Archive | January, 2014

College football players want to form a union

30 Jan

The idea of recognizing that “student” athletes are really low-paid employees of colleges and apprentices in the billion dollar sports industry would force college administrators, parents, and athletes to face some very hard truths. The NCAA has compiled a probability chart which shows just how few student athletes have a realistic change of even being drafted to play professional sports and then go on to have a successful professional career. See,
Moi has about as much chance of playing for a professional team as the average kid with dreams of sports stardom.

Jorge Castillo has an intriguing report in the New York Times about historian Taylor Branch’s Atlantic article. In After Leaving Football, a Historian Emerges as an N.C.A.A. Critic, Castillo reports:

The October issue of The Atlantic magazine featured a 14,000-word cover story by Branch titled “The Shame of College Sports.” Its focus was the N.C.A.A., and the thesis Branch presented was that the organization was little more than a sham, exploiting athletes in revenue sports like football and men’s basketball to make hundreds of millions of dollars while expounding the virtues of amateurism.

The problem is literally 1000s of starry eyed kids and in some instance, stage parents who are willing to do whatever for a slim chance and wealth and stardom. Add to this mix the big business system of agents, coaches, and colleges who want to stay on the good side of powerful alumni.

Brad Wolverton reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, NCAA to Consider Sweeping Changes in Athlete Aid and Eligibility Rules.

Billion-dollar TV deals and multimillion-dollar compensation packages for coaches have led to growing calls for paying athletes. While Mark A. Emmert, the NCAA’s president, refuses to go there, he supports the idea of giving athletes more money for travel and other incidentals, moving closer to covering their full cost of attendance. Median college costs at public universities exceed an athlete’s scholarship coverage by about $4,000, according to a recent USA Today analysis.

Contemplated changes seem calculated to take the heat off the college sports industry.

It probably is not an accident that the same time proposed changes were publicized, the NCCA is promoting graduate statistics, probably to bolster the idea that the “student” athlete reigns supreme. Collin Eaton is reporting in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Athletes Continue to Graduate at Record Levels, NCAA Says.

Over all, more than two-thirds of the NCAA’s roughly 5,000 Division I teams reported graduation-success rates of 80 percent or higher, while fewer than 4 percent of teams reported rates of 50 percent or lower.
The NCAA uses its own formula to calculate the graduation-success rates of Division I athletes. The figures are different from the graduation rates calculated by the U.S. Department of Education. The NCAA statistics, unlike the federal ones, do not penalize institutions when athletes transfer to other colleges, as long as they depart in good academic standing. [Emphasis Added]
• Table: College Athletes’ Graduation Rates 2011

Excuse moi for being a tad bit cynical. Were these kids helped or “helped?” Wink. Wink. If you know what moi means. Are these kids taking the classes and are they in the college majors which will give them a chance at life after competitive big money sports?

Most kids will never appear at the Final Four or Superbowl. For kids who possess extraordinary talent and desire to achieve at the top level of sports, of course nurture their talent and their desire. But, society and their families owe it to these kids to be honest about their chances and the fact that they need to prepare for a variety of outcomes.

Brad Wolverton reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, College Football Players Seek to Form a Labor Union:

College athletes on Tuesday took a bold step toward gaining more bargaining power in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, by attempting to form a labor union for big-time football and basketball players.
Calling the NCAA a “dictatorship” that stamps on athletes’ rights and fails to provide adequate long-term health care or educational assistance, football players at Northwestern University petitioned the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board to be recognized as employees.
The move, organized by Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA linebacker and founder of the National College Players Association, was prompted by concerns raised by Kain Colter, a Northwestern quarterback who was active in player protests this past season….
NCAA Response
The NCAA, whose colleges have recently discussed giving athletes more rights and better health and safety benefits, defended its amateurism principles. In a statement, the association said that athletes are “not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act” and had no right to organize.
“This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education,” its statement said. “Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize.”
Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s vice president for athletics and recreation, said in a written statement that the university teaches its students to be leaders and independent thinkers, and that Tuesday’s action “demonstrates that they are doing so.”
He added that Northwestern believes that its athletes are not employees but that the “health and academic issues being raised by our student-athletes and others are important ones that deserve further consideration.”
Representatives of the United Steelworkers union, who is backing the proposal, said at the news conference that their lawyers stand behind it. They believe that college players will be deemed employees and that their scholarships represent payment in return for services.
Experts’ Views
But some labor-relations experts said that players would have difficulty making that case.
“I would be very, very surprised if they won,” said Ronald G. Ehrenberg, a professor of industrial and labor relations and economics at Cornell University. “If they do win, it would potentially lead to an explosion of changes in higher education….”

Maybe it’s time to look at athletes as apprentices for the sports business. The question then becomes how to adequately compensate fodder for the big business, big money sports machine? Most of the kids who are part of the process will never see a payoff in sports. Maybe the compensation should be an education trust fund for college athletes so that when they are perhaps more mature and more realistic about career prospects, they have the resources for a real education.

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Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment study: Community college students who transfer to for-profit higher education don’t earn as much

29 Jan

Moi wrote about for-profit higher education in Scary study about what happens to for-profit college graduates:
We are in a periodic of extreme economic dislocation and people are retraining and starting businesses in an attempt to put themselves in a better economic position. Because of the economic uncertainty, may are willing to try almost anything to survive. Beware, some choices can leave people in a worse position.

The Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) has produced a truly scary study about what happens to the graduates of for-profit colleges. According to the press release for the study, For-Profit College Students Less Likely to Be Employed After Graduation and Have Lower Earnings, New Study Finds:

Students who attend for-profit colleges are less likely to be employed and have lower earnings six years after enrolling than similar students who attend public and not-for-profit colleges, according to a new study by authors affiliated with the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE). They also carry heavier debt burdens and are more likely to default on their student loans.
Over the past decades, for-profit colleges have experienced explosive growth in enrollment, with numbers increasing from 18,333 in 1970 to 1.85 million in 2009. Currently, for profit students make up 13 percent of all college attendees, up from 5 percent in 2001.
However, until now, student outcomes for these institutions have been poorly understood, not least because the students they serve are not always analogous to those who attend public and non-profit colleges. The analysis found that for-profit colleges serve a larger fraction of students who tend to struggle in college: minority, older, and independent students who are disproportionately single parents, have lower family incomes and are twice as likely to have a GED.
To ensure comparable results, the study—which used data from the 2004 to 2009 Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) longitudinal survey—controlled for observable student characteristics such as income, age and ethnicity. The analysis indicated that students who attend for-profit schools are more likely to persist through their first year and to earn certificates and associate degrees than their counterparts at community colleges. However, despite these higher completion rates, for-profit students are more likely to experience long term unemployment and report less satisfaction with their education in the six years after they enroll.
The poor employment and earning outcomes of for-profit students may explain their high rates of loan defaults. Currently, 26 percent of all federal student aid goes to for-profit tuition, making up three quarters of the sector’s revenue. The researchers found that almost 25 percent of for-profit students default on their loans within three years. This rate is 10.5 percent higher than that of similar students who attend public or non-profit institutions and accounts for almost half of all student loan defaults.

See, Study: For-Profit Colleges Offer Weak Job Prospects, Pay

Here is the citation:

The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators? (A CAPSEE Working Paper)
By: David Deming, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz| February 2012

The conclusions of this report have been echoed in prior reports.
A study by the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment finds that students who transfer to for-profit colleges from community college have lower earnings.

Paul Fain reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, For-Profit Wage Gap:

Community college students who transfer to for-profit institutions tend to earn less over the next decade than do their peers who transfer to public or private colleges.
Those are the findings from a study released Monday by the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment, a research center that was created with a federal grant and is housed at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
In recent years several researchers have attempted to look at the relative labor market returns of attending for-profits, which is also a hot topic among policy makers.
There are many variables at play – such as the relatively low academic preparation of incoming for-profit students versus their peers at traditional colleges. And the results from those research efforts have ranged from largely unflattering to a mixed view of for-profits.
This new study, however, may be the first to analyze earnings gaps at various points before and after students attend college, as well as while they’re still enrolled.
It also controlled for the effects of student “swirl” in the complex higher education system by looking at transfer among a large sample of 80,000 full-time community college students who first enrolled in the early to mid-2000s.
Over all, the research found that students who transferred to for-profits earned roughly 7 percent less over the next decade than students who transferred to private or public nonprofit institutions, according to income data culled from unemployment insurance data dated from up to 2012.
“We identify a statistically significant wage penalty from enrolling in a for-profit institution,” wrote the study’s coauthors, Vivian Yuen Ting Liu, a senior research assistant at the CCRC, and Clive Belfield, an associate professor of economics at Queens College, which is part of the City University of New York System.
“This penalty appears consistent across subgroups of students, although it is greatest for for-profit students who did not complete an award,” they wrote. “For-profit students gain least over the longer term. Extended over a working life, the differences become much greater.”
Work and study
The research was based on cohorts of students who attended community colleges in two statewide systems.
Among students from the first group, which included data from a longer time range, there were stark differences in the earnings gains one decade after transfer. Students who attended for-profits had a net wage bump of $5,400 over that decade. But public college students saw a $12,300 gain and private college students earned $26,700 more (in 2010 dollars).
The results were more mixed for the second cohort of students, who attended community colleges in a different state.
In that group, students who transferred to a for-profit sometimes earned more than their peers who transferred to other institutions. For example, both men and women who transferred to for-profits earned an average of 18 percent more than students who transferred to public colleges.
One reason for the discrepancy was that the second group was tracked over a shorter period of time. Those students first enrolled in community college a few years earlier than the other, larger group, and therefore had less time in the labor market.
Additionally, students fared better while they were enrolled in for-profits, according to the study.


The Labor Market Returns to For-Profit Higher Education: Evidence for Transfer Students (A CAPSEE Working Paper)
January 2014

This study examines the labor market gains for students who enrolled at for-profit colleges after beginning their postsecondary education in community college. We use student-level administrative record data from college transcripts, Unemployment Insurance earnings data, and progression data from the National Student Clearinghouse across full entry cohorts of community college students in two statewide systems between 2001 and 2006. We calculate the wage gains to attainment across different student transfer patterns.

