Archive for the ‘EDU’ Category

STEM education focus of congressional hearing at Madison’s Bob Jones High

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Huntsville may be ahead of the curve when it comes to science education, but plenty of work remains to ensure that the education system adequately fills an increasingly technology-based workforce.

That was the gist of a congressional hearing held Monday morning at Bob Jones High School to discuss the future of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the Rocket City and beyond.

The hearing was hosted by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, who chairs the subcommittee on Research and Science Education for the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Brooks was joined by Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee. Lipinski told those present that fewer than 40 percent of college students who start out in a STEM-related field follow through and get a degree in that field.

That leads to a shortage of qualified employees to fill positions in science and technology fields, which are experiencing an increasing demand for workers, Lipinski said.

“We need to do a better job at training our students,” Lipinski said.

For ideas on how that should be done, the congressmen turned to a panel of local education and industry leaders, who testified about the status of STEM education in Huntsville. Panelists spoke repeatedly of improved communication and collaboration between education and industry.

Andrew Partynski, chief technology officer for SAIC, told the congressmen that there is a lack of communication about what type of students the industry is seeking.

“We still have a lot to do with the universities to communicate the kind of needs we have,” Partynski said.

Dr. Neil Lamb, director of educational outreach for HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, agreed. Lamb said the industry needs students whose book-based learning is supplemented by hands-on experience. (more…)

American College of Education Sponsors Conference for Indiana Reading Teachers

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Literacy Expert Louisa Moats Draws Over 200 Teachers From Across the State

American College of Education announces that more than 200 Indiana reading and literacy teachers attended a professional development conference at the Indianapolis Convention Center on Oct. 24 featuring literacy expert Louisa Moats, Ed.D. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and Wilson Education Center collaborated with the online college in sponsoring the day-long program, “Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science.”

Dr. Moats, founder of the LETRS(R) (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) Louisa Moats Literacy Academy, discussed code-based instruction, spelling phonology and teaching vocabulary, basing her presentation on Scientifically Based Reading Research (SBRR) and real-world experience.

Support for improved teaching methods includes statistics showing that 11 to 17 percent of children are affected by dyslexia, nearly 40 percent of fourth graders are at the national “below basic” reading level, and up to 80 percent of high poverty students are at risk of failing.

Recent data from the College Board further stresses the need for advances in teaching reading, reporting that scores on the critical reading portion of the 2011 SAT college entrance exam resulted in the lowest level on record. The cohort of test takers was the largest and most diverse in history. (more…)

New education rules a good first step

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

In a speech on Sept. 23, President Obama gave a speech linking economic recovery with improved educational standards by proposing additional measures to reform the public school system. “We have to pick up our game,” he said, noting that America has fallen to 16th in the world in terms of percentage of college diplomas earned by its citizens. Some of the reforms include using a waiver system to give more power to the states to control curriculum and make improvements.

Specifically, the plan is to move away from the No Child Left Behind Act, including provisions to circumvent the act’s 2014 deadline for nationwide academic proficiency. Other requirements, such as preparing students for post-high school plans and creating evaluative benchmarks for teachers, are required for the waiver to be accepted.

We at Student Life support this plan. The American education system needs a serious overhaul. As students and soon-to-be graduates, we understand the value of a good education. We would, however, like to propose a few changes that we hope to see.

We realize that testing will never be the best indicator of academic performance. The ability to fill in bubbles on a Scantron does not necessarily indicate critical thinking skills or academic potential. However, as an indicator of performance overall, the tests do have merit and standardized testing is the only way to track student performance on a large scale. But, we believe standardized testing can be improved significantly. One of those improvements can be requiring testing on more subjects.

At Wash. U., pre-meds and English majors alike understand the importance of a solid science-based education. Tests should evaluate basic knowledge of the sciences because with science education comes innovation and global influence. The American Jobs Act will create new science labs in schools across the country, hopefully improving science curriculum and fostering future advances. No Child Left Behind should put the same emphasis on science.

The president consistently says that the U.S. needs to be better at math and science, but No Child Left Behind requires testing only on math and reading. The country would be better served if education funding for school districts was linked to the sciences as well. (more…)

Education Policy Critics March on White House

Saturday, July 30th, 2011
People march to the White House during the “Save Our Schools” rally in Washington, D.C., on July 30. Marchers chanted and carried signs expressing their demands after hearing speeches nearby.

Teachers and their supporters gathered near the White House on Saturday afternoon to chant, cheer, and march for a variety of changes they hope to see in public schools—most notably, a 180-degree shift away from standards- and testing-based accountability.

Aside from that message, those who attended the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action in the scalding sun preached everything from boosting support for teachers’ unions, to booting U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to getting more federal money for low-income schoolchildren. Student poverty was repeatedly cited as the most pressing problem in public schools.

