Tag Archives: speaker

The Brown Education Department Speaker Series Presents Dana Goldstein

Last week the Brown Education Department Speaker Series concluded for the semester with its fourth and final speaker of the year. The department welcomed Dana Goldstein, a 2006 Brown graduate, journalist, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In her book, Dana Goldstein asks, “Why is teaching the most controversial profession in America?” Historically, American public school teaching developed as an explicitly working class job. Yet at the same time that we pay public school teachers poorly, police their political activity, and prevent them from influencing the curriculum, we have come to expect teachers to play a key role in the eradication of poverty and inequality.

Goldstein outlined in her presentation how many attitudes about the school reform debate are old and cyclical rather than new conversations.  Moral panic, for example, has frequently caused us to focus on who is teaching rather than addressing structural issues. The concept of data-based reform is also not new, with the idea of pay tied to performance being almost a century old. Goldstein further outlined how valuable data that is not test scores is historically ignored, even if it yields important insights, such as how school funding correlates to teacher effectiveness. The media further exacerbates issues with this conversation by incentivizing focusing on extremes rather than on how to improve the average teacher.

Ultimately, Goldstein concluded by noting the underlying issue that education reform is usually done to teachers, not with teachers, and that if we are truly going to increase the prestige and effectiveness of American public school teaching, we need to use a new strategy: conceiving of teachers as intellectuals, and allowing them to collaborate to exercise real professional discretion and leadership.

Advertisements

The Brown Education Department Speaker Series Presents Dr. Ansley Erickson

The Brown Department of Education hosted another installment of its Speaker Series last week, and was proud to feature Dr. Ansley T. Erickson, Assistant Professor of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Erickson co­-directs the collaborative and digital historical research project Educating Harlem.​ Dr. Erickson is a graduate of Brown University, class of 1995, with a B.A. in Education Studies and Political Science.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As Dr. Erickson began her talk, she remarked how the classroom where we were assembled coincidentally held special significance for her. The lecture hall was the ​location of her first Brown University Education class, taught by the legendary education reform leader Ted Sizer, the Founding Director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. We were further honored to have the late Sizer’s wife, Nancy Faust Sizer, present in the audience for Dr. Erickson’s presentation.

American schools today are starkly segregated by race and class. After a few decades of limited attention to this problem, advocates are calling for a new era of desegregation. Dr. Erickson walked the group through her research on the history of desegregation in Nashville, Tennessee, one of the longest-­running, broadest, and most statistically successful school desegregation plans in the country, and indicated how her case study could offer important lessons, and at times cautions, for desegregation efforts going forward.

Dr. Erickson pointed out various systemic roadblocks to true integration. For example, despite the new illegality of school segregation in the 1960s, it continued to be unofficially enforced by the state due to federal suburban home financing only being available to white families. Once busing was introduced, a more genuine integration began, however this still raised the moral question of if a black student’s education was “equal” if they were systemically being told that in order to receive a quality education they must be removed from their communities.

Dr. Erickson argued that fostering equality today depends on reckoning with segregation’s deep roots, desegregation’s complex history, and considering these intricate questions.

The Brown Education Department Speaker Series Presents Dr. Douglas Harris

Douglas Harris_Headshot
The Brown Education Department Speaker Series held its second installment last week, and was proud to feature Dr. Douglas Harris, a Professor of Economics, the Schleider Foundation Chair in Public Education, and founder and Director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans (ERA-New Orleans) at Tulane University.

Dr. Harris delivered a presentation to the Department entitled “Taken by Storm: The Post-Katrina New Orleans School Reforms and their Effects on Students“. The school reforms put in place in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina represent the most intensive test-based and market-based school accountability system ever created in the United States. Collective bargaining ended, school choice expanded, and nearly all public schools were taken over by the state. Now ten years later, Harris’s study is providing New Orleans with the first examination of the effects of this package of reforms on student achievement.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Harris walked Education Department faculty and students through his research step by step, showing that even when controlling the data for other influences, over time the reformed system of schools had clear, statistically significant positive effects on student outcomes.  Despite these encouraging initial results, Harris cautioned that this extreme overhaul approach may not be generalizable to other geographic locations, but was only successful in New Orleans due to a specific combination of circumstances, such as population characteristics and the rapid influx of passionate teachers to the area post-Katrina.

The Brown Education Department Speaker Series Presents Dr. Luther Spoehr

The Brown Education Department Speaker Series kicked off this week, and was proud to feature Dr. Luther Spoehr, a Senior Lecturer in Education and History at Brown University, and the Director of Brown Undergraduate Studies. Spoehr’s main activities at Brown involve teaching about the history of American higher education and the history of American school reform. His First-Year Seminar, “Campus on Fire,” looks at American colleges and universities in the 1960s. Other courses include a survey of the history of American higher education, the history of intercollegiate athletics, and the history of academic freedom. Dr. Spoehr also does work on best practices in the teaching of history and frequently consults with schools and school systems that want to improve their history teaching.