We find significant wage penalties to transfer to a for-profit college instead of a public or private nonprofit college. This earnings gap between higher education sectors is consistent but varies in size across subsamples of students. Importantly, it is only identifiable with a sufficient time window across which enrollment and earnings data are available. Students in for-profit colleges have lower opportunity costs in terms of foregone earnings while enrolled in college, but these do not sufficiently compensate for lower earnings growth post-college.
Download the paper: The Labor Market Returns to For-Profit Higher Education: Evidence for Transfer Students

Click to access labor-market-returns-to-for-profit-higher-education.pdf

CAPSEE project: Project 6: The Role of the For-Profit Sector in Higher Education

Here is the press release from Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment:

Community College Students Who Transfer to For-Profit Colleges Earn Less, New Study Finds
Community college students who transfer to for-profit colleges earn less than students who transfer to public or private nonprofit colleges, concludes a new study from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE).
The study is the first to examine the income effects of transferring to a for-profit college from a community college. Earlier studies, including a recent study from CAPSEE, have compared earnings for students who attend community colleges and for-profit colleges and found that students who attend for-profit colleges are less likely to be employed after college and earn less on average than community college students.
For this study, CAPSEE researchers analyzed the earnings of 80,000 first-time, degree-seeking students who enrolled in community college during the 2000s and transferred to another college or university. Student incomes were tracked via state unemployment insurance data through the beginning of 2012.
The study found that there were significant differences in the community college students who chose to transfer to a for-profit institution: Black and Hispanic students, and students who performed poorly and accrued fewer credits at the community college were far more likely to transfer to a for-profit than a nonprofit or public college.
Even when controlling for these differences in student characteristics, however, the study found that students who transferred to for-profit colleges earned 6–7 percent less than students who transferred to nonprofit or public institutions.
The study also found that students who transferred to for-profit colleges had higher earnings whilst in college. Students who attended for-profit colleges saw a decline in income of $130–$270 per quarter; by comparison, the decline in income for students enrolled in public colleges was four times larger, and the decline for students at nonprofit colleges was ten times larger. This difference—the lower ‘opportunity cost’ of attending for-profit colleges—may explain why these colleges are attractive to low-income students.
However, the earning gains after leaving college were significantly higher for public and nonprofit college students. Over time these gains more than offset the ‘opportunity cost’ differences. Looking over ten years, for-profit students experienced net earnings gains of only $5,400, whereas public and nonprofit college students experienced gains of $12,300 and $26,700 respectively. These figures do not account for the higher tuition costs at for-profit colleges.
The wage penalty for transferring to a for-profit college was consistent across subgroups of students, although the penalty was greatest for for-profit students who did not complete a degree.
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Victor Hugo said it best when dealing with many for-profit colleges:

Caution is the eldest child of wisdom
Victor Hugo


College accreditation – U.S. Department of Education

College Accreditation: Frequently Asked Questions

Ask questions before deciding on a for-profit college [Video]

For Profit Colleges: Get the Facts


Buyer beware of some for-profit colleges

For-profit colleges: Money buys government, not quality for students

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University of Chicago Urban Education Lab study: Targeted tutoring can reduce the education gap

28 Jan

People want an education for a variety of reasons. Some have a love of learning. Others want to attend a good college or vocational school. Still others, see an education as a ticket to a good job. Increasingly for schools, the goal is to prepare kids with the skills to attend and succeed at college. In order to give children the skills to succeed, schools need teachers who are effective at educating their population of kids. There are many themes in the attempt to answer the question, what will prepare kids for what comes after high school. What will prepare kids for what comes after high school is a good basic education. The schools that provide a good basic education are relentless about the basics.

Sharon Otterman wrote a good news story in the New York Times about how a relentless focus on the basics can yield results. In Brooklyn School Scores High Despite Poverty Otterman reported:

To ace the state standardized tests, which begin on Monday, Public School 172 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, finds money for coaches in writing, reading and math. Teachers keep detailed notes on each child, writing down weaknesses and encouraging them to repeat tasks. There is after-school help and Saturday school.
But at the start of this school year, seven or eight students were still falling behind. So the school hired a speech therapist who could analyze why they and other students stumbled in language. A psychologist produced detailed assessments and recommendations. A dental clinic staffed by Lutheran Medical Center opened an office just off the fourth-grade classrooms, diagnosing toothaches, a possible source of distraction, and providing free cleanings.
Perfection may seem a quixotic goal in New York City, where children enter school from every imaginable background and ability level. But on the tests, P.S. 172, also called the Beacon School of Excellence, is coming close — even though 80 percent of its students are poor enough to qualify for free lunch, nearly a quarter receive special education services, and many among its predominately Hispanic population do not speak English at home.
In 2009, the 580-student primary school, tucked between fast-food restaurants and gas stations in a semi-industrial strip of Fourth Avenue, topped the city with its fourth-grade math scores, with all students passing, all but one with a mark of “advanced,” or Level 4. In English, all but one of 75 fourth graders passed, earning a Level 3 or 4, placing it among the city’s top dozen schools.
On average, at schools with the same poverty rate, only 66 percent of the students pass the English test, and 29 percent score at an advanced level in math, according to a New York Times analysis of Department of Education statistics. And though it is less well known, P.S. 172 regularly outperforms its neighbors in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, where parents raise hundreds of thousands a year for extra aides and enrichment.
The school’s approach, while impressive in its attention to detail, starts with a simple formula: “Teach, assess, teach, assess,” said Jack Spatola, its principal since 1984.
Mr. Spatola attributed the coaches and other extra help to careful budgeting and fighting for every dollar from the Department of Education; the school’s cost per pupil, in fact, is lower than the city’s average.

What this school does well is know its student population and design assessments and interventions targeted at its population of kids. It is an example of the think small not small minded philosophy. Motoko Rich reported about another example of the think small and focus on the individual philosophy in her story about the University of Chicago study focused on targeted tutoring.

Rich reported in the New York Times article, Intensive Small-Group Tutoring and Counseling Helps Struggling Students:

A new paper being released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests a promising approach for helping the most challenged students, who often arrive in high school several years behind their peers.
The study, which was conducted by a team led by Jens Ludwig, the co-director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab, provided a program of intense tutoring, in combination with group behavioral counseling, to a group of low-income ninth- and 10th-grade African-American youths with weak math skills, track records of absences or disciplinary problems. Those students learned in an eight-month period the equivalent of what the average American high school student learns in math over three years of school, as measured by standardized test scores, over and above what a similar group of students who did not receive the tutoring or counseling did…..

Jann Ingmire reported in the Phys.Org article, Targeted tutoring can reduce ‘achievement gap’ for CPS students, study finds:

For the new report, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the UChicago team tracked the impact of tutoring and mentoring among 106 ninth- and tenth-grade students at Harper High School in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood for six months in 2012 and 2013. Students were selected randomly to permit rigorous analysis of the outcomes. In addition to a significant jump in math test scores, students receiving tutoring and mentoring failed two fewer courses per year on average than students who did not participate, and their likelihood of being “on track” for graduation rose by nearly one-half.
“These results come from a randomized experiment of the sort that generates gold-standard evidence in medicine, but remains far too rare in the area of social policy,” noted Roseanna Ander, Executive Director of the UChicago Urban Education Lab. The lab is part of the UChicago Urban Education Institute, which is dedicated to creating knowledge to produce reliably excellent schooling.
One benefit of the Match tutoring approach is that it takes on the “mismatch” between a student’s grade level and the actual skills he or she has developed, which in disadvantaged urban settings like Chicago can be four to ten years behind grade level in math, which is a key gateway to high school graduation, said Jens Ludwig, Co-Director of the Urban Education Lab and McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law, and Public Policy.
“So much of the energy in education policy is in improving the quality with which grade-level material is taught in classrooms,” Ludwig said. “But that’s not going to help a ninth-grader who is struggling with third- or fourth-grade math problems.”
Perhaps because students in the study got the targeted help they needed to catch up, Ludwig said, “These effects on schooling outcomes are larger—much larger—than what we see from so many other educational strategies.”
To help students catch up to grade level and re-engage with regular classroom instruction, the Match program administered a regimen sometimes described as “tutoring on steroids.” Virtually all participants were African American males from low-income families. Some of the 106 participants were selected via random lottery to receive the Match program’s individualized math tutoring for one hour per day, every day; each math tutor works with just two students at a time. In addition, students in this group received to non-academic intervention for one hour a week through the BAM mentoring program. BAM, developed by Chicago non-profit Youth Guidance and World Sport Chicago, uses elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy and non-traditional sports activities to strengthen social-cognitive skills, including self-regulation and impulse control. Other students participated in BAM alone, and the rest received the school’s existing programming.
“In addition to gains in achievement test scores we also saw improvements in engagement with school, such as an increase in attendance of about 2.5 weeks per year” said Jonathan Guryan, Associate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University and Co-director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab. “The results indicate this combination of programs may potentially be one way to narrow the black-white test score gap.”
The expansion of the BAM mentoring and Match tutoring approach to serve more CPS students will allow researchers to better understand the mechanisms of how these programs work and whether they can produce the same results on a larger scale.
The UChicago team’s NBER study concludes, “The impact of the pilot intervention reported in this paper are large enough to raise the question of whether the field has given up prematurely on the possibility of improving academic outcomes for disadvantaged youth.”


The (Surprising) Efficacy of Academic and Behavioral Intervention with Disadvantaged Youth: Results from a Randomized Experiment in Chicago
Philip J. Cook, Kenneth Dodge, George Farkas, Roland G. Fryer, Jr, Jonathan Guryan, Jens Ludwig, Susan Mayer, Harold Pollack, Laurence Steinberg
NBER Working Paper No. 19862
Issued in January 2014
There is growing concern that improving the academic skills of disadvantaged youth is too difficult and costly, so policymakers should instead focus either on vocationally oriented instruction for teens or else on early childhood education. Yet this conclusion may be premature given that so few previous interventions have targeted a potential fundamental barrier to school success: “mismatch” between what schools deliver and the needs of disadvantaged youth who have fallen behind in their academic or non-academic development. This paper reports on a randomized controlled trial of a two-pronged intervention that provides disadvantaged youth with non-academic supports that try to teach youth social-cognitive skills based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and intensive individualized academic remediation. The study sample consists of 106 male 9th and 10th graders in a public high school on the south side of Chicago, of whom 95% are black and 99% are free or reduced price lunch eligible. Participation increased math test scores by 0.65 of a control group standard deviation (SD) and 0.48 SD in the national distribution, increased math grades by 0.67 SD, and seems to have increased expected graduation rates by 14 percentage points (46%). While some questions remain about the intervention, given these effects and a cost per participant of around $4,400 (with a range of $3,000 to $6,000), this intervention seems to yield larger gains in adolescent outcomes per dollar spent than many other intervention strategies.

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this. You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

It is going to take coordination between not only education institutions, but a strong social support system to get many of these children through school. This does not mean a large program directed from Washington. But, more resources at the local school level which allow discretion with accountability. For example, if I child is not coming to school because they have no shoes or winter coat, then the child gets new shoes and/or a coat. School breakfast and lunch programs must be supported and if necessary, expanded. Unfortunately, schools are now the early warning system for many families in crisis. In addition, to families and schools, corporate support can be useful in helping to move at-risk children into the mainstream.


