Saturday, March 25, 2017

Texas betrays teachers, children- Dana Glossbrenner, Special to the Standard-Times

Dana Glossbrenner
Sometimes it is worth noting how teachers from around the country are compensated during their career as well as once they retire. This opinion piece by a retired Texas school teacher shows that in some states the decision to be a career teacher comes with some specific economic concerns. -Dr. Petrosino 

Noting the priorities of our state legislators, I’m ready for a regime change, because current priorities stink. Treatment of retired teachers, coupled with Texas’s low nationwide educational ranking, speaks volumes about how much our legislators care about education, child welfare and human needs.
Yet Texas is a wealthy state.

The latest outrage: The Legislature is systematically stripping retired teachers of retirement benefits. Senate bills 1750 and 1751, introduced by Republican Paul Bettencourt, will begin the process of rolling the retired teachers' pension fund, TRS, into a 401(k) arrangement. Given how little trust exists, it’s probably a shell game to raid the teachers' pension fund because taxpayer dollars have been mismanaged and mis-prioritized for decades.

Don't think for a minute that teachers are being helped.

Another bill will reduce retired teacher health care, raising premiums and deductibles. To top this, those who depend on a teacher retirement pension but who worked other jobs, paying into the Social Security system, do not receive a full pension paid like anyone else with the same amount of payments to the SSA. In Texas and a few other states, a retired teachers' Social Security benefit earned by working other jobs is offset by two-thirds because it is seen as a "windfall."

Texas retired teachers haven't seen a raise in monthly pension payments in 18 years, while inflation has decreased the spending power of their pensions by 2 percent per year. A $2,500 per month retirement in the year 2000 would be $3,500 today if the Teacher Retirement System had been allowed to give cost of living allowances. Thank you, Rick Perry.

Teachers with no Social Security benefit pay Medicare premiums out of more and more meager retirement checks. To top this off, a TRS pensioner can never claim on a spouse's Social Security, even if the spouse dies and that income source disappears. There were measures that could have been taken once upon a time to prevent all this, but the Texas Legislature, under the leadership of Perry and Greg Abbott, did not take action.

These policies scream that teachers aren't important. Teachers never unionized in Texas. Forget them. They generally don't get involved in politics. If you tick off a teacher, you aren't likely to see them at the country club and have an awkward moment. Forget them.

Meanwhile, the Texas economy is in great shape. As of 2015, Texas hosted six of the top 50 companies in the Fortune 500 list and 51 Fortune 500 companies overall. That places Texas third in the nation, after New York and California.

But Texas public education ranks 43rd. The Texas Education Agency has identified 100 under performing schools — just in San Antonio.

In 2012, Texas grossed more than $264.7 billion a year in exports — more than California ($161.9 billion) and New York ($81.4 billion). As a sovereign country, Texas would be the 12th largest economy in the world by GDP (ahead of South Korea and Australia). Yet, the educational system of South Korea is ranked No. 1 in the world, while Australia's is No. 4. The U.S. is No. 17, and Texas is toward the bottom of that.

We're close to the bottom of the heap among the 50 states in many measures of children living in poverty and abuse and of dropout rates, test performance, and college attendance. How can this be, when Texas itself has such a great economy? It’s an economy that produces a huge percentage of the country’s GDP.

Time for regime change.

If retired teachers keep having the screws put to them, many will be in welfare housing. While this vulnerable group is being betrayed, it calls to question the priorities of the Republicans in charge of Texas government. All that wealth. We should have something better to show for it in terms of human needs.

Even worse than the betrayal of teachers, there's the betrayal of children. You can tell lots about a society by the way it treats animals and children. Texas is more like a Third World country in terms of making children a priority. Sure, the Legislature and the governor are looking to strengthen Child Protective Services, finally, but I don't have much faith in the current regime, given their history. They're too busy getting bathroom bills passed.

According to the website Center for Public Priorities: State of Texas Children, 2016, one in four Texas children lives in poverty, with rates among Latinos and black populations three times higher than those for whites and Asians. One in five Texas children live in high-poverty neighborhoods, with higher concentrations for Latinos and blacks. Poverty rates are highest for single Latina mothers (51 percent) and lowest for single white mothers (29 percent). The cards are stacked against single mothers, and especially single minority mothers.

It will be argued that Texas has different demographics from Australia and South Korea and all those other states that rank ahead of it in the educational listings. I say that's all the more reason to focus on education and educators. It will be argued that there are cultural disparities shown in these demographics that make it harder to educate certain children. Again, all the more reason to focus on education and educators.

Many prospective teachers — some excellent ones — will be dissuaded by the priorities in Texas, impoverishing even more an already impoverished system.

