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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Elite colleges or private clubs?

 Sounds like a good way to address this issue of legacy admits triumphing over merit:

President Obama, who has recently sounded a clarion call to attack economic inequality, could give colleges a choice: If they don’t enroll a fair share of students from low-income families and want to continue to offer admissions preferences to legacies and the wealthy and powerful, they risk being reclassified as private clubs.

-Angela



Elite colleges or private clubs?

Legacy trumps merit far too often - here's how President Obama could change that

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, November 3, 2014, 4:05 AM


clee; 
 ELISE AMENDOLA/AP All in the family?
Kudos to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a campaign he announced last week: His charitable foundation and others will fund more college counselors and outreach services to get thousands more talented, low-income students to attend, and graduate from, high-quality colleges.
That’s urgently needed to live up to the American ideal of equal educational opportunity. Despite the fact one in five students with a top score on the ACT exam comes from a working-class or low-income family, you are 25 times more likely to bump into a rich kid than a poor one on the campuses of America’s 173 most selective undergraduate institutions.
But outreach and financial aid are of limited use if top-flight colleges systematically pass over talented, low-income students. The dirty little secret about higher education is that, despite well-marketed outreach and generous financial aid programs, many wealthy colleges embrace policies that undermine low-income students’ chances of ever being admitted, much less enrolled.
Until we confront those bad habits, we’ll only attack the problem around the edges.
Perhaps the most nefarious ways elite colleges reproduce inequality is to favor big donors, known as “development admits,” and children of alumni, via the so-called “legacy preference.” The federal government unwisely supports these inequitable practices — by providing tax-exempt status to colleges that discriminate against first-generation applicants (i.e. non-legacies). That’s a very large subsidy for perpetuating inequity.
At elite colleges across America, typically one in six students enrolled received a legacy preference. At Notre Dame, there are more legacies than black and Latino students combined.
Based on an analysis of admission data from 30 top colleges, researcher Michael Hurwitz concluded that children of alumni had a 45% greater chance of admission.
Yet the latest studies reveal legacies are less academically qualified than other admitted students. Researchers at Princeton quantified the advantage as equal to 160 additional points on an applicant’s SAT.
After controlling for all student characteristics, legacies are 20% more likely to be admitted to Harvard, for example, than non-legacies. Double legacies (with two parents who attended) get a 40% boost.
Is it any wonder three in 10 legacy applicants are admitted to Harvard — more than 400% higher the rate of other applicants?
The college admissions process is creating an aristocracy.
Elite colleges counter that legacy preference is essential to fund-raising. But many of these colleges don’t need a fund-raising boost. Notre Dame’s endowment exceeds $8 billion. Harvard’s is over $30 billion.
Besides, from a fund-raising standpoint, it would be fairer and more efficient to auction off college acceptance letters on eBay than to retain the legacy preference.
To make top-flight higher education a genuine engine of socioeconomic opportunity rather than something that calcifies inequality, we shouldn’t just increase outreach and financial aid programs. We should discourage colleges from practices that don’t reward achievement, promote diversity or meet academic goals.
A college that favors donors and alumni in admissions doesn’t have to be classified as a charity. It could be classified as a private club. And donations to private clubs are not tax deductible.
President Obama, who has recently sounded a clarion call to attack economic inequality, could give colleges a choice: If they don’t enroll a fair share of students from low-income families and want to continue to offer admissions preferences to legacies and the wealthy and powerful, they risk being reclassified as private clubs.
Meaning, if they want to offer a charity tax deduction to donors, they must swear off legacy preference and development admissions — or jack up enrollment of talented students from low-income families. It’s up to them.
In 2007, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.), then the Senate finance committee chairman, threatened the charity status of wealthy colleges that weren’t affordable to working-class students. The colleges howled at first, but many soon embraced improved financial aid policies.
Obama could do the same, and more, by reminding colleges that he could use his pen, directing the Department of Treasury to act, as well as the bully pulpit.
The politically-active left would cheer an attack on legacy preferences, while those on the right enjoy anything that pokes a finger in the eye of elite colleges.
But more important by far, thousands more deserving, upwardly mobile young people would get a fairer chance at an exemplary education.
Shireman and Dannenberg are former Obama administration officials. Shireman is the executive director of California Competes and Dannenberg is the director of strategic initiatives for Policy at Education Reform Now.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In education-crazy South Korea, top teachers become multimillionaires

Becoming a multimillionaire teacher is pretty extreme.

