October 4, 2011

October 18, 2011

February 17, 2012

How Schools Can Help Moms Stay in Science

"In a study published in the March-April issue of American Scientist, Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci write, "It is when academic scientists choose to be mothers that their real problems start. Women deal with all the other challenges of being academic scientists as well as men do. Childless women are paid, promoted and rewarded equivalently to their male peers (and in some analyses at even higher rates). Children completely change the landscape for women — but do not appear to have the same effect on the careers of men."

Why does this happen? Basically, prospective scientists finish grad school and postdocs and can apply for tenure-track jobs at an average age of 33. That means they won’t get tenure until they’re 35 or older. Until then, they have to work their asses off doing research and publishing papers. Which isn’t so compatible with being a mom.”


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February 18, 2012

August 9, 2012

“In the past couple of decades, we all have noticed an enormous expansion in university administrative ranks,” with some schools’ administrative staff-to-student ratios rising by more than 300 percent between 1997 and 2007, says Ben Ginsberg, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University, and author of the recent book The Fall of the Faculty. (See “Faculty Fallout,” The Scientist, August 2011.) “This greatly undermines both research and teaching,” he says. “To the faculty, the purpose of the university is research and teaching.” To the administration, “research is valued only in terms of the dollars it brings in.”

This pressure to commercialize research is compounded by increased competition for funding. “The money has dried up, both federally and at the state level,” says Martin Snyder, Senior Associate General Secretary at the American Association of University Professors. “One place that [academic researchers] are going is to private sources—the oil industry, tobacco industry, pharmaceutical companies. But the research money comes with strings attached.” The companies will have particular topics that they want researched, for example, and may want to avoid publishing results that reflect negatively on their products. “It’s just the antithesis of academic freedom and research,” says Snyder.

Moreover, while the commercialization pressure continues to mount, full-time faculty who are in a position to deliver such products are getting cut. “Seventy percent of faculty in the U.S. are part-time, or [on] short-term contracts,” and don’t have traditional tenure or tenure-track jobs, Snyder says. In the last 30 years, the proportion of university faculty working full time has fallen from about 60 percent to less than 40 percent. Now, for many academics, the “only security is the state of their funding,” Synder says. “I’m not sure how you build a research career on that kind of unstable foundation.”

Best Places to Work Academia, 2012 | The Scientist

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October 4, 2012

The key to a high performing educational system — whether it is in Finland, Singapore, or Canada — is a highly professionalized teacher corps. Professionals know their subjects and how to teach them effectively. They are given status, autonomy, and a reasonable standard of living, on the assumption that they can make judicious decisions about complex, not easily solved dilemmas. (For more on the good professional, see goodworkproject.org). The bulk of federal discretionary funds should be used to shift our country from a K-12 teaching cohort that is not distinguished academically and has not had the opportunity to act in a professional manner to a cohort that is as well-informed as our best engineers and physicians and as thoughtful and fair minded as our best judges.

The most skilled teachers should work in the most challenging districts and should be compensated accordingly. We should be recruiting from the same ranks as Teach for America, but not for a two year immersion — rather for decades-long dedication to a noble profession. Teacher training should take place over several years, largely on site, and not in brief ‘boot camps’. There should be a career path from intern to teacher to master teacher and teacher-of-teachers. The issue is NOT price — we spent trillions on wars, and give huge tax breaks to multi-millionaires, with hardly any second guessing.

C. M. Rubin: The Global Search for Education: The Education Debate 2012 — Howard Gardner

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