This morning, President Barack Obama traveled to Parkville Middle School and Center for Technology in Maryland’s Baltimore County to unveil his budget plan and disscussed the need to invest in education.
See the video from the Associated Press:
It’s a tad disturbing when science teachers don’t teach science.
Yet, according to a survey of 926 high school biology teachers, that’s exactly what’s happening. Most survey respondents admitted they’re not doing a good job teaching evolution.
The findings, published by two Penn State University professors in the January 28 issue of Science magazine, reveal that 13 percent of biology teachers admit they “explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least one hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.”
Another 60 percent of teachers skirt the controversial issue and are “neither strong advocates for evolutionary biology nor explicit endorsers of nonscientific alternatives.”
So what should school board members make of this? Well, for one, suggest Penn State professors Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzar, if teachers give any weight to theories without a strong scientific foundation, “this approach tells students that well-established concepts can be debated in the same way we debate personal opinions.”
HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nearly one-third of America’s young people fail to graduate from high school in four years.
“Middle School Matters will dramatically transform our partner middle schools and create an environment where students enter high school ready to do the work.”
To address that need, the George W. Bush Institute today announced Middle School Matters, a landmark education initiative to increase the number of children who complete middle school at grade level and go on to graduate from high school ready for college or a good job.
Former first lady Mrs. Laura W. Bush announced the program at Stovall Middle School of the Aldine Independent School District in Houston.
“Middle school is the last and best chance to prepare students for a successful high school career,” Mrs. Bush said to a crowd of 400 students, teachers, parents, education policy experts and city and school leaders. “Research shows with systematic, intensive interventions that students who started middle school behind can catch up.”
Middle School Matters is the most comprehensive research-based program to be applied to middle schools. The Institute has partnered with the nation’s top researchers to integrate, for the first time, proven practices that yield significant advances in middle school student achievement and readiness for high school. Implemented as a total package, Middle School Matters provides the proven mix of interventions to guarantee success.
Researchers developing Middle School Matters have identified 11 elements as critical for middle school success. These elements include concepts such as “school leadership” and “reading and reading interventions.” Middle School Matters incorporates key benchmarks, such as the ability to read for learning, write to communicate and perform complex math equations at grade level. Under each of the 11 elements, a research team convened by the Bush Institute prescribes five to eight data-driven specifications that include practical examples of how to best implement the research in the classroom.
“At the Bush Institute, we think big, work together, and get results,” said James K. Glassman, executive director of the Bush Institute. “Middle School Matters will dramatically transform our partner middle schools and create an environment where students enter high school ready to do the work.”
Middle School Matters will be implemented in three phases. The program is currently in Phase One, which includes building the platform and ensuring that all components work together cohesively. Phase Two will pilot the program in 10-15 schools. Each pilot school will undergo a tailored needs assessment and will be matched with a support team to assist in the implementation of the Middle School Matters specifications over two years. Phase Three will evaluate the pilot programs and scale the initiative to engage more schools.
Initial funding for Middle School Matters has been generously provided by a $500,000 donation from the Meadows Foundation.
“The Meadows Foundation has long believed that middle school is a critical transition period for young people and we must provide special attention to these students to ensure their academic success,” said Bruce Esterline, vice president for grants at the Meadows Foundation. “We applaud the Bush Institute for taking the lead to develop effective strategies to improve middle school students’ outcomes and appreciate the opportunity to partner with them to focus on this effort.”
Other collaborators include America’s Promise, Civic Enterprises, Southern Regional Education Board, Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, Dallas, and Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.
“America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University are excited about partnering with the Bush Institute,” said John Bridgeland, president and CEO of Civic Enterprises. “Middle School Matters is addressing a very critical part of the pipeline in helping students stay in school and be successful once they leave. The Institute’s focus on research-based strategies is an excellent one and we look forward to working in tandem with this initiative.”
For more information on Middle School Matters, and to learn more about the education reform initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute, please visit www.georgewbushcenter.com.
About the George W. Bush Institute:
The George W. Bush Institute’s mission is to unleash human potential around the world through expanding human freedom, educational reform, global health, and economic growth. In all its programming, the Institute seeks to empower women and social entrepreneurs as proven agents of change in society. The Institute is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes the Presidential library, located on the campus of SMU in Dallas. For more information, please visit www.georgewbushcenter.com.
For more information about the George W. Bush Presidential Center, visit: www.georgewbushcenter.com.
Let us what you think of this plan.
With the new 2012 federal budget proposal to come out shortly, the Obama administration is revealing information on what education priorities they will have for the upcoming year.
The White House is promoting, “developing new initiatives to improve K-12 education with an emphasis on graduating every student from high school ready for college and a career.”
The administration’s proposed budget will include the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Education (ARPA-ED) to “support research on breakthrough technologies to enhance learning.”
