Thursday, October 25, 2012

Assessing the Educational Claims of Kids First- Parsing Rhetoric and Hyperbole From Leadership and Reform

Barely True
The following is taken directly from the Facebook page of a political group in Hoboken known as Kids First. Kids First is an active political group that have gained control over the public schools of Hoboken. First rising to some note in 2007, Kids First gained full majority control of the Hoboken Board of Education in the spring of 2009 and have remained in majority control since that time. In February of 2012 the Kids First majority voted to move Board of Education elections to November instead of having them in May. This was a controversial decision. On the same night, Kids First also voted to not have the yearly budget of the Hoboken Public Schools come up for public vote if the budget for the forthcoming year was less than 2% of the previous year. This was another controversial decision. With this as a pre-text, Kids First is now running for 3 seats in the upcoming Hoboken Board of Education elections. The following statements are part of their political platform. Campaign literature always tries to paint candidates in the best light. The current candidates are all fine people who I am sure want to do well for the community. However, it is important sometimes to look beyond the rhetoric and spin and look for the substance. I have tried to some detailed information and to verify that information as independently as possible. Best of luck to everyone. 


Providing for our Children

Creating life-long learners by providing a broad variety of programs suited to each child
Barely True
This lacks any specificity and in general is very common "education speak"- providing little details. There's no evidence presented that the programs offered now are any more varied than before Kids First took control of the Hoboken Public Schools. In addition, it is just unrealistic to even claim you have programs suited for EACH child. No evidence is presented that indicates any conscious attempt to create "life-long learners" has taken place any more over the past few years with Kids First in control of the Board of Education than before. 

Raising the bar and challenging top students with an expanded Gifted & Talented program, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, dual college-credit classes and a rapidly expanding AP program
Barely True
In 2010 Kids First eliminated the notable Saturday U program which offered a varied and expansive curriculum and was expanded to mid week activities for gifted and talented students (READ MORE). Later that same year, they began to limit the number of NEW students to the Johns Hopkins Program for Talented Youth. In June of 2011, Kids FIrst voted to terminate the Gifted and Talented Coordinator and Johns Hopkins Director, Ms. Cheng Yen Hillenbrand in a very contentious Board of Education Meeting (READ MORE). While it is true that Kids First that in June 2010 Kids First ceased adding any new students to the International Baccalaureate in favor of the Advanced Placement program-- Research that was available at the time of the decision published by Harvard Education Press (2010) was very critical of the AP Program. A report by the NY Times summed up the difference between IB and AP best, "AP is great for content-based traditional's great for kids who like to memorize. But for more creative kids, who want to make those connections, there's nothing like the IB." You can read more HERE. The additional of dual college credit classes is new to the district and was approved of by the entire Hoboken Board of Education. 

Establishing a dedicated Special Education and Autism Center
Mostly True
There is a dedicated Special Education and Autism Center that was supported by the entire Hoboken Board of Education. There is no evidence that this was an initiative solely of the Kids First Board members but rather a decision of district administration. 

Offering exciting new vocational options including Culinary Arts with a student run commercial café, a new C Tech Program along with a TV- Media Production Studio and a full construction workshop
Barely True
A Culinary Arts Program, curriculum, teacher and facility was in place in the Demarest Alternative School as early as September 2007. In addition, the TV-Media Production Studio was well in place as well before Kids First was in the majority of the Hoboken Board of Education. So, neither of these programs fits the definition of "new" and appear to be stretching the truth. What is true is there has been new construction on some related facilities and the adoption of a new C Tech Program in the public schools. 

