Education May 2019 –

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How Education and Training Affect the Economy
Transcript of Obama’s High School Commencement Speech

29 March
The price of higher ed is a one-hour special on The World, we’ll hear about how higher education is being funded around the world and how students, especially those who are international, are paying for their schooling. This special is supported by the Lumina Foundation as part of The World‘s “Global Classroom” project. The World supports college students and public radio station reporters to deliver stories about postsecondary education and the immigrant experience. Stories examine issues of access, opportunity and success across borders, both real and imagined.
Focus is on foreign students and access to U.S. higher education – much equally applicable to Canadian context

2-3 January
Resignation at Harvard latest but not last salvo in GOP war on colleges
Claudine Gay’s resignation as president seen as emblematic by some of political pressure on higher education
(WaPo) The resignation of Claudine Gay as president of Harvard University marks the culmination of a conservative war on higher education, long fought on campuses and in statehouses but this time triggered by hard questions from Republicans in Washington and their allies.
The fallout raised numerous questions, including how the GOP might continue to pressure universities, which they charge are overwhelmingly liberal, intolerant of conservative views, and overly concerned with questions of race and identity.
Harvard president resigns amid plagiarism allegations, testimony backlash
She was the second Ivy League president to resign in the wake of a congressional hearing last month on campus antisemitism, a sign to some of the power that politicians and donors can wield.
Claudine Gay and the Limits of Social Engineering at Harvard
Bret Stephens
(NYT) …the important question for Harvard was never whether Gay should step down. It was why she was brought on in the first place, after one of the shortest presidential searches in Harvard’s recent history. How did someone with a scholarly record as thin as hers — she has not written a single book, has published only 11 journal articles in the past 26 years and made no seminal contributions to her field — reach the pinnacle of American academia?


27 December
How counting by 10 helps children learn about the meaning of numbers
Today in The Conversation Canada, Helena Osana and Vera Wagner of Concordia University with Jairo A. Navarrete-Ulloa of O’Higgins University write about how children learn about the meaning of multidigit numbers. It’s a neat example of research that considers what we might take for granted like the meaning of the number 27 (today’s date) or even 2024 (soon-to-be the year) and yields insight into the significant steps involved in learning.
This story recalls other pieces authors wrote this year that tackled different dimensions of how providing accessible and relevant education matters from children’s earliest years onwards.

12 December
Collaboration Between Economists at Premier Research Universities Aimed at Transforming Political Debate
(Georgetown) A new partnership between economists at Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and Yale seeks to transform the way economic research informs and shapes policy making.
“The United Programs for Political Economy Research network, or UPPER, promotes political economy research and training through collaboration across many different political economy centers,” said Laurent Bouton, a co-founder of the organization and an economist in the College of Arts & Sciences.
This new partnership is enlisting the help of interested economic researchers from across the country to revitalize political economy research through informed policy briefs, a pre-doctoral fellowship program and innovative in-person programming. Already, UPPER has published two policy briefs and welcomed its first cohort of fellows. The most recent brief, which focuses on how to trace and properly disclose corporate money in politics, was published last month.

5 December
Lawmakers question Harvard, Penn and MIT presidents on antisemitism
House committee presses three university presidents to do more to support vulnerable communities
A Republican-led House committee summoned the leaders of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and MIT to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a scalding critique of their efforts to stop antisemitism on their campuses since the eruption of war in Israel and Gaza.
“Today, each of you will have a chance to answer to and atone for [!] the many specific instances of vitriolic, hate-filled antisemitism on your respective campuses that have denied students the safe learning environment they are due,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the Education and Workforce Committee, told the university presidents.

1 December
Georgetown Launches Undergraduate Degree on the Environment and Sustainability
Starting in spring 2024, first-year students and sophomores can enroll in the core courses of the Joint Environment & Sustainability Program (JESP) and work toward a bachelor of science degree in environment and sustainability offered jointly by the Earth Commons Institute and the College of Arts & Sciences. … Georgetown has offered undergraduate students outlets to pursue studies related to the environment, such as the minor in environmental studies, but JESP is the first standalone four-year degree program in which undergraduates can dedicate the bulk of their studies to the growing fields of the environment and sustainability.

25 April
How to Fix Crumbling Child Care Infrastructure
These US cities and states are starting think about early childhood facilities the same way they plan for schools and public transportation.
(Bloomberg) Child care programs rarely generate enough revenue to cover the steep cost of securing and maintaining facilities. This drives down the low wages of workers while driving up the cost of tuition. It also means that to stay financially afloat, many programs do facility upkeep on a strictly as-needed basis, said Linda Smith, director of the early childhood initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank.
The overarching issue with child care infrastructure in the US is that it’s rarely treated like infrastructure. Rather than plan for care the way cities and states do for schools, or the roads and buses that carry workers to jobs, governments have long left it to the private market to figure out where, when and how to build and maintain early education facilities.

16 April
‘Kids Can’t Read’: The Revolt That Is Taking On the Education Establishment
Fed up parents, civil rights activists, newly awakened educators and lawmakers are crusading for “the science of reading.” Can they get results?
A revolt over how children are taught to read, steadily building for years, is now sweeping school board meetings and statehouses around the country.
Research shows that most children need systematic, sound-it-out instruction — known as phonics — as well as other direct support, like building vocabulary and expanding students’ knowledge of the world.
About one in three children in the United States cannot read at a basic level of comprehension, according to a key national exam. The outcomes are particularly troubling for Black and Native American children, nearly half of whom score “below basic” by eighth grade.

13 April
U.S. Supreme Court won’t halt $6 billion student debt settlement
By John Kruzel
(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday refused to halt a legal settlement that would erase more than $6 billion in debt owed by former students of colleges – many of them for-profit institutions – who have said they were misled by schools about academics and job prospects.
The justices turned away a request from three colleges that are challenging a settlement between the U.S. Education Department and borrowers that linked the colleges to claims of “substantial misconduct,” an allegation they dispute.
The decision was separate from a case pending before the high court over the legality of President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel $430 billion in student debt for about 40 million borrowers. A ruling in that case is expected by the end of June.
The latest dispute stemmed from a class-action settlement under which the Education Department would automatically cancel the debt of nearly 200,000 borrowers who attended 151 schools.

