Professor discusses education

first_imgThe United States needs to create stronger public and private education systems, and can do so through decreasing the reliance on standardized testing, according to Diane Ravitch, professor of education at New York University. Her lecture, “Is There a Crisis in Public Education?” was the latest event in Notre Dame’s year-long Forum, “Reimagining School: to Nurture the Soul of a Nation.” Ravitch spoke Tuesday night in the Eck Hall of Law, saying our nation must foster a system capable of caring for the needs of all its students. “Our schools are a reflection of our society,” she said. “They are indeed beset by problems and they need to improve – but they are not declining, and they are not failing.” Ravitch employed a historical perspective, exploring the causes of current challenges to the system’s efficacy and the basis of measures enacted to combat them. She said the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001, is one such key factor. “In the decade before the passage of No Child Left Behind, most states had already adopted testing and accountability systems,” she said. “However, federal and state policy makers just can’t seem to get enough data, they want more.” The focus on collecting data prompts policymakers to look at standardized testing to ascertain the worth of a school, Ravitch said. However, she said tests should have a different purpose. “Tests should be used to diagnose learning problems, except now they are used inappropriately, to judge the worth of teachers, schools and students,” Ravitch said. Because these tests are being used for more than they were designed to evaluate, Ravitch said policymakers and analysts are drawing incorrect conclusions ignoring the real problem. “Poverty is the elephant in the room. Reduce poverty and test scores would be increased,” she said. “The odds are on the side of children who live in affluent and secure communities.” Ravitch said the emphasis on testing impedes the distribution of quality education. “We don’t know how to test the things that matter most,” she said. “The more our nation relies on high-stakes testing, the more our educational sense of priorities are warped.” Ravitch said the use of students’ test scores to indicate the relative worth of each teacher is a case of scapegoating. She said blame is placed on teachers, while ignoring other factors. “Tests are indication of many different qualities [at play in the life of the student], and the teacher has little or no control over many of these factors,” Ravitch said. “Tests are also subject to statistical error, random error and human error. They should be used for information, but not to reward or punish.” Ravitch said the nation’s first priority should be to halt these policies. “We have to stop doing wrong things before we start doing right things,” she said. “The role of the government should be to level the playing field and to make sure that adequate resources are provided for children in poverty. The federal government should not be telling schools how to reform.” Ravitch said the process would be a long one, requiring people to think creatively about possible ways to enhance American education. “It will not happen overnight, good things never do,” she said. “We will need the work of people who have a vision of how to change the lives of children and families … there is a lot of work ahead of us all.” Following Ravitch’s talk, former teacher Susan van Fleet, recently retired from Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind., said she felt Ravitch’s opinions analyzed the issue of testing accurately. “Speaking as someone who’s been in the system, she has her fingers right on the problem,” Van Fleet said. “Our leaders need to stop not listening … to the people who really understand the facts, not just basing decisions on politics.” Kate Kennedy, administrative assistant at the Center for Research of Educational Opportunity, said she appreciated Ravitch’s analysis of the current state of education in America. “Ravitch put the brakes on, and took a look and what is actually happening. The bottom line is the same between what each Catholic school and public school wants to do: support schools, support teachers, but what is questionable is whether the current methods are serving that goal,” Kennedy said. “Ravitch brought a more historical view, saying this is how school started, this is what we have tried, now let’s look at what worked.” Contact Nicole Michels at nmichels@nd.edulast_img read more

All 5 candidates from Punjab elected unopposed to RS

first_imgChandigarh, Mar 14 (PTI) All five candidates from Punjab, including sitting MPs, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Naresh Gujral (Akalis), and former state party chiefs, Partap Singh Bajwa and Shmasher Singh Dullo (Congress) were today elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha.Today was the last day of withdrawal of nominations to the Upper House and none of the five contestants withdrew their papers and no one filed their papers against them. All the five have been elected unopposed, an official spokesman said here.BJP candidate Shwet Malik too was elected unopposed from the state.Senior SAD leaders, Dhindsa and Gujral, who is son of former Prime Minister I K Gujral, were renominated by the party.Former Union ministers Ashwani Kumar and M S Gill were not given renomination to the Rajya Sabha by Congress which had made former Punjab PCC chiefs Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo its candidates for the polls from the state.By nominating Bajwa, Congress has sought to reward him for making way for Amarinder Singh as PCC chief a few months ago, ahead of the crucial assembly elections scheduled early next year.With the nomination of Dullo, a prominent Dalit leader, Congress has sought to woo Jats and Dalits who comprise a sizable section in the poll-bound state.BJP nominated former Amritsar Mayor Shwet Malik as the term of Avinash Rai Khanna was coming to an end.Khanna, who is in-charge of party affairs in Jammu and Kashmir and the partys central election-officer, was not given a renomination. His term comes to an end on April 9.advertisementThe term of office of five members of Rajya Sabha elected from Punjab will expire in April. PTI VJ SRY PAL SRYlast_img read more