‘Becoming A Man’ course: Helping young African-American men avoid prison

Study: The plight of African-American boys in Oakland, California

Schott Foundation report: Black and Latino boys are not succeeding in high school

We give up as a society: Jailing parents because kids are truant

Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’

Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it

Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure

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Parent homework: Critical television watching with your children

28 Jan

Let’s make this short and sweet. Park your kid in front of the television and you will probably be raising an overweight idiot. Tara Parker-Pope has a great post at the New York Times blog. In the post, TV For Toddlers Linked With Later Problems Parker-Pope reports:

Toddlers who watch a lot of television were more likely to experience a range of problems by the fourth grade, including lower grades, poorer health and more problems with school bullies, a new study reports.
The study of more than 1,300 Canadian schoolchildren tracked the amount of television children were watching at the ages of about 2 and 5. The researchers then followed up on the children in fourth grade to assess academic performance, social issues and general health.
On average, the schoolchildren were watching about nine hours of television each week as toddlers. The total jumped to about 15 hours as they approached 5 years of age. The average level of television viewing shown in the study falls within recommended guidelines. However, 11 percent of the toddlers were exceeding two hours a day of television viewing.
For those children, each hour of extra TV exposure in early childhood was associated with a range of issues by the fourth grade, according to the report published in the May issue of The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Compared with children who watched less television, those with more TV exposure participated less in class and had lower math grades. They suffered about 10 percent more bullying by classmates and were less likely to be physically active on weekends. They consumed about 10 percent more soft drinks and snacks and had body mass index scores that were about 5 percent higher than their peers.

Well duh, people. You probably already knew this. Guess why you have feet attached to your legs? So, you and the kids can walk around the neighborhood and the park. Better yet, why don’t you encourage your children to play.

Sierra Filucci wrote in the Common Sense Media article, Yes, You Can Make TV Time Count:

Here are some realistic conversation starters to keep in your pocket for when the show ends:
Ages 2-4
Watching TV with kids ages 2-4 is less about delving into provocative topics than it is about reinforcing shows’ positive social messages and lessons.
•How did that song go again? Let’s sing it together.
•What were the colors of the rainbow the kids saw?
•How many balloons did the girl have?
•Why were the characters happy/sad/mad?
Ages 5-8
Kids in the 5-8 age range start to see a lot more action and interpersonal conflict, though many shows targeted at this age portray positive resolutions. Asking kids to relate what they see to their own experiences helps the positive lessons sink in. Also, anything that can help kids start to be more media savvy is a good thing.
•How did the characters work out their problem?
•Did the characters do something you wish you could do?
•Who were your favorite characters, and why?
•Do the boy characters dress differently than the girl characters? Why?
•What made the show more exciting/scary/funny?
Ages 9-11
As kids get a little older, they’re more curious about the outside world and are figuring out how people relate to each other. Kids this age can be very receptive to age-appropriate guidance, and using TV as a jumping off point can be a super-helpful tool.
•What was the consequence for that character’s behavior?
•What tools did the character use to resolve that conflict?
•What makes that character appealing? Or not?
•Did anything in this show surprise you or teach you something you didn’t know?
•Does this show intend to teach something or get a certain message across?
Ages 12-14
As kids enter the teen years, watching TV together can get a little hairy. They’re interested in pushing boundaries, and you might have to talk about exactly why certain shows are off limits. But even controversial TV can be an opportunity to get conversations started and gain some insight into your kid’s social life and inner thoughts.
•Does that situation seem realistic?
•Do any of your friends act like that?
•What would happen in real life if someone acted that way?
•Do any of these characters seem like “types”? Why do so many shows repeat the same stories or create such similar characters?
•In reality shows, what do the participants stand to gain or lose by appearing on the show?

The issue is whether children in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in the ads. Advertising is about creating a desire for the product, pushing a lifestyle which might make an individual more prone to purchase products to create that lifestyle, and promoting an image which might make an individual more prone to purchase products in pursuit of that image. Many girls and women have unrealistic body image expectations which can lead to eating disorders in the pursuit of a “super model” image. What the glossy magazines don’t tell young women is the dysfunctional lives of many “super models” which may involve both eating disorders and substance abuse. The magazines don’t point out that many “glamor girls” are air-brushed or photo-shopped and that they spend hours on professional make-up and professional hairstyling in addition to having a personal trainer and stylist. Many boys look at the buff bodies of the men in the ads and don’t realize that some use body enhancing drugs. In other words, when presented with any advertising, people must make a determination what to believe. It is easy for children to get derailed because of peer pressure in an all too permissive society. Parents and schools must teach children critical thinking skills and point out often that the picture presented in advertising is often as close to reality as the bedtime fairy tail. Reality does not often involve perfection, there are warts.

Parents must interact with their children and read to them. Television is not a parental substitute.


Study: Children subject to four hours background television daily

Common Sense Media report: Media choices at home affect school performance

Tohoku University study: Excessive television watching changes children’s brain structure

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Florida mandated longer school day and more time devoted to reading for low-performing schools

25 Jan

The Mid Continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) has great information posted at its site about school day length. According to McRel in the article, Extended School Days and School Years:

Does more time in school matter?
Several scholars have argued that simply extending school time in and of itself will not produce the desired results. Larry Cuban, a Stanford University professor of education, has argued for example that what matters most is not the quantity but the quality of time students and teachers spend together in the classroom (2008).
In our 2000 meta-analysis of the impact of school, teacher, and student-level variables on achievement, McREL concluded that student achievement can be strongly affected if schools optimize their use of instructional time.
In 1998 WestEd researchers Aronson et al. examined the research on time and learning and arrived at three conclusions:
◦There is little or no relationship between student achievement and the total number of days or hours students are required to attend school.
◦There is some relationship between achievement and engaged time, that subset of instructional time when students are participating in learning activities.
◦The strongest relationship exists between academic learning time and achievement.
However, in recent years some notable extended time initiatives have produced gains in test scores, graduation rates, and college attendance, including the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), which increases the amount of time students spend in school by nearly 60%, and Massachusetts 2020. Conversely, a $100 million effort in Miami to extend school days by one hour and add 10 days to the calendar produced no significant benefits.

The key seems to be longer time spent in instructional activities.

The Center for American Progress’ issues brief, Expanded Learning Time By the Numbers examined school day length. Among the findings are:

Expanded learning time basics
655: The number of expanded learning time schools in 36 states, more than a quarter of which are standard district public schools.
300: The recommended minimum number of additional hours that schools should add to their school calendar to provide students more learning time and opportunities for enrichment activities.
6 to 20 percent: The increase in a school’s budget, depending on the staffing model, to expand learning time for students by 30 percent.
90 percent: The proportion of ELT schools that considered their longer day or year to be essential in meeting their educational goals in a survey of nearly 250 ELT schools.
20 percent: The increase in annual classroom hours that experienced teachers say they need to effectively teach the four core academic subjects—English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.
Other countries are racing ahead in education
197: The average number of days that a middle school teacher in Finland, Japan, and Korea spends on instruction per year compared to the 180 days in the United States.
10,000: The number of hours researchers estimate that students need to achieve expertise. There are approximately 800 annual instructional hours a year in U.S. schools, which means it would take 12.5 years for students to participate in 10,000 hours of schooling, given no loss of learning during the summer.
Students at low-income schools are being left behind
3,000: The average number of words in a low-income kindergartener’s vocabulary compared to the 20,000 in a middle-class kindergartener’s vocabulary.
Sixth or seventh: The grade at which approximately half of ninth graders at high-poverty schools are reading when they enter high school.
32 million: The size of the gap in word exposure between children in professional families (45 million words) and welfare families (13 million) that has accumulated by age 4. Children in professional families will have heard almost as many words by age 1 (11.2 million) as children in welfare families have heard by age 4 (13 million).
1.67: The average minutes per day that third, fourth, and fifth graders in high-poverty schools received explicit vocabulary instruction, or about 100 seconds.
Four: The maximum number of minutes per day teachers in low-income schools spent engaging their first-grade students with informational texts rich in academic language and content-area vocabulary, often because these resources were unavailable.

Expanded learning time and a focus on the basics can yield results.

Dave E. Marcotte and Benjamin Hansen reported in Education Next about the effect of time in school. In Time for School? Marcotte and Hansen report:

Our work confirms that increasing instructional time could have large positive effects on learning gains. Encouraging schools and districts to view the school calendar as a tool in the effort to improve learning outcomes should be encouraged in both word and policy.

Research confirms there are certain traits of successful schools.

Catherine Gewertz reported in the Education Week article, Fla. Pushes Longer Day, More Reading in Some Schools:

Two years ago, Florida took a step no other state has taken to improve students’ reading skills: It required its 100 lowest-performing elementary schools to add an extra hour to their school day and to use that time for reading instruction. Early results suggest the new initiative may be paying off.
After only a year with the extra hour, three-quarters of the schools saw improved reading scores on the state’s standardized test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT. Seventy of the schools earned their way off the lowest-performing list altogether.
“That extra time for reading instruction was really important for us,” said Kathy Shuler, who oversees the school transformation office in Orlando’s Orange County district, where all seven schools in the extra-hour reading program’s first year, 2012-13, improved their reading scores and are no longer on the list.
The Florida program arose from a 2012 law mandating the additional hour each day for “intensive reading instruction.” The law’s author, Republican state Sen. David Simmons, had taken note of a pilot program for four schools in 2007-08. Three boosted their school grades from D’s or F’s to C’s in Florida’s accountability ratings, and one vaulted to an A. He wanted to see more schools do what they had done.
“Done right, the benefits of this program are extensive and in some cases dramatic,” Sen. Simmons said.
Despite being a state mandate, the program has won over some school leaders and teachers. In fact, 30 schools that were required to participate in 2012-13 opted to keep it up this school year even though they’d gotten off the watch list.
Sen. Simmons said he hopes to persuade the legislature to expand the program, which does not come with any additional state aid, to all of Florida’s low-performing schools….

Here is a PowerPoint of the legislative study

OPPAGA Contacts
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Staff Director, Methodology
(850) 717-0534
Becky Vickers
Chief Legislative Analyst
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Motoko Rich reported in the New York Times article, To Increase Learning Time, Some Schools Add Days to Academic Year:

A typical public school calendar is 180 days, but the Balsz district, where 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, is in session for 200 days, adding about a month to the academic year.
According to the National Center on Time and Learning, a nonprofit research group in Boston, about 170 schools — more than 140 of them charter schools — across the country have extended their calendars in recent years to 190 days or longer. ..
Education advocates have been calling for more school time at least since the 1983 “Nation at Risk” report presented an apocalyptic vision of American education.
Teachers’ unions, parents who want to preserve summers for family vacations and those who worry that children already come under too much academic stress argue that extended school time is not the answer. Research on longer school days or years also shows mixed results.
But studies also show that during the summer break, students — particularly those from low-income families — tend to forget what they learned in the school year. Getting back to school early, supporters of a longer calendar say, is one of the best ways to narrow an achievement gap between rich and poor students.
Many charter schools, including those in the academically successful KIPP network, attribute their achievement in part to longer days and calendars. President Obama has repeatedly promoted expanded school time, even inspiring “Saturday Night Live” to poke fun, with Seth Meyers saying in his Weekend Update segment that only “Catherine, the fifth grader nobody likes,” would support such a proposal.
Within the last two years, both the Ford Foundation and the Wallace Foundation have made multimillion dollar commitments to help nonprofit groups work with school districts to restructure the school day and year.
Advocates of longer school years say that the 180-day school year is an outdated artifact….
Critics say that with so many schools already failing, giving them more time would do little to help students.
“It is true that we have an unfair society, and it is true that kids who are coming from the poorer backgrounds and whose parents don’t do a lot of reading are losing reading skills over the summer,” said Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College. “But let’s look at other solutions.” He added, “Whatever job we give to the school system, they ruin it….”
“Better is as important as the more,” said Jeannie Oakes, director of educational opportunity and scholarship programs at the Ford Foundation.

