March 14, 2015

1:09 PM | Where’s the justice in geoengineering?
As geoengineering researchers gather for a conference in Cambridge, Duncan McLaren draws lessons from ethics and science fiction to make a case for caution (This post is based on a lecture given earlier today at the SRM Science conference in Cambridge)Geoengineering is a technology that promises great power. But, as Spiderman was reminded by his Uncle, with great power comes great responsibility. This isn’t a new insight. It reflects long established political understanding. Voltaire […]

March 13, 2015

8:00 PM | This Is the Koch Brothers Going Too Far
When someone has a lot of money, and I mean a hell of a lot of money, he can basically determine how we talk about policy in American. Billionaire Bill Gates, for instance, has a major influence on health and education, for good or ill, based entirely on which reform ideas are exciting enough for him to throw money at. By this point everyone knows that billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who own the highly diversified multi-national group of companies collectively known as Koch […]
2:09 AM | Four Models of Non-Traditional Schools at SXSWedu
AUSTIN, TX—The annual South by Southwest Education conference in this capital city attracts hordes of educators, education technology companies and innovators. Each day this week, presenters pitched new gadgets, apps and technology that they said would revolutionize teaching and learning. Also, several presentations featured educators touting non-traditional school models and redesigned school structures and classrooms. Here are a few of those models. A school with coding in every […]

March 12, 2015

10:00 PM | LSAT Optional: Law Schools Finally Do Something Original
Law schools are in trouble. For a few years they could count on a steady stream of eager college graduates who thought of law school as a responsible way to get a stable career. And then the Great Recession hit, and the demand for lawyers plummeted. The number of law school applicants declined, dramatically, and it’s hard for many schools, particularly the lower ranked ones, to attract students. A few law schools are trying to reverse the trend. According to this piece in the […]
3:00 PM | Taking That Careers and College Thing Too Damn Far
An important phrase used by education reformers lately has to do with fixing American schools to prepare all students for “college and careers.” This is theoretically a good idea, since high school for anyone at all is followed by either more education or a job. While some politicians can support the whole “education as job preparation” concept a little too enthusiastically, a new reform in one state appears to be taking this to the point of absurdity. According to a […]
1:58 PM | The U.S. Isn't the Only Place Rapidly Producing Digital Tools
While I love visiting other countries for The Hechinger Report, this week I took advantage of the dozens of people who had crossed oceans to get to SXSWEdu, in Austin, Texas, to hear their thoughts on these questions and more. This year’s conference had sessions from every continent (except, obviously, Antarctica) on a wide range of topics. Here’s a glimpse at some of the conversations sparked. The U.S. isn’t the only place rapidly producing digital tools. SXSWEdu featured a […]

March 11, 2015

4:15 PM | Are Public Universities Becoming Bastions of Privilege?
Demonstrators struggle with police with a barricade in front of a closed off building on the University of California, Berkeley on the Berkeley, Calif., campus, Friday,. Nov. 20, 2009, during a demonstration against university fee hikes and layoffs. Is a state university still fulfilling its mission if it enrolls nearly as many out-of-state students as in-state ones? Is a public university fulfilling its mission if it’s reducing the number of seats for low-income students while […]
8:45 AM | Afrofuturism to everyday futurists: new kinds of artists, power & tech
New sounds from South Africa and Nigeria’s urban science fiction could change the future of technology and the cityStrong stories or visions of the future stick around. The 1920s sci-fi fantasy of a jetpack commute still pops up in discussions about the future of technology, not to mention as an option on the Citymapper travel app. By co-opting or creating new visions of the future, it seems possible to influence the development of new products and services - from consumer tech to urban […]
6:14 AM | Why Direct Lending Allowed for a Student Aid Bill of Rights
Ending the bank-based federal student loan system in 2010 was all about cost savings. Taking subsidies banks received to make loans and putting them toward increasing the maximum Pell Grant award was a sensible policy. And students would be unaffected because they could always borrow straight from the U.S. Department of Education. But the White House announcement today of a “student aid bill of rights” shows that having the government make all federal student loans […]
2:53 AM | Could It Be That the Teaching Profession Isn't Pink Enough?
More girls might pursue science fields if they had more female teachers in middle and high school, two studies suggest (AP image of a middle school student, learning computer programing in Pennsylvania) More than three-quarters of U.S. public school teachers are female. So it’s a bit surprising to hear an argument that there aren’t enough women in the profession. It’s kind of like saying there aren’t enough lawyers in Washington. But that’s exactly the case […]

