View post tag: Stennis Back to overview,Home naval-today USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group Arrives in Singapore April 2, 2013 View post tag: Carrier USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) arrived in Singapore April 1 for a scheduled port visit.This is the JCSCSG’s first port visit since entering the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) March 26, after five months of operating in and around the Arabian Gulf.“This port visit to Singapore will be a welcome and wonderful experience for our hard-working Sailors,” said Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, CSCSG. “It’s also an opportunity for us to further strengthen the long-standing and excellent relationship between our navies.”JCSCSG, consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21 and USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts to support regional security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.[mappress]Naval Today Staff, April 2, 2013 View post tag: Arrives View post tag: News by topic View post tag: John View post tag: Strike View post tag: Singapore View post tag: Defense View post tag: Navy View post tag: C. View post tag: Defence Training & Education View post tag: Naval View post tag: Group View post tag: USS USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group Arrives in Singapore Share this article
A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona(ATSU-SOMA) seeks applications for an assistant professor ofAnatomy on the Mesa, Arizona campus. This position reports to theAnatomy department chair. The assistant professor of Anatomy willdevelop and deliver anatomy curriculum to students from SOMA. Theywill provide basic science of anatomy and the clinically-relevantcontent of the anatomy curriculum, as a priority, to SOMA’s medicalstudents. A primary responsibility will be the focus on thedevelopment of technologically-dependent curricula using a varietyof software to enhance the anatomy curricula by emphasizingclinically-relevant anatomy as a priority over the classicalmemorization of anatomical structures.Target start date: July 2021.Major Job Duties:1. Primarily develop curricula using a variety oftechnologies.2. Deliver curricula to students.3. Develop and deliver clinically-oriented curricula in the VirtualAnatomy Lab.4. Participate in the on-going assessment of students (i.e.,testing).5. Work with other anatomy faculty to delivery and prepare contentfor the cadaver lab.6. Assist lab technician, if requested, in the set-up and take-downof lab supplies before, and after, each lab session asrequired.7. Participate in the school’s requirements in scholarlyactivities, service, committee work, and research asrequired.Skills/Requirements:Terminal degree in Anatomy (PhD), or MD/DO (degree either obtainedor in progress with an expected graduation date prior to theexpected position start date) with relevant anatomicalexperience/exposure.The successful applicant will possess a knowledge of humanclinically-related anatomy. In addition, skills in contentgeneration software (Adobe products: Captivate, Presenter,Photoshop, etc.) and Microsoft Office products. Typing speed of 60wpm (minimum) is expected. Learning to use the existing school’svirtual anatomy software is also required. Knowledge of assessmentsoftware, exam-item writing for high-stakes examinations.The applicant should have experience in the clinical use of anatomyas demonstrated by prior experience as an Anatomy instructor,Physical Therapist (DPT), Physician’s Assistant, Surgeon, orRadiologist. Emphasis will be placed on the understanding and useof technology in the delivery of clinically-relevant anatomyeducation is preferred.Must possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills; highemotional intelligence. The ability to work with colleagues inhigher education and deliver curricular content to up to 160students.Because this is a non-clinical position (no direct patient-careresponsibilities), current state medical licensure is not required;however, if current medical licensure is in existence, at time ofhire, maintaining licensure will be required and CME requirements,as designated by the appropriate state medical licensing board, tomaintain said licensure will be required.
