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Curated Education Information
Updated: 59 min 4 sec ago
16 hours 15 min ago
Jarrett Renshaw: The state's largest teacher's union has formed a new political advocacy group that can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors during the upcoming campaign season, according to federal and state filings. The move by the New Jersey Education Association underscores a growing trend in the state as donors and interest groups turn to the federal tax code to avoid the state limits on campaign contributions. The New Jersey Education Association formed Garden State Forward in March of this year, according to filings with the Internal Revenue Service. The NJEA already has a state political action committee, but a spokesman said the new group will allow the union to focus more on issues, less on specific elections. "We established it so, if we wish, we can express issue advocacy with our members," NJEA spokesman Steve Wollmer said. Related: WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators.
17 hours 16 min ago
Stephen Wolfram: I've been curious about Gottfried Leibniz for years, not least because he seems to have wanted to build something like Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha, and perhaps A New Kind of Science as well--though three centuries too early. So when I took a trip recently to Germany, I was excited to be able to visit his archive in Hanover. Leafing through his yellowed (but still robust enough for me to touch) pages of notes, I felt a certain connection--as I tried to imagine what he was thinking when he wrote them, and tried to relate what I saw in them to what we now know after three more centuries: Some things, especially in mathematics, are quite timeless. Like here's Leibniz writing down an infinite series for √2 (the text is in Latin):
17 hours 17 min ago
By Javier Hernandez and Al Baker: Charter schools would no longer be allowed space in traditional school buildings. Neighborhood school boards would be given more oversight over superintendents and principals. Cellphones, long considered contraband in schools, would again be permitted past the door. The Democratic candidates for mayor have promised, in varying degrees, to revamp the city's school system by undoing some of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's signature policies. The attacks have put City Hall on the defensive, leaving aides worried about the future of one of the most ambitious efforts in the nation to overhaul education. Fearing a sea change, the city's Education Department has worked over the past few months to lock in critical components of Mr. Bloomberg's agenda. Education officials have reserved space for charter schools more than a year in advance, called for a permanent system for evaluating teachers and sought new contracts for school bus routes, saving money in part by eliminating union job guarantees.
Mon, 05/20/2013 - 1:35am
Diane Ravitch:The Forward Institute of Wisconsin released a new study of education policy in the state. This is a statement made by the Institute's Chair, Scott Wittkopf: Wisconsin has always been a leader in K-12 public education because we have long valued the right of every child to receive a quality public education. The fundamental nature of our values is reflected in the State Constitution, which guarantees all children equal access to educational opportunity in our public schools. That constitutional right is now being systematically eroded and defunded. The research presented in this report shows that current fiscal policy and education funding are depriving our poorest students access to a sound public education. Public schools are not failing our children, Wisconsin legislators and policymakers are failing the public schools that serve our children. Our comprehensive report documents in detail that the resources being afforded schools and students of poverty are insufficient, and facing further reduction. Moreover, the resources being diverted from schools of poverty into non-traditional alternative education programs are producing questionable results with little to no accountability for the state funding they receive. The following seven points highlight critical findings of our study:
Mon, 05/20/2013 - 1:34am
Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF): his report presents high school graduation rates for the Madison Metropolitan School District. For additional information on graduation rates, see the Appendix. For this report, we focus on a cohort of students expected to graduate at the end of the 2011-12 school year. For additional context and to track changes over time, we provide a three-year history for some measures. This report uses publicly available data from Wisconsin's Information Network for Successful Schools (WINSS). Additional data is available through http://winss.dpi.wi.gov/. Key findings include the following: 1. Overall graduation rates improved almost one percent from 2011 to 2012, from 73.7% to 74.6%. 2. African American and Hispanic students have improved their graduation rates by five percent and almost seven percent over the last three years. 3. Graduation rates for students with Limited English Proficiency have improved about four percent over the last three years. 4. MMSD high schools have similar graduation rates, ranging between 74.7% and 82.8%.
Mon, 05/20/2013 - 1:31am
HMCO: The four-year college experience is as American as apple pie. So is the belief that higher education offers a ticket to a better life. But with student-loan debt surpassing the $1 trillion mark and unemployment of college graduates at historic highs, people are beginning to question that value. In College (Un)bound, Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large of the Chronicle of Higher Education, argues that America's higher education system is broken. The great credential race has turned universities into big business and fostered an environment where middle-tier colleges can command elite university-level tuition while concealing staggeringly low graduation rates, churning out graduates with few of the skills needed for a rapidly evolving job market. Selingo not only turns a critical eye on the current state of higher education but also predicts how technology will transform it for the better. Free massive online open courses (MOOCs) and hybrid classes, adaptive learning software, and the unbundling of traditional degree credits will increase access to high-quality education regardless of budget or location and tailor lesson plans to individual needs. One thing is certain--the Class of 2020 will have a radically different college experience than their parents.
