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Previously known as "The Hoboken Curriculum Project", this blog will provide a forum for those interested in Dr. Petrosino's perspective on education at the local, state and national levels. At all times, the basic premise is that the role of leadership is to create more leaders, not more followers.
The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, an independent committee that advises Congress and the secretary of education on national policy, presented a report in Washington on Friday that did not bode well for low-income college students seeking degrees.
The report, entitled “The Rising Price of Inequality” sent a clear message to the federal government: without a broad increase in need-based state and federal aid, fewer low-income students will have the resources to remain enrolled in college and earn degrees over the next decade.
Furthermore, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the financial burden of a college education has grown to take up a larger portion of a family’s income, with four years at a public college costing 48 percent—almost half—of a low-income family’s annual income in 2007. A four-year education was 41 percent of a low-income family’s earnings in 1992.
This is bad news for low-income students, but also could delay President Obama’s goal of having the United States produce the most college graduates by 2020, according to the authors of the report.
“Recent progress in increasing need-based federal grant aid is encouraging, but must be greatly intensified and broadened,” the report reads. “At a minimum, federal policy must seek to ensure that states and public colleges hold Pell Grant recipients harmless against increases in cost of attendance, through increases in state and institutional need-based grant aid.”
The authors also recommended a national experiment to gauge how college access would be impacted by
increasing opportunities for loan forgiveness and income-based repayment options, the Chronicle reported.
Read full article by clicking HERE
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: We examined the knowledge constructed about racial violence and African Americans in the United States. Using the theoretical lenses of critical race theory and cultural memory, we show how the topic of historic acts of racial violence toward African Americans receives minimal and/or distorted attention in most K–12 texts. The purpose of this study is to illustrate that although accounts of racial violence that historically have been excluded from textbooks are now being included, this inclusion matters little if it is presented in a manner that disavows material implications of racial violence on sustained White privilege and entrenched African American inequities.
Research Design: The findings from this study come from a textbook analysis of 19 recent U.S. history social studies textbooks adopted by the state of Texas. Drawing from the tradition of recent critical textbook studies, this study used a literary analysis methodology.
Findings/Results: In this study, we found that although narratives of racial violence were present throughout the texts, they often rendered acts of violence as the immorality of single actors or “bad men doing bad things.” Additionally, these presentations portray violence as disconnected from the institutional and structural ties that supported and benefited from such acts.
Conclusions/Recommendations: The findings from this study illustrate the limited historical and sociocultural knowledge about race and racism provided to teachers and students through K–12 social studies textbooks. These findings have direct implications for how teachers and students conceptualize and grapple with real issues of race and racism in schools and society. We suggest that the knowledge contained in school texts must go beyond simply representing acts of racism, situating such acts of racism within the discursive and material realities that have shaped the lives of African Americans in the United States.
The following is a story that appeared in the NY Times on June 13 by Education writer Winnie Hu and is entitled, "Studying Engineering Before They Can Spell It." The article discusses some efforts currently underway to incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education in the early elementary grades. At Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ the Partnership to Improve Student Achievement (PISA) is a partnership of 50 teachers from 22 schools from the districts of Bayonne, Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, Piscataway, Weehawken, and four non-public schools, together with Stevens Institute of Technology, Montclair State University, and Liberty Science Center, are providing teachers with deeper science content knowledge, research-based professional development, and experience with innovative science and engineering curricula and materials for Grades 3-5. The article by Ms. Wu presents some interesting strengths and challenges of attempting to do engineering education with students in the elementary grades. -Dr. Petrosino
GLEN ROCK, N.J. — In a class full of aspiring engineers, the big bad wolf had to do more than just huff and puff to blow down the three little pigs’ house.
To start, he needed to get past a voice-activated security gate, find a hidden door and negotiate a few other traps in a house that a pair of kindergartners here imagined for the pigs — and then pieced together from index cards, paper cups, wood sticks and pipe cleaners.
“Excellent engineering,” their teacher, Mary Morrow, told them one day early this month.
All 300 students at Clara E. Coleman Elementary School are learning the A B C’s of engineering this year, even those who cannot yet spell e-n-g-i-n-e-e-r-i-n-g. The high-performing Glen Rock school district, about 22 miles northwest of Manhattan, now teaches 10 to 15 hours of engineering each year to every student in kindergarten through fifth grade, as part of a $100,000 redesign of the science curriculum.
Spurred by growing concerns that American students lack the skills to compete in a global economy, school districts nationwide are packing engineering lessons into already crowded schedules for even the youngest students, giving priority to a subject that was once left to after-school robotics clubs and summer camps, or else waited until college.
Supporters say that engineering reinforces math and science skills, promotes critical thinking and creativity, and teaches students not to be afraid of taking intellectual risks.
“We still hear all the time that little kids can’t engineer,” said Christine Cunningham, director of Engineering is Elementary, a program developed at the Museum of Science in Boston that offers ready-made lessons, for about $350 each, on 20 topics, and is now used in all 50 states, in more than 3,000 schools.
“We say they’re born engineers — they naturally want to solve problems — and we tend to educate it out of them.”
The Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition, which will distribute $4.35 billion in education stimulus money to states, favors so-called STEM programs, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
At the same time, Congress is considering legislation, endorsed by more than 100 businesses and organizations like I.B.M. and Lockheed Martin, to promote engineering education from kindergarten through 12th grade.
In Manassas, Va., which has a thriving biotech industry, the local school district has spent $300,000 on a children’s engineering program since 2008, equipping its six elementary schools with tool kits for projects like making musical instruments from odds and ends, building bridges with uncooked spaghetti and launching hot-air balloons made from trash bags and cups.
