CRUME - Conference Program/Abstracts

This looks like a conference I would have enjoyed, especially the bits related to teaching undergraduate statistics. Somehow it escaped my radar until the last moment -- just as well, I suppose, as the $300+ registration fee would not have been kind to my budget. Still, there are some abstracts and short papers at the site that some may find useful.

A Dream Deferred: How access to STEM is denied to many students before they get in the door good | The Urban Scientist, Scientific American Blog Network

This is a great article by a scientist who describes the barriers she sees that are preventing disadvantaged students from being more involved in science. Sometimes it's "just" a lack of resources, but other times the barriers range from benign discouragement to active exclusion by people in gatekeeping roles.

Freshman Survey: This Year, Even More Focused on Jobs - Students - The Chronicle of Higher Education

For college freshmen surveyed in 2012, 88 percent said that getting a good job was their primary motivation for getting higher education. That answer typically corresponds to the economy, and only when the economy is strong do more students say higher education is something they're pursuing primarily out of intellectual interest. More about the responses to the survey can be found at

Parent blog: Why we chose an online school | EdNewsColorado

This is written by a parent who feels their child is having a good experience as a student of an online school. I have no doubt that online school is "working" (in the sense that it's somehow better than the local traditional alternative) for some students, but research on the overall and average effectiveness of online education is not so positive.

Why much-praised KIPP D.C. expels kids - Class Struggle - The Washington Post

We haven't talked specifically about charter schools yet in the School and Society class, but I'm posing these questions for discussion: Charter schools usually have much more power and flexibility to expel a student for misbehavior than a regular public school. Expulsion can be tricky because, legally, the child is still required to attend a school, which is why D.C. usually relies on "involuntary transfers." Under what conditions do you think it's fair to expel a student, and is it fair for different kinds of schools to have different powers to expel?

Online Courses Could Widen Achievement Gaps Among Students - Wired Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle reports on a study that found for students who traditionally struggle in traditional educational environments, online environments don't make the problem better, and in some cases, make the achievement gap worse.

Review of State Policy Report Card | National Education Policy Center

Last month when StudentsFirst assigned letter grades to states for their education policies, it didn't take a genius to figure out that the grades had more to do with aligning to StudentsFirst's agenda, and less to do with current student outputs and experiences. Still, it's welcome news that my colleague Ken Libby and +Sherman Dorn have given StudentsFirst's report a scholarly treatment, digging past the PR efforts to examine StudentsFirst's sources, methods, scoring criteria, and accuracy. While Libby and Dorn found, overall, the report card usefully identified states with policies that StudentsFirst favors, "there is no independent reason to find value in the report as an accurate guide to the effectiveness of the rated state policies" (p. 6).

Lively fight waged against sex ed bill | EdNewsColorado

This article might be good fodder for my School and Society students, as sex education seems like an area where what some adults want to learn does not align with what the students themselves want (and probably feel a need) to learn. There are moral hazards on both sides, one bounded by religion and parents' rights and the other bounded by the responsibility of those who purposely withhold scientifically helpful information from someone who could need it.

Tucson School District Struggles for Equality -

This article seems to combine some mixed news: On the one hand, the Tuscon school board lifted its objection to "culturally relevant curriculum." I look forward to reading stories about the restoration of the Mexican-American studies program in Tuscon. Less welcome news is the end of a desegregation order in Tuscon. Given Arizona's strong support of school choice, a desegregation order will only make it easier for schools to resegregate.

Non-believers taking college campuses by storm -

For the non-religious, being asked to join a prayer can be a very uncomfortable experience. Typically, this can be avoided on a public college campus, and the growth of secular student groups is promoting a more welcoming environment for atheist and other non-believing students. This can lead to come competition and contention, and I can see how a pro-secular environment on campus might make religious students equally uncomfortable.

New York City Schools Struggle to Separate the Gifted From the Just Well-Prepared -

Compared to my getting into college and graduate school, getting into a selective New York City kindergarten seems like a pretty high-stakes, stressful process. And like elsewhere, parents and students are finding ways to game the system, usually with the help of test-prep companies who are more than eager to sell their services to privileged parents who want what's best for their kids. I'm not against talented and gifted education (I was a TAG kid myself), but I'm not sure it belongs in kindergarten, and I'm not sure it should serve a sorting and segregating function within the public school system.

