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By Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of Dwight School

I recently had the opportunity to stand center stage in the iconic Stern Auditorium where Tchaikovsky raised his baton to conduct Carnegie Hall's inaugural concert in 1891. The occasion was Dwight Schools' 2018 global concert, bringing together 340 performers from around the world.

While Dwight students have performed in Carnegie Hall for nearly two decades, this was the first time they took to the grand Perelman Stage. The majestic 2,800-seat venue hosted the largest sold-out audience of parents, faculty, staff, and alumni in Dwight's 146-year history. It was a magical event that brought our global community together, which as Chancellor celebrating my 50th year in education, was especially gratifying.

Spark of genius is an interest or passion that is unique to every student -- whatever captures the heart, head, or hand. It is our job as educators to work individually with students to tap into what excites them, opening the door to all other learning. I have dedicated my career to igniting that spark in every student and to utilizing those talents and interests to create a personalized roadmap to a meaningful future for each one. It remains my calling and mission to this day.  

I have also dedicated myself and Dwight, as a frontier IB school, to bridging boundaries and preparing students to be global leaders who can make our world a better place. That is why the cross-campus collaboration and months of extensive preparation for the concert are equally as meaningful to me as the evening itself. It takes a global village.

Last fall, students on every campus auditioned locally and our team of music directors shared audition tapes to select soloists, duettists, and ensembles for an evening's program that ran the gamut from classical, jazz, and pop to traditional Korean and Chinese music, showcasing the unique cultural contributions from each Dwight campus. After several months of preparation at their home schools, all the performers come together in New York for an intensive week-long rehearsal period during which they fine-tuned and blended their individual pieces into one glorious tapestry.

During this immersive experience, students connected with their peers from different continents, embraced each other's cultural traditions, and forged friendships that will last a lifetime, underscoring the benefits of being part of a global family of schools.

When the performers walked into Stern Auditorium on their big night, it brought back a flood of memories -- countless moments when I have been in awe of the talent, gifts, and unique sparks of genius of countless Dwight students over the years. Ultimately, my greatest legacy will be all the students who become heroes of their own journey. My story will be the collection of all of their stories -- my symphony will be the collection of all of their symphonies. #

huntergates.jpg(L-R) Bill Gates, Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, Lin-Manuel Miranda, & Melinda Gates

By Lydia Liebman

Recently, Hunter College hosted an exciting and informative Q&A with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and philanthropist power couple Bill and Melinda Gates. The lively discussion was held at the Kaye Theater at Hunter with a full house of excited students present. Hunter College president Jennifer Raab gave a glowing introduction to the event stating that their work aligns with Hunter's goals. "We believe as you do, Bill and Melinda, that society can level the playing field through education," said Raab. Miranda, a Hunter High School graduate, asked Bill and Melinda an array of questions from Hunter College students, audience members, those watching live on Facebook and even Mark Zuckerberg. Throughout the wide-ranging interview, the Gates' answered questions that ranged from personal to policy.

In the early part of the program, Ms. Gates spoke of the importance of education. She said: "...when you get a good education in the United States, it changes the trajectory of your life. We want to make sure students in this country have a chance." The Gates' focus much of their philanthropic efforts around education. They currently contribute over a half a billion dollars to this cause yearly.

In addition to their work bettering education, the Gates' are passionate about improving global health. When asked what advice he could offer to a future entrepreneur, Mr. Gates stressed the importance and necessity of innovation in science and programming. "We need better tools to cure these diseases," he said, adding that with the rising cost of healthcare, the only solution is innovation. Other questions were more specific; Ms. Gates was asked how to promote sound birth control choices in Africa without being seen as a second-wave colonialist. In her answer, Ms. Gates explained the importance of educating women about their body and choices in cultural and local contexts. She explained that the Gates Foundation works only with local partners in these communities.

Other questions focused on the future of technology. "What do you think will happen to human civilization with further development in Artifical Intelligence technology?" asked Miranda, on behalf of one of the audience members. "AI will bring us immense productivity," Gates responded before elaborating that AI will help fill in the gaps in industries that are experiencing worker shortages.

Perhaps one of the greatest surprises was a question from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. By way of a Facebook live stream, Zuckerberg asked Mr. Gates: "if you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?" Mr. Gates said, "...know that it takes many skill sets on a team to solve some problems. Smartness alone doesn't solve everything."