11 April
Rethinking the goals of high school rigor: Three experts weigh in on the AP program and College Board
(Brookings) The Advanced Placement (AP) program has been a staple of U.S. high schools for over a half-century. The College Board, a nongovernmental organization, created the AP program to provide college-level academic experiences for high school students. Now, with AP courses in dozens of subjects, nearly 23,000 high schools offer at least one AP course, with about 35% of recent high school graduates taking at least one AP course.
… AP is not the only way to prepare for life after high school. More schools are introducing dual enrollment opportunities, where students can take actual college courses while in high school. Career and technical education courses are also expanding, offering students challenging exposure to work-related curriculum.

3 April 2023
Was your degree really worth it?
Crunching the puny financial benefits of many university courses
(The Economist) Is university worth it? That question once seemed a no-brainer. For decades young adults in rich countries have flocked to higher education. Governments have touted college as a boon for social mobility and economic growth. Yet as fees rise and graduate earnings stagnate, disillusionment is growing. A poll published by the Wall Street Journal on March 31st suggests a crisis of confidence has worsened: 56% of Americans now believe a degree is no longer worth the time and money spent on it.
For an average undergraduate, at least, this is not consistent with the facts. In most places, for most learners, the financial returns to higher education remain extremely healthy. Yet undertaking a degree has become riskier. The rewards for the best performers are increasing, but a troublingly high share of students see negative returns from their studies.

We tested a new ChatGPT-detector for teachers. It flagged an innocent student.
(WaPo) Five high school students helped our tech columnist test a ChatGPT detector coming from Turnitin to 2.1 million teachers. It missed enough to get someone in trouble.
After months of sounding the alarm about students using AI apps that can churn out essays and assignments, teachers are getting AI technology of their own. On April 4, Turnitin is activating the software I tested for some 10,700 secondary and higher-educational institutions, assigning “generated by AI” scores and sentence-by-sentence analysis to student work. It joins a handful of other free detectors already online. For many teachers I’ve been hearing from, AI detection offers a weapon to deter a 21st-century form of cheating.

24 March
Another revered high school sacrifices excellence on the altar of DEI
By George F. Will
In September 2010, President Barack Obama came here to the nationally acclaimed and locally revered Masterman School, one of this city’s five selective magnet schools. He called the “culture of excellence that you promote at Masterman” an example “that I hope communities across America can embrace.” Today, Philadelphia no longer can embrace it.
According to a meticulous 51-page report written by a multiracial group of Masterman parents, the school is being “systematically dismantled.” It is being sacrificed on the DEI (“diversity, equity, inclusion”) altar. For decades, it and other selective schools coexisted with neighborhood schools in educating the city’s children. Admission to the selective schools was by merit: grades, scores on Pennsylvania’s standardized test and attendance records.


23-27 June
Opinion: The challenge for educators amid the critical race theory backlash: How do you fight hot air?
Opinion by Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor
(WaPo) This month, [Texas] Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a new law that effectively prohibits teachers from talking honestly and in any depth about the country’s racial history. The law also strongly discourages — the “both sides” language it dictates is maddeningly loose — teachers from taking on controversial current events in the classroom and prohibits crediting students for civic efforts to lobby government on social issues.
The law will go into effect Sept. 1, and those who want to push back on it have their summer homework cut out for them. How best to bring the heat against a state law clearly designed to have a chilling effect on educational discussions about race in America?
For all the conservative outrage about critical race theory, few GOP lawmakers can define what it is. It’s not as if the theory is widely taught in the K-12 schools — we’re talking about an advanced framework developed by scholars interested in interpreting America’s systems through the lens of race and civil rights. The Texas law doesn’t even use the words “critical race theory.” The vagueness is clearly intentional, as is the paranoid bluster that critical race theory is not only unpatriotic, but also designed to make White kids feel bad for being White. Fighting it is like fighting the hot air of this blazing Texas summer.
Opinion: Who’s afraid of critical race theory? Not the students in my classes.
By Vincent Jungkunz, associate professor of political science at Ohio University.
(WaPo)Critical race theory offers tools for understanding the persistence of racism in the United States, as well as concepts such as White privilege, microaggressions, the construct of Whiteness, institutional racism and much more.
These are powerful lessons that, when taught and learned, have the potential to bring real change. Sadly, it’s this transformative power that many White people fear. Thus, we see Republican politicians and commentators, and parents across the country, waging a war of misinformation aimed at demonizing what just might be a way out of our racial nightmare.
The people railing against critical race theory not only lose the opportunity to help dismantle racism in America but also lose the opportunity to claim healthy moral standing. My students, on the other hand, have forged ahead without letting fear derail their honesty about the racism they witness. And as they tell their truths, they lose nothing for it. In fact, they benefit from their openness. They gain the ability to empathize, to see others’ pain — and they develop a vision of justice based on its ability to bring peace instead of hate and violence.

26 May
Special education: Beneficial to many, harmful to others
The impact of reducing access to special education on public school students
Briana Ballis and Katelyn Heath
(Brown Center via Brookings) Despite the rising cost of, and participation in, SE, there is limited quantitative evidence on who benefits from SE and to what extent SE impacts achievement in school and beyond. On the one hand, SE students likely benefit from the individualized educational support that SE offers. On the other hand, for students with less severe conditions, there are reasons why SE participation could be harmful: Being placed in segregated learning environments or held to relatively lower expectations regarding achievement may inhibit long-run success. Though the purpose of SE is to ameliorate the challenges that students with disabilities face throughout schooling and later in life, exactly which students benefit from SE participation is less clear.
… We find large and meaningful impacts of SE services on high school completion and college enrollment for SE students who require services. However, those who are misclassified for SE can be significantly harmed. SE is an intensive and costly intervention, and it is important both to schools and students that individuals be appropriately placed in SE. We caution against the interpretation that capping Black disproportionality is necessarily the best policy intervention for reducing misclassification among Black students; instead, we point to the importance of considering the evaluation process and eligibility criteria for SE services to ensure that all students are appropriately classified for SE. While appropriately identifying students for SE is a difficult process, further investigating ways to improve evaluation criteria is likely to have long-term benefits for all public school students.