The more than two hours of speeches and hourlong march, along with other related events, were organized by teachers and teacher-educators who say they are fed up with test-driven accountability for schools—and, increasingly, for teachers. Speakers ranged from such prominent education authors as Jonathan Kozol and Diane Ravitch to the actor Matt Damon.

Organizers estimated the size of the crowd at 5,000, but a rough count by Education Week put it closer to 3,000. Before the event, organizers had said they were expecting 5,000 to 10,000 people.

The gathering, according to the organizers, was aimed at sending a message to national and state policymakers about its participants’ disgust with those policies and to highlight their own principles for improving public education. Members have created a series of position papers outlining the loosely organized group’s views on high-stakes testing, equitable school funding, unions and collective bargaining, and changes to curriculum.

For the most part, those aren’t formal policy prescriptions, and no stronger positions emerged from the rally Saturday. However, policy proposals aren’t necessarily among the organizers’ goals.

“What we’re talking about is creating the right conditions, not prescriptive policies,” said Sabrina Stevens Shupe, a former teacher in Denver who has turned full-time activist and was one of the event’s leaders. “There’s no one silver bullet that’s going to save anything,” she added, referring to attempts to craft education reforms over the past 30 years.

Patrick McCarthy, an 11th grade English teacher from Woodstock, Va., said he is tired of devoting weeks of the school year to preparing students for standardized tests. If he had his way, students would instead spend that time writing more, and improving their writing and critical-thinking skills.

“I’m so tired of hearing teachers are the bad guys,” said Mr. McCarthy, who will start his 17th year as a teacher later this year. (more…)

Education must adjust to meet needs of every student group

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

A new law in Tennessee allows public school systems to create “virtual schools.” This is not a silver bullet that improves public education across the board. But it is a step toward a public education system that must be reconfigured to meet the needs of every student, regardless of need, location or family circumstances. The future of successful public education lies in being flexible enough to meet every student’s needs.

Virtual schools allow students to obtain or complete their education using modern technology such as the Internet. They are not for everyone but are another tool educators now have available to achieve the goal of an educated population. Virtual schools recognize the need to focus on learning outcomes regardless of how education is delivered.

Traditional one-size-fits-all teacher/classroom public education is as antiquated as the one-room schoolhouse. Modern public education has been evolving for a number of years, though it isn’t recognized as such by many people who are not educators.

In Jackson-Madison County, the public education system already is comprised of a number of specialized magnet schools that offer unique education opportunities. High schools offer dual-credit college courses that can give students a head start on higher education. A new Bridge Academy was established to accommodate non-traditional students. Pre-kindergarten classes are available throughout the school system to help prepare at-risk children for learning. Special programs exist to help special-needs students and students with advanced learning capabilities. The school system has an alternative school for students with discipline problems, though it still does not fully meet their needs.

Another development is a proposal to reconfigure the school system’s middle schools to address the special needs of those students. Research has shown that this age group is where many students begin to lag behind. Addressing their specific needs is a hallmark of modern, flexible, public education.

While not exactly public education, home-schooling programs exist to allow parents another alternative to educate their children. These programs meet state public education requirements and often are partly integrated with local public school activities. (more…)

Scottish university head in retirement row

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Professor disputes contract after staff e-mail announcement

A senior academic at Abertay University may be one of the first to test the laws surrounding the abolition of forced retirement, after he rejected claims by his employer that he had retired.

Professor Bernard King, principal of Abertay University, denied he had retired after an e-mail was sent to staff announcing the news.

The university said that King had been notified of his impending retirement in December last year, after his 65th birthday, well ahead of the 6 April 2011 deadline for forced retirements. Abertay insist that King’s retirement was due to start on 1st July.

However, the professor, who was suspended earlier this year after a row about whether to extend his employment contract, has alleged his employer discriminated against him because of his age.

In a statement from his solicitors, King said he had “not accepted” the email referring to his retirement and that he has started employment tribunal proceedings.

The statement said: “His position is that he has not retired and he remains in dispute with the university over the terms of an extension of contract agreed with the university last year.

“The principal’s claims of age discrimination and whistle-blowing in relation to actions taken to address allegations of bullying and intimidation of members of staff remain the subject of employment tribunal proceedings which will take place later this year.”

The solicitors handling the case have advised him that the university’s current actions were “both unfair and unlawful”. (more…)

New study: Why the ability to multitask wanes with age

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

A new university study shows that as we age, it gets tougher to successfully “multitask,” or remembering to complete one task while distracted by another.

Using brain scans, a team of UC San Francisco researchers have discovered that people over age 60 are less agile in switching from one neural network to another — which means that brief attention-grabbing interruptions can undermine their ability to recall the original task.

