Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Let's get it!

Mike Chang dropped this on his twitter feed earlier today! Dope and full of inspiration!

Tightening rules on for-profit colleges

RISING STUDENT debt poses a serious problem, as do colleges that mislead students, take advantage of taxpayer-funded student aid or do a poor job of preparing students for work. But as much as we would like to believe that the Obama administration is serious about tackling these issues, we are troubled by proposed regulations that target for-profit collegeswhile largely letting the rest of higher education off the hook. The likeliest effect of the rule would be to make it more difficult for poor Americans to earn a secondary degree.
A proposal unveiled last month by the Education Department would cut off financial aid to career-oriented programs whose graduates have high student-loan debt relative to their incomes. This is the administration’s second attempt to impose the so-called gainful-employment rule. This measure was bitterly opposed by the for-
profit education sector, which successfully sued to block the first version in 2012. The regulations, also criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, are now open for public comment.
Administration officials deny they are singling out for-profit institutions, arguing that the measures tying student debt and loan default to financial aid would apply to all career-training programs. Blurred in that claim is that degree programs in the for-profit sector would have to meet the stringent new standards but degree programs offered by public and private nonprofit institutions would not.
Steve Gunderson, who heads the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, noted in a March 13 letter toEducation Secretary Arne Duncan that if the proposed debt-to-earning standards were applied across higher education, programs failing the metric would include the journalism program at Northwestern University, the law program at George Washington University and the social work program at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The for-profit education industry has come under scrutiny because of unscrupulous recruitment practices and shoddy programs at some schools. It is hard, though, to see the logic of requiring schools that serve a challenging population of poor and working-class students to meet 845 pages of cumbersome standards that even many traditional schools would be hard-pressed to meet, particularly since the wrongdoers are in the minority and new protections have already been put in place.
There are fairer and less punitive approaches to making schools accountable.Robert Silberman heads Strayer Education, which has a stellar reputation and would be able to meet the proposed standards, but, as he once told the New York Times, it would make more sense to require schools to share in the losses when students default or to establish a national eligibility test to screen out students who lack the skills to attend college. Harvard University researchers who examined for-profit programs recommended strengthening disclosure requirements or requiring counseling by an independent third party to make sure prospective students understand financial aid packages and student loan obligations.
Public comment on the draft ends May 27. Administration officials told us that they are open to all ideas and that nothing is set in stone. We hope that’s so, because the likely outcome of implementing the draft as written is that schools will admit only students who pose the least risk. That will make it harder for minorities, poor people and nontraditional students to get the kind of post-secondary education that might help them improve their lives.