This Wednesday, Dr. Spoehr delivered a presentation to the Department of Education entitled “Francis and Ira’s (Sometimes) Excellent Adventures: Wayland, Magaziner, and Curriculum Reform at Brown,” a talk outlining the research Spoehr has conducted into Brown’s curriculum journey since the University’s founding in 1764.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dr. Spoehr began by discussing the University’s roots as a small school of approximately 80 male students, being taught Latin and the classics by a single professor, and then touched upon the (at the time) outlandish reforms implemented by President Francis Wayland in the 1800’s, allowing for modern languages and practical skills such as agriculture, and science and chemistry applied to the arts.  These reforms were considered a failure initially, supposedly attracting a lower caliber of students, but today are frequently sited as being “ahead of their time”.

Brown University’s “New Curriculum” of no required core curriculum or distribution requirements was not born until the 1960’s, when student activists led by undergraduate Ira Magaziner (whom Dr. Spoehr has had the privilege of interviewing for his research) pushed for more engaging and utilitarian courses.  Elements of Magaziner’s New Curriculum exist to this day at Brown University, and current faculty in the audience remarked that it is because of the lack of requirements at Brown that they can be sure that when they walk into a classroom, their students want to be there.

The UEP Speaker Series Presents Dr. Andrew Ho and Dr. Maia Cucchiara

With Brown’s spring semester officially under way, the Urban Education Policy Program was eager to resume its UEP Speaker Series!  Over the past two weeks, we proudly hosted two bright and engaging speakers at our campus – Dr. Andrew Ho and Dr. Maia Cucchiara:

Dr. Andrew Ho is a Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School Andrew Ho Headshotof Education. He is a psychometrician who studies test-based educational accountability metrics, and is also the chair of the HarvardX Research Committee that oversees research in Harvard University’s open online courses. His recent projects described bias in proficiency-based trends, developed robust achievement gap measures, and clarified the outcomes of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Drawing on his research on MOOCs, Dr. Ho delivered a presentation “HarvardX and MITx Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Outcomes from 2 years, 64 courses, and 1.5 million participants” to the UEP cohort.  MOOCs, online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web, were the subject of media hype only a few years ago and promised to be “disruptive” to traditional education.  Now with several years’ worth of data to look at, researchers such as Dr. Ho are beginning to understand the challenges and complexities that come with trying to measure MOOCs’ actual effects on education and learning.

Dr. Ho’s (only somewhat) tongue-in-cheek rules for analyzing MOOCs “Rule #1: Know your numerator.  Rule #2: Know your denominator”, alluded to the fact that when dealing with literally millions of participants, changing your definitions can radically change your outcomes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 



Dr. Maia Cucchiara
is an Associate Professor of Urban Education at Temple Maia HeadshotUniversity. She holds a joint Ph.D. in Education and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and applies a sociological lens to questions of urban education policy and practice. Maia studies school reform and its implications for equity and civic capacity. In particular, she is interested in the intersection between social policies, race, class, and the lived experiences of people targeted by policy initiatives.

Drawing on her ethnographic research of a public school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Cucchiara wrote her Ph.D. dissertation and published a book entitled “Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities“.

Dr. Cucchiara’s book and presentation to UEP students focused on the Center City Schools Initiative: a marketing and rebranding campaign that took place in the early 2000’s in public, city center schools of Philadelphia.  The goal of the initiative was to improve public schools by getting more middle class students to attend Center City Schools, therefore increasing these schools’ tax base.  Dr. Cucchiara’s study involved interviewing hundreds of community stakeholders, and attending PTO and community meetings over a number of years.  Those interested in exploring the full conclusions of her important work should consider reading her book.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The UEP program is so grateful that Dr. Ho and Dr. Cucchiara were able to visit Brown for our spring installment of the Speaker Series.  Thank you both for your insightful and fascinating presentations!

The UEP Speaker Series Presents Dr. Stella Flores

StellaLast week, the Urban Education Policy Speaker Series was proud to feature its second presenter of the semester, Dr. Stella Flores, an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Dr. Flores has served as a program evaluator for the U.S. General Accountability Office, a program specialist for the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and a policy researcher for the Texas State Legislature and various city governments in Texas.

Drawing on her research on the impact of state and federal policies on college access and completion for low income and underrepresented populations, Dr. Flores delivered a presentation titled “Do English Language Learners Go to College? An Examination of Long­-Term Educational Trajectories”, which explored the impact of interventions, such as participation in ELL programs, on student outcomes like high school graduation and college attendance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UEP students were enthusiastic for the opportunity to hear Dr. Flores speak about her research. Current student Kirsten Schmitz remarked that “UEP students take Quantitative Research Methods and Data Analysis our first semester, and so Dr. Flores’ presentation was especially well-timed. It was empowering to engage with her data on a higher level, drawing on the skill set we’ve developed in class and applying it to her findings around English Language Learners and college access.”

While engaging, the presentation also illuminated another side of education research and analysis: that the data encountered in the real world is not as neat or complete as the problems practiced in a classroom setting.  UEP student Mateus Baptista noted that Dr. Flores’s work highlighted “the clear limitations of data sets and how researchers can only work with what they are given.” For instance, no data was available to Dr. Flores on students’ parents’ education levels, a factor which clearly may have some influence on student outcomes. These limitations served as a welcome reminder of the realities of education practice and research.

The UEP program is so grateful that Dr. Flores was able to visit Brown for the second installment of the Speaker Series, and looks forward to resuming in the Spring semester with new presentations!