Posts Tagged “Education”
Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty addressed students Tuesday night in Lohrfink Auditorium about his controversial education reform.
Elected in 2006, Fenty is best known for his takeover of the D.C. public school system—bringing it directly under the mayor—and his controversial appointment of Chancellor Michelle Rhee to make the changes.
He focused on two subjects in his address: the difficulty, but necessity, of urban education reform and the role of politicians to make difficult, sometimes unpopular, decisions.
In the address, Fenty said, “School reform is the campaign to knock down any obstacles that impede every child having the opportunity to get an education.”
The former mayor praised the idealized one-room schoolhouse where teachers are both autonomous and accountable for the education of their pupils. This schoolhouse is opposed to school systems whose bureaucracies remove accountability and stifle creativity, according to Fenty.
In his education campaign, Fenty said he ran into two major obstacles. First, he needed to remove school boards as the governing bodies.
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On Friday afternoon at Georgetown’s Hardy Middle School, D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee proved speculations that she would remove the well-liked Principal Patrick Pope from his post to be correct. The Washington Post‘s Bill Turque reported that before a roomful of incensed parents, Rhee announced that Pope would be leaving after this school year to plan a new magnet middle school for the arts.
Parents were outraged, Turque said, and for two hours, accused Rhee of trying to make the school more attractive to families of children at local, white “feeder schools,” which she has held meetings with over the past two years, at the expense of the school’s fine arts reputation.
On Monday, Jonetta Rose Barras seconded the accusations in her Examiner column:
“The recession, a new building and an education reform movement have merged to renew interest in Hardy among white residents. That’s a good thing. Problem is, they favor a traditional academic program and a principal who advocates that model. Hardy and Pope don’t fit that bill.”
Georgetown Metropolitan writes that after Rhee left, the Councilmember from Ward 7 Yvette Alexander told the audience gathered in the school cafeteria, “We’ve got to get rid of Fenty. And Rhee. And you can quote me on that!”
“Pope will be replaced this summer by Dana L. Nerenberg, principal of nearby Hyde-Addison Elementary, who will run both schools as a unified pre-kindergarten through eighth grade program,” Turque wrote.
He gave a speech thanking the audience for their encouragement without saying whether or not he had been forced out.
Photo taken from Flickr user David Clow – Maryland under a Creative Commons license.
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Hardy Middle School
Michelle Rhee, the gung-ho, tenure-terminating, union-hated D.C. school chancellor, has more or less left schools in the Georgetown neighborhood alone.
In October, however, a Northwest Current article reported that she planned to make a “major announcement” regarding the local Hardy Middle School.
Parents of children there quickly grew nervous, not least of all because they understood one of her comments, that she wanted to “turn” the school, which is 70 percent black and draws from around the District, to mean that she wanted to make the school more attractive to local white children and their families.
After much uncertainty, Rhee plans to meet with those parents tonight at 6:30 in Hardy’s auditorium. From the Washington Post:
Rhee has yet to describe her plan for Hardy, which parents strongly suspect will include the exit of long-time principal Patrick Pope and a change in the school’s visual arts and instrumental music program. Speculation about his successor is centering on Elizabeth Whisnant, currently principal of nearby Mann Elementary, one of the schools Rhee would like to see Hardy draw from.
“Your voices must be heard before Hardy’s curriculum is changed without your input!” said the flier announcing the “urgent” meeting, scheduled for 6:30 pm in the school auditorium at 1819 35th St. NW.
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Graduates from colleges in the District of Columbia have the highest level of debt in the nation, according to a report released Tuesday by The Project on Student Debt. Students in the District’s class of 2008 averaged $29,793 in debt, placing them ahead of students in Iowa, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire, some of the states with the highest levels of debt in the country.
The District was represented in the survey by data collected from three area private institutions: Georgetown University, George Washington University, and American University. At the same time, a (relatively) small proportion of D.C. students—49 percent—reported having debt, making them 40th in the country in this statistic.
Although Georgetown and George Washington appear annually on lists of the most expensive schools in the country, American University students reported having both the region’s highest average debt ($34,213) and the highest proportion of students with debt (56 percent). Debt for Georgetown University and George Washington graduates averaged $23,333 and $30,817 respectively.
Adding to the financial hardship for recent graduates, unemployment among college graduates rose to 10.6 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2008, the highest percentage on record.
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As anyone who has ever applied for financial aid knows, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is not exactly user-friendly. With up to 153 questions, FAFSA is a confusing inconvenience for families that are financially literate and a huge stumbling block to claiming Federal aid for families that aren’t (a study by the American Council on Education showed that in the there are approximately 1.5 million students who are eligible for Pell grants but didn’t apply).
The FAFSA’s strangling effect on financial aid applications could be coming to an end, though. Yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the Obama administration’s plans for simplifying the FAFSA process.
Twenty percent of the questions will be eliminated (mostly removing redundancies) and the number of web pages you’ll have to go through to complete the form will be cut in half. They are also looking into a way to allow families to automatically fill in the information they’ve already submitted to the IRS.
The changes should be made in time for the next round of FAFSA applications in January 2010.
