If you haven’t already met 15-year-old Kelvin Doe, it’s time. The kid will no doubt be a household name in the U.S. within a decade.
For now, the tech prodigy lives in Sierra Leone, where he built an FM transmitter, from refuse and scrap metal, to relay the news texted in from his community (and to moonlight as DJ Focus). He also built his own generator to power that station. (more…)
The number of foreign citizens earning science-related doctorates in the U.S. has nearly doubled over the last 40 years, according to a new report.
The National Science Foundation looked at research doctorates in science, engineering, and health (SEH). In the 1960s, around 17 percent of these U.S. doctorates were earned by foreign citizens. By 2010, that number jumped to 40 percent.
About a quarter of recent graduates said they intended to look for work outside the U.S. But in one data point from 2008′s Survey of Doctoral Recipients, a full 96.6 percent of foreign citizen graduates reported living or working in the States.
Udemy has been gaining visibility and traction via Facebook Deals, but now it’s time for the online video education site to show and prove.
The latest version of its course-creation site focuses on tools for instructors, who are often experts in their field, but may not have much of a background in instruments of pedagogy. Udemy’s latest iteration acknowledges that online course instructors are essentially a one-man or woman operation, and that as the space becomes more crowded, the sell is just as important as the lesson plan. (more…)
Two years ago Breyana Scales says she was stuck between a dead end job painting kids’ faces at a theme park while trying to get through college. The balancing act proved to be hard for her. “If I had to work a lot I wouldn’t be able to do homework and if I had to go to school and do homework I wouldn’t be able to afford rent,” she said.
Today however, 23-year-old Scales has a job she loves at the San Francisco based video game company Zynga, the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of tech companies. I’m talking arcades, themed kitchens on every floor, and a giant light-up tunnel at the entrance. Her offices are enough to make me lose my composure.
Recently the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, announced a new immigration policy that will stop deportations of people under the age of 30 who came to the United States as children younger than 16. In addition, young people in this category could be eligible for temporary status. The news sparked a lot of questions about what this new policy would mean for young people, and who qualifies. To help understand the details of DHS’s immigration plan, we reached out to Abigail Trillin, managing attorney at Legal Services for Children in San Francisco.
Youth Radio: Can you give me the main headlines young people should know about this change in immigration policy for people who came to the U-S as children?
Abigail Trillin: This policy may provide temporary help. A lot of the details are not clear yet. You should consult an attorney before doing anything.
YR: Who will qualify for status under this new policy? Do you have to be currently in school or the military? How will you be able to prove the age you came to the U-S?
AT: All the requirements are in the memo (released by DHS this week.) My guess is you will need to show things like school records to prove length of time in U-S.
The following criteria should be satisfied before an individual is considered for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion pursuant to this memorandum:
•came to the United States under the age of sixteen
•has continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and is present in the United States on the date ofthis memorandum;
•is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces ofthe United States;
•has not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety; and
“Be data driven, not data drowning,” is the slogan for Kickboard for Teachers – an educational software, designed to help teachers and administrators collect data regarding their students’ academic and behavioral performance in one place.
Data is the name of the game in American education today — in fact, Jennifer Medbery, the creator of Kickboard, was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House. She is a former high school math teacher and Teach for America corps member. Many of the people on the Kickboard team are former teachers as well. The software was introduced in 2009, and is currently in a closed beta phase for individual teachers.
The software allows teachers to record academic and behavior-related data in one place, and share it with other teachers and administrators who have a stake in student performance. Teachers and school leaders can keep track of good and bad behaviors like being tardy, not wearing a uniform, answering a difficult question and turning in homework. It functions as an online gradebook as well.
But the data go a level deeper than grades, according to Stew Stout, the Marketing Outreach Manager for Kickboard, also a former teacher.