 Excessive rote learning under the auspices of a technical-function model of higher education is also extreme (or severe), leading to high stress, depression, and suicides. There's something really sad and pathetic about South Korea’s equivalent of the SAT being "the most important event in a young person’s life." Rather than as an exclusive end in itself., doing well on the SAT should be a byproduct of an educational experience that is transformative and meaningful to youth.  It IS dangerous for corporate values to seep into public education.

In light of my previous two posts, one cannot help but wonder whether creativity is actually getting compromised, or if undercutting critique and promoting insecurity is actually the intent of current policy frameworks that seeks a docile citizenry and that propagates "cultural wars" as weapons of mass distraction that stoke the conservativism of those that regard higher levels of learning as a threat to the current system of free enterprise or simply, "capitalism."

-Angela


December 30 at 3:30 AM
 



Clasping his headphones and closing his eyes as he sang into the studio microphone while performing a peppy duet with one of South Korea’s hottest actresses, spiky-haired Cha Kil-yong looked every bit the K-pop star.
But Cha is not a singer or actor. No, he’s a unique kind of South Korean celebrity: a teaching star.
And the song he was singing with Clara, a Korean mega celebrity, in a music video that wouldn’t be out of place on MTV? It was called “SAT jackpot!”
In this education-obsessed country, Cha is a top-ranked math teacher. But he doesn’t teach in a school. He runs an online “hagwon” — or cram school — called SevenEdu that focuses entirely on preparing students to take the college entrance exam in mathematics.
Here, teaching pays: Cha said he earned a cool $8 million last year.
“I’m madly in love with math,” said Cha, looking the height of trendiness in his crimson shirt and pants and tweed jacket, in his office in Gangnam — a wealthy part of Seoul famous for its conspicuous consumption and featured in the song “Gangnam Style.”
It’s hard to exaggerate the premium South Korea places on education. This is a society in which you have to get into the right kindergarten, so that you can get into the right elementary school, then into the right middle school and high school, and finally into the right college. Which, of course, gets you the right job and scores you the right spouse.
There’s even a phrase to describe the Korean version of a helicopter mother: “chima baram” — literally “skirt wind,” to describe the swish as a mother rushes into the classroom to demand a front-row seat for her child or to question grades.
Many Korean families split and live on opposite sides of the world in pursuit of a better education: The mother and children live in the United States or some other English-speaking country, the better to secure entry to a prestigious university (preferably Harvard). The “goose father” continues working in South Korea, flying in to visit when he can.
All of this combines to make South Korea’s equivalent of the SAT the most important event in a young person’s life.
As such, the vast majority of teenagers here do a double shift at school: They attend normal classes by day but go to hagwons for after-hours study. Increasingly, online hagwons are replacing traditional brick-and-mortar cram schools. The hagwons have become a $20 billion industry.
This devotion to studying is credited with helping South Korea consistently rank at the top of the developed world in reading, math and science, although the latest rankings from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also show that Korean students come last when asked whether they are happy at school. South Korea also has the highest suicide rate in the developed world, which many suggest is related to a high-stress focus on education.
Some politicians and educators are questioning whether things have gotten out of hand. But even parents opposed to this punishing system find it difficult to opt out — their children complain that they can’t keep up if they don’t go to a hagwon.
That’s good news for instructors like Cha, who started teaching at a hagwon to pay his way through his PhD program.
About 300,000 students take his online class at any given time, paying $39 for a 20-hour course (traditional cram schools charge as much as $600 for a course). He teaches them tricks for taking the timed exams, including shortcuts that students can take to solve a problem faster.
Asked what makes him stand out, Cha said: “Suppose you give the same ingredients to 100 different chefs. They would make different dishes even though they’re working with the same ingredients. It’s the same with a math class. Even though it’s all math and all in Korean, you can use different ingredients to come up with different results.”
His studio is set up with a green chalkboard and desks, and behind the camera are piles of props — including hippo and Batman masks and a gold sequined jacket.
“You’re not only teaching a subject, you also have to be a multitalented entertainer,” said Cha, declining to give his age and offering only that he’d been working for 20 years.
On SAT day, he visits schools to offer encouragement to test takers. He also does television ads, endorsing products such as a red ginseng drink meant to boost brain power.
Kwon Kyu-ho, a top-ranked literature teacher, also appears with K-pop stars and has a lucrative side business in celebrity endorsements, lending his name to a chair meant to help people study better.
Maintaining his position doesn’t require just good lessons. Kwon, 33, also gets regular facials and works out, and he said some teachers even have stylists..
“I always wanted to be a teacher, but I feel that regular school teaching has its limits. There is a certain way you have to teach,” said Kwon, whose lessons appear on the sites Etoos and VitaEdu. “And, of course, I’m making a lot more money this way.”
He wouldn’t disclose how much he earned, only that it was “several millions” of dollars a year. The secret of his success, Kwon said, was finding the parts of tests that make most students stumble. He focuses lessons on those problem areas.
This style of education has its upsides, he said.
“I think one of the benefits of private education is that teachers compete with each other and try to develop higher quality content,” he said. “We have money. We can invest in ways that normal schoolteachers can not.”
As President Park Geun-hye promotes a “creative economy” as the key to taking South Korea to the next level in its development, many analysts say the country would do well to take a more creative approach to education.
Lee Ju-ho, who was minister of education until last year, is among them.
“All this late-night study could lead to problems in enhancing their other skills, like character, creativity and critical thinking,” he said. “Hagwon is all about rote learning and memorization.”
Lee said all the problems stem from the college admissions procedures, which have been slow in looking beyond test scores to other criteria such as extracurricular activities and personal essays, as is common in many Western countries.
“We really need to change,” said Lee, who is now a professor at the Korea Development Institute’s School of Public Policy and Management.