Dana Glossbrenner, of San Angelo, is a retired educator turned author.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Move Over, St. Patrick: St. Joseph's Feast Is When Italians Parade

Giorgio's Italian & French Pastry Shop- Hoboken, NJ 2017
The St. Patrick's parade is over and the Irish (and honorary Irish) have gone home to sleep off their annual bout of intemperance, but the multi-generational marchers of the Italian-American St. Joseph Society in New Orleans are only just dusting off their tuxedos and straightening their bow ties. Once the shamrocks and shenanigans have vanished from the narrow streets of the French Quarter, and the keg of green beer is empty, another parade — in honor of an entirely different saint — is beginning to gear up.

Every year on the Saturday nearest March 19, Italian-American Catholic revelers flood the streets in honor of the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of Sicily. The differences between the St. Patrick's Day festivities and the St. Joseph's Day parade are unmistakable. Instead of green, St. Joseph's marchers wear red. Instead of shamrocks, they carry lucky fava beans.

The parade in New Orleans is rooted to a reverent, yet humble start: In 1970, a single pickup truck honoring St. Joseph trailed behind the yearly Irish Channel Parade, according to Mark Fonte, historian for the St. Joseph Society. But the Italian-American community in the city longed for a public way to express their heritage and appreciation for St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and foster father to Jesus.
Every year, on the Saturday nearest March 19th, a parade and meal steeped in Italian-American traditions honor the feast day of St. Joseph, the patron saint of Sicily. 
Courtesy of The Italian American St. Joseph Society. In the early 1970s, the society petitioned for their own parade. "It was around the time that the first Godfather movie came out," says Fonte. "It gave us a big boost. Everybody wanted to be Italian."
There are St. Joseph's celebrations across the country — and the world — but none so big, bold or festive as in New Orleans. This year, more than 300 marchers and 11 floats will trek down Chartres Street, past the green-shuttered building where former New Orleans Mayor Nicholas Girod offered his residence as a haven to exiled Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. Leading the procession is a rolling altar bearing Italian food and relics dedicated to St. Joseph. Many local Catholic churches, families and stores also construct altars.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

HBOE Meeting Thursday March 16, 2017 - REGULAR MEETING + ADOPTION OF THE BUDGET


Items of General Interest:
2.01- Student of the Month
2.02- Teacher of the Year
9.07- Appointment of Middle School Principal
9.19- Approval of Staff for Musical Production of Peter Pan
10.11- Approval of a Tentative Budget for 2017-2018 (see below)




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The University of Texas at Austin's College of Education Ranked 4th Among Public and 11th Overall Nationally for 2018 by US News and World Report

The University of Texas at Austin has more than 40 graduate programs ranked among the top 10 in the nation and four programs ranked No. 1, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2018 edition of "Best Graduate Schools," released this week.

U.S. News & World Report’s graduate rankings, separate from the magazine's yearly ranking of undergraduate programs, are among the most widely regarded ratings in higher education. They are based on surveys of academic leaders and, for select programs, additional quantitative measures including placement test scores, student/faculty ratios, research expenditures and job placement success.

The College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin is ranked 11th nationally (No. 4 among publics), with four specializations in the top 10.

  • Administration/Supervision – 6th
  • Curriculum/Instruction – 8th
  • Education Policy – 16th
  • Educational Psychology – 8th
  • Elementary Teacher Education – 12th
  • Secondary Teacher Education – 11th
  • Special Education – 5th
For a more complete picture, I finished my Master's in Educational Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University (#7 tie) before receiving my PhD from Vanderbilt University (#7 tie). After completing my PhD, I did a post doc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (#3 tie) before joining the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin (#4 public, #11 tie nationally)- See Figure 1. 

Figure 1


Monday, March 13, 2017

Petrosino, A. J. and Mann, M. (in press). The Challenges of Fluid Density. Journal of Continuing Education and Professional Development

The Journal of Continuing Education and Professional Development is a peer-reviewed international journal in the general field of continuing education and professional development. It tries to provide a platform to scientists, engineers, educators, and policy makers to discuss new discoveries on continuing education, lifelong learning, and professional development.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to: Curriculum design, Virtual laboratories, Interactive knowledge media, New technologies, Team learning, Competency assessment, Policy making, Challenges and trends.

Index- Academic OneFile, EBSCO, Google Scholar

Dear Dr. Petrosino,

I am pleased to inform you that your paper The Challenges of Fluid Density has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Continuing Education and Professional Development.