March 10, 2015

5:49 PM | Can the New Tests Quell Teacher Anger Over Common Core?
In this photo taken Feb. 12, 2015, sixth grader Alex Greuey, 11, reads through a problem in the English Language Arts section of the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test as he and his classmates practice for the Common Core State Standards Exams at Morgan Elementary School South in Stockport, Ohio. At a time when teachers’ unions across the country are fighting new Common Core tests arriving this spring, more than 1000 teachers sat down to grade […]
5:43 PM | Don't Blame New Orleans Schools for Corrupt Officials' Choices
Within days, announcements of corruption and malfeasance between New Orleans’s rivaling charter and traditional school systems proved that immorality and incompetence is agnostic toward school type. Whether in a traditional district or a charter school, tainted people always make systems look bad. On March 3, The Louisiana Department of Education cited Lagniappe Academies for failing “to provide an appropriate education for students with special needs.” (Ironically, the word […]
4:15 PM | Privacy and the 100,000 Genome Project
As the Department of Health starts to draw a map of thousands of genomes, will it keep its promise to anonymise our data? Edward Hockings and Lewis Coyne investigateWith the UK launch of 23andMe’s home DNA testing kit, the legalisation of mitochondrial DNA transfer, and the 100,000 Genome Project underway, optimism abounds about the science of genetics delivering on its early promise. But there is also cause for greater caution and oversight than some biotechnology enthusiasts would like […]

March 09, 2015

5:50 PM | In Rural Mississippi, Social Studies Gets a Common Core Makeover
Fourth Grader Lakiya works on a writing assignment during social studies. This year marks the first time that all math and English teachers in Mississippi are teaching the new Common Core standards. But the words Common Core aren’t used here anymore — the state has renamed them the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards. While lawmakers continue to debate the standards at the Capitol, big changes are happening in the classroom. Jackie Mader has been following the […]
8:59 AM | Report: Community Colleges are Slowly Improving Student Support
Pressed to stop a steady trickle of dropouts that has kept their graduation rates low, community colleges are getting more up close and personal with their students, a new report says. Students say they’re able to speak more often with advisors and instructors about their career plans, and that they’re being called upon more frequently to make presentations in class, according to the Community College Survey of Student Engagement. Those kinds of things make students feel more […]

March 06, 2015

8:00 PM | The Profit in Becoming Nonprofit
Back in 2011, Florida’s Keiser University, a for-profit college under investigation by the Florida Attorney General, managed to save face, and avoid punishment, by becoming a nonprofit institution. Arthur Keiser, the school’s “chancellor” (and founder and owner) sold the college to Everglades College Inc., a nonprofit entity that also operated Everglades University. Keiser, understandably, didn’t reveal how much he was paid for offloading the school, but it […]
6:00 PM | Why Your Fancy Neighborhood Still Has Bad Schools
We’re all familiar with gentrification, the process whereby affluent professionals move into economically depressed neighborhoods, fix up houses, open stores devoted to yoga studios and overpriced coffee, and gradually make these places the sort of neighborhoods where only rich people can afford to live. The impact of this process (which admittedly might be a little overstated) on the people who originally lived in these neighborhoods is debatable. It might make rent higher but […]
5:12 PM | Do Financial Responsibility Scores Reflect Colleges' Financial Strength?
In spite of the vast majority of federal government operations being closed on Thursday due to snow (it’s been a rough end to winter in this part of the country), the U.S. Department of Education released financial responsibility scores for private nonprofit and for-profit colleges and universities based on 2012-2013 data. These scores are based on calculations designed to measure a college’s financial strength in three key areas: primary reserve ratio (liquidity), equity ratio […]
12:39 PM | Teachers, not Nobel laureates, are the experts in how to teach science
Debates over practical work in school science have been hijacked by a scientific elite who seem uninterested in the evidence and expertise of practitioners“Ofqual sounds the death knell for UK science education” declared the Physiological Society last year when Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Exam Regulations, proposed changes to the way practical work in science GCSEs and A-levels will be assessed. The Wellcome Trust was also “deeply concerned”, stating that […]