Anna Fifield is The Post’s bureau chief in Tokyo, focusing on Japan and the Koreas. She previously reported for the Financial Times from Washington DC, Seoul, Sydney, London and from across the Middle East.

68 Institutions in Nine States to Pilot New Approach to Learning Outcomes Assessment

I am just seeing this piece on higher education accountability in light of the previous piece I just posted that is a must read.  A hot link appears to this current page that I think is very important to policy development and practice as regards higher education accountability policies, nationally.

Regarding testing college students, here is what the previously-posted piece says:
Step V: Destroy the students.While claiming to offer them hope of a better life, our corporatized universities are ruining the lives of our students. This is accomplished through a two-prong tactic: you dumb-down and destroy the quality of the education so that no one on campus is really learning to think, to question, to reason. Instead, they are learning to obey, to withstand “tests” and “exams,” to follow rules, to endure absurdity and abuse. Our students have been denied full-time available faculty, the ability to develop mentors and advisors, faculty-designed syllabi which changes each semester, a wide variety of courses and options. Instead, more and more universities have core curriculum which dictates a large portion of the course of study, in which the majority of classes are administrative-designed “common syllabi” courses, taught by an army of underpaid, part-time faculty in a model that more closely resembles a factory or the industrial kitchen of a fast-food restaurant than an institution of higher learning.
This book was also cited there and strikes me as a must-read:  Unmaking the Public University: The fourty year assault on the middle class.  

There have been proposals here in Texas that call for so-called higher education accountability through increased student testing. I was particularly involved in this during the 82nd Texas Legislative Session in 2011.  You can read about this here: 

2011 - 82nd Session of the Texas State Legislature

Forewarned is to be forearmed.


-Angela




Tuesday, June 24, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contacts: Debra Humphreys, Vice President for Policy and Public Engagement, AAC&U
Humphreys@aacu.org
202.387.3760, ext. 422
Julie Carnahan, Senior Associate, SHEEO
jcarnahan@sheeo.org
303.817.2129

68 Institutions in Nine States to Pilot New Approach to Learning Outcomes Assessment

Multi-State Collaborative Announces Institutions that Will Participate in New Initiative Employing VALUE Rubrics to Assess Student Achievement of Key Learning Outcomes