Mon, 05/20/2013 - 1:20am
Ron Winslow:A major study of children born with serious heart defects suggests that at least 10% of cases result from genetic mutations that weren't inherited from their parents. Instead, the genetic anomalies arise spontaneously early in prenatal development. Researchers said some of the mutated genes play a critical role in activating or deactivating other genes responsible for the development of the heart. "This for the first time really establishes that these new mutations account for a significant fraction of this disease," said Richard Lifton, head of the department of genetics at Yale University School of Medicine and a senior author of the study. The findings were published online Sunday by the journal Nature. About 40,000 babies, or nearly one in 100, are born in the U.S. each year with congenital heart disease, making it the most common birth defect. About one-third of cases involve life-threatening structural defects to the organ. Surgical advances over the past few decades have enabled the majority of such kids to live well into adulthood, though the repairs often wear out by their 20s and 30s, leading to additional procedures.
Mon, 05/20/2013 - 1:19am
James Hagerty:Few mothers are likely to get more cards, flowers and phone calls this Sunday than Joyce Dumont. Mrs. Dumont, 77 years old, a Native American of the Chippewa tribe, is at the root of a family tree so tangled that it seems more like a forest. By her reckoning, she has had 69 kids--including six through childbirth, five stepchildren, 11 who were adopted, several dozen foster children and a few who simply moved in when they had no better place to go. Her latest three were adopted by Mrs. Dumont and her husband, Buddy, also 77, over the past few years. They range in age from 7 to 10. "They're really rambunctious," she told a recent visitor to her home near the Canadian border, where a washing machine chugged and a chubby Chihuahua named Peewee scoured the floor for Cheerios.
Mon, 05/20/2013 - 1:04am
Megan Garber: Conventional wisdom says that synesthesia is innate -- you're either born with the condition or you're not, end of story. If you happen not to have been born that way but would really, really love to experience numbers as colors, or colors as sound ... then you, my sense-straight friend, are pretty much out of luck. Except ... maybe not? A group of psychologists at the University of Amsterdam have been testing whether synesthesia might, actually, be learned. Synesthetes' innate cognitive wiring leads them to augment their perception of the physical world; the researchers wanted to see whether the reverse could take place -- whether an augmented physical world could lead to synesthetic perceptions in people who weren't born with "crossed senses." And the researchers have now published their findings in the journal PLoS One.
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 6:42am
Nathan Heller: Gregory Nagy, a professor of classical Greek literature at Harvard, is a gentle academic of the sort who, asked about the future, will begin speaking of Homer and the battles of the distant past. At seventy, he has owlish eyes, a flared Hungarian nose, and a tendency to gesture broadly with the flat palms of his hands. He wears the crisp white shirts and dark blazers that have replaced tweed as the raiment of the academic caste. His hair, also white, often looks manhandled by the Boston wind. Where some scholars are gnomic in style, Nagy piles his sentences high with thin-sliced exposition. ("There are about ten passages--and by passages I simply mean a selected text, and these passages are meant for close reading, and sometimes I'll be referring to these passages as texts, or focus passages, but you'll know I mean the same thing--and each one of these requires close reading!") When he speaks outside the lecture hall, he smothers friends and students with a stew of blandishment and praise. "Thank you, Wonderful Kevin!" he might say. Or: "The Great Claudia put it so well." Seen in the wild, he could be taken for an antique-shop proprietor: a man both brimming with solicitous enthusiasm and fretting that the customers are getting, maybe, just a bit too close to his prized Louis XVI chair. Nagy has published no best-sellers. He is not a regular face on TV. Since 1978, though, he has taught a class called "Concepts of the Hero in Classical Greek Civilization," and the course, a survey of poetry, tragedy, and Platonic dialogues, has made him a campus fixture. Because Nagy's zest for Homeric texts is boundless, because his lectures reflect decades of refinement, and because the course is thought to offer a soft grading curve (its nickname on campus is Heroes for Zeroes), it has traditionally filled Room 105, in Emerson Hall, one of Harvard's largest classroom spaces. Its enrollment has regularly climbed into the hundreds. ...... Rather than writing papers, they take a series of multiple-choice quizzes. Readings for the course are available online, but students old-school enough to want a paper copy can buy a seven-hundred-and-twenty-seven-page textbook that Nagy is about to publish, "The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours." ... At one extreme, edX has been developing a software tool to computer-grade essays, so that students can immediately revise their work, for use at schools that want it. Harvard may not be one of those schools. "I'm concerned about electronic approaches to grading writing," Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of the university and a former history professor, recently told me. "I think they are ill-equipped to consider irony, elegance, and . . . I don't know how you get a computer to decide if there's something there it hasn't been programmed to see." ... The answer is c). In Nagy's "brick-and-mortar" class, students write essays. But multiple-choice questions are almost as good as essays, Nagy said, because they spot-check participants' deeper comprehension of the text. The online testing mechanism explains the right response when students miss an answer. ... It is also under extreme strain. In the mid-nineteen-sixties, two economists, William J. Baumol and William G. Bowen, diagnosed a "cost disease" in industries like education, and the theory continues to inform thinking about pressure in the system. Usually, as wages rise within an industry, productivity does, too. But a Harvard lecture hall still holds about the same number of students it held a century ago, and the usual means of increasing efficiency--implementing advances in technology, speeding the process up, doing more at once--haven't seemed to apply when the goal is turning callow eighteen-year-olds into educated men and women. Although educators' salaries have risen (more or less) in measure with the general economy over the past hundred years, their productivity hasn't. The cost disease is thought to help explain why the price of education is on a rocket course, with no levelling in sight. ... King rattled off three premises that were crucial to understanding the future of education: "social connections motivate," "teaching teaches the teacher," and "instant feedback improves learning." He'd been trying to "flip" his own classroom. He took the entire archive of the course Listserv and had it converted into a searchable database, so that students could see whether what they thought was only their "dumb question" had been asked before, and by whom.
