The 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 [email protected]
A Newcastle statement said: ” Newcastle United can today confirm that Hatem Ben Arfa and the club have reached an agreement to terminate the contract between both parties with immediate effect by mutual consent. Newcastle United wishes Hatem all the best for his future.” Ben Arfa joined Newcastle from Marseille in 2010, initially on loan before signing permanently the following summer despite an injury-ruined first season in England. He became a fans’ favourite after a string of spectacular goals and inspirational performances in 2012 and continued to show flashes of his best form. But his attitude and fitness came under question and he joined Hull on loan in September of this season. He made only a handful of appearances for the East Yorkshire club, failing to score and missing a glorious chance in their defeat to Tottenham, and he was substituted in the first half of the defeat to Manchester United. He returns to Ligue 1, a competition he won four times as a young player with Lyon and once more with Marseille in 2010, when he also helped the club win the Coupe de la Ligue. Nice are 11th in the table but only three points clear of the relegation zone, and will look to their new signing to spark an attack which has mustered 21 goals in 19 games this season. Ben Arfa has won 13 caps for France since his goalscoring debut against the Faroe Islands in 2007. Newcastle have released French forward Hatem Ben Arfa ahead of his move to Nice. The Ligue 1 club announced on Saturday they had reached a deal in principle with the 27-year-old, who failed to make an impact on loan at Hull this season before returning to Tyneside. Ben Arfa is due to have a medical in France on Monday before joining Nice on undisclosed terms, but will make the move as a free agent. Press Association
Vice President of Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson placed The Row on social probation Thursday, prohibiting informal gatherings at fraternities on Tuesday and Thursday nights for the rest of the spring semester because of the recent negative events within the Greek community.Parties at fraternity houses will only be allowed Fridays and Saturdays, according to Jackson. These events must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development.“If houses are found in violation of these instructions, they will be placed on immediate suspension pending a group judicial hearing,” Jackson wrote in an email. Jackson met with more than 150 leaders from USC fraternities and sororities Thursday to discuss the state of The Row, which has been plagued by behavioral problems and public incidents this year.“We discussed the collective responsibility chapters have for their members and that the Greek Councils have for their chapters,” Jackson wrote. This is the second time this year The Row has been placed on social probation.The Row was shut down Aug. 30, after 16 Interfraternity Council chapters were cited for unauthorized parties. Eight students were taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning during what is often referred to by students as “Black Monday.”More recently, a misogynistic email sent on the Kappa Sigma fraternity listserv spread virally around campus and beyond, and graphic photos of a suspended member of Kappa Sigma appearing to have sex on the rooftop of Waite Phillips Hall made national news. Pat Lauer, president of IFC, said the leaders of USC fraternities and sororities understand how serious the situation is, and now they need to pass that message on to all of the Greek members.“Because of everything that’s happened, we need to get our act together completely and identify our weak points and improve upon them,” Lauer said. “It’s up to the leaders to help change the culture of the Greek community that has taken a negative turn.”At Thursday’s meeting, Jackson also established a task force composed of leaders of the various Greek councils and university staff from the USC Center for Women and Men and MenCare.Denzil Suite, associate vice president for Student Affairs, will be heading the task force, which will address issues including risk management, hazing, sexual assault, healthy relationships, alcohol and substance abuse, knowledge of USC policies, and chapter fire, health and safety programs.“I told students that we are depending on them to step up as leaders of their organizations, that [Student Affairs] will provide leadership, guidance and support, and that we want USC to have the strongest possible Greek community,” Jackson wrote.Lauer said the Greek community needs to make sure the negative attention from these actions does not conceal the positive things the Greek community brings to the university.“We’re kind of on thin ice right now, and we need to take it upon ourselves to confront these challenges we are faced with,” Lauer said.Jackson pointed out that USC’s Greek community has the highest GPA of any school west of the Mississippi and has received many national awards for service and leadership.“The hard work students devote to community service, philanthropic activity and participation in providing leadership for the broader USC student community is severely tarnished when members’ actions are arrogant, selfish, show a lack of respect for others, and threaten women in our community,” Jackson wrote.It is up to the members of the Greek community to change this negative perception, according to Lauer.“We owe it to ourselves to fix this image,” Lauer said.