Washington, DC—June 23, 2014—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) announced today the 68 institutions—including both 2-year and 4-year institutions—participating in the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC) supported in its initial planning year with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The nine states currently participating in the MSC include: Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Utah. See: www.sheeo.org/msc for full list of participating institutions.
“I am pleased and excited that faculty and leaders from so many public colleges, community colleges, and universities in so many states are joining together to assess students’ work using a common approach,” said George Pernsteiner, the president of SHEEO. “What our faculty learn from this work will help them improve teaching and student learning and will provide valuable and defensible information to show that students are learning, and what that learning means in terms of the understanding and skills needed to succeed in life.”
Part of AAC&U’s ongoing VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) initiative, the 68 institutions in the MSC will pilot test a cross-state and cross-institutional effort to document how well students are achieving key learning outcomes like quantitative reasoning, written communication, and critical thinking by assessing authentic student work products using a set of common rubrics. Faculty members across the 68 institutions will be sampling and assessing students’ work and establishing the reliability and validity of cross-institutional assessment using this new approach. During its initial year, the project will be building faculty assessment capacity and collecting student work products. The project will also be developing a Web-based data platform for uploading student work samples and assessment data.
In its earlier phases of work, VALUE published 16 rubrics developed and tested by teams of faculty and other educational professionals that are aligned with the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes and also with the intellectual skills highlighted in the Degree Qualifications Profile. Over 2,000 colleges and universities and community colleges in the U.S. already are using VALUE rubrics to assess student work.
Leadership in organizing the MSC came through the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, which, as part of its Vision Project, piloted use of AAC&U’s VALUE rubrics to assess student learning in Massachusetts. Working with AAC&U and SHEEO, leaders in Massachusetts subsequently helped organize a nine-state collaboration that is developing platforms and protocols for scaling the use of this approach to quality assurance.
”The calls are mounting daily for higher education to be able to show what students can successfully do with their learning,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “The Multi-State Collaborative is a very important step toward focusing assessment on the best evidence of all: the work students produce in the course of their college studies. It is exciting and inspiring to see that so many campuses want to be part of this important national study and change effort.”
For more information, see VALUE and Multi-State Collaborative on Learning Outcomes Assessment.



How Higher Education in the US Was Destroyed in 5 Basic Steps

This book on higher education authored by Dr. Christopher Newfield was also cited  and strikes me as a must-read:  Unmaking the Public University: The fourty year assault on the middle class.  His analysis suggests the following:


An essential American dream—equal access to higher education—was becoming a reality with the GI Bill and civil rights movements after World War II. But this vital American promise has been broken. Christopher Newfield argues that the financial and political crises of public universities are not the result of economic downturns or of ultimately valuable restructuring, but of a conservative campaign to end public education’s democratizing influence on American society. Unmaking the Public University is the story of how conservatives have maligned and restructured public universities, deceiving the public to serve their own ends. It is a deep and revealing analysis that is long overdue.
Newfield carefully describes how this campaign operated, using extensive research into public university archives. He launches the story with the expansive vision of an equitable and creative America that emerged from the post-war boom in college access, and traces the gradual emergence of the anti-egalitarian “corporate university,” practices that ranged from racial policies to research budgeting. Newfield shows that the culture wars have actually been an economic war that a conservative coalition in business, government, and academia have waged on that economically necessary but often independent group, the college-educated middle class. Newfield’s research exposes the crucial fact that the culture wars have functioned as a kind of neutron bomb, one that pulverizes the social and culture claims of college grads while leaving their technical expertise untouched. Unmaking the Public University incisively sets the record straight, describing a forty-year economic war waged on the college-educated public, and awakening us to a vision of social development shared by scientists and humanists alike.
Another one by Benjamin Ginsburg, The Fall of the Faculty, is also cited herein.