Bill and Melinda Gates spoke at length about the Trump administration and did not hold back their criticism of the president's proposed budget that slashes foreign aid. Mr. Gates pointed out that the biggest increase in global aid was during another Republican administration; that of President George W. Bush. Now, following a steady increase of global aid during the Obama administation, this kind of aid is, in the words of Mr. Gates, under attack. He went on to explain that even a ten percent cut would mean 5 million deaths over the next decade. Current spending for global aid is less than one percent of the entire US budget. "It makes absolutely no sense to us," said Ms. Gates of the cuts. She went on to say that stability in Africa is indeed an essential part of the America First ideology; the lowered risk of a health crisis is beneficial for Americans (and all people of the world).

The dynamic conversation at Hunter College came on the heels of the release of the Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter. In their tenth annual letter, the Gates' answered ten questions that relate to their philanthropic work and ideology.#

The 2018 Annual Letter can be read here: gatesnotes.com/2018-Annual-Letter.

By Richard Claflin

A Doctor's very first patient: The most important teacher you've probably never thought about.

Many years ago I found myself sitting in a doctor's waiting room with a sore throat. Perhaps influenced by a parenting magazine on the coffee table, suddenly an odd thought occurred to me: How do gynecologists and urologists learn to do invasive exams? Who do they practice on? Manikins? Is that even helpful? I thought, how do you practice a prostate exam? Does some unlucky patient wind up being the first attempt for a new doctor just out of school?

And...wouldn't it be awful to be that first patient?

To make a long, circuitous story very, very short, I find myself now training instructors to address that challenge. As I discovered, the problem of how to practice these sensitive exams creates a lot of anxiety for medical students, and hadn't been given much attention. I've spent the last several years committed to changing this.

Historically, it has been next to impossible to get anyone to volunteer to act as a "guinea pig" for untrained hands learning how to do the invasive, stigmatized, and emotionally complicated gynecological, urogenital, and prostate exams.

No surprise there.

Professors, understandably, won't allow their own bodies to be examined by students who need to practice. Likewise, students should not be required to practice on each other. Plastic manikins simply don't work: Their hard components don't accurately feel like the delicate structures, and manikins don't provide any immediate feedback. This is a huge drawback for a student who wants to learn how to perform these exams without hurting a patient in the process.

Some students have been made to practice on anesthetized patients. Some students still are. (Note: Always read the small print when you sign consent forms before going under general anesthesia.) To their credit, students and professors have strong moral objections to this practice...and, just like manikins, there is no feedback from an anesthetized patient.

But even if there was a willing volunteer, would that really work? There is so much emotional discomfort and social baggage involved when it comes to the private areas of the body, so much anxiety for the students, such a great possibility for injury to the volunteer, so little direction about what to say to a patient to make them comfortable, so much inconsistency in the methodology...and, aside from all that, no guarantee that an untrained volunteer will provide constructive feedback to the student. From the standpoint of a school, such a volunteer creates more problems than they solve.

The result is that many students get no hands-on training when learning to perform "bathing suit-area" exams. The thinking too often is that this whole area of instruction is too complicated, too embarrassing, too stigmatized, and too traumatizing. And therefore nothing is offered and nothing is done.

So, yes...you very well could be that first patient for a new doctor with inexperienced hands.

But there is a solution. What schools need are highly trained specialists who can instruct students as well as use their own bodies to allow students to practice the techniques. These specialists are called Gynecological Teaching Associates (GTAs) and Male Urogenital Teaching Associates (MUTAs). They are substitute professors, if you will, who teach the necessary exam skills and then also act as "patients" to guide the students as they practice those exam skills on that same instructor. Equally important, GTAs and MUTAs teach the students essential communication skills that help make the patient feel comfortable during the exam.

I didn't invent this idea; here and there schools have trained GTAs and MUTAs "in-house." But most schools don't have the wherewithal or the kinds of resources to recruit and train such high-level instructors. Most schools need an outside group to come to them with excellent GTA and MUTA instructors to provide standardized training for their students. Such outside groups have been rare or non-existent, until now. After many years of experience as a GTA, one of my current colleagues formed a company about a year ago to address this need. I quickly joined her to help develop a MUTA program and act as Managing Director and Lead Trainer for the company.

