time to take the leap into a transformed space in higher education, one enabled by technology. I have absolutely no doubt that they sincerely believe this. And I have equally little doubt that most are entirely unaware of their place in history, and the degree to which they are acting out a narrative written many decades earlier.
MOOCs are not primarily or even secondarily about bringing open, no-cost education to the masses. Instead, these efforts created by private elite institutions and for-profit businesses squarely aim to outsource traditional governmental functions in education, and divert taxpayer dollars from the building of public assets and institutions to create long-term revenue streams and profit for corporations. That’s privatization, period.

Girls perform as well as boys in math competitions, study shows

BYU News:

The idea that boys are better at math and in competitions has persisted for a long time, and now we know why: Nobody bothered to schedule the rematch.
Most school math contests are one-shot events where girls underperform relative to their male classmates. But a new study by a Brigham Young University economist presents a different picture.
Twenty-four local elementary schools changed the format to go across five different rounds. Once the first round was over, girls performed as well or better than boys for the rest of the contest.
“It’s really encouraging that seemingly large gaps disappear just by keeping them in the game longer,” said BYU economics professor Joe Price.
Price co-authored the study with the University of Miami’s Christopher Cotton and Rutgers’ Frank McIntyre. Their report is published by the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.