Why A Diverse Teaching Force? Posted by Esther Quintero

The arguments for increasing the representation of people of color in teaching are often based around two broad rationales. First is the idea that, in a diverse, democratic society, teachers of color can serve as important role models for all children. The second idea is that teachers of color are particularly well suited to teaching students of color because they possess an inherent understanding of the culture and backgrounds of these learners.
I can think of at least two additional pro-diversity arguments that are relevant here, not only for schools but also for the broader landscape of work organizations. First, diversity can increase everyone’s sense of “fitting in” in a given setting; social belonging is a basic human need that can in turn predict a wide range of favorable outcomes. Second, diversity can do more than offer role models. Repeated exposure to male pre-K teachers or black, female high school principals can challenge and expand our thinking about who is or is not  suited to certain tasks – and even the nature of those jobs and the skills required to do them. This is important to the much broader goal of fairness and equality because it contributes to disrupting strong stereotypic associations present in our culture that too often limit opportunities for people of color and women.
As I noted the first two posts of my implicit bias series (here and here), intergroup contact is one of the best researched means of reducing explicit (here and here) and unconscious (racial, gender) bias (here and here). This post explains why and how faculty diversity can act as an institution-level “de-biasing” policy or strategy.
Stereotypes & Micro Aggressions: (More Than) “Comments That Sting”
A recent New York Times story called attention to “micro aggressions” or “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults.” The term might be relatively new, but the fundamental interactional status processes that it captures have been studied since the 1950s.*
There is a well-established body of theory and research documenting why, when and how automatic mental associations trigger unconscious behaviors that shape social situations that are often high stakes. We’ve known for a long time that women in work groups are more likely than men to be interrupted, and often report that their ideas are ignored or mistakenly credited to a male coworker. African Americans often feel that they have to perform twice as well as their white coworkers to be given the same level of recognition. Ideas often sound better when offered by someone perceived to be attractive.
As Shelley Correll and Patricia Ridgeway (2003) explain:
What all of these observations have in common is that some members of a group seem to have real advantages that are denied to others. They have more opportunities to speak, their ideas are taken more seriously, and they have more influence over other group members. (…) These hierarchies of evaluation, influence, and participation are referred to as the ‘power and prestige structure’ or the ‘status structures’ of the group.
Various theories explain how these structures emerge and are maintained, and how they contribute to other aspects of social inequality.
I am not a huge fan of reinventing the wheel here, but perhaps the term “micro aggression” provides an additional, more accessible way to draw attention to the complex processes briefly outlined above. But, perhaps, given the numerous hostile reactions to the Times article, the problem is not one of simplification but precisely the opposite. Here’s one comment to the article that did capture the issues well:
Many commenters here seem to believe that “innocent” and inadvertent utterances that promote stereotypes should be forgiven because no offense was intended. I disagree. (…) There is also the victim-blaming argument echoed by bullies throughout time: “Toughen up,” which does nothing to address, for example, stereotype-fueled hiring bias. We can either make excuses for complacency, and ignore the harm that our collective contributions to stereotyping do to others, or we can try changing the societal status quo by objecting to such utterances, making people aware that some of the stereotypes they “inadvertently” perpetuate tacitly condone a society where a multitude of groups have fewer opportunities because of unconscious systemic bias.
The key here is that some of these micro aggressions occur (and/or are salient in) high-stakes situations, such as job interviews, workgroup discussions, or even taking the SAT – in other words, they can subtly shape the results of these situations. So micro aggressions aren’t just annoyances. They have real consequences that transcend the specific moment in which the micro aggression occurs. In addition, their effect is cumulative; individually, they can be brushed off, but after a while it is difficult for anyone who hears them to remain immune to their underlying message. Finally, micro aggressions can be really subtle, making it harder to call out the perpetrator without appearing like one is overreacting. This includes things like mistakenly introducing someone as someone else of the same race, or commenting on “how articulate” an African American is, to more consequential incidents like attributing a woman’s idea to the male coworker sitting next to her.
Personally, as a non-native speaker of English I’ve experienced my share of these situations. I am routinely asked things like: “Did you know any English when you came to the U.S.?” I usually respond politely but am often tempted to say: “No, I somehow learned all my English as I completed a doctoral program at an Ivy League school – I am thatkind of a genius.” Some people repeat something they just said replacing a word they perceive as sophisticated with one they perceive as more colloquial. The underlying message of many of these is that having an accent somehow detracts from your general intelligence.

Why do these seemingly small things matter? Because they shape how we view ourselves, as well as how others perceive us and our abilities (step 3 in the figure below). Self- and third party evaluations, in turn, affect our aspirations and decisions about what fields we want to pursue, the jobs we see ourselves holding, etc. (1). Finally, individuals in a society form collective, broadly shared beliefs about who does what based on what’s around (2). Micro aggressions (stereotypes, status beliefs) contribute to processes in step 3 but shape things all the way up to macro-level forms of social stratification and inequality such as the gender segregation of paid work. If we change things at step 1 — e.g., by changing the composition of workplaces like schools — we can help to disrupt this “vicious cycle.”


Almost half the students attending public schools are minorities, yet fewer than 1 in 5 of their teachers is nonwhite.
New studies from the Center for American Progress and the National Education Association are calling attention to this "diversity gap" at elementary and secondary schools in the United States. The groups want more to be done to help teachers more accurately mirror the students in their classrooms.
Teachers are always pushing their students to excel, said Kevin Gilbert, coordinator of teacher leadership and special projects for the Clinton Public School District in Clinton, Mississippi.
It becomes easier for students to believe "when they can look and see someone who looks just like them, that they can relate to," said Gilbert, a member of the NEA's executive committee. "Nothing can help motivate our students more than to see success standing right in front of them."
More than minority students would benefit from a more diverse teacher corps, said Ulrich Boser, the author of the center's report.
"Even in a place like North Dakota, where the students aren't particularly diverse relative to the rest of the country, it's important for our social fabric, for our sense as a nation, that students are engaging with people who think, talk and act differently than them but can also be just as effective at raising student achievement in the classroom," he said.
There were about 3.3 million teachers in American public elementary and secondary schools in 2012, according to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics. It said 82 percent were white, 8 percent were Hispanic, 7 percent were black and about 2 percent were Asian.
Students are a different story. In 1993, minority students made up 31 percent of the public school population; it was 41 percent in 2003.
The Center for American Progress' most recent statistics show 48 percent of the students in public schools are nonwhite — 23 percent Hispanic, 16 percent black and 5 percent Asian — and that percentage is expected to continue to increase.

"We project that this fall, for the first time in American history, the majority of public school students in America will be nonwhite," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last week.
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