Finding instructors willing to do this was -- and is -- a challenge. Being a GTA or MUTA is hard work, physically and emotionally. In addition, there was virtually no information on how to train instructors. As we expanded our reach over the past year, I wound up having to write the only available curriculum to train MUTAs. My colleague, Isle Polonko, developed the curriculum to train GTAs. Our company, Clinical Practice Resources (ClinicalPracticeResources.com), now provides instructors to dozens of teaching hospitals, schools, and institutions throughout the country. We now have over 20 highly trained male and female instructors doing this important work, and we are the largest independent company in the world providing this kind of educational instruction. And yet, we barely feel we have scratched the surface.

The response from students and teaching institutions has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are continually getting referrals, requests to expand our program, develop new programs, and start programs in other areas of the country. There is a huge need for this kind of instruction. Over the last several years I have been invited to give presentations at international conferences by the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE), and have been invited again to give a number of presentations about my work at ASPE's annual conference this June. What started out as a random musing in my doctor's office one afternoon has certainly led me on a fascinating journey.

The most rewarding aspect of this work, though, was something I hadn't expected at all. Most of the students we teach are in the middle of medical school, and have spent their entire education up until that point immersed in books or interacting only with plastic manikins. When I teach a class, I am often the first real human "patient" they have yet to come in contact with. Students start the class filled with anxiety, terrified. By the end of my class, they are filled with confidence. This is, after all, what everything has been about for them: working with people. Because I've provided them with an anxiety-free way to conquer the scariest challenge so far in their medical training, they emerge fearless about the challenges that lay ahead for them...and excited to meet their future patients with care and empathy. It's a momentous transformation, and I am continually grateful to be a part of that accomplishment.

So, as it happens, I was wrong. For me, being that first patient for a young doctor turns out to be a wonderful experience.

For more information about his work, Richard Claflin can be reached at richardcprte@gmail.com. Or, through the website at ClinicalPracticeResources.com

By Peter A. Eden, Ph.D.

Landmark College was built on the belief that neurodiversity is a strength. The kind of neurodiversity commonly seen in our students (whether on our Vermont campus or elsewhere in the U.S. through our summer short-term programs or growing online programs) include LDs such as dyslexia, ADHD, executive function challenges, and ASD.  No longer seen as a deficit, neurodiversity is justifiably gaining long-overdue recognition across industries. Corporations are actively recruiting neurodiverse individuals, recognizing that they often have an approach to learning and problem-solving that can lead to innovation.

Landmark College has, therefore, always functioned as a "center for neurodiversity" - and today we have established a Center for Neurodiversity (CND). The CND allows us to better promulgate the research- and evidence-based practices in teaching and learning for those with an LD, and facilitates efforts to develop and apply new methodologies, technologies, and modalities for success in learning, living, and career readiness.

Among the CND's primary goals:

Thought Leadership and Social Justice: The CND will operate as a think tank, and will generate white papers and opinion pieces that shape the global conversation about neurodiversity, with input from neurodiverse individuals. To that end, author and advocate John Elder Robison - who refers to himself as "a proud Aspergian" - serves as visiting lecturer and advisor to the CND.

Innovative Programming: The CND will support research, development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of models that support neurodiverse learners in living, learning, and workplace environments.

Resource Development: The CND will build online resources to support neurodiverse individuals, parents, educators, and employers related to neurodiversity issues.

Partnership Building: The CND will facilitate dialogue and partnerships, both internally and outside campus, to create synergistic opportunities. One example is our work to soon establish Landmark College as the first Neurodiversity Hub in the United States, through partnership with DXC Technology and the Dandelion Program.

Community-Building: The CND is creating activities and events, including guest speakers on campus, to allow opportunities for neurodiverse individuals (and anyone with an interest in neurodiversity) to share perspectives and participate in action plans.

Closely related to the establishment of the CND are Landmark College's growing relationships with forward-thinking corporations such as SAP, Hasbro, and JP Morgan Chase, to name just a few, which have created new opportunities for neurodiverse individuals to bring their unique talents to the workplace. Also in line with these efforts is the College's establishment of the Landmark Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (LEAP), which, through the support of the Morgan Le Fay Dreams Foundation, awards up to $10,000 per year to Landmark College student entrepreneurs who create and then pitch business plans for novel ventures including a social justice-inspired clothing line and virtual reality software.

