Minorities Less Likely to be Labeled Gifted by White Teachers

Students of colors are significantly less likely to be “deemed” gifted by caucasian teachers than students of color being taught by teachers of color. This Washington Post article lists some reasons why this may be but the question is how do we rectify this? I didn’t read the study the article is based on, but it would be interesting to see what the schools studied considered to be “gifted” and what, if anything, is being done with students who are almost-gifted-but-not-there-yet? I’d like to know the answer to the latter question more so than the former simply because if some “near-gifted” colored students aren’t selected for the initial gifted program, it’s important to continue to hone and challenge their minds. According to the study, they prove to be just as academically gifted, so it would be ashamed that they are denied entry into a gifted program but remain in a less engaging environment, which would leave room for them to lose that will to learn. ughhhh. It sucks because more likely that not, this is what is happening:-/

 

Nina Rees Misconstrued Clinton Charter Comment

I wrote a blog post last night about K-12 education policy and the presidential campaign trail. I wanted to include a  link to a Hillary Clinton  interview where she talks about charter schools. In search of that interview, I came a across a negative response article. First, I’ll use a quote to illustrate part of what Clinton said about charter schools and then show how it was misconstrued.

Hillary Clinton made a few comments about charter schools. She said,

And here’s a couple of problems. Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.

Of course, Nina Rees, the president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, only pulled ‘the-hardest-to-teach’ sentence out and wrote a misguided, misconstrued article, for, of course, US News & World Report.

Rees says that Clinton ‘misses the point’, that charters mostly help low-income students from rough neighborhoods, rather than dispense them to public underfunded public schools. But, when Clinton refered to “hardest-to-teach” students, and we know this by reading the whole interview, she meant students who have behavioral problems and aren’t easily integrated in some charter schools ‘no excuses’. Clinton acknowledges that charters there are both good and bad charters. She even mentions that we should use charters for their original purpose, which is to create a place to help those students who are not interested in school/have a hard time learning and create a flexible learning environment that engages students and allows teachers to find learning styles that can be replicated in public schools.

Rees then says that public schools should do just that– Rees doesn’t seem to pickup on the fact that Clinton even said this already.

Rees seems to also ignore the fact that charters have resources that public schools simply don’t have. She in no way takes on the fact that there are multiple levels to her veiw of ‘Hard-to-Teach’ kids. She took a very surface level understanding of this comment, and she did not try to explore other, more deeper types of students who are truly troubled by their low-income upbringing.

Charters do take in a lot of kids from low-income communities but Rees assume that ALL of these kids, simply by way of their environment, are who the ‘Hard-to-Teach’, which is not true. There are some many students who, like myself, come from a poor neighborhood but love to learn and would have thrived in a charter schools. My then disrespectful, rude and highly disruptive youngest brother would be kicked out because he’d break so many of the school’s no – excuse rules.

But, and this scares me, Rees chose to miss Clinton’s point. I know she chose not to see Clinton’s point and chose to twist Clinton’s comments because Rees:

A) chose to only focus on that one sentence and
B) didn’t acknowledge that positive comments Clinton made about charters and
C) didn’t even include a link to an article with the full interview.

Rees included several links that prove that charters have helped lower-income students, which Clinton did not deny, but Rees did not include a link to Clinton’s article.

What’s even worse is that Rees included a link to findings of high – income public schools using tactics to kick kids out of their schools, but she doesn’t acknowledge that Success Academy, a charter school network in NYC, is accused of doing the same thing.

It’s not a fair practice to her readers and is an example of journalists controlling the media to fit their view.

Rees isn’t the only person who misconstrued Clinton’s comment. Some folks call her a hypocrite because, historically speaking, she’s been an advocate for charter schools. But this interview isn’t condemning charters to death.  Clinton isn’t anti-charter now. She’s just aware of some faults of some charter schools and that should be okay. 

Charters need to stop having this “you’re-either-with-me-or-against-me” mentality. At least public schools have their faults and admit to it.

Schools Should Help Students Hands On Experience

Dintersmith and Tony Wagner  suggest that colleges should work with their own students to create school’s marketing materials, such as the school website and videos. The fact that schools aren’t doing this, reiterates how ineffective they are at preparing students for the real world. Are schools aware that a large percentage of their graduates aren’t going into academia and could use real-world, practical, hands-on challenges to succeed in life post-college? Clearly not. Colleges are out of touch with the real world and, oddly enough, aren’t critically thinking about their curriculum and the ways in which they prepare students for the work force. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think that they’re aware of this but are more selfseving than they make themselves out to be.