Providing a new healthy and fresh, breakfast and lunch program with updated menus and user friendly online payment system
Barely True
In December of 2011 an independent audit by Lerch, Vinci and Higgins indicated that the Hoboken Board of Education owed $783,000 to its then food services provider Chartwells (at least $369,000 from the 2010-11 school year alone--similar figures the previous year). The auditing firm spoke at the December 2011 Board of Education meeting stating that the findings required the school district to take action on the item. Most of the debt was caused by the board not collecting the money owed to it. Kids First was in full control of the finances of the district via the Business Administrator's office for a number of years before the audit finding. There is no evidence that the new food provider offers any more healthy or fresh breakfast or lunch programs as Chartwells. There is an online payment system currently in place. Kids First have also ceased adding new students to the Johns Hopkins Program for Talented Youth

Nurturing the whole child with strengthened academics and expanded arts- visual, theater and music 
 Barely True
It is certainly a worthwhile and applaudable goal to want to nurture the whole child. There is no argument with that aspect of this claim. But, have academics been strengthened? And have the arts been expanded? No specifics are offered. What we do know is that it appears this team feels as if offering Advanced Placement work is more academically rigorous than the existing International Baccalaureate program but articles in the New York Times and books by the Harvard University Press disagree with that assumption. It is also with noting that under Kids First the Johns Hopkins Program for Talented Youth have ceased accepting new students for the past 2 years. At ne time the Hoboken district had one of the largest programs in the country for this program. Recall in July of 2011 the Kids First majority voted to deny tenure to gifted program coordinator Ms. Cheng Yen Hillenbrand. A very controversial decision at the time: 

The vocal crowd was mostly disappointed when five of the nine board members – often referred to as the “Kids First” majority – supported the decision. -Ray Smith 
A decision was also made by Kids First to eliminate the very popular Saturday U Program for gifted and talented youth. A program that was recently expanded to include new curriculum and an expanded reach for student participation. 
As for the claim about the arts, many people still remember the very controversial and unpopular decision to not grant tenure to Ms. Paula Ohaus, an award winning, theater arts program director. A great many people came out to support both Ms. Hillenbrand and Ms. Ohaus but Kids First stuck by their decision. Some may want to read this very detailed description of the meeting and the circumstances surrounding the non-renewal of both Ohaus and Hillenbrand by Hoboken Patch
The elimination of the IB Program, the delay in effective AP implementation, the ending of the John Hopkins Program and Saturday U and the non renewal of nationally known teachers Ms. Hillenbrand and Ms. Ohaus do not seem to support the general contention of the political literature for Kids First. 

Investing in Education

Expanding STEM offerings including hands-on Full Option Science System (FOSS) and Singapore Math
Half True
FOSS (Full Option Science System) is a research-based science curriculum for grades K—8 developed at the Lawrence Hall of ScienceUniversity of California at BerkeleyThe program was originally developed and trial tested in urban and suburban San Francisco Bay Area school districts and field-tested and implemented nationally in ten sites. Twenty-six modules were developed for K–6, and nine courses for middle school. The FOSS program uses several instructional pedagogies: inquiry-based learning (each investigation is guided by questions), hands-on learning and active investigation (students work with materials and conduct investigations to attempt to answer questions), student-to-student interaction, writing (students keep careful notes in science notebooks), and research/reading (readings are included to enhance or underscore active investigation—students work with materials prior to doing any reading). Here is a FOSS FAQ

Singapore Math is a teaching method based on the primary textbooks and syllabus from the national curriculum of Singapore. These textbooks have a consistent and strong emphasis on problem solving and model drawing, with a focus on in-depth understanding of the essential math skills recommended in the NCTM Curriculum Focal Points (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics),the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, and the proposed Common Core State Standards. The method has become more popular since the release of scores from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study in 2003 showed Singapore at the top of the world in 4th and 8th grade mathematics. This was the third study by the NCES, and the 2007 TIMSS was released in December 2008.

FOSS is a supplement to existing science curriculum. Singapore Math was only approved in the late Spring and has not had time to be implemented. It involves a change of textbooks and will involve a significant teaching training/professional development component. Results have not been reported for either program to date. 