Were the Victorians cleverer than us? The decline in general intelligence estimated from a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 5:33am
Michael A. Woodley, Jan te Nijenhuis, Raegan Murphy : The Victorian era was marked by an explosion of innovation and genius, per capita rates of which appear to have declined subsequently. The presence of dysgenic fertility for IQ amongst Western nations, starting in the 19th century, suggests that these trends might be related to declining IQ. This is because high-IQ people are more productive and more creative. We tested the hypothesis that the Victorians were cleverer than modern populations, using high-quality instruments, namely measures of simple visual reaction time in a meta-analytic study. Simple reaction time measures correlate substantially with measures of general intelligence (g) and are considered elementary measures of cognition. In this study we used the data on the secular slowing of simple reaction time described in a meta-analysis of 14 age-matched studies from Western countries conducted between 1884 and 2004 to estimate the decline in g that may have resulted from the presence of dysgenic fertility. Using psychometric meta-analysis we computed the true correlation between simple reaction time and g, yielding a decline of − 1.23 IQ points per decade or fourteen IQ points since Victorian times. These findings strongly indicate that with respect to g the Victorians were substantially cleverer than modern Western populations.
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 3:34am
Naveen Jain: I suggested in my first article that our education system is not broken but has simply become obsolete. It's doing exactly what it was designed to do but unfortunately, our needs have changed. We can't just make incremental improvement to the current education system to somehow make it work for the next century. It's like changing the screen or making incremental changes to an old Nokia phone and somehow expecting it to become an iPhone. It's time for us to go back to the drawing board and redesign the education system for the next century. Let me give you my thoughts on the functional specifications of the education system for the next century. Adaptive - Student Centric Learning
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 2:30am
Dr. Larry Feinsod: As NJSBA's semi-annual Delegate Assembly approaches (Saturday, May 18 is the meeting date), it's a good time to recount the Association's progress on key initiatives during the past six months. Special Education Task Force: In January, NJSBA formed a task force to review our state's current process for funding and providing special education services. The study group will recommend changes to state and federal statute and regulation. The goal is to reduce special education costs to local school districts without diminishing the quality of needed services. In addition, the task force will identify best practices. As I've previously stated in this column, I began my career in education as a special education teacher. The education of children with special needs will always be close to my heart. However, there is a dire need to develop strategies that will maintain quality services, without negatively affecting resources for general education programming. The Task Force is working under the guidance of Dr. Gerald Vernotica, Montclair State University associate professor and former assistant commissioner of education. The group has been involved in data collection and research, has consulted with experts, and is seeking information from New Jersey's local school districts. Earlier this month, it issued a survey on special education trends to superintendents and special education directors. For more information on the survey, please contact John Burns, NJSBA counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 2:29am
Allen Frances: Editor's Note: The controversial fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5 (a.k.a. the manual formerly known as "DSM-V") is being released tomorrow - after a 14-year revision process to update its criteria for defining mental disorders. This opinion is from the former taskforce chairman and leader of previous DSM editions. Nature takes the long view, mankind the short. Nature picks diversity; we pick standardization. We are homogenizing our crops and homogenizing our people. And Big Pharma seems intent on pursuing a parallel attempt to create its own brand of human monoculture. With an assist from an overly ambitious psychiatry, all human difference is being transmuted into chemical imbalance meant to be treated with a handy pill. Turning difference into illness was among the great strokes of marketing genius accomplished in our time. All the great characters in myths, novels, and plays have endured the test of time precisely because they drift so colorfully away from the mean. Do we really want to put Oedipus on the couch, give Hamlet a quick course of behavior therapy, start Lear on antipsychotics?