“A lot of us feel the need to respond really rapidly to an email or text message,” said Dr. Adam Gazzaley, director of the UCSF Neuroscience Imaging Center and senior author of the study, which was published in Monday’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

If we stop what we’re doing to send a reply, Gazzaley says, “there may be a price to be paid.”

While others have observed that aging adults experience difficulty completing a task after a distraction, no one had explored neurological science to learn why.

The problem is central to daily life as increasing numbers of digital distractions — such as electronic messages, alerts and feeds — demand our attention, interrupting the process of retaining information from deep learning.

The topic has growing relevance “especially as older adults stay in the workplace later “… and the societal expectations increase about how quickly we should respond” to interruptions, Gazzaley said. (more…)

New health-care regulations to extend students’ coverage

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Recent additions to the U.S. health-care reform law will provide college students with some minor benefits.

Effective Jan. 1, 2012, new regulations will establish more accountability on the behalf of insurance providers. Because University-sponsored insurance is mandatory for students, these new regulations will not affect students’ ability to obtain health insurance coverage.

In smaller ways, students may experience some benefits.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, insurance companies will not be allowed to levy lifetime coverage limits on student health plans, drop students’ coverage when a student becomes ill but has an error on an application, or deny coverage to students who are younger than 19 and have pre-existing conditions.

Before the health care law was enacted, many students were covered only under their parents’ plans until they were 21 years old, but the new act allows them to stay on until age 26. This means Washington University students will be able to use their parents’ insurance as secondary coverage in addition to the University-sponsored plan.

Virginia Wells, director of the health center at the College of William & Mary, a public university in Williamsburg, Va., attested to the health care law’s measurable benefits. (more…)

Education group to push for funding

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Higher-education supporters have formed another new group that aims to pressure the Legislature to be more generous with education funding.

Earlier this year, University of Washington alumni formed a group, UW Impact, to push for more funding for the university. Both Washington State University and Western Washington University are following suit with groups of their own.

The newest group, the College Promise Coalition, was announced Tuesday. It’s an umbrella group that includes public colleges and universities, faculty and student groups, business leaders and education organizations. “This is a broader statewide coalition that will help play a coordinating role” among all the different groups, said spokesman Sandeep Kaushik.

The coalition plans to hold events and rallies in Olympia during the legislative session, Kaushik said, and “make some noise about higher education” and the cutbacks the state’s institutions face.

The coalition is concerned that Gov. Chris Gregoire is downplaying the size of the cuts to higher education proposed in her budget, Kaushik said. Gregoire has said her cuts would trim higher education by 4.2 percent, when tuition increases are taken into consideration.

The coalition says the cutbacks are closer to 8 to 12 percent. The higher number includes a proposed 3 percent salary reduction for state employees, and a proposal that would shift the burden of funding faculty and staff retirement plans to the colleges and universities.

Love your heart this Valentine season

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

February, the month of Valentine’s Day, holds a lot of talk about love and hearts. There is reason beyond romance to think about your heart.

It is National Heart Month, a perfect time to show your own heart some love. It is imperative that you know how to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle and try to avoid heart disease. That is best for you and all those who love you.

Heart disease, including stroke, is the No. 1 killer of both men and women.

The more risk factors you have, the greater the chance you will develop heart disease. The probability goes up with physical inactivity, smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

The good news is you can reduce risk through lifestyle changes. Try to follow what the American Heart Association calls Life’s Simple 7:

1. Don’t smoke.
2. Do at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
3. Meet the healthy diet requirements of the American Heart Association.
4. Have a total cholesterol of less than 200.
5. Have a blood pressure below 120/80.
6. Have a fasting blood glucose level less than 100.
7. Achieve a body mass index of lower than 25.

There are plenty of good things to achieve — besides getting a chance back at life. Lots of delicious foods with plenty of good taste are ready to be eaten: lean meats, low-fat dairy products and whole grains. Seasonings beyond salt, like life-preserving spices, also give flavor. In the cold months when many fresh fruits and vegetables are not in season, canned or frozen ones hold all the nutrition of those recently picked.

If prevention does not go far enough, it is wise to know the signs and symptoms of a cardiovascular event.

The five major symptoms of a heart attack are pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back; feeling weak or faint; chest pain; pain in arms or shoulder, and shortness of breath. Someone having a stroke may have numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg; be confused; have trouble speaking, seeing or walking; dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination.

Any of these signs or symptoms requires emergency care immediately.

It is possible to celebrate Valentine’s Day while being good to your heart. Heart-Healthy No-Bake Cookies provide a treat both heart-healthy and delicious, with smart-to-eat fats, antioxidants and fiber that emphasize eating for and with a healthy heart. The recipe, adapted from, needs no baking as well. (more…)