Education Week - January 29, 2014 - (Page 21)

of interest and regularly provided funding for programs with empty seats. Federal and state officials should replace the grant-based model with a student-based model that allocates a certain amount of funding for each child, allowing families to "carry" that money to their provider of choice. Funding would be limited to early-childhood education providers who do not charge tuition, distinguishing it from private school vouchers. To ensure equity, the student allocation formula should provide additional per-pupil funds for children whose education is more expensive, such as those who live in extreme poverty and those with disabilities. The idea behind student-based funding is built on a fairly straightforward premise that the families served by early-childhood education programs are in a better position than government bureaucrats to evaluate the quality of those programs. In this scenario, if programs were to risk losing funding because of student flight, imagine how much greater their incentive would be to win those students back. Student-based funding could eliminate wasteful spending, improve instructor professional development, encourage the adoption of innovative pedagogical and nutritional programs to attract families, and improve equity. The programs would only receive funding for students PAGE 23 > BEN ZIMMER is the executive director of the Connecticut Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research institute on state-level economic policy, education reform, and urban issues based in New Haven. DANIELLA ROHR is a fellow at the institute and a student at Yale Law School. Previously, she was a classroom teacher at Girls Prep Bronx, a K-5 charter school in the South Bronx in New York City. " What really drives impact in early-childhood education is the quality of on-theground providers." A 19th century illustration shows Martin Luther, arguably the defining figure of the Protestant Reformation, burning documents issued by the Catholic pope. Talking About a Reformation By Clarke L. Rubel A " course, depending upon whether the state offers a specific middle school certification program, includes middle with an elementary certification, or requires a single-subject credential. Teachers who are already teaching may have had no training in statistics at all. Professional development is a must, and districts should be dedicating resources to prepare teachers for understanding and teaching statistics in the spirit of the common core. Teachers, like all others, need statistical knowledge to be active participants in society. In addition, teachers need to be skilled in the pedagogy to relate statistical topics to common-core subjects, when necessary. And furthermore, with the push toward accountability and assessment in schools, teachers need to be able to understand their student test-score data in order to employ data-driven decisionmaking in their own classrooms. Being able to use and analyze test-score data is particularly meaningful to teachers because it has a direct impact on their work in the classroom. To respond to all of these issues, the American Statistical Association has summoned a group of statisticians and statistics educators, including myself, to write the Statistics Education of Teachers report. SET outlines the statistics that teachers of different grade levels need to know. For example, among other topics, high school teachers should be able to formulate statistical questions, make comparisons between distributions of variables, and understand how to quantify and explore relationships between two variables. The report, slated to come out at the end of 2014, will provide a statistics road map for teacher-preparation programs and districts that will enable students to become data-literate. It will be imperative that teacher-preparation and professional-development programs respond appropriately by expanding and adjusting curricula to address the recommendations put forth in the report. For example, teachers at all levels should have the opportunity to carry out statistical investigations by posing questions to their students and collecting the appropriate data to answer those questions, and then work with their students to analyze the data accordingly. Although teachers are overwhelmed with responsibilities and teacher-preparation programs are jam-packed with requirements, educators must respond, and respond quickly, to the lack of teacher training in statistics. Otherwise educators will remain unprepared to teach this intricate material, and their students will be inadequately prepared to navigate a data-filled world. If public education fails to respond to societal needs, student inequity will only grow. Those with more resources will find ways to ensure their children are ready to navigate a world filled with statistics, while others will be cut out of high-level jobs and opportunities, stranded on the other side of the digital and technological divide. n ANNA E. BARGAGLIOTTI is an assistant professor in the