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 2:16am
Jeff Yang:It's a sign of just how deep tensions are around parenting today that, over two years after Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" was published, its combination of shocking revelation, serious reflection and tongue-in-cheek exaggeration still sends T. Rex-scale ripples skittering across the surface of our sociocultural Dixie cups. Two weeks ago, novelist Kim Wong Keltner's "Tiger Babies Strike Back" was published -- her nonfiction account of growing up under the paw of her authoritarian Tiger parents. Last week, the web was abuzz over the release of UT Austin psychology prof Su Yeong Kim's longitudinal study tracking the parenting styles and social outcomes of over 400 Chinese American families in the Bay Area, which seemed to show that children of Tiger Parents had both poorer emotional health and lower GPAs than those of parents who embraced warmer and fuzzier child-rearing strategies. Up until now, Chua herself has assiduously stayed out of the fray. "I really didn't want to get into the middle of this," she told me by phone from New Haven. "People keep trying to pit me against Kim Wong Keltner, or to ask me to comment on that parenting study, and I keep telling them 'Look, all I did was write my personal family story. I'm not a social scientist, I'm not a parenting expert. So all this is like asking apples to comment on oranges.'" (Keltner isn't keen on being positioned as the Anti-Chua either: "I really see my book as an alternative, not a rebuke to 'Battle Hymn,'" she says. "And frankly, [Chua] seems like she's smart and funny and highly accomplished and very beautiful, and we'd probably have a great time hanging out.")
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 2:12am
Della Bradshaw:For decades companies have faced the conundrum of how to ensure managers can implement what they have learnt at business school when they are back at work. Management guru Henry Mintzberg, scourge of business school complacency, sums it up succinctly: "You should not send a changed person back into an unchanged organisation, but we always do." Now Mintzberg's Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, among others, is addressing the issue of how to ensure the dollars invested in the classroom convert into dollars for the corporate bottom line. One idea gaining currency is that of "cascading", in which every manager who has been on a campus-based course has to teach a group of more junior colleagues back in the workplace. It has been more than a decade since Duke CE, the corporate education arm of Duke University, North Carolina, US, promoted the concept, but advances in workplace technology are accelerating its adoption. "The leader as teacher is very effective," says Ray Carvey, executive vice-president of corporate learning at Harvard Business Publishing. "The leader goes back and cascades [what he or she has learnt]."
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 1:18am
Erica Phillips:Damien Valentine was suspended from school for the first time as a seventh-grader in South Central Los Angeles, after arguing with a math teacher who had asked him to change seats. Mr. Valentine, now a 16-year-old sophomore, said he was sent home for a day-and-a-half for "willful defiance," a term encompassing a variety of misbehavior that California schools can use as reason to remove students from the classroom. This week, the Los Angeles Unified School District--the second-largest in the nation--decided to end the practice of suspending or expelling students for "willful defiance," starting this fall. District officials said the practice disproportionately affects minority students' education and leads to more disciplinary problems for students down the line.
Sun, 05/19/2013 - 1:15am
Sue Shellenbarger:When Kaci Taylor Avant got caught cheating on a test a few months back, the teacher called her mother, who was nothing less than stunned. After all, Kaci always does her homework and gets mostly As in school. Mother and daughter had already had "the talk" about how cheating was wrong. And then there's Kaci's age. "I had to ask myself, 'Wow, really? She is only 8!' " says her mother Laina Avant, a Paterson, N.J., network engineer. As school-testing season heats up this spring, many elementary-school parents are getting similar calls. The line between right and wrong in the classroom is often hazy for young children, and shaping the moral compass of children whose brains are still developing can be one of the trickiest jobs a parent faces. Many parents overreact or misread the motivations of small children, say researchers and educators, when it is actually more important to explore the underlying cause.
Sat, 05/18/2013 - 3:59am
Sir Ken Robinson: Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish -- and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility. Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence. Full bio »
Sat, 05/18/2013 - 3:36am
ekathimerini.com: Civil servants are to walk off the job on Tuesday in a bid to express solidarity with secondary school teachers after the government issued a civil mobilization order to force teachers to work on Friday when they had planned an anti-austerity strike. Civil servants are to hold a rally on Tuesday, starting at 10 a.m. outside the main entrance to Athens University, following a small demonstration in the city center on Monday by teachers. ADEDY has also joined forces with the main private labor union, GSEE, in planning a work stoppage for Thursday, from noon until the end of the workers' shifts. The government on Monday issued civil mobilization papers to some 88,000 teachers who face arrest and possible dismissal if they fail to turn up for work from Wednesday, when the order comes into effect. The Education Ministry reportedly made a concession, however, withdrawing a presidential decree foreseeing thousands of compulsory transfers of teachers - one of the key points of contention of protesting teachers - for revision.
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