See, Should summer break be shorter for some children?

There should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to education. For children who need a longer school year, that extra time should be available.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line
Russian mystic & novelist (1828 – 1910)

So it is with schools. There are certain elements that successful schools share. The Wisconsin Department of Education has a good guide about successful schools. Chapter One, Characteristics of Successful Schools , lists key elements.

Like, unhappy families, failing schools are probably failing in their own way.


Dave E. Marcotte and Benjamin Hansen , Time for School?Education Next, Winter 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 1

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on School Day’s Length video …

It seems everything old becomes new once again, although a relentless focus on the basics never went out of style.

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Association of American Colleges and Universities report: Liberal arts graduates run a marathon to become successful in later life

22 Jan

One of the goals of education is to give the student sufficient basic skills to be able to leave school and be able to function at a job or correctly assess their training needs. One of the criticisms of the current education system is that it does not adequately prepare children for work or for a career. A liberal arts education has been considered the gold standard. A Washington Post article has some good tips about how a liberal arts education could be made valuable in the current economic climate.
Andy Chan, vice president of the Wake Forest University Office of Personal and Career Development, and Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Reynolds Professor of Computational Biophysics and dean of Wake Forest College write in the Washington Post about producing employable liberal arts grads. In the article, Six tips for liberal arts colleges to produce employable grads, Chan and Fetrow give the following advice:

Here are a few recommendations for liberal arts colleges to more deeply realize and communicate the value of the liberal education for the world of work today:
• Develop partnerships that bridge the career development office with the faculty and academic advisors. Students demand to know how their choice of major will affect their career options. By sharing these data and student examples with the faculty and academic advisors, the career development office becomes more vital to students and to the faculty. With the endorsement and influence of the faculty, students utilize the complete range of resources offered by the career development office starting from their first year on campus.
• Provide opportunities for faculty to understand the needs of employers. When professors understand why employers hire certain students, they can articulate how the academic material can be applied variety of work settings and help students recognize and better market this knowledge and skills. They can also more effectively mentor students and provide career advice and connections.
• Make internships and/or research projects an integral part of the student experience. Make sure the student demonstrates the drive to stick with a research problem for longer than a semester. A survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 84 percent of executives at private sector and non-profit organizations expressed a desire for students to complete a significant project before graduation to demonstrate their depth of knowledge and a passion for a particular areas, as well as their acquisition of broad analytical, problem solving and communication skills.
• Offer credit-based courses in career development so that students learn the fundamentals for lifelong career management. With projections that today’s graduate will have eight or more jobs in their life, they must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools to navigate the path from college to career as well as post-graduate career changes.
• Bring recent alumni from a variety of careers to campus and perhaps into the classroom to share their experiences for how they utilize their liberal education. Today’s students expect immediate answers and a direct line from major to career. At Wake Forest University, history professors require their students to participate in teleconferences with alumni who applied their bachelor’s degree in history to relevant but not directly related fields, such as journalism, law and marketing. Understanding the breadth of real-world opportunities dispels the myth that all history – and other liberal arts – majors are destined to become professors.
• Develop partnerships between the liberal arts college and the business school to enable faculty and students to work and learn across boundaries. Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise, now the most popular minor at Wake Forest, emerged from a college-business school collaboration. Alternatively, many students choose to acquire the Masters in Management degree at Wake Forest in their fifth year to develop the business knowledge and leadership skills to complement their liberal undergraduate education. These types of partnerships are essential to provide students with the skills to apply their liberal arts skills to business-world problems.
There are many possible solutions to help students realize and articulate the relevancy of the liberal education to the world of work. The one requirement is that liberal arts colleges must make personal and career development a mission-critical part of the undergraduate experience – and they must collaborate with faculty in the endeavor.
A liberal arts education, long regarded as one of America’s unique sources of strength, remains an important vehicle for nurturing young talent who will produce the answers for our future. However, a liberal education without regard to career relevance is not enough. Liberal arts colleges must begin rethinking success by demonstrating relevance beyond the classroom.

In the current economy more and more prospective students are wondering if college is a good investment.

Allie Grasgreen reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Liberal Arts Grads Win Long-Term:

Liberal arts majors may start off slower than others when it comes to the postgraduate career path, but they close much of the salary and unemployment gap over time, a new report shows.
By their mid-50s, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields, and are employed at similar rates. But that’s just one part of the paper’s overall argument that concerns about the value of a liberal arts degree “are unfounded and should be put to rest.”
“That’s a myth out there – that somehow if you major in humanities, you’re doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life. This suggests otherwise,” said Debra Humphreys, a co-author of the report and vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “That sort of journey to professional success is more of a marathon than a sprint.”
The report, “How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment,” includes U.S. Census data from 2010 and 2011 and is a joint project of AAC&U and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Humphreys and her co-author, Patrick Kelly, a senior associate at NCHEMS, looked at long-term career path and salary data as an answer to the many short-term studies on recent graduates that have fueled the assertion that liberal arts graduates are disproportionately un- or underemployed.

Back in the day there was a book entitled Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy).

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.
Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’
The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries.

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile? That is the real value of a liberal arts education which helps to develop critical thinking skills which are transferrable to many occupations.

Here is the press release from the Association of American Colleges and Universities:

For Immediate Release
Carrie Johnson
Associate Director, Marketing and Media Relations
New Report Documents That Liberal Arts Disciplines Prepare Graduates for Long-Term Professional Success
Analysis of Census Data Tracks Long-Term Earnings and Employment Rates of Liberal Arts Graduates; Counters Stereotypes about Value of Liberal Education
Washington, DC—January 22, 2014—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) released today a new report on earnings and long-term career paths for college graduates with different undergraduate majors. In How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment, authors Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly analyze data from the 2010-11 US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and provide answers to some common questions posed by students, parents, and policy makers who are increasingly concerned about the value of college degrees.
Responding to concerns about whether college is still worth it and whether liberal arts* majors provide a solid foundation for long-term employment and career success, the report compares earnings trajectories and career pathways for liberal arts majors with the earnings trajectories and career pathways for those majoring in science and mathematics, engineering, and professional or preprofessional fields like business or education.
“Recent attacks on the liberal arts by ill-informed commentators and policy makers have painted a misleading picture of the value of the liberal arts to individuals and our communities,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “As the findings in this report demonstrate, majoring in a liberal arts field can and does lead to successful and remunerative careers in a wide array of professions.”
In addition to providing useful information about long-term career success of liberal arts graduates, the report also shows “the extent to which degree holders in humanities and social sciences are flocking to a family of social services and education professions that may pay less well than some other fields (e.g., engineering or business management), but that are necessary to the health of our communities and to the quality of our educational systems.” The authors note that “the liberal arts and sciences play a major role in sustaining the social and economic fabric of our society.”
The report argues that “whatever undergraduate major they may choose, students who pursue their major within the context of a broad liberal education substantially increase their likelihood of achieving long-term professional success.”
Key Findings
Liberal Arts Majors Close Earnings Gaps—Earn More than Professional Majors at Peak Earnings Ages
• At peak earnings ages (56-60 years) workers who majored as undergraduates in the humanities or social sciences earn annually on average about $2000 more than those who majored as undergraduates in professional or pre-professional fields. These data include all college graduates working full-time, including those with only a baccalaureate degree and those with both a baccalaureate and graduate or professional degree.
Unemployment Rates are Low for Liberal Arts Graduates—and Decline over Time
• The unemployment rate for recent liberal arts graduates is 5.2 percent. The unemployment rate for mature workers with liberal arts degrees (41-50) is 3.5 percent—just .04 percent higher than the rates for those with a professional or preprofessional degree.
Liberal Arts Graduates Disproportionately Pursue Social Services Professions
• Relative to their share in the overall employment market, graduates with humanities or social science degrees are overrepresented in social services professions like social work or counseling.
Many Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Also Attain Graduate and Professional Degrees and Experience Significant Earnings Boosts When They Do
• More than 9.6 million individuals hold a baccalaureate degree in a humanities or social sciences field, and nearly 4 million of these individuals (about 40 percent) also hold a graduate or professional degree. These graduates with advanced degrees experience, on average, a yearly boost in earnings of nearly $20,000. More than half of science and math majors earn advanced degrees and experience, on average, a boost in earnings of more than $30,000 when they do.
Graduate and Professional Degrees Provide Earning Boosts for All; Largest Boost for Science and Math Majors and Smallest Boost for Professional Majors
• Graduate and professional degrees provide significant boosts in earnings for all majors. The largest graduate/professional degree earnings bump is experienced by those with science or mathematics degrees. The smallest bump is experienced by those with professional or preprofessional degrees.
Median Annual Salaries are Highest for Engineering Graduates; But, Whatever the Undergraduate Major, College Degrees Lead to Increased Earnings over Time and Protect Against Unemployment
• The median earnings of engineering graduates are consistently higher than the earnings of all other degree holders, but college graduates in all fields see their salaries increase significantly over time
“My educational background is in a STEM field, but in recent years I’ve become alarmed at the attacks on the liberal arts as being poor educational investments—for both students and the state,” said Dennis Jones, NCHEMS president. “This report makes a strong case that liberal arts degrees really do prepare their holders for successful careers. More importantly, it reminds us that these degrees also are the primary pathways to careers that society critically needs, but has been unwilling to compensate as well as others.”
Note on Methodology
The study analyzed public use files from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2010 and 2011. These files include information related to the education and occupation of about 3 million US residents between the ages of 21 and 65. The report authors grouped together for purposes of comparison college graduates with four-year degrees in a humanities or social science field (e.g. philosophy, history, or sociology) and compared the employment status of these individuals with that of three other groups: those with degrees in a professional or pre-professional field (e.g. nursing or business), those with a degree in science or mathematics (e.g. chemistry or biology), and those with a degree in engineering.
*The term “liberal arts” is used in the report as a description for majors in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
The publication of this report was supported with grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, and the Teagle Foundation.
Credentialed media can obtain copies of the full report by contacting Carrie Johnson at or 202-884-0811.
Through its more than forty years of service to higher education, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has been committed to bridging the gap between research and practice by placing the latest concepts and tools in the hands of higher education policy makers and administrators. Since its founding, NCHEMS has received widespread acclaim for developing practical responses to the strategic issues facing leaders of higher education institutions and agencies. With project support from multiple foundations, NCHEMS develops information and policy tools targeted at policy makers and institutional leaders that can help them set strategic directions and evaluate their effectiveness. NCHEMS also delivers research-based expertise, practical experience, information, and a range of management tools that can help institutions and higher education systems and states improve both their efficiency and their effectiveness. A particular hallmark of what we do is identifying and analyzing the data drawn from multiple sources to help solve specific policy and strategic problems.
About AAC&U
AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,300 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education and inclusive excellence at both the national and local levels, and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at