“One of the things I always struggled with as a teacher was, ‘What does a grade mean?’ So if I’m looking at a test and a student got a 75 or an 80, that doesn’t really tell me a lot. But in Kickboard we take the data one level deeper. Every question that a student answers that’s been recorded in Kickboard is based on a skill or a standard that a teacher is teaching… When you put that level of granularity you can really plan effectively. My students did well on this standard, and didn’t do well on this one. I’m going to prioritize what they didn’t do well on,” said Stout.
Kickboard claims that it can improve school culture, which seems like a trickier thing to prove. Stout says because Kickboard data allows all teachers to keep track of the same behaviors, school leaders can ideally identify and address the behaviors that happen most frequently.
“Maybe this student is acting out in three classes, but doing really well in one class. You can’t see that trend unless you have data. … School leaders can plan really purposeful professional development. ‘In this class I’m really seeing a lot of students talking out. In this other class I’m not. I’m going to connect these two teachers so they can help each other,’” said Stout.
Because Kickboard lets teachers update data in real time, and the data is attached to a particular student — not a classroom or teacher — school leaders and counselors using Kickboard can monitor student behavior around the school during the school day. If a student is having a particularly bad day, and three teachers in a row record concerning behavior for that student in their classrooms, a counselor who sees this on Kickboard could pull this student out of class and intervene. “You can intervene before a trend becomes a problem,” said Stout.
The software raises some interesting questions. Is there such thing as collecting too much data? Is a classroom still a classroom if teachers are more concerned with recording each student’s behavior than engaging with the students?
“If people are entering information, and they’re not doing anything with it, then the information is worthless. But if the data has value and it’s being used, then I think that’s great,” said Stout.
According to Stout, each teacher uses the tool differently. Kindergarten teachers that Stout has worked with do not enter behavior information until the end of the day, since their hands are full all the time. Some high school teachers who use Kickboard have iPad holsters attached to their hips, and are constantly recording behaviors. One school records over 120 specific behaviors that teachers can monitor in Kickboard.
For new teachers, or for teachers starting work at a new school, Kickboard is the equivalent of having the school handbook at your fingertips. “When a teacher signs into kickboard for the first time, the discipline logic is set up, all the consequences are there, all the behaviors are there and those behaviors that a teacher is recording — those are the same from class to class,” said Stout.
But Stout says they’re not pushing any one particular management system. “When a school signs up, they’re not choosing from a menu of behaviors they want to record, or a menu of consequences they could assign, or a menu of incentives they could give. Instead we’re giving them a tool, a framework that they can use to execute their vision,” he said.
So far, Kickboard is not sharing any quantitative results about how the program has affected student performance.
Last month, a controversial video was posted on the website XXL with Oakland rapper Too $hort offering some questionable (and not to mention illegal) advise to young boys once they “start feeling a certain way about girls.”
The video was quickly taken down, and an apology was issued from the editor of XXL as well as Too Short himself. But not before it flurry of online critique from feminists and hip hop progressives to call him on the carpet. Hip hop journalist and Turnstyle contributor Davey D writes about it at Hip Hop and Politics.
Last night (March 14th 2012) the Oakland chapter of 100 Black Men and Safe Passages, an organization from Oakland that is in the forefront of dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault, hooked up with members of the hip hop community to hold a town hall meeting inside City Hall. The topic was Misogyny, Teen Violence and the influence Rap Music has on our behavior.
What took place last night was riveting, honest, powerful and inspiring. It wasn’t a gripe session or a finger-pointing rap bashing occasion. It wasn’t an event where the hip hop and civil rights generations found themselves at odds blaming one another. Instead, what happened at the Oakland Town Hall was a community who clearly understands there are important issues at hand impacting young minds and we have to go in another direction.
However, the recent controversy around Too Short giving explicit ‘fatherly advise‘ to middle school age boys in an online video hosted by rap publication XXL had put him on the hot seat.
Short said he takes full responsibility for his actions and wanted to be part of the conversation to help rectify and repair the damage and disappointment he caused. Many felt he was candid and forthcoming with his remarks and the evening ended with him noting this is just a starting point and him appealing to other artists in the room to change direction, expand their horizons and re-define the legacy of Oakland rap.