The budget also will support continuation of Race to the Top, with an “expanded focus on school districts prepared to implement and sustain comprehensive reforms.”
Additionally, working with a coalition of private sector leaders called Change the Equation, the administration is “encouraging public-private partnerships that inspire more students including girls and other currently underrepresented groups to excel in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).” The administration will also recruit 100,000 STEM teachers over the next decade with a down payment in the 2012 budget to start recruiting more STEM teachers and improve STEM teacher training.
A coalition of civil rights and education groups are working to strengthen high school qualityand to ensure that students in urban communities receive an equitable education.
That mission is important because the quality of education received by urban students has a huge impact on their communities, Michael Wotorson, executive director of the Campaign for High School Equity, told urban school leaders at the CUBE Issues Forum Saturday at NSBA’s Leadership Conference.
One million students drop out of school each yearand only about half of minority students graduate on time.
That makes it a civil rights issue as well as an educational issue, Wotorson said. “There are critical supports that school s and districts need to be able to right things for our kids.”
It’s not just a matter of what’s right. Joining Wotorson on the panel discussion was Fred Jones, a legislative associate with the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE). Jones said the nation’s high school dropout rate was an economic and social problem for everyone.
“If you take the class of 2010 droputs1.3 millionthat results in about $337 billion in lost lifetime earnings,” he said.
One goal of AEE is to support the focus on the nation’s 2,000 lowest-performing high schoolsso recently labeled “dropout factories,” where 60 percent or less of students graduate, Jones added.
The coalitionworking through the campaignalso is supporting efforts at developing effective tools for evaluating teachers, Wotorson said. “We recognize how important it is to come up with a useful metric that allows us to talk about effectiveness.”
According to T. Beth Glenn, education director for NAACP’s Advocacy and Research Department, a value-added formula is appropriatebut “with caveats.” Also needed are observations of classroom practices, a review of student academic work, and other demonstrations of effective teaching.
For school boards, they should be looking at such policies as whether teachers have coaches and there is some means of using student outcomes to “feed back into” professional development, she said.
When an Arizona board member rose from the audience to describe the policies that affect students in her statesome of which she suggested were oppressive and racially motivated against minoritiesGlenn said such “urgent and pressing problems need to be dealt with now.”
“Organize, organize, organize,” she said.
Merrow took his 14-year-old goddaughter into the depths of the New York Public Library recently and showed her a pod of hulking microfiche machines.
“What’s microfiche?” she asked.
Merrow began his opening general session talk at NSBA’s Leadership Conference Saturday morning with that story. It was a way to show how times are changing, not just for students and how they acquire knowledge, but also for school boards and their many antagonists, whom Merrow said are busy fighting yesterday’s battles.
As his godchild’s story illustrates, “Today knowledge is 24-7. Information is 24-7.” Merrow said. “By contrast, schools remain a monopolistic place where children are expected to answer questions, not ask them. I call it regurgitation education, and it’s at its apex as the tests approach.”
Schools must change, but not in the ways the Michelle Rhees of the nation would have it: by firing scores of supposedly bad teachers (as the former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor famously did) and tying the salaries and job security of the rest to students’ scores on bubble tests, Merrow said. But neither can school districts maintain what Merrow dubbed the traditional “trade union” concept of teaching, which defines a job as one that guarantees employment for life and bases salaries on years spent in front of a class.
“Neither side says much about school boards, which are being ignored,” Merrow said.
School board members accept this position on the sideline at their own peril, Merrow said. Instead, they need to embrace new ways of teaching with technology and a more vital conceptualization of the teaching profession, one that allows for more autonomy, collaboration, and personal initiative.
What should school boards do to improve the teaching profession and stem the loss of 40 percent of new teachers within their first four years — the kind of human capital loss that few professions could tolerate?
“Make it rewarding,” Merrow said. “Make it attractive. Make it a job worth fighting for.”
Change the bureaucracy so principals can hire the teacher they want, Merrow said. Create schools in which teachers and other staff members, from custodians to secretaries, are encouraged to work together.
That kind of transformation is critical, but it is not for the faint-hearted, Merrow said.
“Be bold. Take risks. Recognize that the world has changed,” Merrow said. “Or don’t.”
Earlier, NSBA President Earl C. Rickman III, who introduced Merrow, talked briefly about the serious challenges facing school boards, ones “that threaten our very existence.” Among them are mayoral takeovers, increased federal control, and commentators and pundits who mistakenly believe that schools could do better without school boards in charge.
“As state association leaders, we need to fight this battle,” Rickman said.
Ask an 8-year-old this Sunday what he wants to be when he grows up and you might hear “a star running back for the Green Bay Packers” (or the Pittsburgh Steelers). Or maybe, if he or she is more focused on the halftime show: “A rock star like the Black Eyed Peas!”
How would you respond? Probably something on the order of, “Aww, isn’t that cute.”