The Oxford Living Wage Campaign told Cherwell: “This is yet another inadequate response to the current crisis from the university. It is an unnecessarily intrusive and bureaucratic process, and exposes Oxford’s typically paternalistic approach to its workers. We are concerned that this hardship fund will be much harder to access for those lower down the pay scale, and those who do not have cosy relationships with their heads of division. Oxford should not be turning the demonstration of hardship into a competition, and should not make financial support conditional upon workers disclosing the intricacies of their private spending. You do not rescind your right to a private life at the workplace door. We again repeat our demand that the university and all its colleges guarantee job and immigration security, with 100% pay (with a ‘hazard pay’ uplift to 125% for those unable to work from home) for all workers on all contract types during and after this crisis.” Oxford University’s Human Resources Department established a Staff COVID-19 Hardship Fund, intended to alleviate some of the financial stress brought upon its employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the application, employees must include their name, employing department, grade and salary including length of service, income and expenditure details, and sufficient detail to support the application and whether financial hardship has been demonstrated. Oxford HR also recommends that applicants include “specific requirements” for financial assistance brought on by the pandemic. The site explaining the details of the Fund, accessible on the HR webpage – notes that Department Heads of Administration and Finance should apply on behalf of individual employees. Applicants may write directly if they wish, but they must get a supplementary letter of support from the Head of Administration and Finance. The Oxford Living Wage Campaign and the Oxford University & College Union have posted critical statements in recent weeks about the University’s responses to the impact of COVID-19 on employee welfare. For instance, the UCU has petitioned the University to pause redundancies and disciplinary procedures during the pandemic. “The Oxford UCU branch are currently looking into setting up an independent hardship fund for members who have been adversely affected by Covid-19, following the model of Warwick Anti-Casualisation. We shouldn’t have to be doing this, but staff at the University are being let down – and not just our members. We encourage anyone interested to get in touch on [email protected] if you are keen to get involved in some way – and remember, postgrads also get UCU membership for free.” When asked about the Oxford Living Wage Campaign’s statement regarding the Staff COVID-19 Hardship Fund, Marina Lambrakis, co-Vice-President of the Oxford UCU said, on behalf of the Oxford UCU: “It is good to see the University recognise that staff are facing hardship and unprecedented challenges at the moment. This fund could be a step in the right direction – but it is currently not at all clear how it will work: how applications will be evaluated or by who, how much money is available, or how it will be allocated. Having to disclose a huge amount of very personal information through your seniors to a generic email address, with no transparency about who will have access to that data, is deeply concerning to us and to many of our members. The Living Wage campaign are right to call this intrusive and paternalistic. We already know of staff feeling unsafe and pressured to return to work, and the University refuses to pause redundancies and is ploughing ahead with business as usual. It’s hard to say how much of their communications we can take in good faith. “The fund is aimed at helping staff and students who are experiencing financial issues which may be resolved through a grant or, occasionally for staff, an interest-free loan. “As with all organisations and businesses, the economic implications of the Covid19 crisis will be significant for the University. All our work throughout this difficult period is being done in our usual collaborative way, in discussion with Divisions, Departments, the Colleges, the University Administrative Service and the Gardens Libraries and Museums.” In a statement given to Cherwell, a spokesperson for the University said: “The Hardship Fund was established to support the existing Littlemore Trust staff fund in recognition that the Covid-19 crisis may have a significant financial impact on some staff and their families. This is one of a number of measures the University has brought in to support the health and well-being of our staff. Image Credit to: Tetiana Shyshkina/@shyshkina/unsplash.com
Hovis has appointed its first innovation director to lead the brand’s NPD programme. Sharon Barraclough has joined the company from Telefonica UK, where she held the position of head of brand and marketing strategy and was responsible for developing a new brand strategy for O2 in the UK. She also has experience of the food industry as a former European brand director for Western Europe at Mars Chocolate and head of marketing at Manor Bakeries, where she also focused on growth and NPD.Barraclough will now be tasked with helping Hovis to drive category growth with new products.Nish Kankiwala, executive chairman, said: “Sharon joins us at an incredibly exciting time and we feel privileged to have her on board our journey. Innovation is absolutely critical to Hovis and forms an integral part to our growth strategy. Sharon’s wealth of experiences in delivering ambitious and innovative business and marketing strategies will assist Hovis in continuing to lead the bread market with category-first initiatives.“Sharon is an ambitious and entrepreneurial marketer with a passion for innovation and we’re excited to have her on board during this exciting new chapter for the business.”Tim Stoller began as Hovis’ first convenience director in April, while the company continues its search for a chief executive to replace Bob Spooner, who resigned his post last October to take up an opportunity abroad, and also for a chief financial officer following Michael Kennedy’s departure in January this year.