How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment: A Report on Earnings and Long-Term Career Paths
Student, parents, and policy makers interested in the “return on investment” of college education tend to place unwarranted emphasis on the choice of undergraduate major, often assuming that a major in a liberal arts field has a negative effect on employment prospects and earnings potential. This new report—which includes data on earnings, employment rates, graduate school earnings bumps, and commonly chosen professions— presents clear evidence to the contrary. It shows not only that the college degree remains a sound investment, especially in these difficult economic times, but also that— as compared to students who major in professional, preprofessional, or STEM fields— liberal arts majors fare very well in terms of both earnings and long-term career success.
Also available in eBook Version (PDF).
Read an excerpt
Product Code: LASCIEMPL
Author: By Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly; With a foreword by Carol Geary Schneider and Peter Ewell
Year Published: January 22, 2014
AAC&U Bookstore: Publications, Books, Assessment, Curriculum, General Education, LEAP, Liberal Education
Member Price: $12.00
Non-member Price: $20.00


Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person

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University of Montreal study: Aggressive behavior in toddlers may have genetic link

22 Jan

Moi wrote in Study: Consumption of soft drinks may be linked to aggression in children
The Center for Sport Policy and Conduct (Sport Center) at Indiana University, Bloomington has excellent capsule definitions of violence, aggression, and deviance According to the Sport Center violence is defined as:

Violence can be seen as a form of physical assault based on an intent to injure another person or destroy the property of others. To continue this definition, “violence in sport violates the norms and rules of the contest, threatens lives and property, and usually cannot be anticipated by the persons affected” (Smith, 1983, p. 6).

Aggression is defined as:

Aggression can be generally defined as all behavior intended to destroy another person’s property or to injure another person, physically or psychologically. It has been reported that action has to violate norms and rules shared by society in order to be defined as aggressive. Several experiments (Tedeschi, Gaes, & Rivera, 1977) found that a protagonist who intends to cause injury is only judged by witnesses to be aggressive when his behavior is also judged to be antinormative; in other words, when they are opposing the social rules that apply to that particular situation. Judgment is the same when the action or “intent to injure” constitutes a response to a previous provocation. If, however, the action exceeds the preceding deed, the revenge is viewed as excessive and judged as inappropriate and aggressive.

Deviance is defined as “Deviant behavior is usually that which departs from the norm; anything that goes against the accepted societal standards could be classified as such.”

Leo J. Bastiaens, MD and Ida K. Bastiaens wrote an excellent article about youth aggression in the Psychiatric Times. One part of the article looked at the economic impact.

Before taking into account the costs of juvenile justice programs and institutions, youth violence alone costs the United States more than $158 billion each year….
US cities lose nearly $50 billion a year because of crime and violence….Reallocation of resources, new social spending initiatives, programs with a higher quality of care, and a better public health perspective would change the lives of our youths and cut the social cost of juvenile crime in the United States.

What is Aggressive Behavior?

Dr. Dianne S. O’Connor lists the following causes of aggressive behavior in children

• Genetic and/or temperamental influences.
• Insecure or disorganized attachment patterns.
• Ongoing and unrelieved stress.
• Lack of appropriate problem solving and coping strategies.
• Limited experience with role models (e.g. peers, family members, TV. & computer games) who value and provide examples of non-aggressive behaviors.
• Ineffective parenting style: for example, authoritarian, controlling, harsh or coercive parenting style; permissive, overindulgent parenting style; rejecting parenting style; psychological problems in the parent such as depression or alcoholism.
• Poor fit between parent and child: Ineffective parenting could be an effect rather than a cause of the child’s behavior. Children’s problem behaviors may affect parents’ moods and parenting behaviors.
• Family stress, disruption and conflict.

There are certain family and social risk factors which should alert educators and social workers that an early intervention may be needed.

Physorg.Com reported about an University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study which cites early neglect as a predictor of aggressive behavior in children.

Early child neglect may be as important as child abuse for predicting aggressive behavior, researchers say. Neglect accounts for nearly two-thirds of all child maltreatment cases reported in the United States each year, according to the Administration for Children and Families.
According to Joan Arehart-Treichel’s article in Psychiatric News, aggression comes in four types. She writes about a study project conducted by He was Henri Parens, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and a training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. “Parens and his colleagues not only met with 10 socioeconomically disadvantaged mothers and their 16 infants twice a week over seven years, but have been following up with the mothers and their offspring ever since.” According to Arehart –Treichel, the four types of aggression are
One was a nondestructive aggression, the kind the 5-month-oldgirl had demonstrated. It is children’s attempt to master themselves and their environment. “This is a magnificent kind of aggression,”Parens said. It represents the kind that drives youngsters toexcel academically, win at sports, climb mountains, and do fantastic things with their lives. It is inborn and essential for survivaland adaptation. It is the kind of aggression that parents should cultivate.
A second kind of aggression is the urge to obtain food. It toois inborn and essential for survival and adaptation.
A third kind of aggression is displeasure-related aggression(say, a temper tantrum or a rage reaction), and a fourth kindof aggression is pleasure-related aggression (for example, teasingand taunting). Neither is inborn; both are hostile aggression,and both are activated by emotional pain. In other words, hurtinga person’s feelings can generate hostile aggression. That istrue for all people. In contrast, people whose feelings arenot hurt will probably not engage in hostile aggression.

According to Parens’ observations a good deal of the aggression behavior observed in the children in the study was related to how their parents treated them.

Aggressive Behavior in Boys

PBS has a good description of aggression in boys and what characteristics are normal and not necessarily cause for concern.

Why do boys become aggressive? Sometimes boys are aggressive because they are frustrated or because they want to win. Sometimes they are just angry and can’t find another way to express that feeling. And some may behave aggressively, but they’re not aggressive all the time.
An active boy is not necessarily an aggressive one. “We often see young boys playing out aggressive themes. It’s only a problem when it gets out of control,” comments Thompson.
Competition, power and success are the true stuff of boys’ play. Many young boys see things in competitive terms and play games like “I can make my marble roll faster than yours,” “my tower is taller than yours” and “I can run faster than you.” But these games of power and dominance are not necessarily aggressive unless they are intended to hurt.
Fantasy play is not aggressive. A common boy fantasy about killing bad guys and saving the world is just as normal as a common girl fantasy about tucking in animals and putting them to bed. “Most boys will pick up a pretzel and pretend to shoot with it,” comments teacher Jane Katch. “If a boy is playing a game about super heroes, you might see it as violent. But the way he sees it, he’s making the world safe from the bad guys. This is normal and doesn’t indicate that anything is wrong unless he repeatedly hurts or tries to dominate the friends he plays with. And sometimes an act that feels aggressive to one child was actually intended to be a playful action by the child who did it. When this happens in my class, we talk about it, so one child can understand that another child’s experience may be different than his own. This is the way empathy develops.”
Only a small percentage of boys’ behavior is truly aggressive. While “all boys have normal aggressive impulses which they learn to control, only a small percentage are overly aggressive and have chronic difficulty controlling those impulses,” says Michael Thompson, Ph.D. These are the boys who truly confuse fantasy with reality, and frequently hit, punch, and bully other kids. They have a lack of impulse control and cannot stop themselves from acting out. “They cannot contain their anger and have little control over their physical behavior and this is when intervention by parent or teacher is needed,” says Thompson.

The key point is a lot of behavior, which is normal activity for most boys is not unacceptable aggression and should not trigger the use of medication for behavior which is within the normal range.

A University of Chicago examined boys who exhibited abnormal aggression and found that there might be a physical cause.

Unusually aggressive youth may actually enjoy inflicting pain on others, research using brain scans at the University of Chicago shows.
Scans of the aggressive youth’s brains showed that an area that is associated with rewards was highlighted when the youth watched a video clip of someone inflicting pain on another person. Youth without the unusually aggressive behavior did not have that response, the study showed.
The results are reported in the paper “Atypical Empathetic Responses in Adolescents with Aggressive Conduct Disorder: A functional MRI Investigation” in the current issue of the journal Biological Psychology. Benjamin Lahey, the Irving B. Harris Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry at the University, co-authored the paper, along with University students Kalina Michalska and Yuko Akitsuki. The National Science Foundation supported the work.
In the study, researchers compared eight 16- to 18-year-old boys with aggressive conduct disorder to a control group of adolescent boys with no unusual signs of aggression. The boys with the conduct disorder had exhibited disruptive behavior such as starting a fight, using a weapon and stealing after confronting a victim.

Clearly, the youth in this study were not the typical boy and required intervention.

Generally, boys are thought to be more physically aggressive and girls are thought to be more socially or indirectly aggressive. Carolyn Willbert reports on a study at WebMD, which finds boys use indirect methods of aggression as well.

Girls often get a bad rap for gossiping, forming cliques, and other aggressive social behavior, as characterized in the popular movie Mean Girls. Boys, meanwhile, are known for physically aggressive behavior, such as hitting.

One study, however, says these attitudes may be at least partly unfounded. While boys are indeed more physically aggressive, girls and boys are equally guilty of aggressive social behavior, according to the report published in Child Development.

Researchers did an analysis of 148 studies that included nearly 74,000 children and teenagers. The studies were mostly done in schools and looked both at direct aggression, which is physical or verbal, and indirect aggression, which includes covert behaviors designed to damage another person’s social relations with others, without direct confrontation.
“These conclusions challenge the popular misconception that indirect aggression is a female form of aggression,” says Noel A. Card, PhD, assistant professor of family studies and human development at the University of Arizona and the study’s lead author, in a news release.
Based on the analysis, researchers concluded that often the same kids who are directly aggressive are also indirectly aggressive. Although boys tend to exhibit more direct aggression than girls, there is little difference between girls and boys for indirect aggression. This continues over different ages and ethnicities….
Kids who are indirectly aggressive often have depression and lower self-esteem. However, they tend to have high pro-social behavior, necessary to get support of others such as convincing peers to gossip and exclude others

Behavior is unacceptable when it is “intended to destroy another person’s property or to injure another person, physically or psychologically.” Purposeful harm to another person is never acceptable.
Aggressive Behavior in Girls

Dr. Nicki Crick, of the University of Minnesota has studied aggression in girls. Her work in the field of relationalship aggression is summarized:

Most studies about aggressive behavior in children have focused on boys and on physical expressions of aggression. “It gave the appearance that girls really were sugar and spice and everything nice,” says Nicki Crick, professor of child development. “But I didn’t believe that was really the case.”
For more than six years, Crick has been conducting longitudinal studies of relational aggression, witnessed mainly in girls. Rather than physically harming others, relationally aggressive children will threaten such retaliations as: “Do this or I won’t be your friend.” Or: “If you don’t help me, I’ll tell Amy you said she was ugly….”
What the research shows
Some of Crick’s early research findings show relational aggression is related to factors such as particular types of family relationships and relationships with friends and other peers. She is especially interested in children whose aggression is gender-atypical—that is, girls who are physically aggressive and boys who are relationally aggressive.
“These kids seem to be the most at-risk for more serious social problems later in life,” she says. “The most apparent reason is that not only does their aggressive behavior make them less popular, but the fact that they’re perceived by their peers as acting inappropriately for their gender further isolates them.”