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Perhaps not 100% reliable
The world of Higher Education has been in a tizzy lately over a couple allegations of ranking rigging. I know what you’re thinking: ‘What? The U.S. News & World Report college ranking system isn’t a pristine, uncorrupted process that results in a completely accurate, objectively true portrait of how colleges and universities stack up? Preposterous!’ But that’s what some are claiming…
A couple of weeks ago at the annual forum of the Association of Institutional Research, Catherine Watt, a former institutional researcher for Clemson University, gave a startlingly frank talk about what Clemson had done to improve its U.S. News & World Report ranking. When James F. Barker took over as President of Clemson in 2001, he publicly vowed to make it a top 20 public research university—and he’s been pretty successful: they’ve sky-rocketed from 38th in 2001 to 22nd in 2008.
But according to Watt, Clemson’s success has been due to some sneaky tactics, including:
- Increasing the proportion of classes with fewer than 20 students by “manipulation around the edges”—cutting a few students from classes with 20-25 kids, but letting the enrollments of slightly larger classes to jump way up (for example, a class meant for 55 students could be bumped up to 70 students).
- Admitting students with an eye on how they’ll improve the school’s ranking, with the admissions committee reassessing the average SAT score of admitted students after every round to see if they’re on target.
- Making budgetary decisions by running “multiple definitions to figure out where we can move things around to make them look best.”
- Ranking all other programs “below average” on the reputational survey form in order to make Clemson look comparatively better.
After the jump, Clemson’s response and a second mini-scandal…
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There’s a new study out from the University of California at Irvine about sexual orientation and the college experience. The results of the the study, which is based on surveys from more than 40,000 college students, are pretty interesting.
The study showed significant differences between to college experiences of straight, gay and bisexual students. Gay males, for example, had “systematically ‘better’ experiences while in college,” reporting higher GPAs, greater involvement in student organizations, a higher likelihood of being close to a faculty member or administrator and a higher perception of academic work as important than their heterosexual counterparts.
For other sexual minorities besides gay men, the results were more “nuanced.” Bisexual females, for instance, spent less time studying, were less satisfied with their education, perceived their academic work as less important and reported fewer close friends than their straight peers. However, they also spent more time socializing and involved with student organizations and received more financial support from their families.
The study also found that gay students (particularly males), were less likely to have parents who are college educated. Gay students also saw participation in parties as less important than their peers and had higher odds of finding the arts and politics important areas of study.
Via Inside Higher Ed.
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A common gripe around pre-registration time and add/drop period is the scarcity of syllabi for Georgetown classes. Anecdotally, we all know the syllabus situation is pretty dire, but just how bad is it?
Well, Vox took a look at the Fall 2009 class schedule to see how the numbers break down, and it’s not good. Granted, classes don’t start for a few months, and the number of syllabi posted will probably (hopefully) increase a bit over the summer. But with pre-registration come and gone, it’s fair to say that this is (more or less) the level information students were presented with when we had to formulate our academic plans for the upcoming semester.
Here’s what we found:
- The vast majority of classes—917 of 1508 courses, or 60.8 percent—do not have any syllabus whatsoever. For 150 classes (9.9 percent of the classes offered for Fall 2009), the reason that there is no syllabus is that there is no professor assigned to the class yet.
- 433 classes (28.7 percent) have syllabi for past versions of the course online. While these old syllabi aren’t perfect since it’s hard to know how much the professor plans on updating the course, they at least give students some sense of what to expect from the class.
- For a 158 classes (10.5 percent), the professors have posted syllabi for Fall 2009.
The 2006-07 Intellectual Life Report noted that many students were dissatisfied with the availability and usefulness of syllabi, and called for “the dissemination of information about effective syllabus design and and assessment.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s been much progress in terms of giving students adequate information to make informed decisions about their academic futures.
A few notes about the numbers: I compiled the data by looking at all the undergraduate classes (anything with a course number under 500) that MyAccess shows for Fall 2009 except Senior Thesis seminars, labs, athletics classes and anything offered abroad (like at SFS-Q or the Villa). The numbers were found by going to the professor of each class’s faculty profile and seeing whether or not they had a syllabus for the course posted. The data was collected over the past three weeks or so.
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The American Enterprise Institute just released a study of graduation rates of four-year colleges, “Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (And Which Don’t).” The results, which are based on the percentage of students who graduate within six years, show Georgetown in good standing, but some other D.C. schools struggling.
With a 93 percent graduation rate, Georgetown is in the upper echelon of universities, tied for 16th best overall. As you can see from the graph above, we’ve also got the highest graduation rate of schools in the District by a good 15 percentage points.
Although George Washington University has the second-highest showing in D.C., when the study’s authors subdivided the schools by selectivity, GW wasn’t looking so hot. Among “Most Competitive” schools (colleges that typically admit fewer than one third of applicants and whose students have median SAT scores between 655 and 800), GW’s 78 percent graduation rate was the second worst.
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This year’s Teach for America statistics are in and Georgetown has a predictably strong showing. In addition to making the list of 15 schools where TFA is the number one employer of graduating seniors, we also made the list of 20 schools where more than five percent of the senior class applies for TFA.
According to Thomas Clark, TFA’s Recruitment Director for the D.C. Metro Area, 202 members of the Class of 2009 applied and 47 are joining TFA. That’s a 20 percent increase in applicants over last year, when 169 seniors applied.
This year saw an 11.6 percent decrease in Georgetown students’ acceptance rate to the program (of the 169 who applied last year, 59 were accepted). The decrease is probably due to the huge surge of applicants to TFA—the program saw a 43 percent increase in the number of applicants this year.
With an acceptance rate of 23.3 percent, Georgetown’s still doing significantly better than this year’s national average of 11.7 percent. As of this year, more than 270 Georgetown alumni are currently in or have completed their stint with TFA.
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