All Students Can Learn And Should Be Presented The Opportunity To Learn

The current reform movement in the United States began in the 1990s and has manifested itself as a standards movement. It is a movement to establish state and national frameworks, to which local school districts are encouraged to link their efforts to implement local standards. The linchpin that holds together the standards framework is that they are rigorous; voluntary, in that states and localities decide whether or not to use them; and flexible, in that states and localities can decide which strategies are best for their own schools. Today, virtually every state in the nation has gone about the business of articulating standards, revising curricular offerings, and developing assessments to measure whether the standards are being met. At the national level, initiatives by the federal government and national organizations have been joined in an effort to produce a comprehensive and coherent standards movement. Currently, many national professional organizations have developed or are in the process of developing national standards for their particular subject areas. States have connected to these efforts on numerous fronts. The current movement has focused primarily on three types of standards: 1) content or curriculum standards; 2) performance or accountability standards; and 3) capacity or delivery standards (also referred to as opportunity-to-learn standards). The three types of standards are linked - one will not succeed without the other two. The purpose of this paper is four-fold: First, we define "students of diverse needs and cultures" and the "standards movement." Second, we address specific initiatives of current reform efforts in progress in mathematics and science education. Third, we discuss critical issues related to the successful implementation of mathematics and science standards (i.e., teachers professional development, technological advancements, opportunity-to-learn standards, school organization, and assessments.) Fourth, we suggest references to be used as curriculum materials, how-to articles of use to teachers in the classroom, and seminal research and philosophical literature related to mathematics and science reform initiatives. Who Are Students of Diverse Needs and Cultures? American society has haltingly come to understand itself as being culturally diverse and pluralistic. Schools, public schools in particular, mirror what our society will look like in the 21st Century. The culture of schools and the capacity of teachers to implement standards and other initiatives are indispensable elements in the effort to reform mathematics and science education.

The Imperative To Re-­energize The University In Service To Society

Today, it is no secret that our colleges and universities are beset by an array of problems, new to most of us: chronic shortages of funds, coupled with soaring fees and public resistance to higher taxes; new skepticism from members of the "attentive public" about our productivity, accompanied by hard questions about research and tenure; an academic culture that appears to measure excellence by scholarly citations and the number of doctoral candidates, not minds opened or the needs of undergraduates; vigorous new competitors in the academic market, ready and eager to provide services we have ignored; and sharp conflict among faculty, administrators, and other leaders about which of these problems need immediate attention and how to address them. To add to our difficulties, one of the nation's great strengths, its cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity, has been unscrupulously used to open old wounds in our national life, encourage hostility to immigrants, and create new divisions on our campuses - in the process placing many new burdens on our institutions and the people in them. All of those challenges will be difficult to address and solve. Some may prove intractable, no matter how good our intentions. Nonetheless, university presidents and their allies - trustees, faculty leaders, the business community, and others - must point people in the right direction and make a start down the road. We have no crystal ball and we do not know what the future holds. But among the many issues deserving attention it seems to us that five lie at the heart of the task before us. 1. The Student Experience. With the value system favoring research and graduate studies firmly entrenched in American universities, undergraduates too often become at best a responsibility, at worse an afterthought. We find that observation too close to the truth for comfort. Just as we can help reinvigorate undergraduate preparation at research universities, both public and private, we can make a useful contribution by again placing the centrality of the student experience - graduate and undergraduate, full­time and part­time, traditional and non­traditional - at the top of our institutions' agendas. Polls indicate the American people place a high value on our research. They appreciate our outreach and service. But they support us because we have historically provided unprecedented access to high quality, affordable education. We cannot disappoint them in this expectation and depend on their continued goodwill.