Providing 21st Century Technology: SMART Boards, Laptops, Apple and PC labs
Half True
1) Smartboards don’t change the model that’s broken. They just make that model way more expensive. With a Smartboard, the teacher usually still controls the content, stands in front of a classroom, and has to manage a bunch of children through a lesson plan they’d rather not be managed through. It doesn’t give children an adaptive learning environment, doesn’t differentiate instruction (though it does make it a little more media savvy), doesn’t enable social feedback, doesn’t reduce teacher workload, doesn’t make lesson planning more efficient, yada yada. It just makes the whiteboard a little more attractive.
2) Smartboards are an administrative cop out. Administrators like Smartboards because when they spend money on technology they need to spend a lot of it and it needs to be on things they can point to and count. Instead of re-imagining what school/classrooms/learning looks like/the student-teacher relationship, they write proposals with line-items, they spend money and buy things. Administrators get evaluated on test outcomes, true, (not learning outcomes), but they also get evaluated on anything else that can fit into spreadsheets and reports. A senior administrator can ask: “Why do you need more money?” and a junior administrator can say “Because we want to buy Smartboards.” This is convenient, because if you want to ask for additional resources, you need to specify how you are going to spend the money. Saying “I would like an extra 200K to experiment with ways to improve learning outcomes” just doesn’t cut the cheese. It’s also doubly convenient because an administrator can look moderately successful just by spending that money on what they said they would spend it on. ”Test scores are up 1%! And, we bought as many as 30 Smartboards!!!!” It’s less risky to buy objects you can count than spend money on more ambitious initiatives – like, let’s say, reading and math remediation for students supposedly at grade level.

Laptops vs iPads/Tablets
Laptop computer technology is just like any other tool: it can be abused and used poorly or it can be leveraged powerfully to engage students. One interesting decision was why decide on laptops when iPads and tablets offer some interesting advantages? For instance, many elementary and middle schools are gravitating more towards iPads than laptops.  iPads (or tablets) are lighter, easier to transport, take up less space, boot up quicker, and will do almost anything a laptop can do.  There are enough integrated apps to solve some of the early issues we were having.  The best part is, you can get 2iPads/tablets for the price of 1 laptop on our state bid list. Many school district now use iPads in all of their classrooms.  They see it as a device with multiple uses.  They can do most everything they can do on a laptop and more with the apps and portability.  They even moved iPads above Smartboards on their priority list because with Apps like Splashtop, they can get some of the same functionality.  Here is a quote from a teacher, 
"I like the tablet in place of laptops.  Reasons for are the weight, size and cost...tablets are much easier to care for, weight less and can be put in a small back pack or in its own carrier.  Battery life can be short but for the amount of good it provides I'll stick with it.  Cost is far less than many laptops."
Smartboards break down often and are not functioning very well and laptops are clearly not a clear cut decision to be made over iPads/Tablets. 

Fully funding long overdue capital improvement plan including new science labs, playgrounds, gyms, and brighter classrooms with cost saving ”green” lighting
Barely True
Certainly there have been a number of planned improvements to the physical facilities over the past months. Whether they were "long overdue" is somewhat questionable and gives the impression that facilities were not in proper working order previously....nothing could be further from the truth. A review of the last QSAC Report gave Facilities a very positive and passing review of 95%! So,m trying to characterize the facilities as needing "long overdue" improvements appears to be a political description rather than an accurate description. 

Providing a comprehensive educational field trip program for all district students
Half True
The Hoboken School District has always funded field trips for its students. The establishment of a program may be new but it is not clear it has led to more or better field trip experiences for the school children. 

Ensuring up-to-date textbooks and class room materials in every school
Barely True
Again, the implicit assumption is that textbooks were not up to date before or that there were not classroom materials in every school. In fact, there are questions about textbooks. For instance, textbooks do not work well. Research shows that with rare exceptions they do not help improve student achievement much. They are not effective because effectiveness doesn’t sell. Publishers are incentivized to create materials that appeal to educators who don’t want to change, so curriculum materials that could have a significant impact on education reform are less profitable. For instance, when I was in the district, there was a conscious effort to focus more on primary source materials than the rather traditional textbook approach to subject matter. Again, that is not to imply one approach is correct and the other approach is not-- but having "up to date textbooks" does not necessarily assure anything productive in terms of student learning or teacher preparation. 

Working cooperatively with teachers to provide a longer school day and a longer school year and expanding professional development
Barely True
The new teacher contract does provide for a longer school day and longer school year. However the teacher contract was negotiated by an outside law firm and ultimately the contract was approved by the majority of the Board of Education so it is not clear the Board minority or majority can claim any particular accomplishment with the contract since the Board relinquished negotiating responsibility to an outside entity. Can't have it both ways. 

