Friday, November 30, 2012

An Urgent Call to Action from Michigan Superintendent Rob Glass

If you or anyone you know and care about live in Michigan, or if you care whatsoever about the public school system in this country--or, for that matter, education of our children in general--I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to read up on Michigan State House Bills 6004 & 5923, and State Senate Bills 1358 & 620. 

If you think I'm over-hyping this issue, read the following letter, posted earlier today on the Bloomfield Hills School District website by superintendent Rob Glass. I repeat: This was posted by the superintendent of the BLOOMFIELD HILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT.

Superintendent Rob Glass is NOT known for panicking or over-hyping issues, and I guarantee you that he's gonna catch a lot of flack for speaking out so strongly on a political issue--especially speaking out against a series of bills being pushed--HARD--by Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican-held state legislature and other constituents on the right. Certainly worth a read---  -Dr. Petrosino 

An urgent call to action from Superintendent Rob Glass

Posted: November 28, 2012

Dear Parents and Citizens: This is an urgent call to action affecting your Bloomfield Hills Schools and public education in Michigan. A package of bills designed to corporatize and dismantle public education is being hastily pushed through this current ‘lame duck’ legislative session. If we do not take immediate action, I believe great damage will be done to public education, including our school system. We have just three weeks to take action before it’s too late. The bills are:
  • House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358- Would expand a separate and statewide school district (the EAA) overseen by a governor-appointed chancellor and functioning outside the authority of the State Board of Education or state school superintendent. These schools are exempt from the same laws and quality measures of community-governed public schools. The EAA can seize unused school buildings (built and financed by local taxpayers) and force sale or lease to charter, non-public or EAA schools.
  • House Bill 5923- Creates several new forms of charter and online schools with no limit on the number. Bundled with HB 6004/SB1358, many of these schools could be created by the EAA. Public schools are not allowed to create these new schools unless they charter them. Selective enrollment/dis-enrollment policies will likely lead to greater segregation in our public schools. This bill creates new schools without changing the overall funding available, further diluting resources for community-governed public schools.
  • Senate Bill 620- Known as the ‘Parent Trigger’ bill, this would allow the lowest achieving 5% of schools to be converted to a charter school while allowing parents or teachers to petition for the desired reform model. This bill will not directly affect our district, but disenfranchises voters, ends their local control, and unconstitutionally hands taxpayer-owned property over to for-profit companies. Characterized as parent-empowerment, this bill does little to develop deep, community-wide parent engagement and organization.
I’ve never considered myself a conspiracy theorist—until now. This package of bills is the latest in a yearlong barrage of ideologically-driven bills designed to weaken and defund locally-controlled public education, handing scarce taxpayer dollars over to for-profit entities operating under a different set of rules. I believe this is fundamentally wrong. State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan and State Board of Education President John Austin and others have also expressed various concerns, as has the Detroit Free Press.
We embrace change, innovation and personalization. We’re passionate about providing choices and options for students. We compete strongly in the educational marketplace. We must never stop improving. This is not a laissez faire plea to defend the status quo. This is about making sure this tidal wave of untested legislation does not sweep away the valued programs our local community has proudly built into its cherished school system. If you are concerned about these bills, please do the following:
  1. Attend one of the following grassroots legislative meetings.
  2. Stay informed by registering for updates through ‘Capwiz.’
  3. Call and e-mail your legislator and respectfully ask them to OPPOSE these bills (see contact information below).
  4. Enlist ten others to do the same, and please remain active.
Public education in Michigan can and must remain strong, but it will only happen if we act NOW.
Legislative Contact information
Governor Rick Snyder P. O. Box 30013 Lansing, MI 48909 Email Address: 517.335.7858 (Constituent Services)
41st State Rep District (Troy) Representative Marty Knollenberg (R) N0890 House Office Building P. O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909 E-mail Address:  517.373.1783
13th State Senate District (City BH) Senator John Pappageorge (R) 1020 Farnum Building PO Box 30036 Lansing, MI 48909-7536 E-mail Address:  517.373.2523
40th State Rep District (Blmf Twp/City) Representative Chuck Moss ( R) S0889 House Office Building PO Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909 Email Address:  517.373.8670
15th State Senate District (West Bloomfield) Senator Mike Kowall 305 Farnum Building P. O. Box 30036 Lansing, MI 48909 E-mail Address:  517.373.1758
39th State Rep District (West Bloomfield) Representative Lisa Brown (D) S0888 House Office Building P. O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909-7514 E-mail Address:  517.373.1799
Picture: Hoboken Train Station during "Sandy" 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