Rethink TFA | The Harvard Crimson

I've had a number of students express an interest in Teach for America. Some fit the traditional profile: high-achieving students who are looking for a recognized experience before a career in business, medicine, law, etc. A few others have been upperclassmen who decided late they want to be teachers, and they're looking to alternatives to the extra semesters of coursework and student teaching they'd need if they went through the School of Education. But what I think this article tries to stress is a decision not just to become a teacher, but to become a *good* teacher. Some research suggests that although the few TFA teachers who make it five years in the classroom are not measurably different from traditionally-trained teachers, what about all the students who suffered with below-average teaching while the TFA teacher learned on the job?

Recruiting in Classrooms??? | The Education Optimists

When I taught our introductory teacher education courses, we would occasionally let select organizations come into our class to recruit students. In most all cases, these organizations were allowed in because they provided our students additional opportunities to work with kids, something they'd need at least 25 hours of to apply to the School of Education. But when it comes to Teach for America, I can't think of anyone in the School of Education who would let them recruit in their classrooms. After all, as my advisor David Webb pointed out, "Do you think representatives of the School of Education would be welcome if they tried to recruit kids at TFA events?"

Back to the Future: High School Graduation Rates

Graduation rates are at a 40-year high, a positive bit of news that hasn't gotten much attention. Larry Cuban speculates that the reason we don't celebrate this more has something to do with knowing that we still have many underperforming schools. More likely, says, Cuban, the lack of attention is rooted in our belief that our schools are failing, as evidenced by most education rhetoric since A Nation at Risk.

CU-Boulder announces 3 finalists for new conservative scholar position - Boulder Daily Camera

CU has raised the money to fund a new faculty position: the "Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy." The list of candidates has been narrowed down to three finalists, and CU Chancellor Phil DiStefano refers to the program as "a novel idea to further enrich discourse on our campus." As some of the comments to this story point out, this program can be interpreted as an affirmative action program for conservative scholars, and I wonder how these scholars feel about that.

New Broad Street program engages all staff in math instruction -

I personally like the idea of elementary schools using teachers with more content-area expertise, but I question if the schools who need this the most will have the resources to have specialists. It sounds like this school is trying some ways to be flexible with teacher planning time and enrichment periods to get the most out of their specialists.

River Valley High teacher shows students how to rock math | math, song, river - Appeal-Democrat

I'm never sure what I should think when I read stories about singing/rapping math teachers. First of all, does the story give an accurate view of that teacher's classroom? Surely it's not all singing, all the time. Do stories like this unfairly distort the public's idea of what represents a good math teacher? Can music really take students to a level of understanding beyond memorization? (See the slope music video and decide for yourself:

UPDATE: Ruud selected as new president of University of Northern Iowa

Today UNI selected William Ruud as their next president. I didn't read as much about Ruud's qualifications and visit to the university, but I wish him and UNI the very best.

UPDATE: Presidential candidate: UNI censure likely, not 'the worst thing'

From afar, and only paying it some attention, I'm liking Michael Wartell as a candidate to become UNI's next president. It sounds like he's willing to speak candidly about mistakes that have been made and how to get past them.

Second-grade Loveland student reportedly suspended for imaginary weapon - Boulder Daily Camera

A boy pretending to save the earth destroyed an imaginary evil thing in an imaginary box with an imaginary grenade. For that brave/creative/7-year-old boy act, his school has given him a real suspension.

Fort Collins high school club takes up Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic | The Coloradoan |

A school in Fort Collins recently conducted the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. A question for my School and Society students: If you were the principal of this school, what would you tell parents who complained?

Girls at North Arlington school swear not to swear as part of lesson in civility : page all -

A Catholic school in New Jersey has had its female students take a pledge to not swear, but no such request was made of male students. Is this fair? Illegal? Newsworthy? Does your school have any rules that applied to one sex and not the other? When is it appropriate for rules to apply to some but not others?

Harvard Forced Dozens to Leave in Cheating Scandal -

Around 70 Harvard students have been forced out of the university after a cheating scandal. Harvard says the students cheated, but students claim their answers were similar because they studied together and got help from the same TAs. I'm asking this of my School and Society students: Which side do you believe? Is expulsion the right punishment?

Teachers Accused of Cheating on Qualifying Exams -

I don't think there's anything good about this story, but I would like to ask my School and Society students these questions: (1) Do you think teachers should have to pass certification exams? If so, what should the test cover? (2) Should teachers be subjected to ongoing testing throughout their career? (3) If you were a parent of a child who had been taught by a teacher who cheated on their exam, what recourse would you take?

The Fischbowl: The Twitter Distortion Field

I enjoy reading insights about how social media can influence teaching practice. Many are simple "Twitter's the best PD I've ever had!" but here Karl Fisch takes a much more serious look at how our perceptions of education are affected by the interactions we have online.