As neurodiversity is increasingly recognized as a strength by business leaders, Landmark College, the preeminent college for neurodiverse individuals, aims to help large companies understand the minds of people with LD, and change the way the public thinks about truly innovative educational models. In years to come, when people think of neurodiversity, they will no longer think of stigma or a deficit, but instead simply a different way of thinking and operating. Landmark College is proud to lead the way.#

Peter A. Eden, Ph.D., is president of Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.

A free 50-minute program, During the Field Trip, student reporters Maceo Carney and Mizani Ball will take viewers on a cross-country journey through documentary-style interviews with WWII survivors, giving middle and high school students the opportunity to listen to firsthand accounts from WWII Home Front worker Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest living National Park Service Ranger, and Tuskegee Airman George Hardy. Students will also have a chance to look inside two historic WWII sites - the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial and the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

"Our mission at The National WWII Museum is to tell the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world," said Chrissy Gregg, the Museum's Distance Learning Manager. "In order to fulfill this mission, we're taking education beyond our physical campus and into classrooms - a space where students may not get the opportunity to hear firsthand accounts about pivotal times in history. We are proud to host this Electronic Field Trip, especially as we look at how African Americans heroically fought to preserve freedoms abroad at a time when they did not have those freedoms here at home."

Central to the Field Trip's discussion is an examination of how throughout World War II, African Americans pursued a double victory - one over the Axis abroad and the other over discrimination at home. Major cultural, social and economic shifts amid a global conflict were changing American lives. Although President Franklin Delano Roosevelt banned discrimination against African Americans in the defense industry in 1941, segregation in the armed forces remained. Nevertheless, more than 2.5 million African Americans registered for the draft during World War II, and over 1 million served.

Broadcasting during Black History Month, the Electronic Field Trip is influenced by The National WWII Museum's signature special traveling exhibit Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II, which is currently on view at the Dallas Holocaust Museum through January 26, 2018. In addition to student reporters and WWII survivors, the Field Trip will feature Rob Citino, PhD, the Museum's Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Historian, and Damon Singleton, WDSU-TV Meteorologist and retired US Naval Commander. Both will lead a live Q&A and polling with students around the country as they discuss the vital roles African Americans played in securing our nation's freedom, and the postwar fight for equality during the Civil Rights Movement.

The Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II Electronic Field Trip is produced in partnership with the National Park Service and with generous support from Paul and DiDi Reilly in honor of Paul J Reilly, US Marine Sergeant, WWII; The Dale E. and Janice Davis Johnston Family Foundation in honor of Dr. Earle R. Davis and his service aboard the USS Tranquillity; the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation; Alan and Diane Franco; and the C. Jay Moorhead Foundation.

Additional support provided by Fabenco Founding Fathers Foundation and Anonymous.

Learn more about how your classroom can participate in the Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II Electronic Field Trip or visit www.nationalww2museum.org/electronic-field-trips. Send questions in advance to distancelearning@nationalww2museum.org.

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America's National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. The 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice® awards ranks the Museum No. 2 in the world and No. 2 in the nation. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.

 

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By Jeanette Friedman, MS, LCSW, PLLC and Harold S. Koplewicz, MD

The increasing numbers of youth succumbing to opiate overdoses has provoked a long-needed reevaluation of what many professionals now consider a developmental disorder, grossly misunderstood for decades. From this point of view, if we want to arrest the deadly crisis gripping our nation, we must begin with childhood where the earliest of signs appear.

Based on our decades of experience in child and adolescent psychiatry and addiction treatment, it is our strong belief that deaths due to opiates and other addictive drugs are largely preventable -- if we begin to identify signs in childhood and we are willing to take action.

It feels unseemly to consider a seven year old's actual risk for later opiate abuse -- but there are signs even then that can help us protect our most vulnerable and the families that are destroyed when addiction is allowed to develop. Families of the opiate crisis will report that there was usually a long and painful struggle on many fronts including disbelief and shame over how this could possibly happen to their children. Unfortunately, these fearful, close-minded attitudes we have allowed to develop are deadly and get in the way of lifesaving treatment. 