A group of 14 female executives from across the UK food industry have built 120 beehives in Tanzania in just three days. The project was part of the Big Beehive Build that is designed to boost local farmers’ income from honey and raise funds for the charity Farm Africa. The women, who were volunteering in the village of Bermi in Babati, eclipsed their 2015 record in which they built 90 hives over three days.“A 72-hour challenge is the beginning of a local community business,” said Lorraine Hendle, managing director of retail & manufacturing at British Baker publisher William Reed Business Media. “The women, men and children of the Bermi community will all benefit from this resource.”The group, led by Sainsbury’s brand director Judith Batchelar, also included Frances Swallow from Finsbury Foods and Catherine Allen of Rowse Honey.They worked alongside beekeepers from Bermi to build the modern Langstroth beehives. Babati’s beekeepers typically use traditional beehives suspended high in trees but these have long presented a barrier for women to engage in beekeeping in this area as it is culturally unacceptable for them to climb trees. Langstroth hives sit on the ground, removing this barrier.Honey provides an economically viable alternative to cropland conversion and timber harvesting.“The Big Beehive Build’s premise is beautifully simple: No bees, no trees. No honey, no money”, said Jenni Bright, Farm Africa’s head of fundraising.“Bees, as pollinators, improve the forest ecosystem, and equally fruit trees improve honey production, which helps local women earn more money.”After the challenge, the group travelled to the village of Erri to revisit the women who received beehives as part of the Big Beehive Build 2015.Between 14 October 2017 and 14 January 2018 donations in support of the Big Beehive Build will go to Farm Africa’s Growing Futures appeal that will help young farmers living in western Kenya develop sustainable horticulture businesses. Gifts from individuals based in the UK will be doubled by the Government through UK Aid Match, meaning gifts will go twice as far.The full team who took part in the Big Beehive Build was:Catherine Allen, Rowse HoneyJudith Batchelar, Sainsbury’s and Farm Africa TrusteeHelen Brierley, VitacressViv Harris, ABP Food GroupLorraine Hendle, William Reed Business MediaUrsula Lavery, Moy ParkGillian McAuley, Devenish NutritionMarnie Millard, Nichols PLCAnn Savage, MarelJudith Simpson, Rowse HoneyHelen Sisson, GreencoreHannah-Louise Smith, Metro BankAlice Stanton, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Devenish NutritionFrances Swallow, Finsbury Foods
Millions of Americans dance, recreationally or professionally. How many of those who ballroom dance, foxtrot, break dance, or line dance realize that they are doing something positive for their brains?“There’s no question, anecdotally at least, that music has a very stimulating effect on physical activity,” said Daniel Tarsy, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “And I think that applies to dance, as well.”Scientists gave little thought to the neurological effects of dance until relatively recently, when researchers began to investigate the complex mental coordination that dance requires. In a 2008 article in Scientific American, a Columbia University neuroscientist posited that synchronizing music and movement constitutes a “pleasure double play.” Music stimulates the brain’s reward centers, while dance activates its sensory and motor circuits.Studies using PET imaging have identified brain regions that contribute to learning and performing dances. These regions include the motor cortex, somatosensory cortex, basal ganglia, and cerebellum. The motor cortex is involved in the planning, control, and execution of voluntary movement. The somatosensory cortex, in the mid-region of the brain, is responsible for motor control and also plays a role in eye-hand coordination. The basal ganglia, a group of structures deep in the brain, works with other regions to smoothly coordinate movement, while the cerebellum integrates input from the brain and spinal cord and helps plan fine and complex motor actions.Researchers recently began to investigate the complex mental coordination that dance requires. File photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerWhile some imaging studies have shown which regions of the brain are activated by dance, others have explored how the physical and expressive elements of dance alter brain function. Much of the research on the physical activity associated with dance echoes findings on exercise, showing benefits that range from memory improvement to strengthened neural connections.A 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that dance can decidedly improve brain health. The study investigated the effect leisure activities had on the risk of dementia in the elderly. The researchers looked at the impact of 11 different types of physical activity, including cycling, golf, swimming, and tennis, but found that only one — dance — lowered participants’ risk of dementia. The combination of mental effort and social interaction made the difference, according to the researchers.In a small study undertaken in 2012, researchers at North Dakota’s Minot State University found that the Latin-style dance program known as Zumba improves mood and certain cognitive skills, such as visual recognition and decision-making. Other studies have shown that dance helps reduce stress, increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, and helps develop new neural connections, especially in regions involved in executive function, long-term memory, and spatial recognition.Dance has been found to be therapeutic for patients with Parkinson’s disease. More than one million people in this country are living with Parkinson’s, with 60,000 new cases annually, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Parkinson’s belongs to a group of conditions called motor-system disorders, which develop when the dopamine-producing cells in the brain are lost. The chemical dopamine is an essential component of the brain’s system for controlling movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, an increasing number of these cells die off, drastically reducing the amount of dopamine available to the brain.According to the foundation, the primary motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include bradykinesia (slowed movement), stiffness of the limbs and trunk, tremors, and impaired balance and coordination. It is these symptoms that dance may help alleviate.