"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hope for the Holidays and Far Beyond

Out of crisis we are often forced to do what we could have done long before had such a crisis earlier made it necessary. Usually the big crises bring men together to kill one another in the brotherhood of wicked convergence we call war.

Now we are coming together hopefully to fully engage in another kind of war, for which there is none in human history so important to win. It is a war to save ourselves and one another and the creation we have abused, rather than to kill and maim our brothers and sisters. Perhaps, in saving our own asses, then, we will learn learn together and learn to live together (as Justice T. Marshall would have it). Probably not, but, god, what possibility!

From Claudia Deutsch for the New York Times:

It is a basic tenet of university research: Economists conduct joint studies, chemists join forces in the laboratory, political scientists share ideas about other cultures — but rarely do the researchers cross disciplinary lines.

The political landscape of academia, combined with the fight for grant money, has always fostered competition far more than collaboration.

But the threat of global warming may just change all that.

Take what’s happening at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In September the school established the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, aimed at getting students and professors from different disciplines to collaborate in studying the environmental ramifications of production and consumption.

“The academic tradition is to let one discipline dominate new programs,” said Nabil Nasr, the institute’s director. “But the problem of sustainability cuts across economics, social elements, engineering, everything. It simply cannot be solved by one discipline, or even by coupling two disciplines.”

Neil Hawkins, Dow Chemical’s vice president for sustainability, sees it that way, too. Thus, Dow is giving $10 million, spread over five years, to the University of California, Berkeley, to set up a sustainability center.

“Berkeley has one of the strongest chemical engineering schools in the world, but it will be the M.B.A.’s who understand areas like microfinance solutions to drinking water problems,” Mr. Hawkins said.

That realization is spreading throughout academia. So more universities are setting up stand-alone centers that offer neutral ground on which engineering students can work on alternative fuels while business students calculate the economics of those fuels and political science majors figure how to make the fuels palatable to governments in both developing nations and America’s states.

“We give professors a chance to step beyond their usual areas of expertise, and we give students exposure to the worlds of science and business,” said Daniel C. Esty, director of the year-old Yale Center for Business and the Environment, a joint effort between the School of Management and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. . . .

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:03 PM

    How High stakes Exit Exams Deprive youth of Educational Advancement

    *In Arizona 64 percent of the class of 2004 failed the state math exit exam and 41% failed the English Exam.

    *Texas used the TAAS test results to deny diplomas to a record of 40,200 students in the class of 2007.

    *The state of Florida FCAT exam denied 13,000 high school diplomas to students in the year of 2003.

    *In 2006 an appeals court refuses diplomas for 20,000 students who failed the CASHEE exam in the state of California.

    *Massachusetts (MCAS exam) denied 3,000 diplomas to seniors in 2003.

    *In the state of Louisiana 28,000 students were held back and retained in grades 4th through 8th grade based upon the Leap assessment results.

    The associated press reported that about, 3,000 graduation seniors who were otherwise in good academic standing failed the Regents exam in the state of New York.

    Because of an error in the scoring process 1,000 senior students within the state of Florida were told they had failed the FCAT when they had actually passed.

    Gov. Jeb Bush announced that more than 43,000 third graders and 9,000 seniors statewide would not advance because they failed the FCAT exam in the year of 2003.FLORIDA
    The Department of Education Data:19,674 students who were in the ninth grade in the fall of 1999 had not passed the math portion of the TCAP by the summer of 2003.
    According to the Tennessee Department of Education Annual Statistical Reports
    a total of 8,397 students were denied high school diplomas and issued certificates of attendance statewide from the years of 2006-1995.In the city of Memphis from 1995 until 2006 a total of 1,221 students were issued Certificates of Attendance.
    Furthermore, Certificates Of Attendance are only awarded to students who meet all the requirements for the regular high school diploma but do not pass the Tennessee Proficiency test. The Tennessee Department Of Education failed to include the limitations of receiving such a document such as lost of scholarships, ineligibility to enter the military, to receive federal pell grant funding for postsecondary education, automatic exclusion from technical, community colleges and universities. Other limitations are exclusion from federal employment.

    Overall issue

    Many states have adopted exit Exams for making high school graduation decisions, in some cases resulting in denial of a diploma to thousands of students based upon a single test. The state of Tennessee are one of the states that have chosen to adopt high stake exams, without regard to classroom performance, teacher recommendations or access to adequate classroom resources, quality instruction, or pupil services support. The graduation exit exam administered within this state is the Gateway exam. The Gateway exams are course-level exams for students in high school. They began to take this test for first time in the tenth grade. The course level exams are English 10,Algebra 1,and Biology.