Addiction, simply put, is the result of a process set in motion in childhood. We now understand it to have myriad biological, psychological and family roots, which is why it is so difficult to treat and has been misunderstood and stigmatized as a moral failing. It is subtle, mysterious, and cunning; many recovered addicts will say it's a disease that tells you you don't have a disease. By the time we actually see it in an adolescent, intervention can be very difficult to initiate.

Waiting until adolescence is reached and we learn of a daily marijuana habit, or weekend alcohol binges, or the self-medicating child with depression or ADHD, we have missed an important developmental period when we could have intervened. Personality and environment have already influenced attitudes, relationships and lifestyle patterns that enable addiction to continue.

Compounding the problem, chronic drug use in adolescence is often neglected as a public health problem that has long term effects on the community, and trivialized as a rite of passage. The reality is that most youth who use drugs or alcohol chronically suffer from untreated psychiatric illness. When they socialize with a like-minded peer group, their choices are normalized.

So what can we do?

For many years the "gateway hypothesis" suggested that early use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana led to more addictive drugs over time.  Today, we think the progression to more addictive and lethal drugs is less about a "gateway drug" and more about risk factors and biological response to any addictive substance. Understanding which children are at risk and preventing them from initiating drug use is paramount.

Families and schools can become more skilled at recognizing early personality features that influence behavior as a child develops:

1. extreme dependency and the need to control

2. "here-and-now" thinking characterized by impatience and instant gratification

3. self-involvement that leads to poor social connections and empathy

4. difficulty with mood management and frustration tolerance

5. resistance to change leading to chronic arguing or debating

On a national scale, cultural attitudes have an impact. The attitude within our culture that avoids conflict at a high cost, that values and promotes escape, pleasure, avoidance, and distraction, that encourages intolerance for waiting, frustration, discomfort and uncertainty -- contributes to a mentality that is primed for addiction.

We must be realistic in our quest for solutions. Even as we develop more comprehensive and sophisticated approaches to prevention and treatment, they are bound to fall short for some. Dysfunction that thrives on the complexities of our home lives, our neighborhoods, the media, Big Pharma and an international illicit economy cannot be eradicated.

In the final analysis, we are all responsible for the drug addiction in our communities. There is plenty of blame to go around - from our policies on incarceration to how we avoid treatment protocols to how uneducated we remain as a nation when it comes to keeping our children -- and their brains -- healthy and safe. Yet, treatment works -- as long as we are willing to make it a priority, to accept setbacks and imperfect results, and to agree that it matters.

Francisco J. Núñez Named Musical America's 2018 Educator of the Year

Musical America has named Francisco J. Núñez, artistic director and founder of the Young People's Chorus of New York City, its 2018 Educator of the Year. Mr. Núñez is among five recipients recognized by Musical America for their artistic excellence and achievements in the arts for 2018. The others are Andris Nelsons (Artist of the Year), Mason Bates (Composer of the Year), Augustin Hadelich (Instrumentalist of the Year), and Sondra Radvanovsky (Vocalist of the Year).

Only four other individuals have previously received the organization's Educator of the Year Award. They are Dorothy Delay, Joseph W. Polisi, Vivian Perlis, and Jose Antonio Abreu.

"What the Young People's Chorus is about, for Núñez, is social engineering and community building--bringing together children of different racial, religious, and economic backgrounds, and having them bond by working for common artistic goals."

Bard Microcollege Opens in Brooklyn

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It's a thrill to announce the launch of the second Bard Microcollege, this one in partnership with Brooklyn Public Library.

What is a Bard Microcollege? Check out this morning's Wall Street Journal

Think of it as BPI, without the prison. A full-time, full-scholarship academic program culminating in a Bard associate's degree. Cost of books is covered, and classes are small, in-person seminars. The curriculum is identical to BPI's. Fantastic community-based organizations and social service agencies are referring great candidates from low-income communities who will make extraordinary, unconventional, ambitious college students. Admission begins this week and classes get underway in January, right in central Brooklyn.
The first Microcollege was established last year in Holyoke, MA in partnership with The Care Center, a remarkable community-based educational organization serving young mothers. All their students are struggling financially and have seen their educations deterred. Now, they are enrolling with Bard, at no cost, in downtown Holyoke.