At the new Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering in Anderson, S.C., kindergartners celebrated Groundhog Day by stringing together a pulley system to lift a paper groundhog off the floor.
But as these lessons have spread, some parents, teachers and engineers question how much children are really absorbing, and if schools should be expending limited resources on the subject.
Engineering is not a requirement in most states.
“Just giving kids an engineering problem to solve doesn’t mean it will lead to learning,” said Janine Remillard, an associate education professor at theUniversity of Pennsylvania who is not opposed, but believes that good teaching is essential to making any curriculum work well.
She pointed out that schools have long offered project-based learning, without calling it engineering, like building Lego robots or designing a cushion for an egg drop.
“Ideally, you want them to come away with knowledge that goes beyond that problem,” Professor Remillard said. “They could just go through the motions and end up with a robot that can do a particular thing, but the next problem they face will be a new problem. This is where good teaching comes in.”
William E. Kelly, a spokesman for the American Society for Engineering Education and former dean of the engineering school at Catholic University in Washington, cautioned that engineering lessons for youngsters should be kept in perspective.
“You’re not really learning what I would call engineering fundamentals,” he said of such programs. “You’re really learning about engineering.”
Here in Glen Rock, where students have long excelled at math and science, administrators and teachers decided to incorporate engineering into the elementary grades to connect classroom learning to real life, as well as to instill social skills like collaboration and cooperation that are valued in the work force, said Kathleen Regan, the curriculum director.
“At first, everybody was like: ‘Engineering? Kindergarten?’ ” recalled Dr. Regan, noting that one school board member joked that she must be married to an engineer (no; a lawyer).
But now, Dr. Regan said, the engineering lessons have become so popular that children are talking about their projects at the dinner table, and some of their parents have started researching engineering colleges.
Ms. Morrow and Jennifer Burke, who also teach classes for the gifted and talented, developed the engineering lessons and run them in all four elementary schools.
They plan multiday projects, often built around classic and popular stories like the Three Little Pigs, and take students step by step through the engineering process: design, build, test, evaluate.
“They have to have the thinking skills of an engineer to keep up with all the innovation that’s constantly coming into their world,” Ms. Morrow said.
First graders were recently challenged with helping a farmer keep rabbits out of his garden.
In teams of four, they brainstormed about building fences with difficult-to-scale ladders instead of doors and setting out food decoys for the rabbits. They drew up blueprints and then brought them to life with plastic plates, paper cups, straws and foam paper.
Then they planned to test their ideas with pop-up plastic rabbits. If the fences were breached, they would be asked to improve the design.
“It gets your brain going,” said Elizabeth Crowley, 7, who wants to be an engineer when she grows up. “And I actually learn something when I’m doing a project — like you can work together to do something you couldn’t do before.”
In the kindergarten class that was designing homes — none out of hay, wood or brick — for the three pigs, Ms. Morrow started the lesson by asking the 20 children sitting cross-legged on the carpet if they knew what engineers do.
“They can write poems?” one girl guessed.
“Well,” Ms. Morrow allowed, “they could write a poem about something they build.”
But if they were still unsure about the language of engineering, the students were soon immersed in its nuts and bolts.
They tweaked their houses, adding ever more elaborate improvements to thwart the wolf. Then they huffed and they puffed.
And not a single house blew down.
photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
A voicemail message the con man left for one of the students said: "Tyquan right now, come to the warehouse, thank you."
It was all part of the scam that had high school teens passing out flyers for a company that didn't exist that was fronted by a man who was ripping people off.
The man, who identified himself as Dr. Dexter Davis, was invited into the high school last week by an administrator.While on school grounds he was allowed to meet with students, and he offered some of them jobs.
Tyquan Goodwin and Paula Vazquez were among a group of students who agreed to work for him.
"Honestly, we all had our doubts from the very first day but we didn't know how to come out and say it," said student, Paula Valazquez.
The students took to the streets though, putting their doubts aside, and working long stretches to hand out raffle tickets for a bogus $500 prize.
They met with the con man at a warehouse and a McDonald's.
The students even gave him the $180 they'd earned working 8 hour days.
They sensed that something didn't add up, so they Googled his name.
What they found confirmed what they suspected, but didn't want to believe.
A Dr. Dexter Davis had been accused of being a con man last year in Connecticut.
They believe it's the same guy.
When Eyewitness News contacted school officials, they apologized to the parents and the students, and called what happened "unfortunate".
The superintendent told Eyewitness News: "That's our error and we admit to that. We admit we were wrong. An error in judgment was made by a professional involved and we are still investigating how this happened."
On a day when the DOW dropped below 10,000 and an announcement of the economy producing only 21,000 private sector jobs, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and two top southern Democrats warned that without federal funds, thousands of teachers would be laid off in the coming weeks.
The jobs of 10,000 North Carolina teachers are at risk among 300,000 nationwide*, Duncan said, as recession-hit state and local governments struggle to meet requirements to balance their budgets.
"We are strongly urging Congress to take action and take action this month," Duncan said. "I don't have a Plan B. Plan B is children around the country are going to get hurt."Duncan (D-NC) and Etheridge (D-NC) said Thursday that a $23 billion education jobs fund proposed in Congress was needed to keep teachers in the classroom and off the unemployment rolls at a time the economy remains fragile.
With billions more in federal education dollars at stake, Perdue and others lobbied Duncan to note the state's efforts to claim a share of the U.S. Education Department's "Race to the Top" grants.
* Hoboken, which is facing the retirement of over 10% of it's teaching faculty is not in danger of layoffs in the Fall due to budget shortfalls.
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