Enrollments Drop In Teacher Education Programs Nationwide!

Teacher Education Programs Enrollment

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Dear Commons Community,

Between 2010 and 2012, enrollment fell in both undergraduate (nearly 11 percent) and graduate (more than 12 percent) teacher education programs in public and private nonprofit universities according to the National Center for Education Statistics. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required):

“The numbers don’t match overall enrollment trends. Undergraduate fall enrollment at four-year public and private nonprofit universities increased by more than 3 percent from 2010 to 2012. And according to survey results released by the Council of Graduate Schools in September, graduate enrollment at participating public and private nonprofit universities increased by an average of 0.7 percent annually from 2008 to 2013.

Among survey respondents, education had the greatest percentage decrease of all graduate programs from 2012 to 2013 (down 4.5 percent) and the greatest average annual percentage decline from 2008 to 2013 (down 3.4 percent)…

Data show that the paths students take to prepare for the teaching profession are changing. For-profit institutions have gobbled up an increasingly large share of students, as have online degree programs.

Enrollment in education programs at private, for-profit institutions has greatly increased in the past decade. From 2010 to 2012, enrollment in private, for-profit undergraduate education programs rose nearly 4 percent. Enrollment in for-profit graduate education programs decreased more than 21 percent but was still more than 50 percent higher than in 2004…

The recession hit [also] many school districts hard, and experts who spoke to The Chronicle believe layoffs and decreased hiring may have discouraged students from pursuing teaching careers.

“In the last few years, school districts have been cutting back on the number of teachers. There were layoffs in a number of areas, and hiring diminished, and the job market became less attractive,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and a former president of Columbia University’s Teachers College. “One of the things we’ve seen is that career changers who were interested in switching to teaching are less likely to do it now. The field seems too uncertain, and holding on to their current jobs seems appealing…

Mark LaCelle-Peterson, vice president for policy and programs at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, believes the numbers will rebound when the economy picks up.

“Enrollment in teacher-education programs has always been cyclical and somewhat responsive to the economy,” he said. “In the long term, it will be responsive to the job market. Right now we’re still projecting a need for quite a number of new teachers.”

The issues raised by these data should be of great interest and maybe concern to faculty and administrators in teacher education programs. I agree with Mark Lacelle-Peterson that enrollment in these programs is cyclical.  However, careful planning including the development of online programs especially at the graduate level should be considered.



Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi Share Nobel Prize for their Work with Children!



Dear Commons Community,

Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year-old schoolgirl and outspoken activist, from Pakistan, and the Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi, were announced as this year’s winners of the Noble Peace Prize. Ms. Yousafzai will share the $1.1 million award with Mr. Satyarthi, 60, a veteran, soft-spoken activist based in New Delhi who has rescued trafficked children from slavery. As reported in the New York Times:

“Announcing the prize in Oslo on Friday, the committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, said it was important for “a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism” — a resonant message in a week in which the Pakistani and Indian armies have exchanged shellfire across a disputed stretch of border, killing 20 villagers. But it was also a message that highlighted how far Ms. Yousafzai has come from her original incarnation as the schoolgirl who defied the Taliban and lived to tell the tale…

“I was totally surprised when I was told, ‘Congratulations, you have won the Nobel Peace Prize, and you are sharing it with a great person who is also working for children’s rights,’ ” Ms. Yousafzai said at a news conference…

“If with my humble efforts the voice of tens of millions of children in the world who are living in servitude is being heard, congratulations to all,” Mr. Satyarthi said in a television interview on Friday.”


NIH Awards $32-Million to Tackle Big Data in Medicine!

Dear Commons Community,

In a major move to support research on the use of big data in medicine, the National Institutes of Health announced on Thursday awards totaling $32-million. More than two dozen institutions will use the funding to devise innovative ways of helping researchers handle huge sets of data seen as increasingly central to future medical discoveries. The grants are the first outlay in a project, announced last year and known as Big Data to Knowledge, that’s expected to involve more than $600-million in spending by 2020. Its goals include developing and distributing methods, software, and tools for sharing, analyzing, managing, and integrating data into medical research. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Examples of the medical challenges that the grant recipients hope to help solve include finding disease associations in the three billion base pairs in the human genome, or in the estimated 86 billion neurons in the human brain, NIH officials said.