AERA Session Accepted: Conditions for Establishing and Promoting Collaborative Research in STEM Learning Ecologies

Site of AERA 2013
Below is the official email confirming that a session I am part of got accepted to the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) which will be held in San Francisco in the spring of 2013. -Dr. Petrosino 

Dear Dr. Anthony Petrosino,

I am pleased to inform you that the session submission, "Conditions for Establishing and Promoting Collaborative Research in STEM Learning Ecologies," submitted for consideration for the 2013 AERA Annual Meeting has been accepted, as a roundtable session. Congratulations on this accomplishment. AERA received more than 13,000 submissions this year. To ensure the highest quality sessions at the Annual Meeting, your submission was reviewed by highly qualified reviewers serving on a review panel constituted by the Division C - Learning and Instruction/Section 1d: Science. Reviewers' comments are now available on the All Academic System for your use.  

All participants in your session will be copied on this notification. However, I encourage you, as session organizer, to share this exciting news with your colleagues. The online searchable program, which will include information on the date, time, and location of your session, will be available in early February.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that all participants in an accepted session (excluding the chair and any discussants) are required to submit a paper or commentary paper by April 5, 2013, the deadline for uploading final papers.  Papers or commentary papers for symposia are not limited in length but may be shorter than final full papers.  Commentary papers need to address all of the elements required for paper submissions. The All Academic System will  reopen in February so that presenters at your session may upload a copy of their paper or commentary paper. Access to uploaded papers is available to all session participants. 

AERA in addition encourages presenters of papers or commentary papers to participate voluntarily in the AERA Online Paper Repository. You and all presenters in your session will receive detailed information about the Online Repository when you receive notification that the All Academic System is open to upload final papers.

Copies of all 2013 Annual Meeting program related e-mail correspondence sent from the All Academic System are available online in your personal "Message Center." This link is available below the Submitter menu of the All Academic System once you have signed in. 

The Early Bird Pre-registration and hotel reservation for the 2013 Annual Meeting will open in mid-December. Please plan on registering early to take advantage of the early bird rate and select the hotel of your choice. 

If you have any questions, please contact the AERA Meetings Team at or 202-238-3200.  We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.


Kristen Renn
AERA General Program Chair

Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Tips for Writing an NSF Grant Proposal

The following are some key points and tips for submitting successful National Science Foundation grant proposals. I've created this site for some of my graduate students as well as early career people in the field. I hope to add more to it in the weeks to follow. Note- do to some restrictions, I cannot post actual NSF proposals.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) does not require principal investigators to have doctorates. Some grantees are adjunct faculty members or individuals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Whatever an applicant’s academic credentials, he or she should clearly explain what qualifies them to lead the proposed initiative.
In addition, the NSF does not have specific diversity requirements. Its broad definition of diversity goes beyond ethnicity and race to encompass low-income students, individuals with disabilities, and women in fields where they have been historically underrepresented. 
The NSF does fund equipment purchases when applicants can justify the expenditures as critical to overall project success.

To prepare exemplary NSF grant applications, one should follow these recommendations 

I am also including this excellent summary on writing an NSF proposal from Dr. Cindy Grimm that is very thoughtful and accurate and well worth your time and effort reviewing. 

How to write an NSF proposal by Cindy Grimm

Or more accurately, how not to write one...The following is my take on what makes a successful NSF proposal. Or rather, a list of things all successful proposals seem to have, and a list of things that killed proposals. I've sat on numerous NSF panels, and for the last couple of panels I've been trying to "step outside" the process and see what made reviewers rank proposals highly, and what irritated them and resulted in lower scores.

Obviously, if you don't have a good research idea, you are very unlikely to get funded. However, having a good idea is not a guarantee of funding - you have to sell that idea, and your ability to do it, to the reviewers. Unfortunately, you can't just put up a sign that says "Will do Good Research for funding". So. Assuming that you have a good idea, this document is designed to help you put it on paper in a form that will minimize the chance of it getting rejected for some of the more easily avoidable reasons.