 -Angela


In education-crazy South Korea, top teachers become multimillionaires

This is crazy. -Angela

December 30 at 3:30 AM
Clasping his headphones and closing his eyes as he sang into the studio microphone while performing a peppy duet with one of South Korea’s hottest actresses, spiky-haired Cha Kil-yong looked every bit the K-pop star.
But Cha is not a singer or actor. No, he’s a unique kind of South Korean celebrity: a teaching star.
And the song he was singing with Clara, a Korean mega celebrity, in a music video that wouldn’t be out of place on MTV? It was called “SAT jackpot!”
In this education-obsessed country, Cha is a top-ranked math teacher. But he doesn’t teach in a school. He runs an online “hagwon” — or cram school — called SevenEdu that focuses entirely on preparing students to take the college entrance exam in mathematics.
Here, teaching pays: Cha said he earned a cool $8 million last year.
“I’m madly in love with math,” said Cha, looking the height of trendiness in his crimson shirt and pants and tweed jacket, in his office in Gangnam — a wealthy part of Seoul famous for its conspicuous consumption and featured in the song “Gangnam Style.”
It’s hard to exaggerate the premium South Korea places on education. This is a society in which you have to get into the right kindergarten, so that you can get into the right elementary school, then into the right middle school and high school, and finally into the right college. Which, of course, gets you the right job and scores you the right spouse.
There’s even a phrase to describe the Korean version of a helicopter mother: “chima baram” — literally “skirt wind,” to describe the swish as a mother rushes into the classroom to demand a front-row seat for her child or to question grades.
Many Korean families split and live on opposite sides of the world in pursuit of a better education: The mother and children live in the United States or some other English-speaking country, the better to secure entry to a prestigious university (preferably Harvard). The “goose father” continues working in South Korea, flying in to visit when he can.
All of this combines to make South Korea’s equivalent of the SAT the most important event in a young person’s life.
As such, the vast majority of teenagers here do a double shift at school: They attend normal classes by day but go to hagwons for after-hours study. Increasingly, online hagwons are replacing traditional brick-and-mortar cram schools. The hagwons have become a $20 billion industry.
This devotion to studying is credited with helping South Korea consistently rank at the top of the developed world in reading, math and science, although the latest rankings from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also show that Korean students come last when asked whether they are happy at school. South Korea also has the highest suicide rate in the developed world, which many suggest is related to a high-stress focus on education.
Some politicians and educators are questioning whether things have gotten out of hand. But even parents opposed to this punishing system find it difficult to opt out — their children complain that they can’t keep up if they don’t go to a hagwon.
That’s good news for instructors like Cha, who started teaching at a hagwon to pay his way through his PhD program.
About 300,000 students take his online class at any given time, paying $39 for a 20-hour course (traditional cram schools charge as much as $600 for a course). He teaches them tricks for taking the timed exams, including shortcuts that students can take to solve a problem faster.
Asked what makes him stand out, Cha said: “Suppose you give the same ingredients to 100 different chefs. They would make different dishes even though they’re working with the same ingredients. It’s the same with a math class. Even though it’s all math and all in Korean, you can use different ingredients to come up with different results.”
His studio is set up with a green chalkboard and desks, and behind the camera are piles of props — including hippo and Batman masks and a gold sequined jacket.
“You’re not only teaching a subject, you also have to be a multitalented entertainer,” said Cha, declining to give his age and offering only that he’d been working for 20 years.
On SAT day, he visits schools to offer encouragement to test takers. He also does television ads, endorsing products such as a red ginseng drink meant to boost brain power.
Kwon Kyu-ho, a top-ranked literature teacher, also appears with K-pop stars and has a lucrative side business in celebrity endorsements, lending his name to a chair meant to help people study better.
Maintaining his position doesn’t require just good lessons. Kwon, 33, also gets regular facials and works out, and he said some teachers even have stylists..
“I always wanted to be a teacher, but I feel that regular school teaching has its limits. There is a certain way you have to teach,” said Kwon, whose lessons appear on the sites Etoos and VitaEdu. “And, of course, I’m making a lot more money this way.”
He wouldn’t disclose how much he earned, only that it was “several millions” of dollars a year. The secret of his success, Kwon said, was finding the parts of tests that make most students stumble. He focuses lessons on those problem areas.
This style of education has its upsides, he said.
“I think one of the benefits of private education is that teachers compete with each other and try to develop higher quality content,” he said. “We have money. We can invest in ways that normal schoolteachers can not.”
As President Park Geun-hye promotes a “creative economy” as the key to taking South Korea to the next level in its development, many analysts say the country would do well to take a more creative approach to education.
Lee Ju-ho, who was minister of education until last year, is among them.
“All this late-night study could lead to problems in enhancing their other skills, like character, creativity and critical thinking,” he said. “Hagwon is all about rote learning and memorization.”
Lee said all the problems stem from the college admissions procedures, which have been slow in looking beyond test scores to other criteria such as extracurricular activities and personal essays, as is common in many Western countries.
“We really need to change,” said Lee, who is now a professor at the Korea Development Institute’s School of Public Policy and Management.
Anna Fifield is The Post’s bureau chief in Tokyo, focusing on Japan and the Koreas. She previously reported for the Financial Times from Washington DC, Seoul, Sydney, London and from across the Middle East.

The Latino Achievement Gap by E. M. Madrid

Important read by Dr. E. Michael Madrid with the following citation:
Madrid, E. M. (2011). The Latino achievement gap. Multicultural Education, 19(3), 7-12.
 
This article is downloadable here.

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ955929.pdf

Concluding quote from within:

" School administrators, teachers, and board
members must not only recognize that they
are part of the problem, but they must also
assume the responsibility for initiating and
implementing reform in the curricula and
programs that serve Latino students."
 
-Angela

Monday, December 29, 2014

Reflections of an Octogenarian: Educational Reform, or Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before

Good historical retrospective on educational reform and how bad we are as a country about not remembering those things in our educational histories that have actually worked well and not-so-well.  Instead of learning from this experience, education seems to always get "re-made" as a response to shifting political winds. 

All I would add to this analysis is that even at its worst, there has always been a class of children that has systematically reaped the rewards of this system, as well.  As nonsensical as they may appear to us now, this is what has helped sustain these reform efforts across time.  In policy, we've always said, "Once the middle class is unduly impacted (which is what happens in policy once there's over-reach), that's when things are going to begin to change.  

At least in Texas, we appear to be in that moment now.  The only significant concern is whether educational reforms—like fair and equitable school funding, an informational (rather than punishing) accountability system, project-based, authentic assessment and the like—can outpace the privatization policy making agenda in our state this next legislative session that begins in January in time for public education to save its soul—whatever is left of it—that is, after so many years of shaming and blaming our schools and teachers under this neoliberal model of Texas-style accountability.

On a positive note, since Texas is ground zero for high-stakes accountability, any positive changes we make here in this regard bode well for the rest of the country.  After all, the system we have in place is a bipartisan bad idea.  Rather than bailing out of this system and not be accountable at all (which is what some districts would be perfectly fine with), we need to craft thoughtful alternatives with respect to both assessment and accountability—which are overlapping, yet conceptually distinct aspects of the whole.  And yes, this does mean reaching backwards into our educational roots—not only as schools and districts, but also as parents and communities exercising greater voice and control in public education.  As a civil rights community, we need to reacquaint ourselves with our enduring legal and legislative struggles for quality, inclusion, and equity in education.  We need to embrace and give fresh meaning to the Deweyan ideal of classrooms as laboratories for democracy.


-Angela




Larry Paros Headshot

Reflections of an Octogenarian: Educational Reform, or Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before

Posted: Updated:


2014-12-29-HuffingtonEducationStar.JPG
Gore Vidal once referred to the U.S.A. as "The United States of Amnesia." In no area of human endeavor is forgetfulness more the norm than it is in education.

It's a notion I have not taken to gracefully. My current mantra is, "Been there, seen it, done it;" followed by the old saw that insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. A function of old age, congenital contrariness, and just plain weariness, it's what comes of former educational reformers. They don't go quietly into the dark night but go down yelling loudly right to the very end.

Bitterly complaining about the quality of American education is part of our history. When I first became a teacher in the 1950s, it was James Conant, former President of Harvard, and Admiral Rickover, father of the atomic submarine. In 1957, came the political outcry in reaction to fears of Russian global ascendancy with the launching of Sputnik -- attributing America's failure to be number one in space to lack of rigor in our schools.

Over a half century later, President Obama revived that specter, recalling how Sputnik provoked the United States to increase investment in math and science education and helped America win the space race. He warned that with billions of people in India and China having been "suddenly plugged into the world economy," only those nations with the most educated workers would prevail," and how, "America is in danger of falling behind." Here we go again -- more fire-bells ringing in the mid of night.

Back to the 1960s and the Great Society -- a time when federal efforts in education ramped up significantly in the form of assistance to schools and colleges seeking to eliminate racial segregation, developing new strategies for educating disadvantaged children and in broadening access to higher education for previously neglected youths. Many programs failed; a few succeeded. Lessons from these efforts provide instructive experiences that can guide future efforts in educational reform. But for the most part they have been ignored.

The late '60s and '70s featured a blossoming of educational reform and a progressive vision. Programs of compensatory education were joined with the free school and alternative education movements. Most of these efforts, however, were not taken seriously and were prematurely aborted -- succeeded by a wave of counter-reaction. They have also been banished from recent memory.
The 1980s were driven by A Nation at Risk, a report chronicling the latest "crisis," citing abysmally low basic skill scores, low basic comprehension rates, and high drop-out rates, recommending more rigorous standards, the standardization of curricula, and a program of National testing... Sound familiar?

