Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Soars to New Heights

The third installment of ED’s summer series Let’s Read! Let’s Move! blasted into space at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on July 23.

Secretary Arne Duncan read The Astronaut’s Handbook, by Meghan McCarthy, with chief curator of the National Air and Space Museum Peter Jakab, U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri, and Carla Hall, chef and co-host of ABC’s “The Chew.”

“A book in your hand is more powerful than any space engine,” Jakab said.

With eyes fixated on the rockets and spaceships hanging from the ceiling,  students from youth centers and schools throughout the Washington, D.C., area filed into the Space Race gallery.

Full story on the air and space museum at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Expands Innovation in Higher Education through the Experimental Sites Initiative

As part of the President and Vice President’s new actions to provide more Americans with the opportunity to acquire the skills they need for in-demand jobs, today, the Department is announcing a new round of “experimental sites” that will test certain innovative practices aimed at providing better, faster and more flexible paths to academic and career success.

“At a time when a college degree matters more than ever, we have to provide a flexible, innovative experience that can meet the needs of every American,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.  “This initiative will enable institutions to try some of their best ideas and most promising practices to provide more students with the opportunity to pursue a higher education and become equipped for success in today’s workforce.”

Full story of education experimental sites at ed.gov

Education Diplomacy: Developing Deep and Lasting Personal Relationships

Flags representing students from around the world blew gracefully in the breeze last weekend as I joined thousands to celebrate the graduation of the class of 2014 at Brown University. The image was a beautiful reminder of how much we gain from getting to know people from different countries, cultures and perspectives, and how important it is that we build deep personal relationships and connections that can bridge these differences.

Also last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s International Affairs Office hosted a policy seminar on the importance of education diplomacy, with a particular focus on the role of study abroad. We heard from an undergraduate student, a STEM teacher, an academic mobility researcher, and a university vice president. They were all passionate about their overseas experiences and the importance of broadening the availability of study abroad, to make it the norm rather than the exception.

Full story of education diplomacy at ed.gov

Making Progress on ConnectED

Today, President Obama visited Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland to announce major progress on the ConnectED initiative, designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America. ConnectED empowers teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of it, and empowers students through individualized learning and rich, digital content.

Preparing America’s students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with countries around the world relies increasingly on interactive, personalized learning experiences driven by new technology. Yet fewer than 30% of America’s schools have the broadband they need to connect to today’s technology. Under ConnectED, however, 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband by 2017. That connectivity will help transform the classroom experience for all students, regardless of income.

Full story on ConnectED at ed.gov

My Son With Special Needs Taught Me More About Education Than I Learned in 7 Years as a Teacher

I am the product of a classical education. My mother, an English teacher, and my father, an attorney, instilled in me a respect for education that I embraced in my youth, fought like hell against in my adolescence and rediscovered in adulthood. I realized my calling as a teacher while on a backpacking trip through Europe shortly after graduating college. At the time, I had $20,000 in student loan debt, a degree in English, and virtually zero career prospects upon my return from abroad (see reference to English degree). As we wandered the streets of Prague, Florence, and Paris, I found myself unable to avoid the pull of Kakfa, Dante, and Hemingway; these men had defined my understanding of these cities, and I talked Brian’s ear off about their influence on modern culture. In those moments, my desire to teach was born.

Of course, upon my return I had begun to sing a different tune and thought that I could “do better” than teach. But despite a top-notch education from The University of Texas and a set of useful skills, I couldn’t find a job. Like others from the everyone-gets-a-trophy generation, I expected the offers to come streaming in. Moreover, I was told that my college degree would be worth more than the debt I acquired to earn it. With limited options and a waning confidence, I decided to revisit the notion of teaching and applied to Texas State’s graduate program in education. I earned my teaching certificate and Master’s degree in Secondary Education two years later and entered the classroom still wet behind the ears, but passionate as all get-out. I fell into my role rather seamlessly. I found I actually enjoyed puzzling through discipline problems and, even though I had practically no idea what I was doing that first year, I loved my job.

Now, in my seventh year in the classroom, the only thing that’s changed is the expertise that comes with experience. I don’t feel like a braggart admitting that I’m good at my job. I’m not perfect, but I enjoy it and I forge relationships with my students that are real and based on a mutual respect for each other and the subject matter. Most importantly, we have a good time and we learn, read, and discuss. And I’m fortunate to teach on a campus that focuses on real education, not just test scores and school data.

Full story of a son educating his teacher at the Huffington Post

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/

Education innovation: A case study in what not to do

The $1 billion initiative by the Los Angeles public schools district to give an iPad to all 650,000 students and teachers for home use has been nothing short of a mess, plagued by poor planning and bad execution. You can read about it here. Here’s a new look at what went wrong from  Larry Cuban, a high school social studies teacher for 14 years, a district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, VA), and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. His latest book is “Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice: Change without Reform in American Education.” This post appeared on his blog.

By Larry Cuban

The rollout of iPads in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is becoming a classic case study of what not-to-do when implementing any innovation whether it is high-tech or low-tech.  I wrote about the adoption of the innovation six months ago.