“A lot of this research is observational, not hard science,” said Tarsy, “but it’s consistent and there’s a lot of it.”Tarsy said that dance can be considered a form of rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS). In RAS, a series of fixed rhythms are presented to patients, who are then asked to move to the rhythms. Studies of the effects this technique has on patients with Parkinson’s or other movement disorders have found significant improvements in gait and upper-extremity function. Although there have been no side-by-side scientific comparisons of RAS with either music or dance, Tarsy said people with Parkinson’s “speak and walk better if they have a steady rhythmic cue.”At the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Peter Wayne, an assistant professor of medicine at HMS, studies the clinical effects of mind-body and complementary/alternative medicine practices on patients with chronic health conditions. He has conducted clinical trials designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of tai chi for patients with Parkinson’s and other balance disorders. Tai chi is a Chinese martial art once used for self-defense but now performed as exercise. Wayne considers it a more ritualized, structured form of dance.The increased susceptibility to falls seen in people who are aging or dealing with disorders like Parkinson’s can be mitigated by the practice of tai chi. File photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer“The focus of our work is to take advantage of traditional exercises in which it’s implicit that the mind and body are connected more efficiently,” said Wayne. “Tai chi is one such exercise that we focus on because of its benefits for both balance and mental function.”Research, he said, has shown that the increased susceptibility to falls seen in people who are aging or dealing with disorders like Parkinson’s can be mitigated by the practice of tai chi; it improves their strength and flexibility as well as their cognitive performance.One such study appeared in 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine. In it, a team of investigators led by a scientist at the Oregon Research Institute found that tai chi helped improve balance and prevent falls among people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease. After six months, those who practiced tai chi twice weekly were physically stronger and had better balance than those who did either weight training or stretching.Under Tarsy’s direction, Beth Israel Deaconess has initiated several wellness programs, including ones that feature tai chi, Zumba, yoga, and drumming, designed to help people manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Although it is still unclear to what extent these programs benefit patients, Tarsy said there is evidence that such activities as dance and tai chi can stabilize the effects of the disease and slow the degree to which everyday movement is affected.
Third in a series on what Harvard scholars are doing to identify and understand inequality, in seeking solutions to one of America’s most vexing problems. Before Deval Patrick ’78, J.D. ’82, was the popular and successful two-term governor of Massachusetts, before he was managing director of high-flying Bain Capital, and long before he was Harvard’s most recent Commencement speaker, he was a poor black schoolchild in the battered housing projects of Chicago’s South Side.Former Gov. Deval Patrick ’78, J.D. ’82. Photo by Kiera BlessingThe odds of his escaping a poverty-ridden lifestyle, despite innate intelligence and drive, were long. So how did he help mold his own narrative and triumph over baked-in societal inequality? Through education.“Education has been the path to better opportunity for generations of American strivers, no less for me,” Patrick said in an email when asked how getting a solid education, in his case at Milton Academy and at Harvard, changed his life.“What great teachers gave me was not just the skills to take advantage of new opportunities, but the ability to imagine what those opportunities could be. For a kid from the South Side of Chicago, that’s huge.”If inequality starts anywhere, many scholars agree, it’s with faulty education. Conversely, a strong education can act as the bejeweled key that opens gates through every other aspect of inequality, whether political, economic, racial, judicial, gender- or health-based.Simply put, a top-flight education usually changes lives for the better. And yet, in the world’s most prosperous major nation, it remains an elusive goal for millions of children and teenagers.Plateau on educational gainsThe revolutionary concept of free, nonsectarian public schools spread across America in the 19th century. By 1970, America had the world’s leading educational system, and until 1990 the gap between minority and white students, while clear, was narrowing.But educational gains in this country have plateaued since then, and the gap between white and minority students has proven stubbornly difficult to close, says Ronald Ferguson, adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and faculty director of Harvard’s Achievement Gap Initiative. That gap extends along class lines as well.