    Why student systematic accountability for Gateway Exam is Wrong

    Some Key factors that disproportionately affect specific subgroups of students such as English Language Learners; students with disabilities; economically disadvantaged; and minority student’s ability to test proficient on the Gateway Exam are:

    *Students attending schools that have been identified by the state as not providing an adequate {Quality} education, therefore they are deprived of having a meaningful opportunity to learn the material in which they are tested on.

    *Students with disabilities are being disproportionately being left behind because this state has failed to ensure that these students receive reasonable accommodations, and test that reflect the actual level have been taught on. Because the state has failed to do so, several federal laws that protect students concerning standardized testing and its consequences have been totally disregarded by the Tennessee Department Of Education. The Federal Laws that have been violated are NCLB law, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 sect 503, {IDEA} Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and The American Disability Act {ADA}.

    Pressures of linking Gateway Exam to NCLB assessment
    *Some teachers within the Memphis City School district have resulted to opting certain students out of taking the test that they feel would not pass, in fear
    That the school would end up on the high priority lists, even though these teachers are well aware that the Gateway Exam is a graduation diploma requirement.

    *Other factors that are problematic are school closings. For every school that closes there must be a new school facility to place students at the time of school closure. When those facilities aren't in place the public school closet to the school closed is where the students are placed. This causes overcrowding in the some schools; therefore teachers have a great difficulty teaching core subjects such as English, Science, and math with 40 students enrolled in one classroom.
    *Furthermore, the Memphis City School report card data reflects that 6,653 teachers were teaching core course they weren’t highly qualified to teach in. Even though the school districts and state department heads were well aware that for every child that are instructed by teachers half equip to deliver, that child the school system has failed. The Tennessee Department Of Education and State Board Of Education state chose to continue to withhold diplomas from students, oh yet but they say they do this in because there must be systematic accountability .I often wonder how could they continue to eliminate children from the system, preventing the youth from getting on with life in GOOD CONSEQUENCE.

    *The Tennessee Department Of Education Refuses to release test items that students missed, therefore teachers have a great difficulty in giving students remedial assistance when teachers are not allowed to know what portions of the Gateway Exam students are weaker in.

    Closing Statement
    The individual and societal costs of denying a diploma based on a state test score are high. Students without diplomas earn much less, are far less likely to maintain stable families, and are far more likely to end up in prison. The stigma of having failed silences them.

    The effects of these test are also beginning to become more visible outside the classroom in the ''REAL WORLD’ as they clearly discourage social mobility by preventing those in lower ranks of society from bettering their socioeconomic status. High stake testing could cause mental trauma to lower class students who have not had the advantages of the upper class. High stake Exams are socially oppressive mentally traumatic force that is increasingly being unleashed upon
    American Students. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our society is currently unaware of the issue, and its therefore it is being allowed to worsen by the day. This is one of the most prevalent social injustices in modern American society.

    *Personal Experience

    I must conclude by saying I was on of the former students cheated out of a high school diploma. I received a special diploma in 2002 for failing to pass the TCAP math test .I was received a modified document after having passed all other required subjects and having persevered through thirteen years of school. I had a mild learning disability in math only. All of the other classes I took were regular classes. I was told that I could still further my education to some degree, but I ended up finding out that no vocational, technical, community college or university would accept my diploma. I was ashamed,and YES I was silenced,just like the thousands of students that FAIL STATE TEST EACH YEAR. Then one day I decided to appeal before the Memphis City School board, then the legislatures at the State Capitol, then all the news stations in Memphis area. I even was blessed to be able to meet with Congressman Steve Cohen in Washington D.C. Now a federal class action lawsuit has been filed against the Tennessee Department Of Education, in which I am one of the plaintiffs regarding this issue. Currently I now attend Tennessee Technology Center as a STUDENT. It is because of GOD that this has been possible. Yes, I failed the TCAP and even failed the Gateway Exam. But I am not a failure. Will not be deemed unemployable and incapable of pursuing my career goals because of a high school test score. I will not be labeled as illiterate or mentally challenged because I failed one test at one point in my life.

    Biblical scripture ISAIH 11/6
    The wolf also shell dwell with the lamb, and a leopard shall lie with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fattling together; and a little child lead them.