14 April
To ‘future proof’ universities, leaders have to engage faculty to make tough decisions
Loren Falkenberg, Senior Associate Dean, Business, University of Calgary & M. Elizabeth Cannon, President Emerita, University of Calgary
(The Conversation) Universities are at a crossroads, with COVID-19 acting as a tipping point for whether they thrive or barely survive.
On April 13, about 100 faculty members from Laurentian University lost their jobs because of a massive restructuring and insolvency negotiations. In Australia this past fall, University of Sydney eliminated 10 faculties and 100 programs in order to increase its long-term sustainability.
Demographic, technological and socio-economic trends, including reduced government funding and increased dependency on private donors, are influencing the mandate of universities, and survival depends on transformation. As we document in our recent book, these trends are affecting all universities across the west, and most institutions are unable to nimbly pivot to the new reality.
Our research shows universities must “future proof” themselves, which happens when an institutional strategy is focused on the future while mitigating the impact of unforeseen events. Successful future-proofing involves clearly articulating a path to a new vision with the participation of faculty, staff and external community members. It also involves consistently applying decision-making criteria and continuously measuring progress.

12 April
Especially after COVID-19, Canadians need better financial literacy and teachers can help
Gail Henderson, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law & Pamela Beach, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Queen’s University
(The Conversation) Financial literacy includes awareness and understanding of concepts related to personal finances, such as compound interest, and the skill and confidence to apply them in making personal financial decisions. Saving for both long-term goals and unforeseen emergencies is part of being financially literate.
We surveyed 157 Ontario elementary school teachers on their perceptions, attitudes and practices with respect to financial literacy education in the 2017-18 school year. We found they overwhelmingly favour teaching financial literacy in elementary school.
… For course materials, the teachers in our study were relying heavily on free, online resources, many of which are made or paid for by banks or other financial institutions.
In our study of financial literacy resources aimed at elementary students and teachers, we found that the content of financial literacy teaching materials does not vary significantly based on who made or paid for them. But materials made or paid for by financial institutions are more likely to focus on individual responsibility over social circumstances, like a pandemic. Focusing on individual responsibility without discussing social factors is likely to undermine the value of these lessons for students whose circumstances make it harder for their family to save money and avoid debt.

12 March
Coronavirus and schools: Reflections on education one year into the pandemic
(Brookings) One year ago, the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. Reacting to the virus, schools at every level were sent scrambling. Institutions across the world switched to virtual learning, with teachers, students, and local leaders quickly adapting to an entirely new way of life. A year later, schools are beginning to reopen, the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill has been passed, and a sense of normalcy seems to finally be in view; in President Joe Biden’s
speech last night, he spoke of “finding light in the darkness.” But it’s safe to say that COVID-19 will end up changing education forever, casting a critical light on everything from equity issues to ed tech to school financing.
Brookings experts examine how the pandemic upended the education landscape in the past year, what it’s taught us about schooling, and where we go from here.

25 January
Universities have thrived despite past disruptions and could grow even stronger after COVID-19
(The Conversation) With a history stretching back a millennium, universities have proven to be nimble and entrepreneurial even while adroitly portraying themselves as guardians of tradition. Having successfully protected their franchise during nearly a century of disruption, there is little worry that they will perish in the foreseeable future. Indeed, their influence may well expand.
Transnational Education and Globalization: A Look into the Complex Environment of International Branch Campuses (May 2019)

5 January
Unlearning an Answer: Charter schools deliver extraordinary results, but their political support among Democrats has collapsed. What will Biden do?
Jonathan Chait
(New York) In the dozen years since Barack Obama undertook the most dramatic education reform in half a century — prodding local governments to measure how they serve their poorest students and to create alternatives, especially charter schools, for those who lack decent neighborhood options — two unexpected things have happened. The first is that charter schools have produced dramatic learning gains for low-income minority students. In city after city, from New York to New Orleans, charters have found ways to reach the children who have been most consistently failed by traditional schools. The evidence for their success has become overwhelming, with apolitical education researchers pronouncing themselves shocked at the size of the gains. What was ten years ago merely an experiment has become a proven means to develop the potential of children whose minds had been neglected for generations.
And yet the second outcome of the charter-school breakthrough has been a bitter backlash within the Democratic Party. The political standing of the idea has moved in the opposite direction of the data, as two powerful forces — unions and progressive activists — have come to regard charter schools as a plutocratic assault on public education and an ideological betrayal.
The shift has made charter schools anathema to the left. “I am not a charter-school fan because it takes away the options available and money for public schools,” Biden told a crowd in South Carolina during the Democratic primary, as the field competed to prove its hostility toward education reform in general and charters in particular. Now, as Biden turns from campaigning to governing, whether he will follow through on his threats to rein them in — or heed the data and permit charter schools to flourish — is perhaps the most unsettled policy mystery of his emerging administration.
…in a surprise move, Biden formally tapped Miguel Cardona, Connecticut’s education chief — a nonideological pick who offends neither the party’s opponents of reform nor its remaining defenders. … It’s a clue that whatever Biden’s formulations on the campaign trail, he may yet refrain from dismantling the education legacy of the president he once served.
The achievement gap between poor Black and Latino students in cities and rich white students in suburbs represents a sickening waste of human ability and is a rebuke to the American credo of equal opportunity. Its stubborn persistence has tormented generations of educators and social reformers. The rapid progress in producing dramatic learning gains for poor children, and the discovery of models that have proved reliable in their ability to reproduce them, is one of the most exciting breakthroughs in American social policy. For many education specialists, the left’s near abandonment of charter schools has been a bleak spectacle of unlearning — the equivalent of Lincoln promising to rip out municipal water systems or Eisenhower pledging to ban the polio vaccine. Just as the dream is becoming real, the party that helped bring it to life is on the verge of snuffing it out.
2 January
The Wreckage Betsy DeVos Leaves Behind
The Education Department lies in ruins right when it’s needed most.
(NYT Editorial Board) If the Senate confirms President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee, Miguel Cardona, as Ms. DeVos’s successor, he will face the herculean task of clearing away the wreckage left by his predecessor — while helping the states find a safe and equitable path to reopening schools.
Beyond that, the new secretary needs to quickly reverse a range of corrosive DeVos-era policies, including initiatives that rolled back civil rights protections for minority children as well as actions that turned the department into a subsidiary of predatory for-profit colleges that saddle students with crushing debt while granting them useless degrees.
There is still more to learn about Mr. Cardona. But at first glance, the contrast between him and his predecessor is striking. Ms. DeVos had almost no experience in public education and was clearly disinterested in the department’s mission. Mr. Cardona worked his way up from teacher to principal to education commissioner of Connecticut. Moreover, he seems to understand that a big part of his job involves using the bully pulpit to advance policies that benefit all schoolchildren and protect the most vulnerable.


15 December
Betsy DeVos Tells Education Department Staff to ‘Resist’ Biden: Report
(New York) The comment from the gaffe-prone cabinet head is strange for a few reasons. Her Tuesday address, which acknowledged that career employees outlast individual administrations, suggests that education-policy experts within the department fully signed on to her and the president’s wish list, which included protecting college students accused of sexual assault, slashing the federal education budget, and cutting federal funding for the Special Olympics entirely. As Politico notes, her remarks are in the context of a years-long antagonism with career officials: “She tangled with the agency’s union over reorganizations and workplace policies, such as teleworking rules, and blamed bureaucrats at the agency for making it difficult to get things done.”

29 September
Stop telling students to study STEM instead of humanities for the post-coronavirus world
(The Conversation) The government of Australia announced in June a reform package that would lower fees for what are considered “job-relevant” university courses while raising the cost of some humanities courses. Under the proposed changes, “a three-year humanities degree would more than double in cost.” English and language course fees, however, are among those being lowered.
These reforms are proposed as part of larger changes to post-secondary funding as Australian universities, like Canadian and other global universities, find themselves grappling with the seismic impacts of COVID-19. They also reflect larger trends towards what’s considered market-friendly learning. Around the world, educational policy-makers have chipped away for years at the position of the humanities in school curricula at every level to make more room for the so-called STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The humanities is typically considered to include the arts, history, literature, philosophy and languages.
Such reform efforts are part of a larger global push aimed at establishing the STEM disciplines as central to public education.
Does anyone really believe that in the midst of vigorous public debates about what it means to build a just society, the world needs more people without the educational background to understand where their societies came from and how they developed? In the age of Black Lives Matter, rising Indigenous activism and substantial public engagement we need to educate people to take responsible action toward collective well-being.
Of course, STEM subjects are critical in fostering understanding of issues related to sustainability and collective well-being. They are a necessary, but only a partial, aspect of any child’s education. The humanities play an essential role in aspects of global competence which have not been the focus of the STEM subjects.
If the study of history, society, culture or the arts dies, our societies may learn the hard way that it takes more than narrow job preparation to ensure that our students will flourish as human beings. Such flourishing includes willingness and ability to engage with the challenging and urgent social, cultural, environmental and political issues with which they are confronted in these times.

27 September
As Covid-19 Closes Schools, the World’s Children Go to Work
Former students are taking illegal and often dangerous jobs in India and other developing countries, potentially rolling back years of progress in social mobility and public health.
(NYT) In many parts of the developing world, school closures put children on the streets. Families are desperate for money. Children are an easy source of cheap labor. While the United States and other developed countries debate the effectiveness of online schooling, hundreds of millions of children in poorer countries lack computers or the internet and have no schooling at all.
United Nations officials estimate that at least 24 million children will drop out and that millions could be sucked into work. Ten-year-olds are now mining sand in Kenya. Children the same age are chopping weeds on cocoa plantations in West Africa. In Indonesia, boys and girls as young as 8 are painted silver and pressed into service as living statues who beg for money.
In India, the government has also shut down early childhood development centers for the poor. In recent decades, India had built a nationwide network of more than one million anganwadis, which means courtyard shelter in Hindi, that provided millions of young children with food, immunizations, clothes and some schooling, and contraceptives for poor women. But most anganwadis remain closed.

17 September
Trump calls for ‘patriotic education,’ says anti-racism teachings are ‘child abuse’
“Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their souls,” the president said.
(NBC) President Donald Trump accused schools of teaching students “hateful lies about this country” and said he would be taking steps to “restore patriotic education” as he continued his opposition to efforts to raise awareness about racial inequalities.
Speaking at what the White House described as a “conference on American history,” Trump said that he plans to sign an executive order soon to create a “national commission to support patriotic education” called the 1776 Commission and that he is directing funding to create a patriotic curriculum for schools.

9 September
The Coronavirus, Climate Change, and the End of Seasons as We Knew Them
Spring, summer, fall, and winter may soon become vestigial presences, which we encounter in music, poetry, and movies more than in our everyday lives
By Paul Elie
(The New Yorker) …in large parts of the United States, this school year will be one like no other. More than fifty million students will take part from home, while many of those who are on school property will assemble for classes in playgrounds and on sports fields, wearing masks and disinfecting their hands. The adoption of distance learning is as dramatic a change in American education as when the K-12 academic calendar took its present form (about a hundred and eighty school days, with summers off), more than a century ago. Parents are registering the change differently: children, usually at a distance come September, are taking classes near at hand. After six months, the long-anticipated release from the challenge of balancing work, school at home, meals, and child care isn’t coming. Without kids leaving home for school, for many of us the beginning of the new school year feels the way the coming of fall feels for an Easterner in California: a symbolic change without the literal changes that accompany it.

25 August
5 ways university education is being reimagined in response to COVID-19
By Ishwar K. Puri, Dean of Engineering and Professor, McMaster University
(The Conversation) Many of our adjustments to teaching and learning, student engagement and research to adapt to COVID-19 have shown us the way to a better version of higher education. The future our students deserve can be fashioned by heeding the lessons learned from experience over the past few months.
COVID-19 and schools reopening: Now is the time to embrace outdoor education
Jennifer Davis, Adjunct Professor, Queens Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Ontario
Moving classes outside deserves serious consideration not only for better ventilation, but also to introduce more public education devoted to learning on, from and with the land.

4 August
Trump administration sticks to schools plan as U.S. nears 5 million coronavirus cases
The Trump administration is sticking by its view that schools must reopen on time and in person as the United States approached 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday and as Mississippi’s conservative governor reversed course to delay school for many students and demand that all wear masks.
Parents Are Flocking to Virtual Schools and Homeschooling. They’ll Find a Minefield.
(New York) Though public schools aren’t miniature utopias, the alternatives are often poorly regulated, and that can leave parents and children vulnerable to bad actors. Virtual charter schools and lax homeschooling laws facilitate both educational neglect and, in the case of charters specifically, fraud. A parental exodus from traditional public schools could set children back academically — for good.
What Will the First Day of School Look Like? Terrified teachers. Obstinate officials. Exhausted parents. Inside the city’s messy reopening battle.
By Keith Gessen
As schools struggle to reopen under conditions of a still-­festering pandemic, New York City faces a cruel paradox. Because the virus came here early and did unspeakable damage, and because the city endured a three-month lockdown, New York is now, from a coronavirus perspective, one of the safest urban school districts in the United States. It is therefore theoretically one of the easiest to reopen. But for the very same reasons, it is the hardest school district to reopen. Its employees have seen what the virus can do to entire communities. Its finances have been decimated. Many teachers, like the families of their students, have fled the city for safer ground.

31 July
Let them in, let them stay: International students contribute to educational excellence
By Charlotte Brasic Royeen, dean of the College of Health Sciences of Rush University in Chicago and an academic administrator for over thirty years
(The Hill) International students bring a world view that expands the horizons of faculty, students, staff and the surrounding community.
A recent study shows international students also bring grit or courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience and passion to their studies.
If international students experience a quality education, and amenable social interaction and cross-cultural adjustment in the U.S., presumably they can serve as ambassadors of goodwill after returning to their countries.
As future leaders of their countries, they can possibly play a greater role towards global understanding and world peace. Expanding horizons by learning alongside peers from other countries can benefit everyone involved and create excellent educational experiences.

20 July (original broadcast 14 January)
Education without liberal arts is a threat to humanity, argues UBC president
Santo J. Ono says studying the liberal arts made him a better scholar, scientist, teacher and father
(CBC Radio Ideas) UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santo J. Ono is concerned that the liberal arts — including the sciences — are no longer held in high enough esteem in our specialized, technologized society.
From engineering to medicine, we have more elaborate and specialized professions than ever.
But the academic programs that prepare people for them will have little impact on the health of society unless we develop a sense of the human condition. That’s ‘job one’ for the classic liberal arts education: philosophy, history, the great books, art, music and the sciences, too — at least according to Santo J. Ono.

13 July
(Reuters) About 60 U.S. universities on Sunday filed a brief supporting a lawsuit by two others, seeking to block a Trump administration rule barring foreign students from remaining in the country if educational institutions don’t hold in-person classes this fall.
International students denied U.S. entry under new visa rules – court documents
(Reuters) – International students have already been denied entry to the United States under new Trump administration rules that bar them from the country if their schools hold all classes online amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a court document filed on Sunday.
The “friend of the court” brief, written by dozens of universities and colleges, was filed in support of a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) seeking to block immigration rules issued on July 6 that blindsided academic institutions across the country.

11 July
What’s the Value of Harvard Without a Campus?
Many first-generation, low-income Harvard students feel that the elite institution has failed them.

Shortly after the coronavirus first forced students off campus this spring, Nicholas Wyville, a rising senior who lives in a rural Southern town without easy access to internet, told The Harvard Crimson that working remotely accelerates inequality.
“The only equalizer at Harvard is the fact that we all live together and have the same accommodation. We live together, we eat the same food, we have the same faculty resources,” Mr. Wyville said to The Crimson. “But if you take away campus living and residential life, then you take away that equalizer.”
The fact that Harvard will continue charging full tuition is evidence to frustrated students that the school believes that the coming year’s education will match the value of growing and learning in a campus community.

25 June
Framing a legislative agenda to achieve meaningful school safety and policing reform
Kenneth Alonzo Anderson and Meredith B.L. Anderson
(Brookings) This post describes a legislative framework for improving school safety and the use of SROs. Although other issues also should be addressed, we believe this framework identifies clear pathways forward.

18 – 19 June
Malala Yousafzai completes Oxford University exams
Human rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai has expressed her “joy and gratitude” after finishing her final exams at Oxford University.
(BBC) The 22-year-old, who survived a shot to the head by Taliban soldiers, studied politics, philosophy, and economics.
What a contrast!
Oxford is tying itself in knots over racism
University’s plans for trauma dispensation and to decolonise science degrees are misguided
(The Times) The vice-chancellor of Oxford University, Louise Richardson, has announced that students traumatised by the video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer can ask for special dispensation if they feel they were unable to perform at their best in final exams or assessments. She has urged her colleagues to “reach out to any black students who may be experiencing difficulty at this time”.
No one who watched Floyd plead for his life was left unmoved. But grades for trauma takes us down a slippery slope. Exactly how many additional marks is a traumatic experience worth? How do students go about proving their distress? The call to “reach out” to black students suggests skin colour will be evidence of suffering.
Richardson’s announcement means black students at Oxford may have their exams graded more leniently than their white peers. This is a giant leap backwards for racial equality. At first glance, Richardson’s proposal might seem unfair to white students who will struggle to prove they have been traumatised. But it is black students who should be furious.
Expecting less from black students is badly disguised bigotry. In the past, black students had to work harder than their white classmates just to get the same mark. That was wrong. But today, black students are asked to lay bare their pain to assuage the guilt of white academics in return for special treatment.

Quebec Anglophone universities still plan to hold most classes online in the fall
The announcement from Quebec’s education minister that students should head back to school in the fall amid the novel coronavirus crisis has put pressure on some institutions to change their plans.
But some say adjusting to the new directives won’t be easy.
Concordia University’s semester will still be mostly online, but some activities — such as teaching labs and art studios, for example — will be in-person.
“Given the configuration of elevators, escalators, staircases, bringing one cohort of students into those buildings, moving them out when a class finishes, carrying out sanitation and welcoming the next cohort is very challenging while respecting the social distancing requirements.”
McGill says its plan to hold most classes online also remains in place, but added it hopes to offer some in-person activities that may gradually increase over time.
Dawson College is planning for a mix of online and in-person courses and activities.

4 June
Frank Bruni: The End of College as We Knew It?
We need doctors right now. My God, we need doctors: to evaluate the coronavirus’s assault, assess the body’s response and figure out where, in that potentially deadly tumble of events, there’s a chance to intervene.
We need research scientists. It falls to them to map every last wrinkle of this invader and find its Achilles’ heel.
But we also need Achilles. We need Homer. We need writers, philosophers, historians. They’ll be the ones to chart the social, cultural and political challenges of this pandemic — and of all the other dynamics that have pushed the United States so harrowingly close to the edge. In terms of restoring faith in the American project and reseeding common ground, they’re beyond essential.
Colleges and universities are in trouble — serious trouble. They’re agonizing over whether they can safely welcome students back to campus in the fall or must try to replicate the educational experience imperfectly online. They’re confronting sharply reduced revenue, severe budget cuts, warfare between administrators and faculty, and even lawsuits from students who want refunds for a derailed spring semester. And a devastated economy leaves their very missions and identities in limbo, all but guaranteeing that more students will approach higher education in a brutally practical fashion, as an on-ramp to employment and nothing more.

2 June
The case for more international cooperation in education
Christopher J. Thomas
International cooperation helped many countries universalize basic education during the 1990s and 2000s. More cooperation today could boost secondary and higher education and help build a world that is more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous.
(Brookings) In 2015, governments renewed their commitment to education by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Among the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) was a pledge to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
… the countries that educated their populations a generation ago are realizing the benefits now. Countries that moved up in the World Bank’s income group classification during the last 30 years educated a much higher proportion of their populations at the secondary and higher levels by 1990 than countries which remained “trapped” in their income group. They prepared more people to take on higher-skilled, higher-wage employment. They had a larger stock of professionals across many fields needed to build a well-functioning economy and society. And their transition to more educated and more prosperous societies has been accompanied by a transition to more sustainable population growth, greater peace and security, and more progressive social and environmental attitudes.

26 May
For readers mourning their chance to sit on an uncomfortable chair under a hot sun listening to a tiresome speaker drone on about their future, [The Atlantic] offered a series of 2020 commencement addresses, too good to have been delivered in person. Class of 2020

Why failing to reopen Purdue University this fall would be an unacceptable breach of duty
By Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and a former governor of Indiana
(WaPo opinion) Our campus, including its surrounding community, has a median age of 20.5. More than 80 percent of the total campus population is 35 and under. We may have the population density of New York City, but we have the age distribution of Uganda. The challenge for Purdue is to devise maximum protection for the unusually small minority who could be at genuinely serious risk in order to serve the young people who are our reason for existing at all.
Here’s something else we’ve learned. Our students (and, one suspects, their trapped-at-home parents) overwhelmingly are eager to continue their educations, in person and on campus. We know it is not the case everywhere, but at Purdue, tuition deposits by incoming freshmen have shattered last year’s record, and re-enrollments of upper-class students are at normal levels.
A Looming Financial Meltdown For America’s Schools
(NPR) “I think we’re about to see a school funding crisis unlike anything we have ever seen in modern history,” warns Rebecca Sibilia, the CEO of EdBuild, a school finance advocacy organization. “We are looking at devastation that we could not have imagined … a year ago.”

19 May
Let’s admit it – online education is a pale shadow of the real thing
Mark Kingwell, professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto
(Globe & Mail) The fast-break virus-driven move to online education is a miniature crisis within a global one. It is non-fatal in terms of human life, of course, but may prove devastating in more subtle ways. Among other things, the massive and sudden shift in teaching at all levels exposes social and economic faultlines that predate the current pandemic. … polls that show a majority of students consider online instruction “inferior” to physical gathering in classrooms and lecture halls. An estimated one-third of incoming freshmen are wondering whether university is even a good idea right now, according to a survey commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Federation of Students, while some disgruntled current undergraduates have agitated for tuition-fee refunds or reductions.
I’ve heard administrators insist that online instruction is just a “change in delivery system,” not a diminution of content. But this bureaucratic bromide wilfully ignores the wisdom of Marshall McLuhan, whose work I often teach. The medium is always the message. You can reduce a seminar to a distortion-addled screen, sure, but that will never substitute for being there.
I’m reminded that the etymology of “seminar” refers both to places where learning happens – seminaries, the matrix of modern universities – and also to what happens there: Seeds are planted, ideally later to bear intellectual fruit.

11 May
The Coming Disruption: Scott Galloway predicts a handful of elite cyborg universities will soon monopolize higher education.
By James D. Walsh
(New York) Galloway, a Silicon Valley runaway who teaches marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, believes the pandemic has greased the wheels for big tech’s entrée into higher education. The post-pandemic future, he says, will entail partnerships between the largest tech companies in the world and elite universities. MIT@Google. iStanford. HarvardxFacebook. According to Galloway, these partnerships will allow universities to expand enrollment dramatically by offering hybrid online-offline degrees, the affordability and value of which will seismically alter the landscape of higher education. Galloway, who also founded his own virtual classroom start-up, predicts hundreds, if not thousands, of brick-and-mortar universities will go out of business and those that remain will have student bodies composed primarily of the children of the one percent.
… “There’s a recognition that education — the value, the price, the product — has fundamentally shifted. The value of education has been substantially degraded. There’s the education certification and then there’s the experience part of college. The experience part of it is down to zero, and the education part has been dramatically reduced. You get a degree that, over time, will be reduced in value as we realize it’s not the same to be a graduate of a liberal-arts college if you never went to campus. You can see already how students and their parents are responding.”
By Michael A. O’Neill
Before austerity measures lead to inevitable cuts, let’s use this year for a long-overdue dialogue about the most critical matters facing the sector.
(Policy Options) Although some things could have been done better overall, the administrators, staff and students of Canada’s colleges and universities met the initial challenge admirably. But now it is time to look to the future: how will higher education exit from the COVID-19 crisis? Instead of the hurried improvisation that was necessary this spring, we should consider the coming challenges carefully and consult widely on how to meet them.

3 May
Jeb Bush: The future of learning doesn’t involve classrooms. Here’s how we can prepare for it now.
Jeb Bush, the Republican governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, is founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nonprofit based in Tallahassee.
It’s time to plan for a future in which public education can continue without access to classrooms — not just because of a pandemic but because that’s the future of learning.
… Longer term, all K-12 schools need to adapt to distance learning. Already, one-third of college students take courses online. The $200 billion-plus market for corporate learning is exploding with content libraries, assessment tools, workflow learning and “micro-learning.” Learning is no longer modeled on the traditional classroom but has become digital, individualized and delivered on smartphones or laptops.
… Computer-assisted and personalized learning can be particularly effective in closing achievement gaps, especially in math.
… Every district must plan to virtually serve students with special needs, nonnative English learners and others who require more attention. This will be challenging. First steps should involve conducting an audit to identify which services can be delivered online, and then narrow the list of services that require unique solutions. District-wide solutions should be considered, such as using a reading specialist to virtually support dyslexic students across the entire district, without being constrained to an assigned school.

27 April
Why COVID-19 Will Make It Tougher For Rural Students To Go To College
(Forbes) May 1 traditionally is National Decision Day, when high school seniors make the choice about which institution they will attend in the fall. However, COVID-19 has pushed this date to June 1 for many schools, and the pandemic threatens to upend this process even further into the calendar year. In reaction, some students are considering a gap year, but others are rethinking whether to enroll at all.
What will happen to students from rural locations who are college ready? …early signals indicate that the families of rural students may not be in the most advantageous position to support their sons and daughters going off to college this coming fall.
First, economic conditions and trade policies already had been negatively impacting rural communities. The significant jump in farm bankruptcies throughout 2019 is but one major sign of already present financial strains that likely will be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, we do not yet know what the true impact of the coronavirus will be on rural America, as the spread of the disease first began in more urban areas.

21 April
Some rural students flourishing amid COVID-19 class suspensions
There’s the possibility B.C. students may be returning to classrooms, but it will be a slow process and school won’t look anything like it did in the past, according to the B.C. government. And that plan suits some parents in rural, remote island communities just fine, as their kids thrive outdoors in an unstructured learning environment.

1 April
Schools, skills, and learning: The impact of COVID-19 on education
By Simon Burgess, Hans Henrik Sievertsen
(Vox) The global lockdown of education institutions is going to cause major (and likely unequal) interruption in students’ learning; disruptions in internal assessments; and the cancellation of public assessments for qualifications or their replacement by an inferior alternative. This column discusses what can be done to mitigate these negative impacts.

3 March
What is Finland’s Phenomenon-based Learning approach?
(Teacher) Phenomenon-based learning (PhenoBL) has attracted growing attention since Finland’s National Core Curriculum for Basic Education mandated its use in Finnish schools (Finnish National Board of Education, 2016). Finland’s curriculum endorses PhenoBL as a progressive approach to curriculum and pedagogy suitable for 21st Century learners.
This approach breaks down subject-based compartmentalisation of knowledge. Instead of focusing on a specific subject such as Mathematics, Literacy, or History, phenomenon-based classes explore phenomena that cross subject boundaries. The approach represents a transition to a new cross-curricular way of thinking about organising learning in schools.
In Finland, students aged 7-16 are required to participate in at least one multidisciplinary PhenoBL module per year. The modules are designed to explore real-world phenomena that can be viewed from competing and complementary viewpoints.

10 February
Trump and DeVos Propose to Eliminate Federal Charter School Funds
(New York) Here’s a brief refresher: Charter schools are not the same as private schools. Private schools are funded by tuition dollars, and can select which students to admit. Charter schools are publicly financed, do not charge tuition, and cannot select their student bodies. If they have more applications than available slots, charters typically have to use a lottery. Charter schools and private schools are often confused. …in fact, Trump was touting private school vouchers, not charter schools.
Trump’s budget would fold the federal Charter Schools Program, which currently spends $440 million a year to open new charter schools and promote information about which ones are effective, into a block grant, dumping the money to states to spend as they see fit.  …federal charter funding (which does only account for a fraction of spending for charter schools) would disappear.

29 January
Once again, Finland is a shining star!
How Finland starts its fight against fake news in primary schools
Country on frontline of information war teaches everyone from school pupils to politicians how to spot slippery information
(The Guardian) You can start when children are very young, said Kari Kivinen. In fact, you should: “Fairytales work well. Take the wily fox who always cheats the other animals with his sly words. That’s not a bad metaphor for a certain kind of politician, is it?”
With democracies around the world threatened by the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of false information, Finland – recently rated Europe’s most resistant nation to fake news – takes the fight seriously enough to teach it in primary school.
In secondary schools, such as the state-run college in Helsinki where Kivinen is head teacher, multi-platform information literacy and strong critical thinking have become a core, cross-subject component of a national curriculum that was introduced in 2016.
In maths lessons, Kivinen’s pupils learn how easy it is to lie with statistics. In art, they see how an image’s meaning can be manipulated. In history, they analyse notable propaganda campaigns, while Finnish language teachers work with them on the many ways in which words can be used to confuse, mislead and deceive.


Higher Education to 2030
(Brookings) The OECD Higher Education to 2030 series takes a forward-looking approach to analyzing the impact of various contemporary trends on tertiary (or postsecondary) education systems.