“What great teachers gave me was not just the skills to take advantage of new opportunities, but the ability to imagine what those opportunities could be. For a kid from the South Side of Chicago, that’s huge.”— Deval PatrickIn recent years, scholars such as Ferguson, who is an economist, have puzzled over the ongoing achievement gap and what to do about it, even as other nations’ school systems at first matched and then surpassed their U.S. peers. Among the 34 market-based, democracy-leaning countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks around 20th annually, earning average or below-average grades in reading, science, and mathematics.By eighth grade, Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. noted last year, only 44 percent of American students are proficient in reading and math. The proficiency of African-American students, many of them in underperforming schools, is even lower.Education gap: The root of inequality <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lsDJnlJqoY” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/9lsDJnlJqoY/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Illustration by Kathleen M.G. Howlett.Harvard staff writer Christina Pazzanese contributed to this report.Next Tuesday: Inequality in health care At HGSE, where Ferguson is faculty co-chair as well as director of the Achievement Gap Initiative, many factors are probed. In the past 10 years, Ferguson, who is African-American, has studied every identifiable element contributing to unequal educational outcomes. But lately he is looking hardest at improving children’s earliest years, from infancy to age 3.In addition to an organization he founded called the Tripod Project, which measures student feedback on learning, he launched the Boston Basics project in August, with support from the Black Philanthropy Fund, Boston’s mayor, and others. The first phase of the outreach campaign, a booklet, videos, and spot ads, starts with advice to parents of children age 3 or younger.“Maximize love, manage stress” is its mantra and its foundational imperative, followed by concepts such as “talk, sing, and point.” (“Talking,” said Ferguson, “is teaching.”) In early childhood, “The difference in life experiences begins at home.”At age 1, children score similarlyFryer and Ferguson agree that the achievement gap starts early. At age 1, white, Asian, black, and Hispanic children score virtually the same in what Ferguson called “skill patterns” that measure cognitive ability among toddlers, including examining objects, exploring purposefully, and “expressive jabbering.” But by age 2, gaps are apparent, with black and Hispanic children scoring lower in expressive vocabulary, listening comprehension, and other indicators of acuity. That suggests educational achievement involves more than just schooling, which typically starts at age 5.Key factors in the gap, researchers say, include poverty rates (which are three times higher for blacks than for whites), diminished teacher and school quality, unsettled neighborhoods, ineffective parenting, personal trauma, and peer group influence, which only strengthens as children grow older.Graphics by Judy Blomquist/Harvard Staff“Peer beliefs and values,” said Ferguson, get “trapped in culture” and are compounded by the outsized influence of peers and the “pluralistic ignorance” they spawn. Fryer’s research, for instance, says that the reported stigma of “acting white” among many black students is true. The better they do in school, the fewer friends they have — while for whites who are perceived as smarter, there’s an opposite social effect.The researchers say that family upbringing matters, in all its crisscrossing influences and complexities, and that often undercuts minority children, who can come from poor or troubled homes. “Unequal outcomes,” he said, “are from, to a large degree, inequality in life experiences.”Trauma also subverts achievement, whether through family turbulence, street violence, bullying, sexual abuse, or intermittent homelessness. Such factors can lead to behaviors in school that reflect a pervasive form of childhood post-traumatic stress disorder.[gz_sidebar align=”left”]Possible solutions to educational inequality:Access to early learningImproved K-12 schoolsMore family mealtimesReinforced learning at homeData-driven instructionLonger school days, yearsRespect for school rulesSmall-group tutoringHigh expectations of studentsSafer neighborhoods[/gz_sidebar]At Harvard Law School, both the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative and the Education Law Clinic marshal legal aid resources for parents and children struggling with trauma-induced school expulsions and discipline issues.At Harvard Business School, Karim R. Lakhani, an associate professor who is a crowdfunding expert and a champion of open-source software, has studied how unequal racial and economic access to technology has worked to widen the achievement gap.At Harvard’s Project Zero, a nonprofit called the Family Dinner Project is scraping away at the achievement gap from the ground level by pushing for families to gather around the meal table, which traditionally was a lively and comforting artifact of nuclear families, stable wages, close-knit extended families, and culturally shared values.Lynn Barendsen, the project’s executive director, believes that shared mealtimes improve reading skills, spur better grades and larger vocabularies, and fuel complex conversations. Interactive mealtimes provide a learning experience of their own, she said, along with structure, emotional support, a sense of safety, and family bonding. Even a modest jump in shared mealtimes could boost a child’s academic performance, she said.