Human subjects protections under fire at the University of Minnesota

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe A damning report on how the University of Minnesota (UM) protects volunteers in its clinical trials concludes that researchers inadequately reviewed research studies across the university and need more training to better protect the most vulnerable subjects. It also found that a “climate of fear” existed in the Department of Psychiatry, where concerns about clinical trials first surfaced.The 97-page report, released 27 February, was prepared by a group of six experts appointed by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs. It comes after years of complaints by some UM faculty members, led by bioethicist Carl Elliott. They charged that the school and its doctors failed to protect 27-year-old Dan Markingson, who died by suicide while enrolled in a psychiatric drug trial in 2004. They also expressed grave concerns about how Markingson’s death was investigated. (More on that case is here and here.)Recently, Elliott’s crusade began having an impact. In December 2013, the UM Faculty Senate called for an independent review of current practices in clinical trials. The administration agreed to open its records to outsiders. Although the review did not look back at history, it nonetheless had plenty to say about how the university handles trials, which bring in millions of dollars from drug companies along with much prestige.center_img Email “[T]he external review team believes the University has not taken an appropriately aggressive and informed approach to protecting subjects and regaining lost trust,” the authors write. They examined protocols from 20 active trials as well as minutes from meetings of the institutional review board (IRB). Many IRB members, the panel noted, did not regularly attend meetings from January to July 2014. “[T]here were no individuals on the IRB during this time period with expertise in adult hematology, oncology and transplant, cardiology, surgery, or neurology, although those fields taken together represented over 300 protocols. There was only one psychiatrist on the IRB, despite the fact that the Psychiatry Department submitted 85 protocols for review during the time period examined.” That doctor attended only four of the 26 medical IRB meetings at which new protocols were reviewed. “This departure not only contravenes the University’s own policy of having at least one member with ‘primary professional expertise in a scientific field relevant to the type of research reviewed by that panel,’ but also prompts concern about the quality of review.”Fueling those concerns, the authors noted that the IRB spent an average of 3 to 5 minutes discussing each protocol, and there was “little discussion of the risks and benefits to subjects.” Most of the protocol changes the IRB asked researchers to make addressed administrative issues such as misspellings or adding standard language to a consent form. Requests by researchers running trials to modify who was eligible for a study—“changes that may increase or decrease risks to subjects—were almost always approved without any documentation of related discussion,” the authors write. “The review process, as documented in the minutes, does not reflect a meaningful discussion of the risks and benefits of research protocols and the necessary steps taken to protect human subjects in the face of scientific or ethical concerns.”The outsiders made other observations. Although the university is in the process of enhancing training in basic human subjects protections for researchers, which the authors praised, they remained concerned that beyond basic instruction, “there are currently no human subjects protections training requirements for investigators, including those working with high-risk or vulnerable populations.”Along those lines, the authors touched on some of the central issues raised in the Markingson case: Dan Markingson agreed to enroll in a trial while committed involuntarily to the hospital, raising questions about his ability to consent, and the lead researcher on the trial was also his treating psychiatrist. Although vulnerable individuals like Markingson often participate in clinical trials, the authors of the review worried that Minnesota had not drawn lessons from that case. “We found only a single instance where consideration of the dual and potentially conflicting role of treating psychiatrist/investigator was addressed,” they noted. And, they added, “the external review team found no evidence that the University, Fairview [Hospital], and its investigators have taken steps to ensure a broader understanding of the implications of this very fraught situation” of enrolling patients who have been involuntarily committed into trials.A death during a clinical trial, possibly attributed to it, is every university’s nightmare. Elliott and a widening circle of others were harsh and relentless in their criticism, the reviewers acknowledge. The university’s response, they suggest, has been “assuming a defensive posture. In other words, in the context of nearly continuous negative attention, the University has not persuaded its critics (from within and outside the University) that it is interested in more than protecting its reputation and that it is instead open to feedback, able to acknowledge its errors, and will take responsibility for deficiencies and their consequences.” In the Department of Psychiatry, faculty and staff told the reviewers that they work in “a ‘culture of fear,’ ” and “[t]hey provided stories of intimidation by researchers and fear of retaliation should staff voice opposition to practices that were of concern.”As the report creates ripples across campus, the Faculty Senate is preparing to meet this Friday with University President Eric Kaler and the authors of the report. Kaler released a statement Friday thanking the outside reviewers for their advice. He stressed that they looked at a “small fraction of our clinical research enterprise,” involving individuals with diminished decision-making capacity. “[C]onsistent with our charge to them, the panel’s view and subsequent analysis was limited,” he noted. (The authors described their report as covering protection of human research participants at UM with “special attention” to adults who may lack decision-making capacity.)Kaler expressed hope that with the advice of the authors, UM could enhance its research protections. “The panel has provided us with a clear road map for making our program truly exceptional,” he wrote in his statement. “[T]he University of Minnesota has the opportunity to become a national model against which all other research institutions could be measured.” Senior administrators said in a statement that they hope to develop an “action plan” to respond to the report within 60 days.last_img read more