How Canada became an education superpower
(BBC) The top performers are often cohesive, compact societies and the current highest achiever, Singapore, has been seen as a model of systematic progress, with each part of the education system integrated into an overarching national strategy.
Canada does not even really have a national education system, it is based on autonomous provinces and it is hard to think of a bigger contrast between a city state such as Singapore and a sprawling land mass such as Canada.
When the most recent Pisa rankings are looked at more closely, at regional rather than national level, the results for Canada are even more remarkable.
If Canadian provinces entered Pisa tests as separate countries, three of them, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, would be in the top five places for science in the world, alongside Singapore and Japan and above the likes of Finland and Hong Kong. (August 2017)

4 December
The number of Americans training to become teachers has dropped by a third since 2010, and it’s creating a critical educator shortage that will affect every state
(Business Insider) There are one-third less people enrolling in teacher training programs, which is part of the certification process to become an educator, according to data from the Center for American Progress.
In some states, such as Michigan, Oklahoma, and Illinois, enrollment declined by more than 50%.
The drop in teacher training enrollment suggests that issues plaguing the profession — from low pay to dwindling school funding — has discouraged potential educators, exacerbating the nationwide teacher shortage.
Center for American Progress: What To Make of Declining Enrollment in Teacher Preparation Programs

19 October
The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors
English majors are down 25.5 percent since the Great Recession, just as world’s top economists say we need more ‘storytellers’
Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller’s new book “Narrative Economics” opens with him reminiscing about an enlightening history class he took as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. He wrote that what he learned about the Great Depression was far more useful in understanding the period of economic and financial turmoil than anything he learned in his economic courses.
“Traditional economic approaches fail to examine the role of public beliefs in major economic events — that is, narrative,’ Shiller wrote. “Economists can best advance their science by developing and incorporating into it the art of narrative economics.” … Shiller isn’t alone in wishing that there were more storytellers (and story analyzers) around. Every August, some of the world’s top economists gather in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to discuss how the economy is doing and how they should tweak their models. On the final day of events this year, Philip Lowe, head of Australia’s central bank, urged his colleagues to spend a little less time on numbers and more time on being good storytellers.

2 October
The Cult of Rich-Kid Sports
A new paper provides stark evidence that Harvard gives preferential treatment to affluent white applicants through legacy preferences and sports recruitment.
(The Atlantic) The researchers found that between 2009 and 2014, more than 40 percent of accepted white students were ALDC—athletes, legacies, “dean’s list” (meaning related to donors), or the children of faculty. Without such preferences, they said, three-quarters of those white students would have been rejected.
The study’s lead author, the Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono, was an expert witness against Harvard in a lawsuit accusing the university of discriminating against Asian applicants. The paper is based on data obtained during the trial.
The findings offer a grab bag for public indignation. You could get angry about the pernicious effect of legacy programs, which reproduce privilege at schools that publicly advertise themselves as crusaders for the poor. Or you could get angry about the dean’s list, which allows some of the richest people in the world to punch a ticket for their undeserving children with an eight-figure donation. …
At a time when youth sport participation is stratifying by income, one could argue that even soccer fields have become the domain of the upper-middle class and above. But true rich-kid sports include water polo, squash, crew, lacrosse, and skiing. One does not simply fall into the river and come out a water-polo star, and no downhill-slalom champions casually roam the halls of low-income high schools. These sports often require formal training, expensive equipment, and upscale facilities. No wonder they are dominated by affluent young players

26 September
AI is coming to schools, and if we’re not careful, so will its biases
Editor’s Note: This story about AI was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.
(Brookings) The automation of a school or university’s administrative tasks and customization of student curricula is not only possible, but imminent. The goal is for our computers to make human-like judgments and perform tasks to make educators’ lives easier, but if we’re not careful, these machines will replicate our racism, too.
Kids from Black and Latino or Hispanic communities—who are often already on the wrong side of the digital divide—will face greater inequalities if we go too far toward digitizing education without considering how to check the inherent biases of the (mostly white) developers who create AI systems. AI is only as good as the information and values of the programmers who design it, and their biases can ultimately lead to both flaws in the technology and amplified biases in the real world.

13 September
Her Only Crime Was Helping Her Kids
Kelley Williams-Bolar, like Felicity Huffman, was punished for trying to get her children a better education.
Both Felicity Huffman and Kelley Williams-Bolar, from their very different vantage points, tried to take advantage of a system they knew to be unfair. In both cases, the real scandal is what is legal, and the real victims the kids deprived of opportunity by dint of their family’s bank account and address.

31 July
Singapore No Longer Ranks Children Based on Exams Because “Learning Is Not a Competition”
…effective next year, students in Singapore will no longer be ranked by exams. For years, Singaporean primary and secondary school students have been ranked according to their standardized test scores. This, however, fostered an unhealthy environment fueled by competition—a system that Education Minister Ong Ye Kung views as an inherent threat to education.
“I know that ‘coming in first or second,’ in class or level, has traditionally been a proud recognition of a student’s achievement,” he said in a statement. “But removing these indicators is for a good reason, so that the child understands from young that learning is not a competition, but a self-discipline they need to master for life.”

25 July
The global education challenge: Scaling up to tackle the learning crisis
(Brookings) In an era when youth are the fastest-growing segment of the population in many parts of the world, new data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) reveals that an estimated 263 million children and young people are out of school, overwhelmingly in LDCs and LMICs. …the International Commission on Financing Education Opportunity reported in 2016 that 825 million young people—will not have the basic literacy, numeracy, and digital skills to compete for the jobs of 2030. Absent a significant political and financial investment in their education, beginning with basic education, there is a serious risk that this youth “bulge” will drive instability and constrain economic growth.
Despite progress in gender parity, it will take about 100 years to reach true gender equality at secondary school level in LDCs and LMICs.
Among global education’s most urgent challenges is a severe lack of trained teachers, particularly female teachers. An additional 9 million trained teachers are needed in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.
Refugees and internally displaced people, now numbering over 70 million, constitute a global crisis. Two-thirds of the people in this group are women and children; host countries, many fragile themselves, struggle to provide access to education to such people.

31 May
Paulo Coelho wants to give his books free to schools and libraries in Africa
(Quartz)  “I’m going to buy the titles from my publishers [and] give them for free to schools & libraries,” he said, asking his followers to send their requests to an email address.
If one is to credit the hypothetical, then the success of the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho began very much in Africa.
This came after the translation of his 1988 bestseller The Alchemist, an allegorical novel about a shepherd boy who journeys to the pyramids in Egypt in search of a fortune. When the book was translated into English in 1993, it sold tens of millions of copies and launched the international career of Coelho. The novel, whose manuscript Coelho wrote in just two weeks, became a global phenomenon devoured by youngsters, celebrities and leaders like Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin.

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