department of mathematics at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles. She is currently the principal investigator on Project-SET (Statistics Education for Teachers), which is funded by the National Science Foundation and dedicated to teacher preparation in statistics. s a rule, people do not enjoy being victims or feeling that they have been shortchanged, or fooled, or ripped off. This explains why some students and parents are troubled by the gaping flaws and inequities they see in American education. Likewise, no self-respecting educator wants to feel he or she has been complicit in perpetuating an uneven, unfair system. The educators I know (myself included) are now toiling in a system we have little confidence in, exhausted by trying to find a balance between our obligation to the machine of education and our more important loyalty to the welfare of our students. We are strapped in alongside our students, riding the pendulum of educational extremes. No wonder we so often want to throw our hands up and scream. We can, however, take some consolation in the history of social reformers who came before us. To take what might be considered an unorthodox perspective, consider the Protestant Reformation. Yes, I'm serious. The Reformation occurred in part because people felt duped by a micromanaging, deeply flawed, perhaps even underhanded, system of religion, headed by an overbearing church bureaucracy. Messing around with a person's soul is not wise, and ultimately the owners of those souls rose up once they became aware of their plight. I make the comparison between modern education and the Reformation for four main reasons: * They are analogous in terms of their spiritual importance-this is to say that education, like spirituality, is an intimate, personal, metaphysical aspect of the human experience. We should mentor our students in the art of questioning and healthy skepticism." * Both are deeply rooted in human na- ture, meaning that people have an inclination toward intellectual pursuits, as well as a drive to understand our place in the universe. * Attempts to control education and spirituality fail because there is no product to manipulate; they are intangible investments in the world of ideas. * They share dubious histories, each governed by self-serving systems, so that education and religion have become synonymous with and victims of hypocrisy, dogma, mismanagement, and arbitrary benchmarks. The revolutionary acts of the Reformation were the healthiest shake-up to occur in religious history, not because they settled anything, but because they unsettled everything. This is what we need in education today. The fundamental problem in education is that spiritual pursuits have no boundaries, no limits. Spirituality cannot be tethered or restrained. The teaching of it is governable, but the spirit itself is not. Thus, in order to systematize education, we redefined education as a subject, rather than properly regarding it as an aesthetic enterprise. We replaced epiphanies with correct answers. At this point, the pursuits of understanding and growth are quantifiable, measurable, and governable-regulated by a system in which accountability trumps relevance. The problems of modern American education are rooted in the inherent problems of systems. All systems exist to serve their own longevity, and they necessarily devolve to find their equilibrium at the level of the least capable among their constituency. No system encourages self-awareness, rewards self-reliance, or tolerates divergent innovation. This deterioration is inescapable, which is why systems occasionally need some vigorous shaking. Still, we do need systems, even in education. There is no advantage to anarchy. The answer is to own up to the beast we helped create, to share more PAGE 22 > CLARKE L. RUBEL is an English teacher at Alta Loma High School, in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. EDUCATION WEEK | January 29, 2014 | | 21 Josef Matyas Trenkwald/iStockphoto

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 29, 2014

Education Week - January 29, 2014
Ruling Raises Internet-Access Concerns
Cheating Case Implicates Phila. Educators
Graduation Disparities Loom Large
Business Groups Defend Common Standards
Report Roundup
News in Brief
Common Science Standards Are Slow to Catch On in States
Surge in Charter Schools Stirs Concerns in North Carolina
Blogs of the Week
Turnaround Program Receives Makeover In Budget Deal
Some Waiver States Feeling Common-Core Test Pinch
Needy Students, Tech Disparities at Issue
Blogs of the Week
Advocates Welcome New Federal Aid Aimed at Youngest
Collective-Bargaining Case Takes Spotlight at High Court
ANNA E. BARGAGLIOTTI: Statistics: The New ‘It’ Common-Core Subject
BEN ZIMMER & DANIELLA ROHR: Funding Students, Not Bureaucracies, For Early-Childhood Education
CLARKE L. RUBEL: Talking About a Reformation
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
LYNETTE TANNIS: Twice Punished: Education’s ‘Invisible’ Incarcerated Youths

Education Week - January 29, 2014