March 05, 2015

9:12 PM | Opponents of Common Core Open New Fronts in Battle Against Standards After a Series of Defeats
Janet Barresi, state superintendent, gestures as she speaks during a State Board of Education meeting in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki Fiery anti-Common Core campaign rhetoric hasn’t translated into many victories for those seeking to repeal the standards. Legislators in 19 states introduced bills to repeal the Common Core this session. So far none have succeeded. Repeal bills in even the reddest states - states like Mississippi, Arizona, and both Dakotas […]
8:00 PM | Another Girl Down: Sweet Briar College Closes
On Tuesday this week Sweet Briar College, the 114-year-old women’s school famous for its equestrian program and “empowering and educating young women to build and reshape their world however their passions lead them,” announced that it was closing. The class of 2015 will be its last. According to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Sweet Briar College said it will close at the end of this academic year because of “insurmountable financial challenges” […]
7:30 AM | We can make science funding go further by better sharing equipment
A new report suggests more sharing of research equipment may be a better way of getting more bang out of the science funding buck than clawing back ‘efficiency savings’ out of grant funding.UK science may be the most productive in the world in terms of top papers produced per unit of funding but, in a climate of austerity, this has not stopped researchers from constantly being urged to become more efficient. In the last spending review the Government took a top-down approach to […]

March 03, 2015

11:09 PM | Lessons For America: How German Higher Ed Controls Costs
The next time you pull out your checkbook to pay that hefty tuition bill or pay down your student loan, consider this: there are countries where students pay nothing to attend university. Denmark, Sweden and Germany, all have tuition-free college. WGBH Radio’s On Campus team wondered how these countries do it, and if there are things the U.S. can learn from their model. Their search to understand how German universities keep costs down and quality up began in the Rhineland. It […]
9:58 PM | How To Revamp No Child Left Behind for Dual Language Learners
Republicans in the House of Representatives spent a chunk of the end of last week trying to pass the Student Success Act, their party’s rewrite of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the federal government’s core PreK–12 education law. But after hours of debate and a pile of amendments, well, things didn’t quite come together. At the last minute… BREAKING: House won’t vote on an update to No Child Left Behind today as originally planned. #NCLB #FixNCLB — […]
3:29 PM | The 101 Ways Black Fathers Can Teach All Men to Stay Engaged with Their Children
What behaviors make for an ideal father when the nuclear family has been blown up like the Cosby Show? Fathering as a practice has never been tethered to a household or marriage, especially for the sons of slavery and Jim Crow. Most black children - 72 percent - are born out of wedlock. And although approximately 54 percent of black children live with only their mothers, rising rates of cohabitation and mixed-status families among all races are increasingly reflecting the black family […]

March 02, 2015

5:23 PM | New Advocacy Group Pushes for Multilingualism in D.C. Schools
This Friday, Netflix’s smash hit series, House of Cards, kicks off its third season. It’s the sort of event that that sparks a special level of buzz within the Beltways’ borders. It’s a bit like being in New York City for Fashion Week: the show reflects something of D.C.’s self-image back upon residents in ways both flattering and discomfiting. It’s validating to see our world depicted dramatically—House of Cards finds ways to make the denseness of D.C. […]
5:10 PM | Gaming the Numbers? Conflicting College Admissions Messages Confound Parents and Kids
NEW YORK — A friend snapped photos of the colorful college brochures cramming his high school son’s mailbox and posted the pile on Facebook with a message that all but gushed, “Look which schools want us!” Colleges send out realms of encouraging mail to potential applicants every year in stepped-up-recruiting campaigns. Photo: Rob Urban As a higher-education journalist and the parent of a college applicant, I had a more cynical reaction: aren’t they being […]
5:03 PM | Location, Location, Location: Are Top Universities Too Far Away From Low-Income High School Graduates?
This graphic from “Optimal Spatial Distribution of Colleges,” shows that Illinois would produce more college educated adults if four-year institutions (the green circles) moved closer to where high school students live. Almost 80 percent of high school graduates go to college nowadays.  Almost half of them, mostly low-income students, start at a community college. And 80 percent of those say they hope to get a four-year bachelor’s degree. But in the end, less than […]

March 01, 2015

1:00 AM | Is it Time for a Student Debt Revolt?
The escalating problem of American education debt has concerned pundits in this country for many years. Politicians make minor policy changes periodically to avoid calamity but the long-term trends remain the same. College costs more every year, students and families borrow more and more every year, and graduate (or drop out) starting their working lives saddled with ever higher debt burdens. Some students are pushing back, by just refusing to pay their loans. According to an article in the […]
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