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September 19, 2014

Really has it been 10 years?

Yes it has. Ten years ago Eric Jolly, Lesley Perlman and I decided that we had to figure out why so many efforts to increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) diversity led to so little success. The end result of our work was the ECC Trilogy, which is composed of:

Engagement: Having an orientation to the sciences and/or quantitative disciplines that includes such qualities as awareness, interest and motivation.

Capacity: Possessing the acquired knowledge and skills needed to advance to increasingly rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.

Continuity: Institutional and programmatic opportunities, material resources and guidance that support advancement to increasingly rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines.

Our biggest point was that each of the factors was necessary, but not sufficient, that all three factors must be present for student success. When we started to apply the Trilogy to diversity “issues” we found that yup we were right. For example:

Middle class girls have pretty much the same STEM Capacity and Continuity as do middle class boys (actually sometimes their capacity is higher) but the percentage of women entering engineering has been stalled for the last 20 years. No Engagement, no continuation.

In mathematics African-American fourth and eighth grade students are more apt than white students to agree with the statement “I like mathematics” (Engagement), but since they disproportionately attend schools with lower quality teachers (i.e., teachers with less experience, fewer certifications and even lower attendance at their teaching jobs) and less background in mathematics and science they have little Continuity. Little Continuity means little opportunity to develop Capacity and no continuation.

I could go on and on. Anyway we hoped that the ECC Trilogy might have a modest impact but we were wrong- it took off. The tenth anniversary seemed good time for us to reflect on the roles the ECC Trilogy has been playing in education and what its future might be. So take a look at our reflections and see what you think.

September 04, 2014

A Perfect Storm: Poor Education, Poor Communities and Poor Policing

Sorry folks, this isn’t one of my humorous and informative posts. Well, hopefully, it’s informative. I’ve been thinking about Michael Brown and Ferguson and of all the young Black men who have been killed and about the police officers who have died and the other police officers who have to live with wondering if their decision to shoot and kill was the right one. At the same time I’ve been thinking about contributing factors.

Did you know:

In policing:
• reporting instances of police use of deadly force is voluntary? (BTW in 2012, there were 410 deaths through police use of deadly force voluntarily reported compared to 1 for the United Kingdom.)
• there are no national nor state requirements for police training in the use of deadly force?. Individual departments decide what training officers get or don’t get.
• based on laboratory research, false positives, that is incidents when an officer incorrectly perceives that a suspect has a gun and, hence, responds with deadly force only to find that no gun exists, averages 9%?

In education:
• 17% of eighth-grade Black students in the U.S. are considered "proficient" in reading compared to 46% of white students. For Black 8th grade boys it’s 10%.
• Black and Hispanic students are more likely to receive harsher punishment for the same offenses, especially for minor misbehaviors?
• Black students between the ages of 6 and 21 are 2.86 times more likely to receive special education services for mental retardation, and 2.28 times more likely to receive services for emotional disturbance than same-age students of all other racial/ethnic groups combined?

In wealth and employment:
• a typical Black household has accumulated less than one-tenth of the wealth of a typical white one? And it's only getting worse.
• the poverty rate for Blacks is 27% vs 10% for whites?
• the unemployment rate for Blacks is 11.4% vs 5.3 for whites?

It’s a perfect storm of poorly educated kids in poor communities with few jobs where police may or may not have been trained. So what can we do? Here are some ideas.

In policing:
• Require standardized reports of incidents of officer use of deadly force at state and federal levels.
• With the assistance of groups like the Force Science Institute and the Center for Policing Equity, develop a set of minimum standards for training in the use of deadly force.
• Require all police officers take training in the use of deadly force that meets minimum standards.
• Provide public and private resources to pay for such training.

In education:
• Develop student discipline policies that are consistently applied and do not disproportionately impact students of color, low-income students, or those students with disabilities and rely more heavily on in-school discipline rather than suspension
• View special education as transitional for most students and mainstream special education students whenever possible to increase the ease of transition out of special education.
• Have teachers who feel they are responsible for the learning of their students and have the ability to inspire and motivate diverse students.

In wealth and employment:
• Listen to Warren Buffet about such things as tax rates and minimum wages.


In policing:

In education:

In wealth and employment: