Tag Archives: culture

How Charter Schools and Testing Regimes Have Helped Re-Segregate Our Schools – The Daily Beast

Worth a read and a thought.

How Charter Schools and Testing Regimes Have Helped Re-Segregate Our Schools – The Daily Beast

Sure, it’s mostly the courts, but as we approach the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, charter schools and testing regimes are reinforcing segregation.


Changing Demographics of Teaching = school-student-society drain

Thanks to Franklin Schargel for pointing out this new Carnegie Foundation study.


BY SUSAN HEADDEN  –  Carnegie Foundation for the advancement of teaching 2014

This is my attempt to summarize the main points of 28 pages of this important and timely study. Interestingly, much of this tracks very closely with M. Night Shyamalan Foundation’s studies and book: I Got Schooled, which I  summarized earlier in my blog.

Talent Drain – turnover and departures are lowering the average classroom experience level

Why They Leave – mainly because of poor/lacking administrative and professional support

New Generation, New Attitudes – impatience with dysfunctional structures, older teachers didn’t have to put up with all the testing and curriculum changes

Myths About Money – again, solid administrative support seems more important than money, pension back-loading is hard to swallow

The Toll of Teacher Turnover – turnover is very expensive, student relationships suffer, support from veteran teachers is rapidly vanishing

How Much Turnover is Too Much – it turns out that number/quality/costs of turnover is very poorly tracked, principles aren’t getting good teachers to stay and aren’t good at getting bad ones to leave, there are no good ideas what effective turnover targets should be

Supporting a Teacher’s First Years – careful hiring is important, new teachers are not prepared for realities of classroom, there is too little summer training, there is too much late hiring, there is lack of comprehensive induction (useful discussion of benefits of comprehensive induction and various approaches)

Houston Boot Camp – a mentoring program in the face of daunting statistics and politics

Roving Mentors in Iowa  –  mentors working outside of their normal grade levels and subject areas have much to offer to the new teacher, a lot of work gathering data on what was working

Teacher Residencies: Working Into The Job – pre-service apprenticing for up to a full year is producing desirable results in effectiveness and retention

A Matter of Match – problems arise from weak interviewing, little interaction with school personnel, hiring late in the process and after school year starts. turnover destroys continuity and trust for teachers and students

Returns On Investment – high quality induction produces lower turnover and higher retention, poor hiring practices leaks good teachers

Anamosa, Iowa –a detailed example of mentoring support

To read the whole study, click here.

Edward Snowden: Here’s how we take back the Internet – 2014 TED Talk

So, if you are looking about for an interesting and timely topic for a social studies, civics, or government class, or just a dinner party, you owe it to yourself to spend 35 minutes watching this TED talk.

Whether you believe Snowden is a traitor, scoundrel, or hero, he speaks about what is perhaps the greatest change agent Spaceship Earth has witnessed in the past 20 years.

He relates the internet’s relationships and impacts – past, present, and future – with the fundamental themes and concepts of: human rights, economic – military – national security, journalism, the Bill of Rights, governance, politics, as well as the necessities for and challenges of the black-budget intel world.

I urge you to take 35 the minutes to watch it and then just imagine the discussions and experiences you may have in your classroom of kids that have only grown up knowing, and will continue growing up with and using, this amazing creation: The Internet – 2014 and beyond.

Watch the talk by clicking here.

Question for a kid in school – video – 3:10

This little 3:10 video asks a question in an ‘in-your-face’ way.

Then goes on to answer it.

Then goes on to say why really matters.

Enjoy ~

The Heckman Equation – economic development and education

This article in Businessweek January 20-26, 2013 is a wider public distribution of the concept, problem, and solution early child education speaks to that Governor Martinez spoke of in her State of the State address today. Heckman’s Equation brings hard, observable data into the realms of making public policy.

James Heckman, is a PhD economist at the University of Chicago and views education for 3- and 4-year olds as fix to a current serious market failure.  In terms of economic development, early child education is a hard-nosed investment that pays off in lower social welfare costs, lower teen pregnancy rates, decreased crime rates, and increased tax revenue, as opposed to  spending on prisons, health and adolescent special education remediation.

Through the Heckman Equation, he found that an initial investment in free instruction of $17,758 per child per year in 2006 dollars, yielded between $60 and $300  return on investment (ROI) in state and federal welfare monies, increased tax revenues, and, most significantly, savings in police and court costs. As an economist, he finds this is  a 7% to 10% annual ROI.

So, not only did this turn out to not be a cost, it more than paid for itself in annual ROI in improved human capital to business and society, he also found it consistently beat historical ROI on equity (the stock markets) of around 5.8%.

The data further show that the earlier a child gets help, the better the results continue to be through each stage of education. Literally, the greatest ROI or ‘bang for the buck’ exists in early intervention – early child education, and this effective ROI reduces throughout adolescence.

A big problem arises when kids ought to be in early education programs which most young parents can’t afford. Heckman says, “The accident of birth is a huge, huge imperfection in the (economic) market.”

The good news is, and data show, this is overcome-able through targeted early child education and it appears to be scalable.

As an aside, in a 2011 Heckman lecture, he points out that cognitive testing stressed by NCLB and Race to the Top, only speaks to one dimension of a multidimensional system that includes, at least: integrity, socio-emotional skills, character, collaboration, grit. Yet data strongly indicates these untested characteristics may account for the largest share of human development, effectiveness in life, and contribution to the economy and society. These are the “soft” skills that are so widely reported today to be both in short supply and increasing demand.

Beyond interesting, the data also show these “soft” skills even affect scores on cognitive tests!

Just for fun – Carl Jung on history

There are ongoing, and often heated, conversations regarding New Mexico education, curriculums, strengths and weaknesses. It feels like this quote from Carl Jung on history presents an interesting context for these deliberations – what is wanted and needed, who are the important individual players, what is the nature of the epoch we are inevitably making?

“The great events of world history are, at bottom, profoundly unimportant. In the last analysis, the essential thing is the life of the individual. This alone makes history, here alone do the great transformations first take place, and the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately springs as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources in individuals. In our most private and most subjective lives we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, and its sufferers, but also its makers.  We make our own epoch.”


One key difference between kids who excel at math and those who don’t

Great article from Quartz Daily News – qz.com                   [Read the whole article here.]

“I’m just not a math person.”

We hear it all the time. And we’ve had enough. Because we believe that the idea of “math people” is the most self-destructive idea in America today. The truth is, you probably are a math person, and by thinking otherwise, you are possibly hamstringing your own career. Worse, you may be helping to perpetuate a pernicious myth that is harming underprivileged children—the myth of inborn genetic math ability.

Here are some summary points:

For high school math, inborn talent is just much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence.

Again and again, we have seen the following pattern repeat itself:

  1. Different kids with different levels of preparation come into a math class. Some of these kids have parents who have drilled them on math from a young age, while others never had that kind of parental input.
  2. On the first few tests, the well-prepared kids get perfect scores, while the unprepared kids get only what they could figure out by winging it—maybe 80 or 85%, a solid B.
  3. The unprepared kids, not realizing that the top scorers were well-prepared, assume that genetic ability was what determined the performance differences. Deciding that they “just aren’t math people,” they don’t try hard in future classes, and fall further behind.
  4. The well-prepared kids, not realizing that the B students were simply unprepared, assume that they are “math people,” and work hard in the future, cementing their advantage.

Thus, people’s belief that math ability can’t change becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The idea that math ability is mostly genetic is one dark facet of a larger fallacy that intelligence is mostly genetic. Academic psychology journals are well stocked with papers studying the world view that lies behind the kind of self-fulfilling prophecy we just described.

Convincing students that they could make themselves smarter by hard work led them to work harder and get higher grades. The intervention had the biggest effect for students who started out believing intelligence was genetic. (A control group, who were taught how memory works, showed no such gains.)

But improving grades was not the most dramatic effect, “Dweck reported that some of her tough junior high school boys were reduced to tears by the news that their intelligence was substantially under their control.” It is no picnic going through life believing you were born dumb—and are doomed to stay that way.

While American fourth and eighth graders score quite well in international math comparisons—beating countries like Germany, the UK and Sweden—our high-schoolers  underperform those countries by a wide margin. This suggests that Americans’ native ability is just as good as anyone’s, but that we fail to capitalize on that ability through hard work. In response to the lackluster high school math performance, some influential voices in American education policy have suggested simply teaching less math—for example, Andrew Hacker has called for algebra to no longer be a requirement. The subtext, of course, is that large numbers of American kids are simply not born with the ability to solve for x.

One way to help Americans excel at math is to copy the approach of the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans.  In Intelligence and How to Get It, Nisbett describes how the educational systems of East Asian countries focus more on hard work than on inborn talent:

1. “Children in Japan go to school about 240 days a year, whereas children in the United States go to school about 180 days a year.”

2. “Japanese high school students of the 1980s studied 3 ½ hours a day, and that number is likely to be, if anything, higher today.”
3. “[The inhabitants of Japan and Korea] do not need to read this book to find out that intelligence and intellectual accomplishment are highly malleable. Confucius set that matter straight twenty-five hundred years ago.”
4. “When they do badly at something, [Japanese, Koreans, etc.] respond by working harder at it.”
5. “Persistence in the face of failure is very much part of the Asian tradition of self-improvement. And [people in those countries] are accustomed to criticism in the service of self-improvement in situations where Westerners avoid it or resent it.”

Besides cribbing a few tricks from the Japanese, we also have at least one American-style idea for making kids smarter: treat people who work hard at learning as heroes and role models. We already venerate sports heroes who make up for lack of talent through persistence and grit; why should our educational culture be any different?

Math education, we believe, is just the most glaring area of a slow and worrying shift. We see our country moving away from a culture of hard work toward a culture of belief in genetic determinism. In the debate between “nature vs. nurture,” a critical third element—personal perseverance and effort—seems to have been sidelined. We want to bring it back, and we think that math is the best place to start.

Read the whole article here.

Follow Miles on Twitter at @mileskimball. Follow Noah at @noahpinionWe welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com