Summer Academic and Enrichment Program and a wide variety of co-curricular activities for all students
 Half True
There have been summer academic and enrichment summer programs before and they were for all students. Not sure how unique this claim actually it so I will give the benefit of a doubt and say mostly true. However, it should be noted that ONLY Hoboken district students were allowed to attend the most recent summer programs held in the district. 

Demanding Accountability

District received an award of excellence for financial reporting and accountability
Mostly True
In March of 2012 the Association of School Business Official International awarded a prize to the Hoboken Board of Education. The school district received a financial reporting award for having met or exceeded the program's high standards for financial reporting and accountability. The award was for the fiscal year ending 2011. 
However, in August of 2012 the Hoboken Board of Education Business Administrator and Assistant Business Administrator were terminated less than 2 weeks before the start of the 2012-2013 school year. To date, no reason has been offered or given for the sudden termination. 

Using innovative assessment tools to create an honest baseline to track individual student performance and needs to increase success overall
Barely True
If the "innovative assessment tools" are the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory), I brought that into the district back in 2008. You can read all about it here (Spring 2008 workshop) as well as here (2009 Professional Development Day). More disturbing were the errors in reporting of student baseline data during the summer of 2012 that was never retracted or corrected using the Scholastic Reading Inventory and Mathematics Inventory

Contracting expert counsel to successfully represent the district
Whether KIDS FIRST has contracted expert counsel to successfully represent the district or not is not a source of debate or comment for me. What has been a point of some contention in the amount of money spent on legal fees during the tenure of KIDS FIRST. For instance, a December 2011 audit by Lerch, Vinci & Higgins found the Hoboken School Board spends significantly more per pupil in legal costs than New Jersey's average, which is $47 and in a recent Letter to the Editor, a minority board member questions the legal expenses that KIDS FIRST have overseen and appear to derive great pride. 

Increasing communication and transparency with a redesigned website, online parent support, and District Progress Reports and Newsletters
Pants On Fire
When a Board majority institutes "LIVE AGENDA ITEMS" as a means for voting on items not on the published agenda -- like the hiring of a superintendent, it is difficult to make a persuasive claim of transparency and increasing communication. As Board Trustee Maureen Sullivan explained: 

The only thing thrown under the bus was the promise of openness and transparency made by the KF team. Can it possibly matter what they said back in September? On Feb. 6 they said the superintendent hire was not on the agenda for Feb. 9. It did not appear on the agenda posted to the district website or handed out on the night of the meeting. It was not put in writing at the last minute as a "live" item. The details of the contract were hammered out between 7 and 9 p.m. in closed session, as members of the public disappeared. Again, the audience was given no official word that the superintendent would be hired that night. Heck, I wasn't aware it was going to happen. Theresa M. read the resolution to the remnants of the crowd. Read it, because even the members of the board did not have a written copy of the resolution
Implemented transparent online hiring system and new staff evaluation to ensure the best for our kids
Barely True
You may be able to apply online (true) but there is nothing about the process of getting hired that is anymore or less transparent than in the past. Except for maybe a certain preference for being a friend of former Interim Superintendent Peter Carter or perhaps now having some connection to Bayport or the Newark Public Schools. More importantly, given the recent test scores and school violence reports, it is challenging at best to see how this "new" hiring system ensures "the best or our kids." Rather, seems like run in the mill political rhetoric.

Spending wisely and keeping the tax levy flat for three years in a row
Barely True
KIDS FIRST would like you to think that keeping the tax levy flat is similar to keeping costs constant. However, that is not true. In the Spring of 2009, the KIDS FIRST majority could not bring themselves to vote for the excessive $59.1 million dollar budget that was proposed. For instance, the Hoboken Reporter was quoted: 