Please submit your final proof (WORD file) at https://cipt3.submittable.com/submit/2XXX7

The format guidelines are listed at
http://uscip.us/Authors/ManuscriptFormat.aspx

Kindly copy and paste your manuscript contents into the template at
http://uscip.us/Authors/MXXXXcriptXXXmat.aspx

Make sure:
(1) the CIP header and the CIP logo are included.
(2) tables and figures are inserted into the body text

Sincerely,

Journal of Continuing Education and Professional Development
http://jcepd.uscip.us

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Abstract

Teachers’ understanding of science concepts must be deeper than just factual knowledge. They need to understand how the facts are connected and relate to the natural world. Weather, ocean currents, and tectonic movement are all phenomena listed in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Although understanding density of fluids within fluids is not directly mentioned in the NGSS, students need to understand fluid density in order to explain these common yet complex phenomena. We extended a familiar science activity of making a density column in order to help teachers understand the expectations of NGSS. Understanding the causes of the phenomena is critical for teachers. We found when students do not understand, they are more likely to substitute concrete or active causal factors, such as weight or force. We issued to our teachers the following challenge: “Make a density column with these 4 mystery liquids.” As our students were in the process of determining the correct order to add the liquids, we noticed they confused mass and viscosity with density. In light of the expectations of the NGSS, we need to change the way teachers are prepared. They need time and space to practice connecting the concepts in practice. Therefore, teachers need help to connect the concepts to past experiences as well as time to reflect and revise. Teachers need to develop a mindset as a lifelong learner powered by their reflections and drive to help students understand science.

Keywords: Professional Development; Density; Next Generation Science Standards; Science Concepts; Fluid Density; Domain Knowledge

Thursday, March 9, 2017

STEM Faculty and Doctoral Students Thrill Elementary Children and Families with "Cloud in a Bottle" Session During Explore UT Day


Passing along a little write up that was done centering around some outreach efforts from ongoing research projects I have. Incredible effort pedagogically and content wise by doctoral students Jason Harron, Sneha Tharayil, Sarah Jenevein, and Wan Sin Lim. Some of this work is funded by the National Science Foundation. -Dr. Petrosino

As a reputed institution of public higher education, exploration is fundamental to a university's mission. This ideal though is not only reserved for the daily pursuits of faculty, staff, and students, but researchers revel in sharing it with the wider community. Nothing exemplifies this more than UT’s annual Explore UT day, where people from all corners of Texas are invited to explore what Longhorns are exploring. This year, Explore UT day was held on Saturday March 4th, 2017. Among those excited to welcome our visitors and share with them the work they’re doing at UT was Dr. AnthonyPetrosino a learning scientist in the College of Education's STEM Education Program, and a team of graduate students who work with him: Jason Harron of the LearningTechnologies program, Sneha Tharayil, Sarah Jenevein, and Wansin Lim, all from the STEM Education program.

Dr. Petrosino’s team planned some thrilling sessions in which children of all ages and adults were able to make a real cloud in a bottle (using just a regular one-gallon clear plastic bottle, a little bit of ethanol, and a bicycle pump) and explore the science behind it. In addition, visitors got to participate in and experience Jason’s innovative research in using virtual reality in education. Jason has designed easily-accessible virtual reality spaces of real places like the Texas Memorial Museum, UT’s Campus, and even the surface of Mars, which can be viewed and interacted with using Google Cardboard googles. All one needs is a smartphone with Internet access and a pair of Google or Unofficial Cardboard googles and they’re flying over Mars, or walking around the Texas Memorial Museum right from their seats of his/her classroom or home, miles away!


Overall, the sessions were a huge success, as evidenced by the room quite literally overflowing with people and visitors. People were eager to crowd in wherever they could, sitting on the floors and standing along the edges of the room and even spilling into the nearby hallways just to catch a glimpse or snippet of whatever they could! We were so pleased to hear the “oohs and ahhss!” of wonderment by both children and adults alike, and field the rich, curious questions and ideas from our visitors. It was a refreshing reminder of our purpose and mission here at the STEM Education and Learning Technologies departments in the College of Education. Next year though, we’ll be sure to reserve a much bigger room ;)!


Friday, March 3, 2017

Development of Museum Learning Experience Using Virtual Reality and Mobile Devices (Harron, Petrosino, and Jenevein, 2017)

The following is a paper I will be presenting at the 28th Annual meeting of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. It is research I have been conducing with two incredible doctoral students over the past 12-18 months. We are now in the process of a followup study as well as writing up some additional data for another publication.

SITE–Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education promotes the development and dissemination of theoretical knowledge, conceptual research, and professional practice knowledge through the SITE conference, books, collaborative projects with other organizations, and the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education.

SITE (founded in 1990) is a society of AACE–Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. AACE (founded in 1981) is an international, educational, and professional organization dedicated to the advancement of the knowledge, theory and quality of learning and teaching at all levels with information technology.







Reference:
Harron, J., Petrosino, A. J., Jenevein, S. (2017). Development of Museum Learning Experience Using Virtual Reality and Mobile Devices. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) conference, Austin, TX: LearnTechLib Publishing.