“Data creation has become exponentially more rapid than anything we anticipated even a decade ago,” the NIH’s director, Francis S. Collins, said during a briefing on Thursday, “and the challenge is to try to be sure we’re not exceeding the ability of researchers to capitalize on the data.”

“We see more and more the NIH as a digital enterprise,” said Philip E. Bourne, who this year became the agency’s first permanent associate director for data science.

The awards announced on Thursday were divided by the NIH into four broad categories: Twelve centers that will focus on solving computing challenges, nine that will create indexing systems for large volumes of biomedical data, nine that will tackle training and career-development strategies, and another nine that will develop course materials related to big data, including open online formats.

The grant recipients are a mix of leading public and private research institutions. Those with multiple awards are the University of California at San Diego, with three grants, and Harvard University, the Johns Hopkins University, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, the Oregon Health and Science University, Stanford University, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Southern California, with two apiece.”




Fusion Conducts Poll of Millennial Voters!

Dear Commons Community,

Fusion, the news, pop culture, and satire TV and digital network, has just completed a poll that focuses on the views of millennial voters (age 18-34). As reported at the Fusion website:

“Likely millennial voters—the people we talked to—are different than registered voters or members of the general millennial population. Our sample was screened for the people who actually vote in midterms, which is a small percentage of the overall millennial population. (Just 23% of millennials are expected to cast a vote in the midterms, according to Harvard’s Institute of Politics.)

With the Democrat’s control of the Senate hanging in the balance, young voters will be especially powerful this November if they show up at the polls. As Princeton Professor Sam Wang noted, just “a few thousand students Ames, Iowa and Boulder, Colorado could help determine control of the United States Senate by getting out the vote in their states.”

Fusion’s poll was conducted by telephone in English and Spanish between Sept. 12 – 22.  It has a margin of error of +/- 2.83%. For the complete, unedited results provided by our polling firm, click here.

See a summary of major findings below.



Major Findings:

  • Paul Ryan is the top pick for president in 2016 among young Republicans who are likely to vote. 16% of young Republicans polled chose Ryan, 11% chose Jeb Bush, and 9% chose Rand Paul.
  • Hillary Clinton is the top pick for president among young Democrats. Fifty-eight percent of millennial voters say they’ll support Clinton, followed by 13% who support Joe Biden, and 9% who support Elizabeth Warren.
  • In the midterm elections, 47% of likely millennial voters say they’ll choose Democrats, 32% say they will vote for Republicans, and 21% are undecided.
  • Only 15% of young black voters and 17% of young Hispanics are likely to support Republicans in the midterms.
  • Millennial voters say the economy, debt and spending, and terrorism are the most important issues for them.
  • 60% of young voters—and 69% of young Hispanic voters–want to allocate more resources to address the border crisis of unaccompanied minors.
  • In the wake of Ferguson, a majority of young voters oppose the militarization of: 56% say military weapons are unnecessary for police.
  • 84% of young voters think marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes.
  • 68% of millennial voters support gay marriage.
  • 60% of millennial voters are in debt, and 69% are concerned about their ability to pay it off.
  • 59% of young voters believe gun ownership should come with “reasonable restrictions”—and 9% think individuals should be banned from carrying guns.
  • 66% of young white voters trust police officers to treat them fairly, versus 46% of young black voters.

Intriguing Findings:

  • Young Hispanic voters support gay marriage at higher rates than other groups.
  • Seventy-one percent of likely young Republican voters say they’ve never smoked marijuana, vs. 55% of young Democrats.
  • Young Independent voters are the most likely to smoke pot. Fifty-percent say they’ve used it.
  • Republican millennial voters have more debt than Democrats.
  • Only 4% of millennial voters think climate change is the most important issue facing the United States.
  • Just 17% of young Hispanics says the Republican Party represents their views on immigration.
  • Only 12% of young millennial voters report that they get their news about politics from social media.