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Most Likely to Succeed with Creative Writing

I finished Most Likely to Succeed this past weekend. I’ll do a longer review on the book as a whole in a later post, but I want to comment on one of the themes that stuck to me. The authors are clearly huge advocates for the hands-on, tangible and pursposeful experiences as part of the curriculum at every school, at every level. I wholeheartedly agree with them and loved the constant emphasis on both presentation skills and the opportunity for self-directed assignments in schools.

I am more than content with my decision to major in English. But, I had a hard time choosing a minor. Ia wanted to minor in Creative Writing, Economics and Theology, however, because I loved what I was learning in all three subject areas, I didn’t pick one minor; I split my elective credits between the three. It was in my first creative writing class that I realized  I could have been attending a different college, perhaps a “better” college, had I received more self-driven, experimental classes or assignments, such as writing a play. When I was a freshman in high school, I read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Everything from the wrongful and vivid murder of Giles to it’s historical background pulled me in and led me to reading it several times a year for the next two years. There was something about the the setting, writing style, character detail and overall tone that made this piece of work seem so lively. I wanted to create something that is both historical and makes the reader feel as if it were unfolding in her presence. What stopped me? I didn’t really know I could do something like that. I didn’t know I had the capability or the time. I didn’t know where to start. But, more importantly, I didn’t have the right tools or instruction. The first few lessons of my college creative writing class were spent learning the ingredients of a good short story and reading as many short stories as possible. With each story, we identified “what was working” and “what could use work”. We then wrote our own short stories and had the entire class read and crit our work. There was an entire hour and fifteen minutes dedicated to helping me improve my work. My classmates provided marked-up copies of my story and highlighted example sentences that point to how a literary device, say tone, is used to make the main characters desires more clear. Classmates would iften higlight a line that they liked for no particular reason. At the end of each session, the author would defend their work. I worked tirelessly to make sure every sentence was grammatically correct and flowed from one to the other. Every sentence was thought out. I wanted my story to be clear, unique, witty and powerful. I knew every word and punctuation mark mattered in order to leave the reader with a sentimental feeling. After this creative writing class, my writing in all my classes became stronger. I taught myself to be actively aware of which sentences were initially too clunky and wordy and which sentences were fluff and superficial. I wish I had this opportunity in high school, specifically after reading The Crucible. My English and History grades would have been higher. My AP scores as well. When I think back on it, I knew I could have improved my writing had I been exposed to a class like creative writing sooner. You see, making up my own story about something I cared about brought the importance of concise, proper writing to life. I probably would have made it a challenge to make my other papers more focused and clear. I was too young to identify and act on what my mind and soul desired. But it’s mostly because my school had very few electives and only one AP course by my Senior year.

Creative writing gives students the opportunity to in vision whatever it is they think about, whatever it is they like or who they want to be. There must be a clear demonstration of how punctuation and dictation work in a story that’s uses these elements of writing to touch a student, but after that’s done, the rest is history. While, maybe not. Consistent renforcement of creative, non- judgemental but accurate writing is key.

I’ve previously wrote about the need for at least two in depth economics courses in high school and have agreed with Dintersmith and Wagner on the need for Civics and Financial Literacy in high school. As you can tell from this post, I feel the same way about creative writing.

If schools want students to communicate well through writing, than replace or add creative writing to the high school curriculum. Schools should perform an experiment and have one class take a creative writing class while another class takes a normal english class and see if there’s a difference. Perhaps it’s something that’s introduced during the summer months, instead of not requiring students to do anything academic (which makes no sense for growth).

Colleges Role in Income Inequality – Take Two

The middle class is disappearing. We’re becoming a society where students can’t go to school, become a librarian and raise a family on average income because average income isn’t sustainable. Here’s an issue similar to what some of my recent college graduate friends are going through:

If Macy lives in the middle of nowhere, and she’s being told that the key to success is to go to a well known school in a big city and work hard. Her family makes $75k a year supporting a household of 4. They can’t afford a big city school, but once again, they’re told that the key to Macy’s success is that big city school. So the school, with all its degree offerings, gives Macy $40k a year, which covers 2/3 of the school’s $60k per year cost of living. She takes out a loan for $20k and her parents provide her with $7k throughout the academic year for every day expenses. She does this for the next three years, coming out of school with $80k in debt. She realizes that after those four years, she wants to work in publishing, which makes on average$40k a year– that’s before taxes. Marcy believes this is her calling, but it won’t help her repay her $80k debt, which will grow because of principle and interest. In addition to paying back her debt, she’d like to go out with friends occasionally, take a vacation once every two years, manage the cost of living and save for her future family. It’s a lot she wants to do with a starting salary of $40k, but she hopes to grow in her career. She can make upwards of 75k per year in the next 15 years. She’s willing to take on the stress of her goals but $80k-and-growing-debt is too much stress with her level of income. She may not be able to go on vacation, rent an apartment or buy a used car because of the bad credit she incurred because her loans will bring her credit score down.