In addition to Too Short, other key stake holders including elected officials, community activists and local artists came together with a spirit of love, a desire to heal and eager to find ways to bring about brighter tomorrows. Some of the most powerful statements came from the young survivors of rape and sexual assault who shared their perspectives and solutions.
During the meeting, Alameda County supervisor Keith Carson along with a couple of members of 100 Black men set the tone, by discussing the harrowing statistics around sexual assault. Carson noted that every couple of minutes a woman is sexually assaulted. He said over ten million kids had witnessed domestic violence and one out of five teenage girls has been assaulted. He also pointed out that since 2005 over two million boys have been sexually assaulted themselves.
Dereca Blackmon, who is part of the We Are 44% Coalition, gave a great presentation on the commodification of songs celebrating sexual abuse and degenerate behavior. Afterwards she sat down with Too Short and had a 20 minute revealing discussion about the music industry, the role artists should take in turning things around and his own personal journey to understanding some of the issues being addressed. He talked about the XXL controversy and eye-opening the conversation he had with writer Dream Hampton.
The evening concluded with a panel discussion where we heard some power statements and solutions from young activists and artists, some of who are survivors of rape, sexual assault and violence.
Here is video footage from the town hall meeting with Too Short:
The New York State Department of Education recently released Teacher Data Reports (TDRs) to the media, reports that rate teachers based on the growth that their students have shown on state standardized tests. This “value-added” analysis is being incorporated into teacher evaluations all over the country, and creating controversy about how much of a teacher’s performance can be captured by test results. In New York, a teacher’s value-added score is 40 percent of their evaluation.
After the reports were released in the New York Times, the New York Post picked out Pascale Mauclaire — a sixth grade teacher at P.S. 11 — and called her the worst teacher in New York. They hounded her and her family for interviews until she had to call the police.
The funny thing is, Mauclaire’s students, fellow teachers and principal, vouch for her as one of the best educators at their school.
Stories like Mauclaire’s are popping up all over New York. The New York Times published an article about a school in Brooklyn where fifth grade teachers go above and beyond what is required of them, but whose data reports do not reflect the student growth in their classrooms.
Leo Casey, is the vice president of the United Federation of Teachers, and published an article in EdWize titled, “The True Story of Pascale Mauclaire.” The UFT fought the release of the data in the first place because they said the data was full of errors, and used test scores that were two years old.
Listen to a conversation with Casey above, and tell us what you think about releasing TDRs to the media.
On Tuesday, the U.S. department of Education will release new data about school discipline. According to a preview of the results in the New York Times, black students are three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled as their white peers.
The data was collected from the 2009 – 2010 school year, from 72,000 schools around the country, and covered kindergarten through high school-aged students. The data is part of a federal effort to address and problem solve around the “school-to-prison” pipeline, and the connection between getting in trouble at school and dropping out or being incarcerated at a young age. The data shows that the “pipeline” is disproportionately affecting students of color. The Times reports that over 70 percent of school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement were for Hispanic and black students.
Diana Tate Vermiere of the ACLU of Northern California spoke with us earlier this week about exclusionary school discipline practices saying, “We’re talking about the citizens of today and tomorrow. We need to be developing them, bringing them along and ensuring that they have access to education. The overuse of discipline that excludes them from school, that alienates them from school – leads to higher rates of dropout or push-out of school, is denying them their fundamental right to an education. It is most certainly a civil rights issue of today, of the past, and frankly of the future.”
Kavon Jones, 18, goes to Envision High School in Oakland, CA, and is no stranger to school discipline. He said he was in detention three to four times a week, every week during high school, but said he was too stubborn to change his behavior. A detention at his school could quickly progress into more exclusionary punishment. “If you didn’t go to detention, say if you got 30 minutes and you didn’t go– it turns into an hour, and after you miss that hour, you get a referral. And when you get three referrals, it results in a suspension for three days,” he explained.