What is clear now is that teachers and principals were excluded from the decision-making process. The Total Cost of Operation (TCO) was a mystery to the Board of Education who made the decision. And the initial deployment of the devices was so botched that the pilot project was put on hold.  Phase 2 and the eventual distribution of devices to all LAUSD students remains to be decided once errors have been sorted out.

Full story of education innovation at the Washington Post

Changing teaching styles to match how people learn

Innovation has been a hallmark of American education since at least the time of Thomas Jefferson. The nature of that education, including who had access to it, has changed significantly during the last two centuries and continues to evolve today. The definition and achievement of educational excellence in higher education is on the cusp of potentially dramatic transformation, and the University of Iowa has become a leader in creating and assessing a number of innovative approaches to undergraduate teaching and learning.

“Innovative teaching” does not simply mean making a class more interesting or fun. In fact, the shift to new teaching strategies is founded on decades of research on how learners — of any age — learn best and for the long term. Transformational learning experiences encourage “learning by doing,” offer opportunities for collaborative learning, provide frequent, rich feedback from instructors and peers; and require students to apply and assess what they’ve learned. At UI, the shorthand for this array of approaches to teaching is “TILE: Transform Interact Learn Engage.”

Excellent teaching does not mean a wholesale shift away from lecture, which continues to be an efficient, effective and often engaging way to convey information. Iowa students benefit from a balance of learning contexts: lecture/hands-on, individual/collaborative and memorization/application.

Full story of teaching and learning at the Press Citizen

GARY DEMAREE: Educating your kids is a real education

Earlier this year, five of Indiana’s six major state-supported universities approved tuition increases for the next two years. Ball State increased 2 percent, Indiana University increased 1.75 percent, Indiana State went up 1.95 percent, Ivy Tech increased 8 percent and the University of Southern Indiana increased by 4 percent. Interestingly, Purdue’s trustees voted to freeze tuition for this year and next.

If the thought of rising tuition rates doesn’t grab the attention of every parent reading this column, just wait. The cost is heftier if you plan to send your kids to a private school. According to the College Board, the average tuition rate for a private, four-year college is up 3.7 percent over last year.

How do you plan to pay for it? There are a variety of strategies to fund college education for your kids — some better than others:

Pay as you go. This worked fine back in the early 1970s when college students like me wore long hair, bellbottoms and sandals, and Ball State tuition cost less than $1,500 per year. Back then, the tuition bill arrived in the mail, and you wrote a check. Today, however, many families don’t have the resources to pay tuition bills directly out of the household budget.

Let the kids pay for it. Sure, it helps them learn self-reliance, but what lawful part-time job pays enough to offset what it now costs to go to college? These days, it’s just not practical to expect kids to pay for college by themselves, but philosophically, it’s important for them to participate in the cost in some way. Summer jobs and part-time employment during school should be encouraged.

Full story of educating kids at The Star Press

Ending Education Reform to Reimagine What’s Possible

According to a recent PEW Research Study, 66 percent of Americans say either that the education system in this country needs to be completely rebuilt or that it requires major changes. I couldn’t agree more. In this post, I am infusing innovation research into the education reform debate. We need to ditch the agenda to reform, and shift our focus on to creating anew.

Issue #1: Innovating Education Is Different Than Innovating the Telephone

Innovation, in just about every industry, has a similar trajectory or cycle. First, a revolutionary idea is born and goes to market. Next, the industry reacts to that idea and replicates it. For instance, when Apple introduced the first iPhone we saw the entire mobile phone industry react by quickly creating their own version of a smart phone. This cycle of innovation is why phones don’t look like they did 83 years ago. However, education faces a unique challenge. A new revolutionary idea introduced in a school, no matter how great the idea, does not necessarily work in another school across the country. Ask any teacher, education administrator or student, and they will tell you this. When you try to replicate an idea from one school to another, you often will get something that feels like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Product ideas can be replicated much easier than approaches to education.

Full story of education reform at Huffington Post

Lousy Economy Is Giving Us Smarter Teachers

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, both my parents worked for either the City or the State of New York. (No, the irony of their first child becoming a libertarian columnist is not lost on any of us.) This is a rich source of lore about many areas of state and local government, but here’s one of the most interesting tidbits: Both of them report that back then, you often came across people of unusual competence and brilliance in the city bureaucracy.

Oh, sure, you also came across Inertia Man, who was determined not to stir from his chair until the time came to collect his pension. But in the 1960s, they say, there were also some really first class managers in the senior ranks of the civil service. By the 1980s, however, they had all retired.

One theory is that this is sheer nostalgia. But another theory is that this was the legacy of the Great Depression. When the whole world was going to hell, the safest place to be was a government job in a big city such as New York; at least you knew your employer wasn’t going to go out of business. The vast expansion of the government bureaucracy that took place in the 1930s made room for a lot of top candidates who probably would have gone to more lucrative jobs in the private sector, if there had been any lucrative jobs in the private sector. By the time things got back to normal, after World War II, these folks were in their thirties, maybe even pushing 40, and they stuck around for the pension rather than starting over in a private firm. It may be that one reason there was more support for government intervention during the postwar boom is that, with these folks at the top, local government really was much better at getting stuff done.

Full story of losing smarter teachers at the Bloomberg