Science Daily reported about a University of Montreal study which examined genetic influences on aggressive behavior.

In Toddlers’ Aggression Strongly Associated With Genetic Factors Science Daily reported:

The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated with genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse’s worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behavior, environment and genetics.
“The gene-environment analyses revealed that early genetic factors were pervasive in accounting for developmental trends, explaining most of the stability and change in physical aggression, ” Lacourse said. “However, it should be emphasized that these genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable. Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment in the causal chain explaining any behavior….”


Journal Reference:
1. Eric Lacourse, PhD, Michel Boivin, PhD, Mara Brendgen, PhD, Amélie Petitclerc, PhD, Alain Girard, MSc, Frank Vitaro, PhD, Stéphane Paquin, PhD candidate, Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, PhD, Ginette Dionne, PhD and Richard E. Tremblay, PhD. A longitudinal twin study of physical aggression during early childhood: Evidence for a developmentally dynamic genome. Psychological Medicine, January 2014
Behavior Modification

The American Academy of Pediatricians has the following suggestions for dealing with aggressive behavior for most children

The best way to prevent aggressive behavior is to give your child a stable, secure home life with firm, loving discipline and full-time supervision during the toddler and preschool years. …
Self control
Your youngster has little natural self-control. He needs you to teach him not to kick, hit, or bite when he is angry, but instead to express his feelings through words. It’s important for him to learn the difference between real and imagined insults and between appropriately standing up for his rights and attacking out of anger.
The best way to teach these lessons is to supervise your child carefully when he’s involved in disputes with his playmates. …
Your example
To avoid or minimize “high-risk” situations, teach your child ways to deal with his anger without resorting to aggressive behavior. Teach him to say “no” in a firm tone of voice, to turn his back, or to find compromises instead of fighting with his body. …
If you must discipline him, do not feel guilty about it and certainly don’t apologize. If he senses your mixed feelings, he may convince himself that he was in the right all along and you are the “bad” one…
When to call the pediatrician
If your child seems to be unusually aggressive for longer than a few weeks, and you cannot cope with his behavior on your own, consult your pediatrician. Other warning signs include:
• Physical injury to himself or others (teeth marks, bruises, head injuries)
• Attacks on you or other adults
• Being sent home or barred from play by neighbors or school
• Your own fear for the safety of those around him….
The pediatrician or other mental health specialist will interview both you and your child and may observe your youngster in different situations (home, preschool, with adults and other children). A behavior management program will be outlined. Not all methods work on all children, so there will be a certain amount of trial and reassessment

Here is the press release from the University of Montreal:

Jan 20 at 8:55 PM

in French.
MONTREAL, January 21, 2014 – The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse’s worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behaviour, environment and genetics.
“The gene-environment analyses revealed that early genetic factors were pervasive in accounting for developmental trends, explaining most of the stability and change in physical aggression, ” Lacourse said. “However, it should be emphasized that these genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable. Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment in the causal chain explaining any behaviour.”
Over the past 25 years, research on early development of physical aggression has been highly influenced by social learning theories that suggest the onset and development of physical aggression is mainly determined by accumulated exposure to aggressive role models in the social environment and the media. However, the results of studies on early childhood physical aggression indicate that physical aggression starts during infancy and peaks between the ages of 2 and 4. Although for most children the use of physical aggression initiated by the University of Montreal team peaks during early childhood, these studies also show that there are substantial differences in both frequency at onset and rate of change of physical aggression due to the interplay of genetic and environmental factors over time. Genetically informed studies of disruptive behavior and different forms of aggression across the lifespan generally conclude that genetic factors account for approximately 50% of the variance in the population.
Lacourse and his colleagues posited and tested three general patterns regarding the developmental roles of genetic and environmental factors in physical aggression. First, the most consensual and general point of view is that both sources of influence are ubiquitous and involved in the stability of physical aggression. Second, a “genetic set point” model suggests a single set of genetic factors could account for the level of physical aggression across time. A third pattern labeled ‘genetic maturation’ postulates new sources of genetic and environmental influences with age. “According to the genetic maturation hypothesis, new environmental contributions to physical aggression could be of short duration in contrast to genetic factors,” Lacourse explained.
About the twins cohort
This twin study was initiated by Michel Boivin of Laval University and Richard Tremblay, who is also affiliated with the University of Montreal and University College Dublin. All parents of twins born between April 1995 and December 1998 in the Greater Montreal area (Canada) were invited to participate, which resulted in the participation of 667 monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs. Monozygotic means the twins originated from the same embryo they are genetically identical. Dizogytic means they developed in separate embryos, meaning they are not identical.
Mothers were ask to rate their twins physical aggression, by reporting behaviour such as hitting, biting, kicking and fighting, at the ages of 20, 32 and 50 months. “The results of the gene-environment analyses provided some support for the genetic set-point hypotheses, but mostly for the genetic maturation hypotheses,” Lacourse said. “Genetic factors always explained a substantial part of individual differences in physical aggression. More generally, the limited role of shared environmental factors in physical aggression clashes with the results of studies of singletons in which many family or parent level factors were found to predict developmental trajectories of physical aggression during preschool.” Our results suggest that the effect of those factors may not be as direct as was previously though.
Long-term studies of physical aggression clearly show that most children, adolescent and adults eventually learn to use alternatives to physical aggression. “Because early childhood propensities may evoke negative responses from parents and peers, and consequently create contexts where the use of physical aggression is maintained and reinforced, early physical aggression needs to be dealt with care,” Lacourse said. “These cycles of aggression between children and siblings or parents, as well as between children and their peers, could support the development of chronic physical aggression.” We are presently exploring the impact of these gene and social environment interactions.

Contact: Julie Gazaille
University of Montreal

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University of Florida tries the online counseling program Therapist Assisted Online (TAO)

20 Jan

When parents are packing their children off to college, some are sending children to school who have some severe mental health and emotional issues. Trip Gabriel has an article in the New York Times which outlines the issues some students face while they are at college. In Mental Health Needs Growing At Colleges Gabriel reports:

Stony Brook is typical of American colleges and universities these days, where national surveys show that nearly half of the students who visit counseling centers are coping with serious mental illness, more than double the rate a decade ago. More students take psychiatric medication, and there are more emergencies requiring immediate action.
“It’s so different from how people might stereotype the concept of college counseling, or back in the ’70s students coming in with existential crises: who am I?” said Dr. Hwang, whose staff of 29 includes psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and social workers. “Now they’re bringing in life stories involving extensive trauma, a history of serious mental illness, eating disorders, self-injury, alcohol and other drug use.”
Experts say the trend is partly linked to effective psychotropic drugs (Wellbutrin for depression, Adderall for attention disorder, Abilify for bipolar disorder) that have allowed students to attend college who otherwise might not have functioned in a campus setting.
There is also greater awareness of traumas scarcely recognized a generation ago and a willingness to seek help for those problems, including bulimia, self-cutting and childhood sexual abuse.
The need to help this troubled population has forced campus mental health centers — whose staffs, on average, have not grown in proportion to student enrollment in 15 years — to take extraordinary measures to make do. Some have hospital-style triage units to rank the acuity of students who cross their thresholds. Others have waiting lists for treatment — sometimes weeks long — and limit the number of therapy sessions.
Some centers have time only to “treat students for a crisis, bandaging them up and sending them out,” said Denise Hayes, the president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors and the director of counseling at the Claremont Colleges in California.
“It’s very stressful for the counselors,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like why you got into college counseling.”
A recent survey by the American College Counseling Association found that a majority of students seek help for normal post-adolescent trouble like romantic heartbreak and identity crises. But 44 percent in counseling have severe psychological disorders, up from 16 percent in 2000, and 24 percent are on psychiatric medication, up from 17 percent a decade ago.
The most common disorders today: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, attention disorders, self-injury and eating disorders.
If a student has had prior problems, the student and family should have a plan for dealing with issues like depression or eating disorders while the student is at college. Often that might include therapy sessions with a counselor near the college. Often, students and families do not want to seek help because many feel there is a stigma to mental illness.
Megan O’Neill reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Campus Psychological Counseling Goes Online for Students at U. of Florida which discussed the online counseling program Therapist Assisted Online (TAO):
Therapist Assisted Online, or TAO, began at Florida this past fall. Designed specifically for students battling anxiety—a primary mental-health issue on college campuses—it is the first research-supported program of its kind in the United States, Ms. Benton believes.
In the pilot program, 26 students treated under TAO showed more improvement, calculated using a system called Behavioral Health Measure­-20, than 26 participants in the in-person group-therapy sessions at the counseling center. The students treated under TAO also made more progress than about 700 students receiving individual in-person therapy.
“The results blew me away, not to mention the fact that it stunned all of my counselors, who I think are still trying to come to terms with what happened,” Ms. Benton says.
The director is the first to point out the limitations of the pilot. Both the student patients and the counselors self-selected, indicating a certain level of motivation and comfort with new technology. The pool of participants was small. Other research studies show that online patients experience results equal to those of in-person patients.
Still, the model could spell major change for mental-health services in higher education, where the number of students in need of treatment and the severity of diagnoses has climbed steadily during the past decade, according to professionals in the field…
TAO consists of seven interactive treatment modules meant to be completed during a seven-week period. It includes assessments of current symptoms and level of function, as well as cognitive–behavorial and mindfulness exercises. Student patients participate in 10- to 15-¬minute video consultations with their counselors once a week, and receive daily encouraging text messages.
The online-treatment program falls between self-help and traditional therapy, Ms. Benton says. The relationship between the counselor and the patient remains paramount. The weekly video consultations and the content of the modules work in concert.
Counselors monitor progress, and layers of risk management are in place. Participating students must provide emergency contact information and authorize the counseling center to use it, if necessary.
Jurisdictional Issues
Much of the technical work is being done within the E-Learning, Technology, and Creative Services division of the university’s College of Education. Glenn E. Good, dean of the college and a licensed psychologist, estimates that the university has spent about $200,000 to develop TAO.
Officials are exploring the licensing potential of the program, he says, although the priority is to produce an effective, replicable treatment rather than a profitable business.
TAO and other types of online psychotherapy are inappropriate for seriously ill patients, counselors at the University of Florida and others say. Moreover, the regulation of mental-health professionals in the United States is done at the state level, creating geographic limitations even though the treatment is done online.
“There are interjurisdictional problems,” says John C. Norcross, a researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. “If you launch a website in Pennsylvania and the therapist you are talking to is in Florida and the patient is Louisiana, it is a regulatory and malpractice nightmare.”
Where the licensing and regulation of mental-health professionals is done at the national level, such as in Australia and Britain, online psychotherapy has been in use for years, Mr. Norcross says.
Nevertheless, TAO promises clear advantages for mental-health professionals in higher education and their patients, experts say. They cite time and cost savings, the flexible and discreet nature of delivery, and the potential scalability….