In keeping with its recommendations, by the mid-1980s, 45 states had gotten with the program, expanding their testing programs, instituting more strenuous graduation requirements, cutting frills, and returning to basics (as if they had ever left them in the first place). In the end, however, it all proved so much sound and fury... signifying nothing. Research revealed that this highly orchestrated and costly effort had not the slightest effect on student learning and comprehension. Even when legislated merit pay systems were added to the mix, little of this trickled down to the classroom. None of it ever enhanced the students' ability to learn.

Shouldn't this historical backdrop have been at least noted amid the current hue and cry for more rigorous standards and high-stake testing procedures? If not, the current effort must be judged to be more about public relations and politics than serious educational thought, in which case, damn the torpedoes (and the history) and full speed ahead!

Many eons ago, I taught plane geometry. I took special pleasure in its leitmotif which was both simple and elegant. The subject matter started with a few simple axioms which students could then use to prove a series of theorems. The neat thing about the process was that after you had proven a particular theorem, there was no need to reprove it. You could simply cite it in proving subsequent theorems with which you were confronted. And so the subject matter built, brick by brick, theorem by theorem -- a glorious superstructure of thought unfolding before your very eyes.

There is no such historical consciousness in American education. We go through a variety of experiences, bad and good, yet learn nothing from them. We invent terrific programs but go on to forget we had ever done so. Can you detect a trace of not only bitterness but also sadness in my voice, as one who led such efforts?

There is no reason that any profession should ignore its past and spend its current energy reinventing everything it knows. Imagine if medical research, seeking to create new and effective vaccines, ignored past failures and successes to do so. That would be totally unacceptable. Yet in education such insanity is an ingrained and acceptable pattern.

Meanwhile, articles appear regularly in our press, celebrating new approaches, often billed as "revolutionary." In reality, however, they are only shadow replicas of what has been done before. They are characterized by a remarkable failure of attribution; and by promoting their novelty and exaggerating their potential impact, lull readers into a false sense of complacency and a congratulatory attitude that we are at last on the right track, perpetuating the myth that society really cares about such matters while fostering the illusion that the culture is truly thinking outside the box.
Does anyone out there remember Title III? Title I, yes: additional funding for schools serving poor kids; Title IX, yes: gender equity in schools, and its impact on women's athletics. But Title III?

"Doh!" Decades before charter schools became our anointed savior, groups of eager parents and inspired teachers nationwide, started their own schools, serving public school students using public funds, both federal and local. How soon they forget.

There has never been a dearth of good ideas, good people, and good programs. There has only been a failure of will -- to act on what is already known. "Been there, seen it, done it."
What were those lessons? Stay tuned. Is anyone there?

Larry Paros is a former high school math and social studies teacher. He was at the forefront of educational reform in the 1960s and 70s, during which time he directed a unique project for talented underprivileged students at Yale and created and directed two urban experimental schools, cited by the U.S. Office of Education as "exemplary" which were later replicated at more than 125 sites nationwide.

More Paros on Education@
walkrightinthemovie.com
Classroom Version of "Walk Right In"
UW Interview on Film
facebook.com/walkrightin
insomanywords.net

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why Even Common Core Supporters Are Changing Their Minds

Looks like Common Core is unraveling:

So far, 19 states have made significant efforts to push back against Common Core. Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana have exited the standards, and others appear poised to do likewise.