The Struggle Between Parental Freedom And Educational Finance Monopoly

Educational finance monopoly is the radical alternative to parental freedom in education. These are opposite educational funding methods. They have to do entirely with this question: if there are tax dollars devoted to education to achieve a public good, how are those dollars actually assigned to schools? That is the question. One answer is educational finance monopoly or EFM. EFM assigns all K-12 education-dedicated tax dollars through monopolistic bureaucratic structures at state and local levels, and only to public schools. The immediate educational effects of this are twofold: the public schools sheltered by these monopolistic financing methods are deprived of the normal human incentives to excel; and parents who want to choose independent educational alternatives are forced to pay a large and often impossible financial penalty for such a choice. The penalty: paying ever-increasing taxes for the public schools and ever-increasing tuition for any alternative selected. The negative implications of those two effects are inescapable: the public schools, absent a comparative and competitive environment, tend to underproduce qualitatively; personnel and program proliferation characteristically occur; vested interests grow up around the monopoly financing structures to ensure they remain intact; political alliances form for this purpose; poor educational performance in the artificially-protected public schools becomes the (ironic) justification for increased funding, and citizens tire of such budgeting; and, in the meantime, most independent schools, often performing superlatively, are under constant financial pressure and in constant peril. An obvious alternative to EFM is to place some or all education-dedicated tax dollars in parents' hands, thus creating choice without financial penalty. Forecastable positive impacts: public schools, subject to comparison and competition under this new arrangement, will be stimulated to excel and to economize; independent options will be encouraged; citizen confidence in budgetary processes will be restored; and family integrity will be strengthened because families will actively choose their child's school, public or private, and commit themselves to the chosen schools. Such bonds flow from the "natural moral contracts" forged by free associations. It is truly true that given its automatic monopolistic characteristics and its negative impacts, there is no objective defense for EFM, just as there is no downside for parental freedom in education. But if that is true, why is there such a tortuous path to change? How do we overcome the obstacles to achieving parental freedom? How can we help people see the many steps needed in order finally to liberate America's parents? There will be beginning efforts which fall short of complete victory. But if properly understood, each of those steps will be seen as a step toward the ultimate success of parental freedom through school choice without financial penalty. The first part of the answer to the question of how to overcome the obstacles is to understand that there are long-standing, deeply entrenched, and very well-funded vested interests who want to maintain the status quo, and there are strong political liaisons formed by those vested interests to keep the status quo in place. The vested interests and their political liaisons, and their "altruistic corollaries" (PTA members, et al. who, imagining themselves to be performing a social good, align themselves with EFM), employ a variety of errant but effective arguments. The unsuspecting objects of such pseudo-arguments are the altruistic corollaries themselves and the general citizenry, vulnerable as they are to certain kinds of argumentative manipulation. And that is the second explanation for the long, arduous path to parental freedom. The first is the presence of vested interests able to employ social inertia; the second is the susceptibility of altruistic corollaries and the general citizenry to that manipulation because they are themselves weighed down by social inertia. And that is a basic point of this essay: for reasons to be developed shortly, social inertia for these purposes can be understood as creating a predisposition to be confused. When Party A thinks he has a perfect argument but finds himself unable to convince other parties of his argument, that usually means the argument was not perfect at all. Party A's position and conclusion finally might be right, but incompletely argued, explained and defended. Or, his position and conclusion might be wrong, based on erroneous factual premises or flawed logical constructions. "Back to the drawing boards" is the correct prescription under either circumstance. But sometimes one's inability to convince another party has nothing to do with imperfections in the argument. It can derive instead from the inability of the other party to receive the truth, even when it is presented compellingly. If the truth has the effect of threatening someone's self-interest, for example ('Don't talk to me about the virtues of automobiles - I manufacture buggy whips'), that someone may have great difficulty seeing, let alone embracing, the truth. We know that it is a key part of educational finance monopoly's defense against parental freedom via school choice without financial penalty. Many large and well-funded groups, educational unions and bureaucratic structures for example, have a material stake in the status quo, imagine that stake to be at risk if parental freedom breaks out, and stand fast against school choice. This is not good, this is not heroic, but it is easily understood and easily argued against. The essentially perfect argument for school choice - that it is advantageous for parents, for youth, for taxpayers, for independent schools and even for public schools when they are seen as educational providers - will not necessarily overcome the self-interest of those who imagine themselves threatened by it, but it will be compelling to any objective third parties able to look beyond the status quo and see the truth.

