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MIT partners with Johnson & Johnson to promote women’s STEM education

MIT News – Kimberly Haberlin

“MIT and Johnson & Johnson — a global leader in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods — have announced a new collaboration designed to increase the number of undergraduate women enrolling in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs and graduating with STEM degrees. This new effort will build on MIT’s ongoing work to expand the reach and quality of STEM education and attract more women to fields traditionally dominated by men. MIT is one of nine academic institutions that will be working with Johnson & Johnson in the coming months to develop effective recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies for women leaders in STEM. The other participating institutions are Caltech, Harvey Mudd College, Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA – Brazil), Rhode Island School of Design, Rutgers Honors College, Spelman College, the University of Tokyo, and the University of Limerick.”(more)

Number of Students Disciplined Dropped Twenty Percent This Year, Mass. State Data Says

Education World – Nicole Gorman

“New state laws that have set out to reduce long-term suspensions have resulted in a twenty percent decrease in the number of students disciplined statewide, says The Boston Globe. Massachusetts’ efforts echo efforts of states across the country that are seeking to turn to restorative justice as opposed to explosion and suspension disciplinary measures that interfere with a child’s ability to learn. “Although the rate of overall discipline has dropped, it remains uneven in some school-to-school comparisons. Black, Latino, and poor students continue to receive out-of-school suspensions at higher rates than their white classmates,” The Globe said.”(more)

Boston Scientific steps up its involvement in STEM education

The Boston business Journal – Don Seiffert

“The company recently formed its first-ever STEM Council to bring together various efforts to encourage learning among kids about science, technology, engineering and math. And in the past couple years, those efforts have resulted in millions of dollars donated and the benefit hundreds of kids, many of them around the company’s Marlborough headquarters. David Bee, vice president of development processes at Boston Scientific, says the company has long been involved in FIRST Robotics, an effort founded 26 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen to encourage STEM education in kids first through building with Legos, then later through building actual robots that compete against one another.”(more)

How one urban high school climbed from worst to first — and taught Boston some key lessons about reform

The Hechinger Report – Tommy Chang and Laura Perille

“School improvement takes time. That was the message from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s speech last month when he visited the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Four years ago, Jeremiah Burke was designated one of the worst schools in the state. It jettisoned its “underperforming” label three years later, the first high school in Massachusetts to do so. This fall, the school won the Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move prize. The prize is awarded annually to recognize Boston’s most-improved school. The lessons that the Boston education community has learned in ten years of giving out this $100,000 award underscore Secy. Duncan’s sentiments about time. School improvement is a marathon, not a sprint.”(more)

Common Core Not Dead Yet

Education Next – Michael J. Petrilli

“First, let’s deal with Massachusetts, where the state board of education has decided to use a hybrid of PARCC and the Bay State’s own MCAS. In what must surely be a first, Commissioner Mitch Chester and Common Core opponent (and one-time Senior Associate Commissioner) Sandra Stosky concur: This move is no repudiation of PARCC. As Chester wrote in a letter to the Times, “Neither my recommendation to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education nor the board’s Nov. 17 vote rejected PARCC or the Common Core. In fact, both embraced PARCC as part of the future of statewide assessment in Massachusetts.” And as Stotsky tweeted, “It looks like a compromise between MCAS and PARCC, but it’s really PARCC.” Indeed, there’s every reason to believe that MCAS 2.0 is going to look much the same as PARCC 1.0. This is akin to a state dropping the “Common Core” label but keeping nearly all of the standards. It’s essentially a rebranding exercise undertaken for political reasons. But let’s widen the lens and scan the bigger picture. Just how fragile is the Common Core effort today? Is a death watch warranted? Let’s look at its markers of health against five big aims.”(more)

Play Hard, Live Free: Where Wild Play Still Rules

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“There are only a handful of these “wild playgrounds” in the country. They embrace the theory that free, unstructured play is vital for children and offer an antidote to the hurried lifestyles, digital distractions and overprotective parents that can leave children few opportunities to really cut loose. “It’s really central that kids are able to take their natural and intense play impulses and act on them,” says Stuart Brown, a psychologist and the founding director of the National Institute for Play. Children need an environment with “the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they’re allowed to self-organize,” he adds. “It’s really a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood.” Brown says this kind of free-range fun is not just good; it’s essential. Wild play helps shape who we become, he says, and it should be embraced, not feared. Some educators advocate “dangerous play,” which they say helps kids become better problem solvers.”(more)