Amazon to Open its 1st Physical Store in Manhattan!

Dear Commons Community,

For those of us who buy online at amazon.com, you will soon be able to go into a physical store if you are in the vicinity of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. According to the Wall Street Journal:

Online mega-retailer Amazon plans on opening an actual physical store in New York City.

The store will be across from the Empire State Building at 7 West 34th Street in Manhattan. It won’t be a regular store, though. There’s just too many items on Amazon. The store will be more like a warehouse. You’ll be able to return and exchange things you buy online in the store. You’ll also be able to order something online in the morning and pick it up at the store that night, sources told the WSJ.

If this store is successful, Amazon may open more.

Although this will be Amazon’s first store, the company does have lockers around the U.S. where you can pick up and return Amazon purchases.

Part of what makes Amazon so great is that you don’t have to go outside to a store to buy virtually anything you want, so it’s a little surprising that the company is opening a store. However, other online retailers, like glasses company Warby Parker, have had success opening stores. Apple obviously has not regretted opening its stores.”

The significance of this move is that the most successful online retailer sees a need for people to people contact. In addition, it will be right across the street from our own CUNY Graduate Center.


AFT President Randi Weingarten Calls for Support for Philadelphia Teachers and the Upcoming Election!

Dear Commons Community,

Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT, sent out the email below to her membership regarding the Philadelphia’s School Commission’s voiding of the teachers’ contract.



Dear Member,

Yesterday, with only 28 days left until the 2014 elections, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) showed us how low our opponents will stoop to win this election. In a shameful move, the SRC held an early morning meeting—announced quietly just the day before—and voted to void our contract and impose work rules on thousands of teachers who have already made huge sacrifices to keep resources in schools. It’s a last-ditch effort to blame teachers for the crisis created by Gov. Corbett, and a stark reminder of what’s at stake on Nov. 4. The AFT and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have worked for years to restore Philadelphia schools. But as long as Gov. Corbett controls the budget, Philadelphia’s schools will be a political football. Our opponents—who are investing hundreds of millions in these elections—want public policy that lets them squeeze a profit out of kindergarten classrooms and hospital operating rooms, student loans and public pensions, emergency dispatch and school cafeterias. This year, we’re making unprecedented efforts to get out the vote for candidates who will treat our members and our communities with respect.

Across the country we’re fighting to elect leaders who share our values and will stand with us in office. But as we build power, our opponents grow more desperate—as this shameful move in Philadelphia shows. They’ll come after us as hard as they can, even stooping to personal attacks, like the ones leveled at me in recent weeks, in their efforts to smear our work and our union.    But if we tell our stories, we win. Everywhere I travel, I hear powerful stories from our members: A teacher in Philadelphia who lies awake at night planning how to help a struggling student. Nurses in Ohio organizing to stop their hospital from making an extra buck by cutting shifts and reducing patient care. Volcanologists in Alaska working day and night to monitor potential eruptions near cities and towns. And so many more.

Whether it’s the Koch brothers or Wall Street hedge fund managers, our opponents are spending hundreds of millions to buy these elections. We know we can’t compete dollar for dollar, but, by pooling our resources and using them strategically, we can turn out voters who share our values.   I hope you’ll chip in to help us mobilize our allies at the ballot box so we can reclaim the promise of America.

In unity, Randi Weingarten AFT President


Jerry Jordan Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President

UMUC to Seek Non-Profit Status Independent of the U. of Maryland System!

Dear Commons Community,

The University of Maryland University College (UMUC), suffering from recent enrollment declines, is considering converting itself into a private nonprofit institution. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required):

“Backers of the privatization plan, which would entail some level of independence from the University System of Maryland, say it would give the institution, known as UMUC, more flexibility in marketing and personnel, and help it compete with up-and-comers like Southern New Hampshire University and Arizona State University.