Some might say she should have gone to a local, low-cost college, but that local, low-cost college wouldn’t have got her the job she wants at a publishing company that will pay $40k a year. In order for Macy to find herself, she has to go to college. She realized she wants to work in publishing, earning $40k a year, but if it costs her $80k to land her dream job, it’s not a sound investment, and I guess, that’s Macy’s fault.

The problem with higher education is that low and middle income families who are taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student loans can’t major in anything or go to any school. In order to manage the financial burden, they must trade in what they want to do (which may pay less) for something that they may not be passionate about but pays more. The cost of college today makes it impossible for graduates, who are interested in a not so lucrative career path, to succeed.

Colleges’ Role in Income Inequality

I’m still reading Most Likely to Succeed by Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner. The book has a chapter that focuses on college and its role in education as a whole. One of the subtopics that I found most relevant but not widely discussed is higher-education’s negative impact on the income inequality gap.

The high cost of college and the lack of effective career-readiness training leaves college graduates with little to moderate skills and tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
What’s a philosophy major to do when he didn’t realize that he doesn’t know how to market his philosophy degree to nonphilosophy-related employers? What’s a philosophy major to do when all he focused on for the last three semesters was writing philosophy papers, reading hundreds of pages worth of philosophy material each week and working a part-time job as a barista but failed to realize there isn’t a sustainable philosophy career path that doesn’t require him to add onto his five figure debt?

It baffles me that colleges aren’t required to truly help students asses

  • possible career options based on desired majors,
  • various pros and cons to a students interested major(s) and
  • provide internship opportunities to students while they are attending school, so that students can test those learned skills colleges claim they help students hone.

Generally speaking, college students areyou’d adults who may name have the support and (both emotional and financial) to make decisions that would truly benefit them in the long run.
We’re told a college degree will benefit students, but what’s so beneficial about working a non skilled job at a wage that can barely begin to pay off the student incurred during ones college career? What’s so great about being in debt for the rest of your life and not doing what you love, say expanding on philosophical theorys, because you need a job that will allow you to start paying off the lifetime of debt, live and save for the future?

How is it fair that we tell our kids that a college degree is a great accomplishment that will make them successful but we don’t clarify which degrees have the potential to alleviate some of the financial burden that schools leave you with? Students aren’t informed about what their potential employers are looking for in a candidate and therefore can’t act accordingly. What is happening in colleges that students can’t find jobs that can help them both follow their passion and survive? I think colleges aren’t realistic about job prospects for their many degrees. Schools spend so much time and effort to get students to go to their institutions, pay their high tuition and fees, but don’t really help students make sound decisions about what to do with their degrees. We live in a society that thinks it’s okay for schools to boast about their hundreds of degree offerings and not warn kids about how it makes no financial (as opposed to social) sense to study most of them, if the student is expecting a financial return on their education investment.

Schools need to be honest and say, “I’m really selling you an experience, one that will more likely than not leave you in financial straits depending on whether you’ve chosen to study (and excel) in a tech-related major or not.”

Colleges must do more to assist students on the real value of their degree and debt realities. If they don’t, colleges will only continue to deeper the income inequality gap. For institutions that claim to be a positive force in society, it be wrong to say that further, more thoughtful and more individualized development is not their problem. Folks who think that this kind of development should not fall on colleges’ laps probably also see nothing wrong with for-profit schools.

Wouldn’t it be nice for schools to adjust tuition based on a students projected income?…I need to think this out some more.

I’m also trying to reimagine the role of the professor. Should professors be vocal about career prospects when they are in direct conversation with the folks who are using their field of expertise, as a starting point? More on that in a later post.
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Most Likely to Succeed – The H.S./College Contradiction

Slowly reading through Most Likely to Succeed and came across a point similar to something I argued in a post I wrote two years ago. I made the argument that students should take at least one thorough economics course in high school. Thinking back on it, I think every high school student should take at least two economics courses, but I digress. Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner expand on the-necessary-courses-in-high-school-debate by saying that it is more imperative, useful and practical to take finance literacy and civics courses, than it is to take years of, say, Earth Science.

