Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scandals, Unnecessary Expenses, and $320K Kindergarten Teachers: News Roundup about Research, Schools and Higher Education

This second posting of news focuses about

  • Research 
  • Schools
  • Higher education

New from the research front: The recent announcement about a test for Alzheimer's disease is one of the first fruits of an unprecedented willingness among researchers in government, universities and industry (including pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers) to share data immediately.  This limited the amount of unnecessary duplication in research, thus allowing researchers to act on findings more quickly.  Apparently, the next area on which researchers have agreed to share data is the fight against Parkinson's disease.  Another plug for the "open" movement.  Check out the entire story at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/13/health/research/13alzheimer.html?hp=&pagewanted=all.

News about  schools

  • My former home town of Atlanta is giving high-stakes testing a whole new meaning.   Seems that the improvement in some of the public schools is too good to be believed, resulting in widely believed accusations of cheating on the standardized tests, with the superintendent of schools receiving the most of the blame.
An independent investigation has made significant inroads into clearing the superintendent of schools but that's not good enough for some.  A recent New York Times article provides an outsider's take on the situation: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/education/08atlanta.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all .
  • On a brighter note, David Leonhardt reports on an economic analysis showing that the most effective kindergarten teachers have a strong--and quantifiable--long-term effect on their students.  In one long-term study of former kindergarteners from Tennessee, the research suggests that the impact is $320,000.  Read "The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers" at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/business/economy/28leonhardt.html?src=me&ref=business for details.

(Note to teachers:  Don't expect the pay raise any time soon.)

Meanwhile, higher education is taking quite a rap in the press.

  • In his OpEd piece, Academic Bankruptcy, religion professor Mark C. Taylor explores the real cost of the high-cost, high-stakes game of competition in higher education.  I'm not sure that he gets at all of the issues driving up academic costs, but he certainly identifies some key ones.  Read the piece at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/opinion/15taylor.html?hp.  
Also check out readers’ responses to Taylor.  Most challenge his arguments based on their personal issues, rather than meaningfully extend it.  
  • But a couple of authors are asking a more fundamental question: is a college education even worth the cost.
    • Time author Ramesh Ponnuru wonders whether Society "should help more kids go to college — or that we should make it easier for people who didn't go to college to make a living?"  (Visit http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1967580,00.html for the complete argument.)
    • New York Times reporter Kristi Oloffson suggests that an oversupply of college graduates exists on the job market--an oversupply that goes beyond the current recession--and many graduates face the real possibility of not being able to replay their student loans.  Certainly some Canadian research by the WALL team at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for the Study of Education suggests that many degreed people are over-educated for the jobs they have.  Read Oloffson's article at  http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1946088,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Thanks for posting these insights, and for the informative links. Lots of good food for thought here. Regards, Lori Meyer