While many in the university question the need for such a radical move—last month UMUC wrapped up the last of eight meetings where faculty and staff members were invited to air their concerns before the university’s president recommends next steps—a close look at the data illustrates why some at the distance-education powerhouse fear for its future.

UMUC built its reputation as an affordable institution that served military personnel overseas. For more than four decades those enrollments helped it to flourish. That identity is evident at the university’s headquarters, where three clocks hanging prominently in the lobby are labeled “Europe,” “Asia,” and “Adelphi, Maryland.”

“Until the end of the Cold War, we were an overseas institution with a Maryland component,” says Javier Miyares, its president.

Then, in the latter half of the 1990s, as the United States was drawing down its troops overseas, UMUC became one of the first major universities outside the for-profit sector to embrace online education. As quickly as its overseas headcount was falling—quicker, actually—its domestic enrollments took off.

“Now we’re a stateside university with an overseas component,” says Mr. Miyares.

That shift did not come painlessly. From August 2012 to August of this year, UMUC consolidated managerial operations overseas and laid off more than half of its administrators in Europe and Asia, bringing the number to 99 from 205. It cut full-time faculty members at almost the same rate, from 199 to 114. Perhaps just as telling for a university where most courses are taught by adjunct professors, the proportion of those instructors based overseas who teach face-to-face and hybrid classes has shrunk over the past five years, even as the overall number of adjuncts has increased.”

UMUC was one of the major innovators in the early days of the development of online learning programs It remains to be seen whether a move to independent status will revive its position and enrollment in an increasingly crowded and competitive field.



Microsoft and Amplify Pledge to Adopt Student Data Protection after California’s Landmark Bill!

Dear Commons Community,

A week after California enacted a landmark law restricting the ways education technology companies can use the information they collect about elementary through high school students, a group of leading industry players is pledging to adopt similar data protections nationwide.  As reported in the New York Times:

“The 14 companies include: Microsoft; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the educational publishing house; Amplify, a developer of digital curriculums; and Edmodo, an online network for schools that allows teachers to assign homework and measure students’ progress.

The participating companies are publicly committing themselves not to sell information on kindergartners through 12th graders. They have also pledged not to use students’ data to target them with advertisements, and not to compile personal profiles of students unless authorized by schools or parents. The companies hope other educational technology providers will join them.

The pledge was developed by the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank in Washington, in collaboration with the Software & Information Industry Association, a trade group. The groups said the initial signatories already adhere to these practices, but wanted to publicly articulate them now to allay some parents’ unease with student-tracking software.”

Educators and parents would be wise to be careful of any pledge made by the likes of Microsoft and Amplify.  Both companies are strictly  profit-driven and cannot be entrusted with student data.  Amplify, whose parent company is News Corporation and owned by Rupert Murdoch, is part of a conglomerate that has been in judicial proceedings in the United Kingdom for hacking into people’s telephone records.



The University of Chicago to Eliminate Loans in its Tuition Aid Packages!

Dear Commons Community,

The University of Chicago announced Wednesday that it’s embarking on an effort to enroll more low-income students by the elimination of loans in its aid packages. In addition, the University will no longer expect financial-aid students to hold jobs during the school year and application fees will be waived for families seeking aid. The initiative includes scholarships, career guidance and a guarantee of paid summer internships, officials said as they announced the No Barriers program. As reported in The Huffington Post

“We want to ensure that students of high ability can aspire to join this community without financial worry, and with comprehensive support for their success both in the College and beyond graduation,” University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer said in a statement.

While other elite schools have tried the no-debt policy, the University of Chicago program is the most thorough effort of its kind, outside experts said.

“This is as complete and comprehensive an approach as you’ll ever see,” said Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education, which represents college presidents.

The percentage of low-income students in selective universities hasn’t changed much in two decades. Higher education leaders recognize the growing wealth gap in the United States and are recommitting to enhancing economic opportunity, Hartle said.