-Angela



Why Even Common Core Supporters Are Changing Their Minds

Ed Feulner /

It’s one thing to experience “buyer’s remorse” when the product is something you can return easily, from new clothes to a set of high-end speakers. It’s another when you’re talking about your state’s educational standards.
Yet more and more states are finding that there’s simply no living with Common Core. Parents, teachers, students and lawmakers have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the federally backed standards — and more and more of them are taking action.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, for example, once backed Common Core, saying in 2012 that he expected it to “raise expectations for every child.” By this summer, however, he was pulling his state out of the program. He insisted it was sold falsely to states as voluntary standards and that he was the victim of a “bait and switch.”
That is the crux of the criticism against Common Core — that the federal government got recession-strapped states to sign on by offering more than $4 billion in grants and waivers under the Race to the Top program. Many lawmakers were eager to sign on — at first. Now they are worried about losing those waivers if they drop Common Core.
That concern even led Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, to propose legislation that would “prohibit the federal government from mandating, incentivizing or coercing states to adopt the Common Core state standards or any other specific academic standards, instructional content, curricula, assessments, or programs of instruction.”
So far, 19 states have made significant efforts to push back against Common Core. Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana have exited the standards, and others appear poised to do likewise.
Who can blame them? The more teachers and parents see of Common Core, the less they like it.
Math problems that used to be solved in two or three easy steps now take a dozen or more, and with no discernible advantage — unless the point is to make things more complex. “In the real world,” one engineer father said of the mathematics homework his son brought home, “simplification is valued over complication.”
When it comes to reading, Common Core inexplicably junks many of the classic works of fiction that have long prepared students to think critically. In their place are “informational texts” that will cause college readiness to decrease, said professor Sandra Stotsky, former senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education.
The main problem is that Common Core exemplifies a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach that is toxic in the world of education. No matter how well-meaning some bureaucrats in Washington may be, they can’t prescribe standards that will work perfectly in every school of every district of every state. What works in Peoria, Illinois, may not work in Portland, Oregon.
“Adopting Common Core national standards and tests surrenders control of the content taught in local schools to distant national organizations and bureaucrats in Washington,” education researcher Lindsey Burke writes. “It is the antithesis of reform that would put control of education in the hands of those closest to students: local school leaders and parents.”
That, in fact, is the solution. What’s needed here is parent-directed education. We need school choice, which allows families to select the academic setting that’s right for them. That might be the local public school, a nearby private school or home school.
Such an approach is understandably appealing to frustrated families, many of whom have embraced school choice programs. The number taking advantage of options such as vouchers, tuition tax credit programs and education savings accounts has gone from fewer than 50,000 in 2000 to more than 300,000 today.
We don’t need questionable universal standards handed down to us from Mount Olympus. Choice in education should be our standard. Common Core restricts choice and simply doesn’t make the grade.
Originally appeared in the Washington Times.


The Future of the American Dream

A reflection on the midterm elections by someone from West Texas who nails it:
We have ushered in representatives that go against some of the core values of the Latino community and who continue to pass reforms that oftentimes do not take our community into account. 
All the more reason to continue to get out the vote—and to educate it, as well.

-Angela

The Future of the American Dream

Posted: Updated:
 Huffington Post

Growing up in West Texas, my mother taught me that if you worked hard enough, anything was possible. We believed in the American Dream - the idea that success was in reach, you just had to earn it. We felt confident that there was a better tomorrow for the next generation.
Yet, just recently The New York Times reported that only 64 percent of Americans would say that they still believed in the American Dream. This number, the paper reports, is the "lowest result in roughly two decades." One man interviewed noted that, "the decks have been stacked against not only the lower class but also the lower middle class."
These statistics are not surprising in the face of the large economic and social divides found within our country. As the lead up to November's midterm elections proved, our country has increasingly become politically polarized. We have ushered in representatives that go against some of the core values of the Latino community and who continue to pass reforms that oftentimes do not take our community into account.
I can understand why the American Dream no longer seems to be in reach for the many Americans, including those in the Latino community, who feel as if those in Washington only listen to a select few. President Obama has taken decisive action on immigration reform to keep families together and to allow millions to come out of the shadows. But we still have politically charged lawsuits such as the State of Texas v. United States of America,which aims to take this progress away by making false claims that the President's executive actions and Department of Homeland Security's directive on deferred action suspends the enforcement of our country's immigration laws. We need lawmakers that think through solutions to problems, not just figure out ways to repeal solutions.
The same goes for education. The recently passed $1.1 trillion spending bill includes cutting $303 million for Pell Grants, a program that helps to provide financial aid for an estimated 51 percent of Latino undergraduates. We should be creating more opportunities for education - a key issue for Latino voters - not taking them away.
Despite these issues, I remain optimistic. If November's election teaches us anything, it is that while this is a setback for the many who hoped to bring change, it is not the end of the American Dream. As a community, there are more reasons than ever to get out to the polls and work to elect those who reflect Latino values. Latinos need leaders who are advancing policies that make it easier to once again believe in hope and opportunity.
The Latino Victory Project is focused on supporting and electing candidates from our community - such as Secretary of State-electeds Nellie Gorbea and Alex Padilla as well as Representative-elect Ruben Gallego and Representative Raul Ruiz. These are the leaders who are willing to listen and who are ready to fight for what is right. They are the next generation of Americans who stand proudly to usher in a changing America rather than attempting to push immigrants and the Latino community to the sidelines.