The point I was trying to make then, and the point they’re trying to make now, is that these courses actually speak to our goal of making students better citizens. We get lost in the need to make young adults “college ready” that we forget to make them informed citizens. These courses, more than me struggling my way through Spanish from 7th grade until my sophomore year of college, would prove to be far more beneficial. Without speaking Spanish, I’ve managed to become a college graduate with a great job, but I’m also trying relearn both the election process and prepare my taxes for the upcoming tax season. I was taught the election process during a couple of lesson plans in both middle school and high school but quickly forgot it after everything else I studied since then. I never learned much about taxes (except for the fact that we all must pay them!). I went to a good college in New York City and the only thing we had close to a financial literacy class was 2 hour-long financial literacy lectures at the end of my senior year, when I was working hard to graduate with a high GPA. It should have been a required course that one takes in your Junior or Senior year.

I’m reading other ed policy content and have a little less than 2/3 of the book to read. But, so far, if I’ve taken anything away from this book, it’s that high schools and colleges need to care more about economics, financial literacy and civics. These educational institutions are currently doing a gross injustice against their students.

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Most Likely to Succeed – The H.S./College Contradiction

Slowly reading through Most Likely to Succeed and came across a point similar to something I argued in a post I wrote two years ago. I made the argument that students should take at least one thorough economics course in high school. Thinking back on it, I think every high school student should take at least two economics courses, but I digress. Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner expand on the-necessary-courses-in-high-school-debate by saying that it is more imperative, useful and practical to take finance literacy and civics courses, than it is to take years of, say, Earth Science.

The point I was trying to make then, and the point they’re trying to make now, is that these courses actually speak to our goal of making students better citizens. We get lost in the need to make young adults “college ready” that we forget to make them informed citizens. These courses, more than me struggling my way through Spanish from 7th grade until my sophomore year of college, would prove to be far more beneficial. Without speaking Spanish, I’ve managed to become a college graduate with a great job, but I’m also trying relearn both the election process and prepare my taxes for the upcoming tax season. I was taught the election process during a couple of lesson plans in both middle school and high school but quickly forgot it after everything else I studied since then. I never learned about taxes (except for the fact that we all must pay them!). I went to a good college in New York City and the only thing we had close to a financial literacy class was 2 hour-long financial literacy lectures at the end of my senior year, when I was working hard to graduate with a high GPA. It should have been a required course that you take an your Junior or Senior year.

I’m reading other ed policy content and have a little less than 2/3 of the book to read. But, so far, if I’ve taken anything away from this books, it’s that high schools and colleges need care more about economics, financial literacy and civics. These educational institutions are currently doing a gross injustice against their students.

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Looking Into Statistics Courses

I didn’t take a statistics class in college but think I will take a course in Fall 2016. Hopefully this will help with ed policy grad school applications, but I’ll need it for Ed Policy-related research I’d like to do, regardless if I apply to graduate or not.

Most Likely to Succeed – On The Need For The Quadratic Equation

One thing I like about Most Likely to Succeed is the authors’ challenging of some the traditional yet mudane requirements of school, particularly high school curriculum. Students spend countless  hours, days and/ weeks, trying to memorize hundreds of words and solve complex and complicated math problems for the SAT.  Colleges think that this is a testimony of how successful a studnet would be at their institution. College Board and colleges pay no mind to whether the information is useful or not. I think it maybe good for some students, who want and like that level of technical knowledge because, perhaps they want to pursue a career as a mathematician. But, for someone like me, I hated my pre-calculus class. Generally speaking, I never cared too much for math and while I think students should be exposed to all that is out their, I would have preferred to have not been judged by my inability to command something-a-little-more-than-basic-level geometry and algebra. I majored in English, loved my Economics and Theology courses and wrote for my school’s newspaper. I read 2-3 books a month and read countless articles in that time period. I hardly (if ever) use anything beyond simple equations. My livelihood doesn’t depend on anything beyond that. I’d like to go to graduate school for Ed Policy, so I’m studying for the GRE studying. The math portion is very similar to tge SAT. GRE I’ve looked at some of the content  to cover in preparation for the SAT, and all I do is look as the words o problems and think to myself, “Oh, that looks familiar.” But I couldn’t recall any of it…I hadn’t used it since high school (my college required one math or computer science class; I opted for the near mathless computer science class). 

I’m happy with my non math-related job, a feeling I didn’t feel when I was forcing myself to remeber the volume of a cylinder, which is V = Pi(r^2)(h).

Dintersmith and Wagner try to re-imagine the time spent on complex math problems and needless never-used-again SAT words. If could have taken a tested my mastery if the most necessary math skills, while challenging my well rounded and well-read reading and writing abilities, I think I would’ve been a better individual.

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