Improving The Quality Of Teaching In America

At a time when Americans view improving the quality of education as the most pressing issue confronting the nation, an overwhelming majority of the public considers improving the quality of teaching as the most important way to improve public education. A landmark national opinion poll shows the public strongly believes not only that quality teaching is the basic building block of better schools, but also that better teachers are the key to the American dream, particularly for the nation's most disadvantaged students. According to the poll, roughly nine out of ten Americans believe the best way to lift student achievement is to ensure a qualified teacher in every classroom. Once the issue of student safety is addressed, the public believes that providing a qualified teacher in every classroom is the most important way to improve education - not standards, textbooks, vouchers, privatization, tests, or school uniforms. The quality and caliber of teachers was chosen as having the greatest influence on student learning by more than half (56%) of the American people, a choice that was favored over establishing a system of academic standards (29%) or requiring achievement tests in core academic subjects (15%). When vouchers were pitted as a reform strategy directly against doing what it takes to put a fully qualified teacher in every classroom, the teacher quality agenda won hands down by an 85% to 15% margin. Similarly, doing what it takes to put a qualified teacher in every classroom was preferred over allowing outside for-profit companies to run schools within the public system by a commanding 86% to 14% majority. America's Teacher Recruitment Challenges The nation's teaching force is at a demographic crossroads. By 2030, schools will need to hire more than 2.5 million teachers to serve growing student enrollments and to replace the considerable number of current teachers expected to retire in coming years.

An Enhanced Right to Open Data

New and richer flows of data from organizations in the public space could enrich democracy and might improve effectiveness and efficiency. More public knowledge (one definition of "transparency") could stimulate debate about services and money, increase vigilance and arm scrutineers. But more and better data will not in and of itself bring more accountability or improve services. We must not reduce volume of information with better decision making. Data must become information: it must be grasped and absorbed. Information has then to be applied. Accountability and public satisfaction could move together in a virtuous circle, provided the public understands the data proffered; provided those releasing the data themselves understand it and its potential; provided its quality and accuracy are guaranteed. Open Data prompts questions about public capacity. The government's response to proposed changes in the school curriculum allowing many more young people aged over 16 to continue studying mathematics and stats shows the government itself accepts the public need to be better equipped. Open Data abuts the contention that those leaving education have to be better prepared to deal with data and numbers, for their own sake as employees as well as in their lives as citizens and family builders (dealing with energy tariffs, insurance, pensions and broadband offers). Open Data links with moves to improve the quantitative skills of university graduates. As important as the volume of data are presentation and "visualization", the discipline of making data more intelligible. In the jargon this means paying attention to metadata and data polishing. It puts emphasis on intermediaries to help the public make sense of data. Statisticians and academics are fond of the term "metadata". This directs attention to the explanatory material that ought to accompany data release. Another missing term is narrative. What the public want is data to tell a story about the performance of schools, crime in their area and so on. Open Data needs to look at who writes and who puts out these stories. Another key term is visualization – covering the many ways in which data, especially quantitative data, can be projected, for example exploiting the graphical resources of the web. Data release should anticipate the sense the public will make of what is presented and how they might use data. Each department and agency should subject itself to a "data challenge": is the information intelligible? Translating data into information that is fit for public consumption requires good analysis and interpretation, which is lacking in many councils. The question does not capture the dynamism and spirit of opportunity and innovation that ought to accompany data release. Departments and agencies should relish the chance to share their work (knowledge) with the public and make explicit efforts to present it in ways the public can grasp. The value for money of data release has to be denominated in terms of accomplishing the organization's wider public purpose and be accommodated in its notional or actual budget for accountability. The public tend not to distinguish whether a service provider is public, non-profit or private, though they need to know how it is paid for and how it accounts. A rule of thumb for the application of Open Data is the ratio of public support to turnover (including implicit public support): any positive figure would tip the organization into the category where Open Data applies. We want a culture in which elected representatives and service deliverers feel open data accomplishes their purposes. Open data should not become a stick with public organizations are beaten, by emphasizing the way data might be used to punish or find defects; instead, it should be celebrated as the basis for "co-producing" services and engaging the public. We need incentives and awards celebrating data release and data sharing. Instead of a (static) culture of rights, public organizations should make a dynamic commitment to data collection, handling and release. We could draw on past efforts to identify and praise organizations doing well to account for themselves in the broadest sense, including data sharing.