But get the same response from, say, a 13-year-old and I did once, when I visited an alternative school in Brockton, Mass., and talked to a 5-foot, 98-poundish student who wanted to be a pro basketball player — and your reaction would be more like: ”Isn’t that sad and deluded.”
Truth is, schools need to do a better job of preparing students for careers as well as higher education. And this week the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report outlining just how it thinks it should be done.
One big supporter is Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
“I start with the basic premise that it is the responsibility of K-12 educators to prepare all students for both college and a career,” Duncan said in a speech this week. ”This must be both/and,’ not either/or.’ High school graduates themselves not the educational system should be choosing the postsecondary and career paths they want to pursue.”
A great idea, but what’s the track record for schools in preparing students for careers? A mixed one, notes Education Week‘s Catherine Gewertz in the Curriculum Matters blog.
What’s another way to improve career education and, indeed, all education? “Stop driving out good teachers,” says University of Georgia Professor Peter Smagorinsky, quoted on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Get Schooled blog. In this witty and quite opinionated piece, Smagorinsky muses about how today’s test-crazy education leaders would have reacted to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount Speech. Hint: Think multiple choice.
“I suspect that neither (here he’s referring to Jesus and Socrates) would last long as the test-administering functionary required by Duncan.”
I think “Ouch” is the proper (and clichéd) response.
Finally, thank Alexander Russo’s “This Week in Education” for alerting us to the return of Patrick Riccard’s satirical “Edu-Pundit” on YouTube. Very clever. Very funny but scarily close to reality? See for yourself.
Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and filmmaker Spike Lee have teamed to urge more African American men to become teachers with the goal of recruiting and placing 80,000 African American male teachers in our classroom by 2015.
High School Soup had great things to say today about NCES’s new Education Dashboard, a database that looks at how students in the states and nation rank against a number of key academic benchmarks. In fact, the blog says, the new resource shows ”the Obama Administration gets it ”
All the indicators on the dashboard are connected in some way to the Administration’s signature goal of making the U.S. once again the leader in college degree attainment.
Now, a critique: National stats are great – and a tremendous help to reporters like me – but sometimes these relentless counts and comparisons seem to focus on ends (some of them of dubious value, such as the number of states using student achievement data in teacher performance evaluations) at the expense of substance.
To which, none other than Ronald Reagan might have replied as he did in one of his famous presidential debates _– “There you go again!” Only this time, the one saying that is Alexander Russo, taking so-called education “progressives” to task for being much better at knocking popular school reforms (the Harlem Children Zone, the educational changes in places like New York and Chicago or, I might add, the new Education Dashboard) without coming up with better ideas of their own.
So, yes, we’ve still got a long way to go in the way of developing 21st-century skills. As one national daily put it, “Educators are hardly triumphant and say different skills are needed to compete in a global knowledge economy.”
So true. Except the above quote comes not from a U.S. newspaper but from the state-controlled China Daily, which, according to Atlantic blogger James Fallows, isn’t overwhelmed by the fact that Shanghai teenagers are outscoring the rest of the world in reading and math, and says they need to do more critical thinking and less rote learning.
Finally, let me recommend Joanne Jacobs’ blog on the rise in “blended learning” at the K12 level, a combination of traditional and online classes that looks like a wave of the future.
Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor
NSBA’s president and executive director will participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s Conference on Labor-Management Collaboration next month.
The Education Department has chosen 150 school districts from among the 241 applications it received to participate in what’s being billed as a historic event, scheduled for Feb. 15-16 in Denver. A list of the 150 districts is available on the Education Department’s website.
Anne L. Bryant, NSBA’s executive director, and Earl C. Rickman III, the 2010-11 board president, will represent the association at the conference. Rickman is president of the board of Michigan’s Mount Clemens Community School District, one of the local districts that will attend.
“School board members across the country understand the importance of increasing student achievement through developing collaborative relationships in the labor management process,” said Rickman. “It is of the utmost importance that local school and union leaders come together in labor agreements to advance student achievement in the public education systems.”
To participate, the Education Department is requiring the school board president, superintendent, and teachers union leader to agree to attend. All must sign a pledge to collaboratively develop and implement policies in areas such as strategic planning and “aligning all labor-management work with this overarching focus. The alignment includes “ways to share responsibility and hold each other accountable for results; and more effectively supporting the work of teachers, leaders, and administrators in advancing student achievement by improving such systems and structures as organizing teaching and learning time and schedules, and processes for the hiring, retention, compensation, development, and evaluation of a highly effective workforce,” according to the Education Department.
In addition to NSBA, other organizations that are co-sponsoring the conference include the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National School Boards Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
“Successful labor-management relations must be fostered with collaboration from a broad base of support from teachers, administrators, and school board members,” said Bryant. “Effective labor-management relations are an important part to supporting school improvement and driving student success.”