“We’re not saying families have to be perfect,” she said, acknowledging dinnertime impediments like full schedules, rudimentary cooking skills, the lure of technology, and the demands of single parenting. “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”Whether poring over Fryer’s big data or Barendsen’s family dinner project, there is one commonality for Harvard researchers dealing with inequality in education: the issue’s vast complexity. The achievement gap is a creature of interlocking factors that are hard to unpack constructively.Going wide, starting earlyWith help from faculty co-chair and Jesse Climenko Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree, the Achievement Gap Initiative is analyzing the factors that make educational inequality such a complex puzzle: home and family life, school environments, teacher quality, neighborhood conditions, peer interaction, and the fate of “all those wholesome things,” said Ferguson. The latter include working hard in school, showing respect, having nice friends, and following the rules, traits that can be “elements of a 21st-century movement for equality.”Roland G. Fryer Jr., Henry Lee Professor of Economics. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerIn the end, best practices to create strong schools will matter most, said Fryer.He called high-quality education “the new civil rights battleground” in a landmark 2010 working paper for the Handbook of Labor Economics called “Racial Inequality in the 21st Century: The Declining Significance of Discrimination.”Fryer tapped 10 large data sets on children 8 months to 17 years old. He studied charter schools, scouring for standards that worked. He champions longer school days and school years, data-driven instruction, small-group tutoring, high expectations, and a school culture that prizes human capital — all just “a few simple investments,” he wrote in the working paper. “The challenge for the future is to take these examples to scale” across the country.How long would closing the gap take with a national commitment to do so? A best-practices experiment that Fryer conducted at low-achieving high schools in Houston closed the gap in math skills within three years, and narrowed the reading achievement gap by a third.“You don’t need Superman for this,” he said, referring to a film about Geoffrey Canada and his Harlem Children’s Zone, just high-quality schools for everyone, to restore 19th-century educator Horace Mann’s vision of public education as society’s “balance-wheel.”Last spring, Fryer, still only 38, won the John Bates Clark medal, the most prestigious award in economics after the Nobel Prize. He was a MacArthur Fellow in 2011, became a tenured Harvard professor in 2007, was named to the prestigious Society of Fellows at age 25. He had a classically haphazard childhood, but used school to learn, grow, and prosper. Gradually, he developed a passion for social science that could help him answer what was going wrong in black lives because of educational inequality.With his background and talent, Fryer has a dramatically unique perspective on inequality and achievement, and he has something else: a seemingly counterintuitive sense that these conditions will improve, once bad schools learn to get better. Discussing the likelihood of closing the achievement gap if Americans have the political and organizational will to do so, Fryer said, “I see nothing but optimism.”Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately portrayed details of Dr. Fryer’s background. The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Education may be the key to solving broader American inequality, but we have to solve educational inequality first. Ronald Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, says there is progress being made, there are encouraging examples to emulate, that an early start is critical, and that a lot of hard work lies ahead. But he also says, “There’s nothing more important we can do.”“The position of U.S. black students is truly alarming,” wrote Fryer, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics, who used the OECD rankings as a metaphor for minority standing educationally. “If they were to be considered a country, they would rank just below Mexico in last place.”Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Dean James E. Ryan, a former public interest lawyer, says geography has immense power in determining educational opportunity in America. As a scholar, he has studied how policies and the law affect learning, and how conditions are often vastly unequal.His book “Five Miles Away, A World Apart” (2010) is a case study of the disparity of opportunity in two Richmond, Va., schools, one grimly urban and the other richly suburban. Geography, he says, mirrors achievement levels.A ZIP code as predictor of success“Right now, there exists an almost ironclad link between a child’s ZIP code and her chances of success,” said Ryan. “Our education system, traditionally thought of as the chief mechanism to address the opportunity gap, instead too often reflects and entrenches existing societal inequities.”Urban schools demonstrate the problem. In New York City, for example, only 8 percent of black males graduating from high school in 2014 were prepared for college-level work, according to the CUNY Institute for Education Policy, with Latinos close behind at 11 percent. The preparedness rates for Asians and whites — 48 and 40 percent, respectively — were unimpressive too, but nonetheless were firmly on the other side of the achievement gap.Ronald Ferguson, adjunct lecturer in public policy and director of the Achievement Gap Initiative. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerIn some impoverished urban pockets, the racial gap is even larger. In Washington, D.C., 8 percent of black eighth-graders are proficient in math, while 80 percent of their white counterparts are.Fryer said that in kindergarten black children are already 8 months behind their white peers in learning. By third grade, the gap is bigger, and by eighth grade is larger still.According to a recent report by the Education Commission of the States, black and Hispanic students in kindergarten through 12th grade perform on a par with the white students who languish in the lowest quartile of achievement.There was once great faith and hope in America’s school systems. The rise of quality public education a century ago “was probably the best public policy decision Americans have ever made because it simultaneously raised the whole growth rate of the country for most of the 20th century, and it leveled the playing field,” said Robert Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at HKS, who has written several best-selling books touching on inequality, including “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of the American Community” and “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.”Historically, upward mobility in America was characterized by each generation becoming better educated than the previous one, said Harvard economist Lawrence Katz. But that trend, a central tenet of the nation’s success mythology, has slackened, particularly for minorities.“Thirty years ago, the typical American had two more years of schooling than their parents. Today, we have the most educated group of Americans, but they only have about .4 more years of schooling, so that’s one part of mobility not keeping up in the way we’ve invested in education in the past,” Katz said.As globalization has transformed and sometimes undercut the American economy, “education is not keeping up,” he said. “There’s continuing growth of demand for more abstract, higher-end skills” that schools aren’t delivering, “and then that feeds into a weakening of institutions like unions and minimum-wage protections.”“The position of U.S. black students is truly alarming.”— Roland G. Fryer Jr.Fryer is among a diffuse cohort of Harvard faculty and researchers using academic tools to understand the achievement gap and the many reasons behind problematic schools. His venue is the Education Innovation Laboratory, where he is faculty director.“We use big data and causal methods,” he said of his approach to the issue.Fryer, who is African-American, grew up poor in a segregated Florida neighborhood. He argues that outright discrimination has lost its power as a primary driver behind inequality, and uses economics as “a rational forum” for discussing social issues.Better schools to close the gapFryer set out in 2004 to use an economist’s data and statistical tools to answer why black students often do poorly in school compared with whites. His years of research have convinced him that good schools would close the education gap faster and better than addressing any other social factor, including curtailing poverty and violence, and he believes that the quality of kindergarten through grade 12 matters above all.Supporting his belief is research that says the number of schools achieving excellent student outcomes is a large enough sample to prove that much better performance is possible. Despite the poor performance by many U.S. states, some have shown that strong results are possible on a broad scale. For instance, if Massachusetts were a nation, it would rate among the best-performing countries.
Saint Mary’s students are working together to create a new interfaith group on campus after recent interfaith discussions. Sophomore Alayna Haff said the idea for the club was ignited after Interfaith Youth Core came to campus for a conference earlier this year. Haff discussed Better Together Day, a day that honors interfaith dialogue. “Better Together Day is a national day of action headed by Interfaith Youth Core, a national nonprofit working towards an America where people of different faiths, world views and traditions can bridge divides and find common values to build a shared life together,” Haff said. Julianna McKenna | The Observer Professor Catherine Cornille spoke about the role gender plays in interfaith dialogue Tuesday in Carroll Auditorium.The goal of Better Together Day is to raise awareness about religious diversity and dialogue across college campuses, professor Anita Houck of the Saint Mary’s Religious Studies Department said.“It is an annual day where they invite people to sign up online and bring awareness to the fact that it’s better to have conversations with people who are different from you,” she said. “We want to learn from each other and grow from interaction with other people. Better Together day brings attention to this, especially by getting college age students to talk about these topics.” Religious dialogue is an important aspect of community development, Houck said. “Obviously the most immediate benefit is for us to engage with other interesting people and to get insights about ourselves for those of us that are religious or spiritual or just wanting to develop our own world views,” she said. “We learn so much by talking to people who see the world differently.” She also said engaging in these types of conversations not only advances our religious understanding, but our cultural understanding as well.