The University of Chicago’s economic diversity has lagged behind that of other institutions, with roughly 12 percent of freshmen coming from low-income families. Annual tuition, room and board tops $62,000. The university’s endowment, meanwhile, is $6.67 billion.

Last year, the University of Virginia ended its no-loan policy, citing rising costs. “After the University of Virginia disbanded its program, we were starting to become nervous that other elite institutions would follow,” said Michelle Asha Cooper of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a nonprofit group working to increase access to higher education.

“What needs to happen now is follow-through with sustained action,” Cooper said of the Chicago program.

Sandy Baum, a higher education economist at the Urban Institute, applauded the Chicago effort, particularly the paid summer internships, which she said “can really improve the experience for low-income students.” But Baum cautioned that elite universities can only do so much.

“They aren’t going to solve the problem” of lack of preparation for elite schooling among low-income students, Baum said. “We need to solve the problem earlier in these kids’ lives” with early childhood and K-12 education, she said.”

The University of Chicago is to be commended for taking this step. If implemented well, it can be a win-win for all involved.


Washington State Schools Punished for the Dysfunction in Washington, D.C!

Dear Commons Community,

Schools in the state of Washington are being subjected to harsh punishments because the state legislature refuses to require that teacher evaluations be based in part on student test scores. In fact, nearly nine in 10 Washington State public schools, including some high-achieving campuses in the state’s most moneyed communities, have been relegated to a federal blacklist of failure, requiring them to set aside 20 percent of their federal funding for private tutoring or to transport students to schools not on the failing list, if parents wish. The New York Times chronicles the issue as follows:

“Three years ago, Lakeridge Elementary School, where most pupils come from lower-income families, was totally remade. A new principal arrived and replaced half the staff, and she lengthened the school day and year. Working with a $3 million federal grant, the staff collaborated with the University of Washington to train teachers in new instructional techniques. The results were powerful: Test scores soared.

Yet just before school resumed for this fall, Lakeridge learned that it had been declared a failing school under federal education law.

The schools in Washington are caught in the political crossfire of a battle over education policy. Because the State Legislature has refused to require that teacher evaluations be based in part on student test scores, schools are being held to an outdated benchmark that is all but impossible to achieve — that by 2014, every single student would be proficient in reading and math. Thousands of schools in California, Iowa, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming have also been declared failing for the same reason.

The 100 percent requirement was set under No Child Left Behind, the 2001 signature law of the George W. Bush administration once hailed as a bipartisan project to hold schools accountable for the academic achievement of all students, especially children of color and those who live in poverty. While educators have increasingly pushed for revisions, Congress has failed to change the law, as Democrats and Republicans squabble over what role the federal government should play in public schools.

Faced with congressional gridlock, the Obama administration two years ago bypassed Congress and issued waivers to 43 states, excusing them from the requirement on the condition that they put into effect rigorous academic standards, such as the Common Core, and incorporate student test scores into performance ratings of teachers. A handful of states, including California and Vermont, refused to use test scores in teacher ratings, and either did not apply for or were denied waivers.

Washington State originally agreed to rate teachers with student test scores as a required component. But the Legislature decided instead to let districts choose whether to use the scores. As a result of that gap between can and must, the United States Department of Education in April revoked the state’s waiver from No Child Left Behind, triggering a cascade of paperwork for the state and school districts to identify failing schools, and diverting about $40 million in federal funding, the 20 percent set aside.

Oklahoma also lost its waiver in August, but for a different reason: The state has withdrawn from the Common Core, a set of reading and math standards adopted by more than 40 states, and reverted to older, less rigorous academic guidelines. Janet Barresi, superintendent of public instruction, anticipated the state would spend an extra $4 million to $6 million simply processing paperwork for schools now marked as failing.”

Only in the United States and especially with the Arne Duncan United States Department of Education do we punish children for the incompetence of our elected and appointed policy leaders.