(KIDS FIRST) Board member Carrie Gilliard joined Theresa Minutillo and Rose Markle in opposition to the spending document. “$59 million is troubling me. We need to revisit this. I cannot support it,”
Yet, three years later, the same members who voted no in 2009 to $59 million had no trouble voting YES to a $63.2 million budget 3 years later....and with less Hoboken resident students in the district. An increase of over $4 million dollars. 
Furthermore, the KIDS FIRST claim on keeping the tax levy flat is a little overplayed as this analysis shows of previous budgets over time--- where the municipal tax levy was kept very consistent (in inflation adjusted dollars)

Hiring and fully supporting Superintendent Mark Toback as he leads our district forward
Half True
Superintendent Mark Toback has been overwhelming supported by the entire Hoboken Board of Education and we all wish him the best in moving the district forward. 
Its nice to see the Board support the superintendent as opposed to then Board President and current Kids First member Theresa Minutillo who wrote letters to the Hoboken Reporter and Hoboken Now against the then superintendent barely 1 year into his tenure as superintendent
Picture: Some members of the political group known as Kids First - Hoboken, NJ.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Keeping the Progress Going"???-- Political Endorsement for Board of Education Group Despite Questionable 4 Year Record of District Leadership

It wasn't that long ago that Kids First members voiced outrage and disdain when a Hoboken mayor lent support for a few Board of Education candidates. Kids First members would cry out for the separation of city hall politics from the operation of the public schools. One Kids First candidate was quoted then as saying "there is no place for City Hall politics at the Board of Ed."   Not so much these days it seems. In fact, it has become common place for the Kids First political group to support mayoral candidates as seen in this story that was published on NJ.COM

According to a recent email (see picture above) the local mayor of Hoboken wants to make sure that the political group known as Kids First "keeps the progress for our schools going". I imagine there is some subjectivity involved in how one defines progress. Nonetheless, it seems as if even the most liberal definition of progress would be challenged by some facts that perhaps the mayor is not aware of or perhaps has decided is not relevant to the type of progress she sees at the Hoboken Board of Education. 

For instance: 

Under KIDS FIRST the Hoboken School District has been classified a "District in Need of Improvement" by the state and federal government for the first time in its history. Probably would not qualify for "progress" by my definition. 

Under KIDS FIRST over 90% of students now attend a school that has failed to meet state and federal NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress for the past 3 years (only 14% attended a school that failed AYP before KIDS FIRST took control of the Board of Education). Again, probably not an example of "progress" by most people's definition. 

Under KIDS FIRST a December 2011 independent financial audit by the firm Lerch, Vinci, & Higgins found the Board had 7 "recommendations" including the fact that the district oewd $783,000 for food services and that the Hoboken School Board spends significantly more per pupil in legal costs than New Jersey's average

Under KIDS FIRST there have been 4 high school principals in 2 and a half years and 3 superintendents in less than 2 years. This type of leadership change and the rate of change would hamper any kind of progress. 

Under KIDS FIRST local Hoboken Adult Night School was terminated.

Under KIDS FIRST resident Hoboken children attending our traditional public schools has fallen and KIDS FIRST has approved to bring in as many as 350 students from surrounding communities to make up for the loss of student population. 

Under KIDS FIRST the Board of Education budget has risen from $59.1 million to $63.2 million during a period of decreasing student enrollment. Certainly little progress has been made here. In fact, in the Spring of 2009 members of Kids First said they couldn't support a $59 million budget but now they seem to embrace a $63 million dollar budget. 

Under KIDS FIRST, Hoboken has spent the most money per student in Hudson County. Current per pupil cost is approximately $22,639 per student.  

Again, progress can be a subjective term and certainly I do not mean to suggest there has been no progress. But it would be interesting in light of the preceding information, what kind of progress one means when speaking specifically of Board of Education leadership. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hudson Reporter - Various frustrations boil over at Hoboken Board of Ed meeting

HOBOKEN --With a school board election less than a month away, various loud arguments broke out at the Hoboken school board meeting Tuesday night.

The board is divided into two factions. The board majority is controlled by Kids First, which also has a slate of three people running in the November election. The board minority is allied with the Move Forward slate.

TheSomerset Messenger Gazettereported on Monday that the Franklin Township schools in Hunterdon County approved a 90-day agreement to share their business administrator with Hoboken. Hoboken would pay 75 percent of Dr. Carole Frederick's annual salary of $133,500 (prorated for the 90 days). She would serve seven out of every 10 days in Hoboken and attend both districts' board meetings.

The Hoboken school board discussed the matter in closed session last night. But it was other heated matters that resulted in loud arguments in open session.

The Kids First majority and the Move Forward minority were at each other's throats largely over personnel issues.

The meeting only let out at 1 a.m. after an hour of fighting.

At the meeting, the board voted to reinstate teacher Judy Burrell as the head track coach at Hoboken High School. The board had previously declined to reappoint her in a surprise move over the summer, and the administration and board members had refused to comment on the reasons. To this day, the reasons have not been made public.

Tuesday night, when the board came out of closed session, the Kids First majority voted to reappoint her -- but this did not sit well with members of the board's smaller faction, who claimed that in closed session, one of the Kids First majority board members had agreed to switch sides and vote with them to table the matter and advertise the position.

When the board voted, Move Forward-allied members charged that Ruth McAllister, a Kids First member, had agreed during closed session to vote with them.

Move Forward-allied board members Carmelo Garcia and Maureen Sullivan appeared shocked at McAllister's vote.

Garcia publicly charged that McAllister only changed her mind at the last minute because Kids First-allied board member Rose Marie Markle isn't talking to her. Garcia said that McAllister had said as much in closed session.

McAllister said that this wasn't true.

Garcia then held up a piece of paper on which he claimed McAllister had written it.

While the results of a closed session are usually tape recorded, they are generally not available to the public until all matters discussed have been resolved, and sometimes not even then.

Burrell is a member of the Hoboken Housing Authority and is allied with supporters of Kids First.

Other matters...

Also at the meeting, 3rd Ward councilman Michael Russo, who has been volunteering physical therapy services to the football team for close to 12 years, was the center of one of the controversies.

Russo is allied with Move Forward, the minority board members.

Russo spoke at the meeting, saying that he was told a month ago that he had to submit certain information in order to continue volunteering. He said that he did so, but on Tuesday night, his name was the only name not on the agenda for volunteer approval. He asked if the omission was politically motivated.

When he didn't get his questions answered, a war of words ensued.

Superintendent Mark Toback said the issue should be discussed in private.

Several of the debates at the meeting were followed by face-to-face arguments after the meeting ended.

For a more detailed story on these matters, watch for the print edition this weekend, and keep watching

Read more:Hudson Reporter - Various frustrations boil over at Hoboken Board of Ed meeting

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hoboken Board of Education Meeting Agenda- October 16, 2012

The following is the Agenda for the October, 2012 Hoboken Board of Education Meeting which will take place Tuesday, October 16th at 7pm. The meeting will be held at 1115 Clinton Street in Hoboken, NJ. 

1) The EVVRE/HIB is also known as the "Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System/Harassment, Intimidation & Bullying Report". Some of my regular readers may be aware that the 2011-2012 report was released earlier this month and reported on NJ.COM For a comparison of the last 3 years of Hoboken, Hudson County, and State of NJ averages on the EVVRE/HIB reports click HERE

2) Concerning the NJASK and HSPA reports, it is important to realize that the State of NJ was granted a waiver from NCLB requirements in the spring of 2012. 

This will be the last meeting before the November election so it promises to be a well attended and spirited meeting. 

10-16-12 Agenda for Public Meeting

Friday, October 12, 2012

FACULTY SEARCH -Department of Engineering Education Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

3rd and Monroe St, Hoboken NJ (WWII era)
The Department of Engineering Education (EngE) at Virginia Tech invites applications for two faculty positions and welcomes applicants across ranks. Candidates must hold a doctorate in engineering education, engineering, education, or a related field; at least one degree (BS, MS, PhD) in engineering is desirable. Successful candidates will demonstrate a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching as well as the ability to conduct basic or applied research in engineering education. We welcome applicants with expertise across a wide range of engineering education areas and methods, including design education, curriculum design, the learning sciences, technology in education, learning analytics, and quantitative research methodologies. Candidates with expertise in design education will be considered for a position aligned with the Rolls Royce-Virginia Tech partnership. Experience in industry and/or international engineering education are also desirable.