These projects are possible because of the extraordinary achievements of BPI students and alumni. They are the best evidence that the way we provide college access in America is broken, that we must reimagine the opportunity, cost, and expectations associated with higher education nationwide. BPI is honored to partner with the Brooklyn Public Library in this effort to do just that.

We're off to the races and will report back soon.
Sincerely Yours, 

Max Kenner 

By Dr. Joan Baum

Concluding a heady interview about technology, including algorithmic thinking, blockchain" transactions, cybersecurity and new chip embedding, NYIT  President Hank Foley, who assumed office this past June, instinctively volunteers, "I want NYIT to be the coolest, hippest school in the New York region." He means it, he repeats it. He'd like to see the institute be even more The Place students select first because they know it's where "they can make and do things and learn the theory behind them." And, needless to say, have their education translate into rewarding careers.

President Foley, who has a Ph.D. in physical and inorganic chemistry and holds 16 patents, is already proud of the jobs record at NYIT, but he wants to advance it, and, he hopes, down the line, to build programs that can bring together the arts and technology (NYIT already has a theatre program and the president would like to see fashion addressed as well). In the meantime, he's pleased with the numbers: "over 93% of NYIT graduates find employment or go on to graduate school in tech areas, such as coding or working on web design, an amazing statistic, especially for "one of the most diverse student bodies of any institution" he's known - most first-generation, 40% female).That diversity, he says, was one of the main reasons he applied to NYIT to become its fourth president.

The president is frank about how graduate study for some tech fields may not be as necessary as it is for many physical sciences. He's also mindful about how "technology" has changed over the last 20 years, challenging faculty and students to keep current with the latest research. He cites, for example a piece he's just read in The Wall Street Journal about hackable cars (hello Jeep Cherokee) and home appliances (is your toaster connected to the Internet? )  Advances in tech have been "incredible." It's like we're in "the third chapter of Artificial Intelligence."

NYIT will continue to invest in faculty who are researchers as well as good teachers, he says. By that he means men and women who not only learn the latest applications but appreciate the cognitive principles that underlie those applications, such as "algorithmic thinking," the ability to reduce problems to a process or set of rules that constitutes the heart of problem solving operations and their variations. Deep Blue played chess differently from the way Kasparov did, he points out. The president is aware, however, of the "worrisome," even "embarrassing" trend to hire more adjuncts than tenure-track professors. Although NYIT has an approximate 50 /50 ratio, he does not hesitate to note the "exploitation" inherent in a "gig" academic economy that forces part-timers to scatter to make ends meet. 

President Foley has also thought about the kinds of courses that lend themselves to online teaching and which do not. In engineering curricula, for example, a certain amount of "knowledge transfer" can be expedited online, but for the analysis of principles, hybrid courses would better suit.  Put factual material online and then generate class discussion. He appreciates the need to start in on critical thinking in the freshman year, the importance of  "foundation" coursers that teach or enhance listening and writing skills. His overarching concern, however, is technology.  His training and professional life outside academia have been in nanotechnology research and related high-level systems, and he is pleased to note, by the way, that he has always credited graduate students who have worked with him.

Before coming to NYIT, President Foley held top administrative posts where he concentrated attention on strategic planning, economic development and advanced collaborative program development. He served as Interim Chancellor of the University of Missouri-Columbia and before that as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at MU. Prior to those positions, he was vice president for research and dean of the graduate school at The Pennsylvania State University. 

Yes, he's focused on technology, but in an April interview President Foley gave to The Box, an NYIT blog, he is quoted as saying "Never attribute to malice that which may simply be a matter of ignorance, a lack of knowledge, or under-developed social skills." The question of hacking inevitably comes up.  The president is well aware of both its "white and black hat" aspects - hackers who work to secure data for the common good and those who work as wild cards out of peeve or malice. And thus, though his "first love as an educator is in science, engineering, technology, and business," he values the humanities and the fine arts for, among other considerations, the degree to which they can infuse ethical considerations into a tech curricula. #

By John Merrow
"The more things change, the more they remain the same" is certainly applies to public education.  Today's headlines are about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her 'Rethink School' tour.  Apparently we have forgotten that in 2015 and 2016 Education Secretaries Arne Duncan and John King took their own bus tours around the country right about now. Last year's theme was 'Opportunity Across America.'  