Conversation About Educational Opportunity in The United States

It's no secret that a debate rages across the United States about access, diversity, and affirmative action. Part of this debate involves anxiety about college costs and price. Part revolves around the nation's need to retool itself and upgrade the skills of its human resources to meet the demands of a globally competitive economy. But a major part of the debate has made university admissions policies a kind of academic, ideological, and cultural battleground in which we are asked to perform a sorting function for the larger society. All of these are troubling and difficult issues. Before taking them up, we want to make several general observations about the nature of the access problem: 1. Access to our institutions will become one of the defining domestic policy issues in coming years. It is already on the public agenda; it will become even more urgent as we move on. We must understand that the nature of the access discussion will change dramatically. For our institutions, the issues are profound. It is not simply a problem of fairness or even the distribution of limited resources. What is at stake is our very role as public universities: our institutions will find it harder to sustain themselves as a public enterprise, dependent on public support, if all elements of our society do not believe they benefit from them. Broadening access is the right thing to do in the name of fairness, and it is the right thing to do for the good of the United States. 2. We are among world leaders in providing postsecondary access, but we do not hold the top spot. 3. Some of our flagship institutions are trapped in a zero-sum game in which they are unable to offer admission to all qualified students. Public officials and our institutions must somehow find the will to provide all students with the educational opportunities for which they have prepared themselves.

Making Better Use of the Social Resources Provided to Higher Education

For at least the last twenty years, the welfare of Americans has been redistributed along the axis of educational attainment. Those with higher education are holding their own against inflation. However, those who ended their educations in high school are far worse off today than they were two decades ago. This redistribution of human welfare has occurred under both Democratic and Republican presidents, Congresses, governors and legislators. The causes are not political. These are instead signs of economic evolution. Economic systems originate in their primitive form where income and wealth are derived through exploitation of natural resources, such as mining, forestry, fisheries and agriculture. As economies grow and develop, physical capital investments add further to private and public income and wealth. Most recently, in the third stage of economic development, income and wealth are generated through investments in human capital - the minds and health of workers. Labor market data collected and published in many forms by the federal government tell a consistent and dramatic story of change in the incomes of workers with different levels of educational attainment over the last twenty years. Income is a solid measure of human welfare that at its basic level income assures that basic survival needs are met. And at a higher level, income provides access to and choices among the abundant riches available in the American experience. The story told by the labor market data reflect this economic evolution. Since the early 1980s, people who entered the labor market with a high school education or less started out at the bottom of the salary scale. In inflation-adjusted terms, their incomes have dropped sharply from where they started. Their lives have become an increasingly desperate and brutal race for survival. They are losing the race every day, little by little, taking down with them the lives of their dependents, especially their children. At one time within memory, a worker needed only to be honest and hardworking to secure for himself and his family a decent standard of living. At the other end of the educational attainment axis are people who went on to higher education and earned college degrees. They too have encountered some labor market challenges. But they entered the labor market at far higher starting salaries than did those without higher education. Moreover, their incomes have largely kept up with inflation, enabling them to maintain a lifestyle with access to and choices among the riches of the American experience. They have succeeded because they are honest, hardworking and because they are higher educated. These stories from the labor market data also tell of a growing gap in the distribution of human welfare, between those with and without postsecondary education and training. Those with education beyond high school have been pulling away from those without it for more than two decades ago. The gap is growing, and the gap is delineated by educational attainment. Very simply, the welfare of those without postsecondary education and training, has been in a free-fall for two decades, and the end of that decline is nowhere in sight. If anything, with the pace of economic change quickening, their prospects are deteriorating more rapidly than ever.