EngE (<>) is home to an outstanding first-year engineering program and a premier PhD program in engineering education. The department has a total of 16 full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty members and instructors; it serves approximately 1300 first-year engineering students and 25-30 PhD students annually.  EngE faculty collaborate nationally and internationally in establishing engineering education as the emerging field of research. Current faculty research areas include engineering design, first-year programming, assessment, communication in engineering, international collaboration (global teams), computer supported learning systems, sustainability, and motivation.

Virginia Tech's College of Engineering (CoE) is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. As the nation's third largest producer of engineers with baccalaureate degrees, CoE provides undergraduates with an innovative curriculum that provides a hands-on, minds-on approach to engineering education. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study, including biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.

Established in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is a comprehensive research university with almost $300 million per year in research, and with more than 26,000 students. The 120-acre VT Corporate Research Center is home to over 100 companies and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. Also, Virginia Tech has created a public-private partnership in the form of a new medical school and research institute, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute.

Virginia Tech has a strong commitment to the principles of diversity, inclusion, and to maintaining a work and learning environment that is free of all forms of discrimination. It is the recipient of a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Award to increase the participation of women in academic science and engineering careers. Virginia Tech is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Institution.

Applications must be submitted online to Applicant screening will begin November 30, 2012 and continue until the position is filled. Applications should include: (i) a curriculum vitae, (ii) a 1-2 page research statement describing current research and future plans, (iii) a 1-2 page teaching statement, and (iv) names and contact information for three references.

Inquiries about the position should be directed to:
Chair, EngE Search Committee, 660 McBryde Hall, MC 0218, Blacksburg, VA 24061
Email:<> ; Phone: (540)231-1812

Aditya Johri
Assistant Professor
Engineering Education
Computer Science (courtesy)
Industrial and Systems Engineering (courtesy)
616 McBryde Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg 24061, USA.
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Photo: 3rd and Monroe Street-- WWII era

Thursday, October 4, 2012

State Denies Application for new Charter School in Hoboken

Hoboken Patch recently reports that: The Christie Administration has denied the application for a new science-based charter school in Hoboken, according to a press release from the New Jersey Department of Education.
A group of parents worked on the Da Vinci School application for about a year, making it through three rounds of the process before it was shot down by Governor Chris Christie Tuesday.
"All we can say is that we're disappointed," said Laura Siegel, one of the ten founding parents of the proposed school.
In two weeks, Siegel said, the Da Vinci board will get more information about why the charter was denied. Until then, she said, it's too soon to determine the next step.
Whether or not the team will continue to try to open a fourth charter school in Hoboken will depend on the feedback they receive, Siegel said. 
"We were surprised," Siegel said. But, she added, "we know it's an extremely competitive process."
Charter schools are public, but students are admitted by way of a lottery. The schools are run privately, and are—besides tests and other state wide requirements—independent from the local Board of Education.
In May, the Hoboken Board of Education opposed the creation of a new charter school, stating that it would not be in the best interest of the district's current students to add another charter.
The Christie administration approved two applications this round, according to the press release.
"We are deeply committed to ensuring that every student in New Jersey has access to a high-quality public school that is a good fit for them, and we strongly support charter schools as one public school option for underserved students," said Education Commissioner Chris Cerf in the press release. "By holding a high bar for any new school we approve, we are following through on our commitment to ensuring that we not only provide options for students, but that we provide high-quality options for students."
The New Jersey Department of Education approved the International Academy of Camden Charter School and the Philip's Academy Charter School in the Newark, East Orange, and Irvington districts.
In Hoboken, said Superintendent Dr. Mark Toback, the addition of another charter school would have been an "enormous strain on the district."
"At one time we did have a budget that could have supported that," Toback said, but now it would have been "really a devastating thing for the school district." The money it would have cost the Hoboken school district, Toback said, would have resulted in the elimination of multiple programs.
"I think the Department of Ed responded to the application in a reasonable manner," Toback said.
Although the future of Da Vinci is still uncertain, the proposed school will definitely not be opening in Hoboken in the fall of 2013.