Writing grants is frustrating. There are a lot of good ideas that don't get funded. I'd say, that of the grants I've read, a good 1/2 of them should have been funded, when only 1/8 or 1/10 were actually funded (take it up with the Senate Appropriations Committee). What ended up separating the top 10% from the top 30% was the clarity and completeness of the proposal more than the research ideas themselves.

Be critical of your ideas, and only write up ideas you're passionate about. It takes a lot of time and effort to write up a good proposal; don't waste your time (and the reviewer's time) with a sloppy, thrown together proposal just because it might get funded.
If you have any suggestions of your own, please feel free to email me and I'll add them to the list!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 2012 Hoboken Board Agenda - Tuesday November 12

The following is the Agenda for the November 2012 Hoboken Board of Education Meeting. The Meeting will occur at 7PM at the Board Meeting Room located at 1115 Clinton Street, Hoboken.

November 2012 Meeting

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No one ‘cheated’ on state test scores - Letter to the Editor, Hoboken Reporter

The following Letter to the Editor appeared in the November 10th edition of the Hudson Reporter. It is a response to the baseless accusations of a number of Kids First candidates and supporters surrounding the administration of state testing in the Hoboken Public Schools. Of course, the real purpose of their accusations were to take focus and attention away from the rather lackluster performance of student test scores during the 4 years of their leadership of the Hoboken Public Schools. No surprise there. In a debate for the Hoboken Board of Education, candidate Jean Marie Mitchell was quoted as saying: 
"The previous administration cheated on the scores," Mitchell alleged. "They only cherry picked the children tested." - Jean Marie Mitchell 
The following is a detailed explanation about state testing. Its unlikely Jean Marie Mitchell or the other Kids First candidates or supporters will spend much time trying to explain themselves. In the current political climate we live, it far easier to simply lie and make character assassinations than to fact check and find out what actually took place. That's unfortunate. However, Dr. Cella and myself felt the record needed to be made clear. -Dr. Petrosino 

Dear Editor:

We write this letter to put an end to speculation, character attacks, and misinformation. Over the past few months an old issue concerning mandated state testing (HSPA- New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment) in Hoboken High School has been brought to our attention. Apparently, the recent ranking of Hoboken High School among New Jersey High Schools in New Jersey Monthly prompted a forensic explanation and rationalization for various political groups-- each placing blame and taking credit for exposing and ending certain remediation practices and policies at Hoboken High. Late in the 2007-2008 school year, our first year in the district, we became aware of a practice in which students were identified for intense remediation and identified to receive extra instruction in order to help improve performance on the HSPA test. Data indicated that sometimes this intense remediation and course taking resulted in students not attaining the proper number of Carnegie units in a particular subject (usually in Mathematics or English as these were the subjects often in need of improvement) leading to being officially classified as a freshman or sophomore for two successive years—yet remaining with their initial cohort for all their other classes. In other words, no one was "left back" and all were eligible to graduate after 4 years and all either eventually took the HSPA test or the Special Review Assessment (SRA) now known as the Alternative High School Assessment required by the State of New Jersey.

What differed is when the test was taken, not if or whether the test was taken. This program existed only in the high school. Upon being made aware of this practice- and wanting to implement a new approach to remediation, we began a 12 month process to phase this practice out. Therefore, in March 2008 the top 50 percent of the identified remedial students were tested along with their junior year cohort and by the March 2009 test administration a year later, the so called "10r" remediation program was eliminated entirely. Like any remediation program, the policy had its advocates and critics as well as its successes and its challenges. Our decision to explain, discuss and ultimately end the remediation program and replace it with a more comprehensive full faculty instructional practices approach- including collaborative study groups and professional learning communities- was supported by the Board of Education and the district administration in March 2009. No one on the Board complained of the remediation program in place nor of the faculty program to replace it. That this remediation program apparently is being used as a political football (irresponsibly referred to as "cheating" at a recent public debate), years after its termination is unfortunate. It is our opinion that the children of the district would be best served by effectively and systemically addressing the current and ongoing challenges of high stakes testing, rankings, graduation rates, and critiques from state and federal reports in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner rather than combing the past for scapegoats and excuses. To that end, we wish them all the best.

Dr. Lorraine Cella
Hoboken High School Principal 2007-2010
Dr. Anthony Petrosino
Assistant to the Superintendent 2007-2009

Picture: Hoboken Volunteers - assisting people impacted by Sandy.