The University of Florida describes TAO:

What is TAO?
Tao is a seven-week, interactive, web-based program that provides assistance to help overcome anxiety.
TAO is based on well research and highly effective strategies for helping anxiety.
Each of the seven weeks, participants will watch videos, complete exercises, and meeting with a counselor via video conferencing for a 10-15 minute consultation.
Weekly exercises taking approximately 30-40 minutes to complete.

What are the experiences of UF students using TAO?
TAO Pilot OutcomesDuring the Fall 2013 Semester, we compared outcomes for individual face-to-face psychotherapy, group psychotherapy and Therapist Assisted Online for students with anxiety across seven sessions.
All participants completed the Behavioral Health Measure-20 (BHM-20) prior to each session.
On the BHM-20 higher scores indicate fewer symptoms and better functioning. The graph on the right shows change across time on the anxiety subscale of the BHM-20. On the BHM-20 a score of 2.6 indicates normal non-problematic functioning.

Who is eligible?
Currently enrolled students who want help with anxiety and worry.
Students who have access to computer with webcam.
Students who are not experiencing severe depression.
Students without a current substance abuse problem.
If taking medication, must have been on the same dose for at least one month prior to starting the treatment.
18 years old or older.
Currently living within 50 miles of Gainesville.
How do I sign up?
Call the Counseling and Wellness Center and ask to schedule a TAO triage appointment.
If you are already seeing a counselor, then tell your counselor you are interested.

We look forward to helping with your anxiety in TAO!

Parents must recognize the signs of distress and get help for their child. If you are a student in distress, get help because there are many different therapies to get you back on track.

Resources for Parents & Students

◦National Resources

◦National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) hour hotline

◦Mental Health America screenings for depression and other mental health conditions Click on the Take a Screening link under Finding Help
◦mpowersheets is a youth awareness campaign that helps fight stigma

◦The Virginia Tech Tragedy: Tips and Resources

◦Active Minds to Peer student support and advocacy group on college campuses

◦NAMI on Campus

Student-run organizations that provide support, education, and advocacy

◦Disability and Civil Rights Resources rights under ADA and how to file a discrimination complaint

◦Education and Community Integration of importance of community integration for those with mental health conditions

◦Community Integration Tools College Experience: Tips for Reducing
Stress and Getting the Accommodations You Need

◦Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation on reasonable accommodations

◦Job Accommodation Network on accommodations in educational settings

◦Association on Higher Education and Disability

◦Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education form and procedures

Trauma Resources

◦Understanding Mental Illness After the Virginia Tech Tragedy for dealing with trauma as well as educational resources

◦Higher Education Resources on Violence

◦Preventing Violence and Promoting Safety in Higher Education Settings

Evaluation Resources

◦Guide by Department of Education guide to evaluating drug and alcohol prevention projects

◦Resources through the Higher Education Center

Mental Health Screening Tools

◦Screening For Mental Health non-profit with college screening programs

◦Teenscreen University’s mental health screening program

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Brown University – Hasbro Children’s Hospital study: School violence is a very big issue

19 Jan

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) writes about school violence:

In the United States, an estimated 50 million students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Another 15 million students attend colleges and universities across the country. While U.S. schools remain relatively safe, any amount of violence is unacceptable. Parents, teachers, and administrators expect schools to be safe havens of learning. Acts of violence can disrupt the learning process and have a negative effect on students, the school itself, and the broader community.
2013 Understanding School Violence Fact Sheet Adobe PDF file [PDF 250KB]

Click to access school_violence_fact_sheet-a.pdf

School violence is youth violence that occurs on school property, on the way to or from school or school-sponsored events, or during a school-sponsored event.
What is School Violence?
School violence is a subset of youth violence, a broader public health problem. Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, against another person, group, or community, with the behavior likely to cause physical or psychological harm. Youth Violence typically includes persons between the ages of 10 and 24, although pathways to youth violence can begin in early childhood.
Examples of violent behavior include:
Fighting (e.g., punching, slapping, kicking)
Weapon use
Electronic aggression
Gang violence
School violence occurs:
On school property
On the way to or from school
During a school-sponsored event
On the way to or from a school-sponsored event
Data Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey Overview. Available from URL:

School violence is a growing issue.

Linda Carroll of NBC News reported in the story, School violence lands more than 90,000 a year in the ER, study finds:

Despite all the lip service given to battling bullying, many kids are still being seriously hurt while on school grounds, a new study shows. Each year more than 90,000 school children suffer “intentional” injuries severe enough to land them in the emergency room, according to the study published in Pediatrics.
Though there was a decrease in the number of intentional injuries at school over the last 10 years, it was minor, said study co-author Dr. Siraj Amanullah, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University.
“We were surprised,” Amanullah said. “With so much emphasis on school safety and bullying now, we expected a bigger decline. Ninety-thousand per year is quite huge.”
And keep in mind, Amanullah said, the study was only looking at kids who turned up in the ER. This could just be the tip of the iceberg.
“Bullying is so underreported,” said Amanullah, adding that children are still reluctant to tell anyone because often little gets done about it. “We were hoping this study would bring more attention to the problem.”
Amanullah and his colleagues pored through data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System — All Injury Program collected from January of 2001 through December of 2008. The ER reports include a plethora of detail, including the type of injury, whether it occurred at school and whether it was the result of an accident or was intentional.
While cuts and bruises were the most common injuries at 40 percent, fractures accounted for 12 percent, brain injuries for 10 percent and sprains and strains another 7 percent. The vast majority of injuries — 96 percent — were the result of an assault, with most perpetrators identified as friends or acquaintances. A full 10 percent of the assaults involved multiple perpetrators.
Part of the problem may be the adults that kids model themselves after. An article published in the same issue of Pediatrics reported that bullying behavior by coaches is quite high — and that the schools often make excuses for the behavior if it’s a winning coach.
A survey cited in the article found that 45 percent of kids “reported verbal misconduct by coaches, including name-calling and insulting them during play.”
During the study period, a total of 7,397,301 injuries occurred at school, of which 736,014 were intentional. The new study shows “that almost 10 percent of injuries are intentional, which means there’s a lot of violence going on in the schools that doesn’t include football, or hockey, or volleyball or tripping and falling and getting hurt,” said Patrick Tolan, a professor at the University of Virginia and director of Youth-Nex, the U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development.
Part of the solution may be increased monitoring of the kids, Tolan said. “Every school should assume they have an issue,” he added. “They should be looking at where and how both intentional and unintentional injuries are occurring….”


Emergency Department Visits Resulting From Intentional Injury In and Out of School
1. Siraj Amanullah, MD, MPHa,b,c,
2. Julia A. Heneghan, MDc,d,
3. Dale W. Steele, MD, MSa,b,
4. Michael J. Mello, MD, MPHa,c, and
5. James G. Linakis, PhD, MDa,b,c
+ Author Affiliations
1. Departments of aEmergency Medicine and
2. bPediatrics, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island;
3. cInjury Prevention Center, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island; and
4. dDepartment of Pediatrics, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Previous studies have reported concerning numbers of injuries to children in the school setting. The objective was to understand temporal and demographic trends in intentional injuries in the school setting and to compare these with intentional injuries outside the school setting.
METHODS: Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program from 2001 to 2008 were analyzed to assess emergency department visits (EDVs) after an intentional injury.
RESULTS: There were an estimated 7 397 301 total EDVs due to injuries sustained at school from 2001 to 2008. Of these, an estimated 736 014 (10%) were reported as intentional (range: 8.5%–10.7% for the study time period). The overall risk of an EDV after an intentional injury in school was 2.33 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.93–2.82) when compared with an EDV after an intentional injury outside the school setting. For intentional injury–related EDVs originating in the school setting, multivariate regression identified several demographic risk factors: 10- to 14-year-old (odds ratio [OR]: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.10–2.27) and 15- to 19-year-old (OR: 1.69; 95% CI: 1.01–2.82) age group, black (OR: 4.14; 95% CI: 2.94–5.83) and American Indian (OR: 2.48; 95% CI: 2.06–2.99) race, and Hispanic ethnicity (OR: 3.67; 95% CI: 2.02–6.69). The odds of hospitalization resulting from intentional injury–related EDV compared with unintentional injury–related EDVs was 2.01 (95% CI: 1.50–2.69) in the school setting. These odds were found to be 5.85 (95% CI: 4.76–7.19) in the outside school setting.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest a need for additional prevention strategies addressing school-based intentional injuries.

Here is the press release from Hasbro Children’s Hospital:

Hasbro Children’s Hospital National Study Finds High Number of Pediatric Injuries Caused by Violence at School
Siraj Amanullah, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine attending physician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, recently led a study that found children between the ages of five and 19 still experience a substantial number of intentional injuries while at school. The study, titled “Emergency Department Visits Resulting from Intentional Injury In and Out of School,” has been published online ahead of print in the journal Pediatrics.
Amanullah’s team analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program from 2001 to 2008 to assess emergency department (ED) visits after an intentional injury. Of an estimated 7.39 million emergency department visits due to injuries occurring at school, approximately 736,014 (10 percent) were reported as intentional, such as those from bullying and peer-to-peer violence.
“This study is the first of its kind to report such a national estimate,” said Amanullah. “The 10 percent number may not seem large, but it is alarmingly high when you consider that such a significant number of intentional injuries are occurring in the school setting, where safety measures meant to prevent these sorts of injuries, are already in place.”
The study also identified gender and age disparities. Boys were most likely to be identified as at risk for intentional injury-related ED visits from within the school setting, along with all students in the 10- to 14-year age group; whereas girls were most at risk for intentional injury-related ED visits from outside of the school setting, along with the 15- to 19-year age group.
Additionally, both African-American and Hispanic ethnicities were found to be associated with higher risks for intentional injury in the school setting compared to outside school. “The important point about these disparities related to specific ethnicities and specific age groups is that the findings suggest that preventive safety efforts in the school setting may need to be tailored for the groups that carry much of this injury burden,” said Amanullah.
James Linakis, MD, PhD, associate director of pediatric emergency medicine at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study, added, “We know that the risk of hospitalization was found to be higher from intentional injury-related ED visits versus unintentional injuries.” Linakis continued, “In supervised environments such as schools, we have a great opportunity to implement additional prevention strategies and reduce the number of seriously injured children who we are seeing in emergency departments nationwide.”
The study highlights the continued public health impact of bullying and peer-to-peer violence. While there are substantial numbers of emergency department visits due to intentional injuries occurring in U.S. schools, there are still likely many others that do not result in ED visits.
Michael Mello, MD, MPH, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital who also contributed to the study, added a reminder that these injuries not only affect the physical health, but also the emotional health of children, families and both victim and perpetrator. “As parents, guardians and physicians we need to keep talking to our children and patients about this physical and mental health burden. It is our responsibility to address the issue of violence and bullying, both in and out of school, just like prevention efforts for any other medical illness,” said Mello.–Caused-by-Violence-at-School/#null

One of the best concise guides to preventing school violence is the National PTA Checklist.

The National PTA Checklist recommends the following actions:

1. Talk to Your Children
Keeping the lines of communication open with your children and teens is an important step to keeping involved in their schoolwork, friends, and activities. Ask open-ended questions and use phrases such as “tell me more” and “what do you think?” Phrases like these show your children that you are listening and that you want to hear more about their opinions, ideas, and how they view the world. Start important discussions with your children—about violence, smoking, drugs, sex, drinking, death—even if the topics are difficult or embarrassing. Don’t wait for your children or teens to come to you.
2. Set Clear Rules and Limits for Your Children
Children need clearly defined rules and limits set for them so that they know what is expected of them and the consequences for not complying. When setting family rules and limits, be sure children understand the purpose behind the rules and be consistent in enforcing them.
Discipline is more effective if children have been involved in establishing the rules and, oftentimes, in deciding the consequences. Remember to be fair and flexible—as your children grow older, they become ready for expanded rights and changes in rules and limits. Show your children through your actions how to adhere to rules and regulations, be responsible, have empathy toward others, control anger, and manage stress.
3. Know the Warning Signs
Knowing what’s normal behavior for your son or daughter can help you recognize even small changes in behavior and give you an early warning that something is troubling your child. Sudden changes—from subtle to dramatic—should alert parents to potential problems. These could include withdrawal from friends, decline in grades, abruptly quitting sports or clubs the child had previously enjoyed, sleep disruptions, eating problems, evasiveness, lying, and chronic physical complaints (stomachache or headaches).
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Parent; Know When to Intervene
Parents need to step in and intervene when children exhibit behavior or attitudes that could potentially harm them or others. And you don’t have to deal with problems alone—the most effective interventions have parent, school, and health professionals working together to provide on-going monitoring and support.
5. Stay Involved in Your Child’s School
Show your children you believe education is important and that you want your children to do their best in school by being involved in their education. Get to know your child’s teachers and help them get to know you and your child. Communicate with your child’s teachers throughout the school year, not just when problems arise. Stay informed of school events, class projects, and homework assignments. Attend all parent orientation activities and parent-teacher conferences. Volunteer to assist with school functions and join your local PTA. Help your children seek a balance between schoolwork and outside activities. Parents also need to support school rules and goals.
6. Join Your PTA or a Violence Prevention Coalition
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, the crime rate can decrease by as much as 30 percent when a violence prevention initiative is a community-wide effort. All parents, students, school staff, and members of the community need to be a part of creating safe school environments for our children. Many PTAs and other school-based groups are working to identify the problems and causes of school violence and possible solutions for violence prevention.
7. Help to Organize a Community Violence Prevention Forum
Parents, school officials, and community members working together can be the most effective way to prevent violence in our schools.
8. Help Develop A School Violence Prevention and Response Plan
School communities that have violence prevention plans and crisis management teams in place are more prepared to identify and avert potential problems and to know what to do when a crisis happens. The most effective violence prevention and response plans are developed in cooperation with school and health officials, parents, and community members. These plans include descriptions of school safety policies, early warning signs, intervention strategies, emergency response plans, and post-crisis procedures.
9. Know How to Deal With the Media in a Crisis
Good public relations and media relations start with understanding how the media works and what they expect from organization’s that issue press releases, hold press conferences, and distribute media kits.
10. Work to Influence Lawmakers
Writing an editorial for the local newspaper, holding a petition drive, speaking before a school board meeting, or sending a letter to your legislator can be effective ways to voice your opinion and gain support from decision makers for violence prevention programs in your community. Working with other concerned parents, teachers, and community members, you can influence local, state and even federal decisions that affect the education, safety, and well-being of our children.

School violence is a complex set of issues and there is no one solution. The school violence issue mirrors the issue of violence in the larger society. Trying to decrease violence requires a long-term and sustained focus from parents, schools, law enforcement, and social service agencies.

A Dozen Things Students Can Do to Stop School Violence

A Dozen Things. Teachers Can Do To Stop School Violence.

Preventing School Violence: A Practical Guide


Violence against teachers is becoming a bigger issue

Hazing remains a part of school culture

FEMA issues Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans

Study: 1 in 3 teens are victims of dating violence

Pediatrics article: Sexual abuse prevalent in teen population

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American Association of State Colleges and Universities report: Proposal to slow privatization of public universities

18 Jan

Moi really don’t know what to make of the idea of privatizing state universities. In the recent past, government had the goal of raising the standard of living and producing the economic conditions that fostered livable wage jobs. The goal of most politicians was to create the conditions that promoted and fostered a strong middle class. Particularly, after WWII and the Korean War, with the G.I Bill, one part of that equation was the wide availability of a college education. This push produced an educated workforce and a college education was within reach, no matter one’s class or social status. This educated workforce helped drive this country’s prosperity. Now, have we lost the goal of providing educational opportunity the widest number of people possible, no matter their class or social status? This question causes me to wonder about privatizing state universities.

A couple of questions. First, has anyone ever looked at how efficient the academic world is in spending current resources? Second, is the current institutional model one that works? Should there be changes in the institutional model?

Sam Dillion was writing about the prospect of privatizing public universities in the New York Times in 2005. See, At Public Universities, Warnings of Privatization In 2004, William Symonds wrote an opinion piece in Business Week about the role of public universities:

To date, no major public university has been fully privatized. But as the states foot a smaller share of their budgets, the flagships have become more dependent on tuition and other sources of funds. They may still be publicly owned, but increasingly they’re privately financed. So a number of the flagships are seeking more freedom from state control. In July, University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman won “enterprise status” for her school, which means it’s no longer governed by the same rules as state agencies. Miami University of Ohio recently became the first major public campus to adopt the high-price, high-financial-aid tuition model used by elite private colleges. That means all students across the board are now charged $19,642, although Ohio residents receive scholarships of at least $10,000. “We are becoming more like our private counterparts,” says Penn State President Graham B. Spanier.”
This is a powerful yet troubling trend. On the one hand, the flagships are being forced to rely more on fund-raising, research grants, and other private or nonstate money. Given this reality, it makes sense to free them up from state rules that could impede their ability to become efficient and competitive. Such moves could help to insulate them from meddling politicians, as well.
Squeezing the Poor
At the same time, creeping privatization accelerates a broader movement by the top 100 or so flagships to hike their tuitions at a double-digit rate. The result is that a public good designed to give all Americans access to higher ed is turning into something more like a private one, open primarily to those whose families can afford it. Already, the student body at some flagship campuses is more affluent than at elite private schools: At Ohio’s Miami, for one, the median family income tops $100,000 a year.
Moreover, as flagships break free, support could erode for less prestigious state schools that remain more dependent on public funds. Privatization “will accelerate the social stratification of higher education, in which the elite [public colleges] are primarily filled with kids from privileged backgrounds, and the kids from poorer families are concentrated in less prestigious schools,” says David W. Breneman, dean of the Curry School of Education at UVA. At the nation’s 146 most selective colleges — including the top flagships — just 3% of entering freshman come from the bottom socioeconomic quarter, while a staggering 74% come from the top quarter….

The privatization issue arises whenever there is a lack of leadership or vision

Recently, Kim Clark at the US News site asked Would Privatization Help Public Universities Excel? Michael Hiltzak addressed the question of privatizing the University of California in an LA Times article, Why Privatizing the University of California Won’t Work

Eric Kelderman reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Report Proposes Federal Matching Grants for State Higher Education:

As Congress begins debating the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, proposals to change how public colleges get their federal money are starting to pop up.
On Wednesday, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities released a report recommending a new federal block grant to the states for higher education. The goal of the proposed program is to give states some incentive to preserve and even raise the amount they spend on colleges, which has been in decline, and also to strengthen the federal commitment to affordable higher education.
The formula for the additional federal money would be based on a comparison of a state’s per-student appropriation and the maximum Pell Grant.
To qualify for the bonus money, the state would have to provide a per-student appropriation equal to half of the maximum Pell Grant. At that level, the federal government would give the state another 25 cents for each dollar of state money.
“The more fiscal support states provide per … student, the higher the federal match rate, with the peak match reaching $0.60 for each dollar of state investment,” the report proposes. Based on figures for the 2012 fiscal year, Colorado, for example, would receive a block grant of about $1.7-million, while California would get about $1.2-billion.
While the formula would serve as a sort of de facto maintenance-of-effort provision, the additional federal dollars should come largely without strings attached, the report recommends.

The question lawmakers should be asking themselves is why society developed public universities and do those reasons still exist. In the rush to get past this moment in time lawmakers may be destroying the very economic engine, which would drive this state out of the economic famine that currently exists. Of course, if the current public universities were privatized, we wouldn’t have to worry about pigs still at the trough, like university presidents with million dollar salaries or would we?

Here is the press release from AASCU:

News Release from AASCU
Contact: Jennifer Walpole (202) 478-4665
AASCU Proposes Federal Incentive Program to Address College Affordability Crisis
Washington, D.C.—The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) released a proposal today aimed at combatting escalating tuition hikes at public colleges and universities. AASCU’s plan calls for leveraging up to $15 billion in federal matching funds to incentivize state lawmakers to invest in public higher education. The erosion of state funding remains the primary driver of tuition increases at public colleges and universities.
The proposed Federal-State College Affordability Partnershipwould reward states whose higher education funding practices align with the federal government’s longstanding commitment to making college more affordable for all Americans. It would compare each state’s per-student subsidy at public institutions to the Pell Grant maximum award—the federal government’s level of support for low-income students—and provide progressively greater federal matching funds to states that better fund their students.
“Providing an annual block grant to states that includes a scaled federal award is an efficient, effective and equitable method to keep college affordable,” says Daniel J. Hurley, associate vice president for government relations and state policy at AASCU.
“The program offers a unique mechanism to counter the privatization trend by ensuring that federal and state funding practices work in tandem to reduce costs for students” says Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at AASCU.
Given the vital importance of a highly educated workforce, AASCU calls on Congress to give serious consideration to the Federal-State College Affordability Partnership.
The proposal is the result of the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) initiative—Phase Two; Grants and Work-Study Consortia, led by the Education Trust, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.It was authored by Daniel J. Hurley, Thomas L. Harnisch and Barmak Nassirian of the AASCU division of government relations and policy analysis.
View AASCU’s report on the proposal here:
A Proposed Federal Matching Grant Program to Stop the Privatization of Public Higher Education

Click to access federalmatchingprogram.pdf

AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

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