An organization taking a closer look at these issues is the Advancement Project, a nonpartisan, civil rights organization that focuses on issues related to the school-to-prison pipeline. They connect the escalation of suspensions and expulsions to the high-stakes testing movement and the implementation of No Child Left Behind.
In a report called, “Test, Punish and Push Out,” the Advancement Project says that there were almost 250,000 more students suspended in 2006 – 2007 than there were four years previous, when NCLB was signed into law, and during that time, expulsions increased 15 percent.
The report explains:
Because of the focus on test scores and the severe consequences attached to them, if a student acts up in class, it is no longer in educators’ self-interest to address it by assessing the student’s unmet needs or treating the incident as a “teachable moment.” It is much easier and more “efficient” to simply remove the child from class through punitive disciplinary measures and focus on the remaining students.
Stay tuned for more coverage of school discipline in the U.S. and what young people have to say about it.
Alexi Nunn Freeman, a lawyer for the Advancement Project, told us a storyabout five year-old Ja’eisha Scott who was arrested by the police in her kindergarten classroom for having a temper tantrum. This sounds extreme; but according to Freeman, it is part of a recent national trend.
The Advancement Project is a non-profit civil rights action group that has been following the emergence of a school-to-prison pipeline, and specifically, the impact of zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools. Freeman explains that in the 1980’s, practices meant for the war on drugs were adopted in schools as well, resulting in the criminalization of minor classroom misbehavior.
Check out an excerpt of the interview below.
Turnstyle: What are the trends you have seen over the past few decades in the use of discipline in schools? What’s the reason for the increase in discipline in schools?
Freeman: School discipline policies are directly related to the war on drugs that was going on in the 1980’s. Practices and policies that we were implementing on drug laws have really taken stance in the schools.
Things like having mandatory minimum sentencing laws, or having three strikes and you’re out, or the idea of aggressively policing minor offenses — these are things that were happening as a result of the war on drugs and we were implementing these processes in schools. When this started happening we really noticed a direct effect on young people; the schoolyard scuffle, or the talking back to a teacher, would now be classified as assault or as disorderly conduct, and that would result in students being arrested or suspended.
Turnstyle: How have policies changed?
Freeman: Back in the day when I was in school, [things like talking back to a teacher] weren’t appropriate for the schoool environment, but they resulted in a trip to principal’s office, or a call home. But now, they’re resulting in extended time out of school, and in the worst cases actually being arrested for these types of things. This has ballooned over the last ten years.
We also noticed these policies are implemented in many districts [and] are often very much implemented in urban districts that have with high populations of low-income students, and high populations of students of color. So you notice that the impact of these policies disproportionately affects these students. The policies also make their way into other schools as well, but again, students of color, students with disabilities and now LGBTQ students, are disproportionately affected.
Turnstyle: In schools, are you seeing a backlash against these more punitive approaches, and trying to reverse this pattern?
Freeman: In the last couple years there has been some great community push-back and changes in policy. We were not allowing students to make mistakes and were harshly and swiftly punishing students instead of getting to the root of the problem and figuring out how can we prevent this stuff from happening again … We were responding with exclusionary policies and practices.
Turnstyle: Can you give us an example?
Freeman: In Baltimore in 2008 – 2009, we worked with the district to revise their policy. They had an exorbitant number of out of school suspensions. Out of school suspensions were used more than anything else, rather than in-school suspension, rather than parent-teacher conferences. It was [being used] for things like classroom disruption, defiance, or not obeying school policy — very subjective offenses.
But when we worked with them to revise their policy and focus more on effective prevention and intervention strategies, focused on keeping students in the school, the [policy revision] had dramatic results. Over five years, out of school suspensions have gone from over 26,000 to under 10,000. At the same time, their graduation rates have reached record highs. Baltimore is a district that has a high population of black students, so we’re really having an impact on young black males, which is a population that is often disproportionately affected.