“We do this by acknowledging commonalities and differences, which allows us to see others as human beings,” Houck said. “It affects our politics, it affects our decisions about who we are going to vote for, what policies we support, the kinds of jokes we are going to make and so forth. It teaches us a lot about ourselves. By learning from other people about how they see the world it clarifies to us about what is really important for us.”Saint Mary’s honored Better Together Day with a lecture by Boston College professor Catherine Cornille on “Women and Interreligious Dialogue.” Cornille argued that women play an integral role in religious dialogue. “Women often are the ones taking initiative to reach out to other religious traditions and because of this are able to break down barriers and are much more open and generous to recognizing truth in other religious traditions,” Cornille said.This is formative in the mission of Saint Mary’s Better Together club, as they plan to appeal to the entire campus community, Haff said.“Our goal for this club is to incorporate our community in working together to make everyone feel included,appreciated and understood,” she said. “We need to be inclusive and understanding of those who are different than us.”Haff said she believes religious dialogue is an important aspect of communication in general. “Research has shown that when someone gets to know a person different from them, their attitudes towards that entire group also grows more positive,” she said. “By learning about other faiths and building relationships with people of different world views, we can break barriers, overcome biases and build bridges.”Tags: Better Together Day, interfaith, interfaith conference, Interfaith Youth Core
University of GeorgiaTo help landscapers better bid on and estimate the costs of their jobs, the University of Georgia is holding a workshop Nov. 24-25 in Athens, Ga. UGA specialists will discuss landscape installation, maintenance and software programs they’ve developed to make business easier.The workshop will be held in a computer lab which will allow participants to get hands-on experience with software programs like Hort Scape, for landscape installation bids, and Hort Management, for follow-up maintenance bids. Following the training, they will know how to tailor the software to fit their individual businesses.The workshop will also cover bidding strategies, estimating fixed and variable costs and preparing bids in contract form.Day one will focus on landscape installation cost estimating, and day two will focus on landscape maintenance cost estimating. The daylong workshops will start at 8:30 a.m. each day. They will be held in Conner Hall room 202 on the UGA Athens campus. The cost is $150 for both days or $100 for either day. The fee includes breaks, lunch, handouts and copies of the software.For more information, call (706) 542-2861 or visit www.hort.uga.edu/extension/programs/CEJBW/index.html.
The National Army rescued dozens of teenagers in the past nine months who were forced to commit crimes for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. (FARC). Authorities transferred the teens to the Colombian Institute for Family Wellbeing (ICBF) to protect, rehabilitate and prevent them from going back to the criminal organizations. “Minors are recruited either out of their will or by force,” said Catalina Niño from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation in Colombia (FESCOL). “Organized crime groups offer them money, weapons and recognition in exchange for becoming a member. Under pressure and threats, minors are then forced to commit crimes against civil society. Minor recruitment is cruel and difficult to control; it is a major challenge for authorities.” The ICBF reported 177 children were rescued from the criminal groups this year – a 42.7 percent increase over the same period last year. Since 1999, 5,252 minors have been rescued from criminal organizations. Of those rescued, 72 percent are boys and 28 percent are girls. Forced recruitment of minors by organized crime groups continues to be a practice. This phenomenon has reached schools, football fields and parties. Organized crime groups give presents, mainly expensive technological gadgets to entice minors to become members of the criminal groups, according to Ministry of Defense. Besides the states of Atlántico, Amazonas, Risaralda, Quindío and San Andrés, the phenomenon of forced recruitment of minors occurs in the rest of Colombian states, according to published reports. Colombia is made up of 32 states. FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN), Los Rastrojos, Los Urabeños and other criminal organizations prefer to recruit children who are quiet, serious, strong and poor, according to the news website Verdad Abierta. The groups prefer to recruit attractive girls. The documentary, “Fodder from different cannons,” reported that organized crime groups recruit boys to work as messengers to transport drugs as well as to work in illegal mines, meth labs and even as hit men, while girls are forced into prostitution. Those who refuse are killed. Recent studies suggest that about 18,000 children are involved in illegal armed groups and are recruited when as young as 12 years old. The military is making a difference, Niño said. “Thanks to the successful operations by the Armed Forces in the past months, several children have been rescued from organized crime groups.” • On Sept. 13, Colombian Army personnel rescued a 14- and a 15-year-old-girl in the Puerto Guzmán municipality, Putumayo. The minors said they were members of the FARC. • On Aug. 29, Colombia Army rescued a 16-year-old boy in the municipality of Amalfi, Antioquia. The boy claimed to be a member of Los Rastrojos. He surrendered because he said he was “tired of fighting and living in darkness.” He told the Army he wanted a new life, to be close to his family and far from the weapons he used when working for a criminal group. • On April 13th, Colombian Army troops rescued five minors in the department of Chocó. Their ages range from 10 to 17. The minors claimed to be members of the ELN. Some recent successful cases: By Dialogo October 28, 2013 this was hard