What my new book offers is a long-range perspective: we have been 'reforming' schools for many, many years, generally without any real change...even though headlines suggest otherwise.  

A good example of a recent faux reform is the effort to raise the high school graduation rate, a signature campaign of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. During his tenure, the rate climbed from about 70% to 83%. In some cases, struggling students graduated because of tutoring and other compassionate attention, and that's a good thing. However, many other struggling students achieved passing grades because of 'Credit Recovery,' the dubious practice of putting students in front of computers for a week or so of pushing buttons, for which they could earn a full semester's credit in basic courses. Other students got diplomas because adults cheated by either helping them on standardized tests or by changing their answers post-test.  The graduation rate was also manipulated when some schools 'persuaded' struggling students to leave school to enroll in GED programs--but failed to ensure that the students actually enrolled. (We reported on this twice for the NewsHour; the first piece was nominated for the Emmy for Investigative Reporting.) When the rate jumped, reformers celebrated this accomplishment, while of course taking pains to say things like, 'The struggle isn't over and won't be over until every student graduates.'  
 
After a while, the system returns to where it was when the 'reform' effort began, and then politicians and others begin assigning blame. "It's the families," or "it's the teachers," or "it's the kids themselves...."

At the macro-level, the cumulative effect of years and years of faux 'reform' is decidedly negative: 1) a damaging pessimism about public education, 2) waves of criticism of teachers and their unions, and 3) increased national and state regulation.  However, at the local level, parents remain satisfied with the schools their children attend, even as they give the overall system a bad grade.  And just today a poll from GenForward reveals that "Majorities of Millennials give their own education an "A" or "B" grade, but the nation's public schools score lower."

This cognitive dissonance is more than a paradox.  It's problematic because only 37% of adults can name ONE basic right guaranteed by the US Constitution. Given that many Americans seem not to grasp the uniqueness of our nation, one has to wonder how strong the fabric of our democracy is today.

The solution is not more faux 'school reform' but real change.  As with all addictions, the process must begin by acknowledging our addiction to superficial (and easy) change.  There are 12 steps in all, most of which are familiar to followers of Maria Montessori, John Dewey and others.  But it's time for words, not deeds. 
For example, most Americans support pre-school, but only 43% of our 3-year-olds are enrolled, a huge contrast to the OECD average of 73%. That has to change.
Another example: we need to 'measure what we value,' instead of valuing what we can measure cheaply.  Most countries use tests to determine how students are doing. The US seems to be alone in using test scores as a way of punishing teachers.
Example: As Aristotle teaches us, 'We are what we repeatedly do.' For that simple reason, students should spend their time in school doing work that matters. Project-based learning, when students learn, fail, and learn from their mistakes together, is essential preparation for adult life.  Test-prep is not preparation for anything except taking tests.

I'm arguing that we must create schools which consider each child individually by asking, in effect, "How are you intelligent?" and not "How smart are you?"

We simply don't have enough children to go sorting them into 'winners' and 'losers' when they are 6, 7, or 8 years old.  As Willie Nelson might have sung, "There's time enough for sorting when the game is done."

During my 41 years of reporting, I've seen three major changes, only one of which is positive: 1) the inclusion and acceptance of children with special needs;  2) the resegregation of public schools after long and concerted efforts at desegregation; and 3) the rise of high-stakes testing with all of its unfortunate consequences, including widespread cheating by adults and the dumbing down of the curriculum.

(If you are wondering about technology, it is--so far--not on my list because many schools are using its unprecedented powers to attempt to stuff more facts into students' heads, instead of giving them more agency over their own education.)

On the other hand, there is hope, because, in some high schools in the last two years, 80% and even 90% of students have 'opted out' of mandated standardized tests.  Perhaps real change does begin at the bottom...
(John Merrow reported on public education for the PBS NewsHour and NPR for 41 years before retiring in late 2015.  During his career he received two George Foster Peabody Awards, the George Polk Award, and the McGraw Prize.  Addicted to Reform is his fourth book.)

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Homeroom is the place to go for quick news on what is happening in education around the world. Remember how you had to check in to homeroom for attendance and daily schedule changes in intermediate school as well as high school? Education Update has created this section...Read More

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