Communicating in the Garden State

It has been a few weeks, and I’ve thus been negligent in sending major thanks to the good folks over at the Public Relations Society of America – New Jersey. Earlier this month, PRSA-NJ named me its communicator of the year. 

It is great to be back home in New Jersey, making a real difference to improve educational opportunities. It is great to be recognized for all of the terrific communications work we are now doing at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. And it is even greater to be recognized by my peers at PRSA-NJ for this work. 

Thanks to all who made it possible. I have a lot to live up to, but I look forward to the opportunity. 


A Real STEM-winder

On a fairly regular basis, Eduflack reads some voice on social media lamenting that we are spending far too much time, as an education community, focused on discussions of science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM) education). What about the humanities? What about passion? What about love? What about what about?

But we can’t overlook the importance of STEM education in our global, digital economy. Even the most romanticized of today’s poets need some STEM skills to remain relevant. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist or a surgeon to know that STEM literacy is just as important these days as literacy itself.

Over at US News & World Report, there is a new STEM Index for our reading, review, and reflection. Developed in partnership with Raytheon, the USNWR STEM Index “measures science, technology, engineering and mathematics activity in the United States relative to the year 2000.”

  • Additionally, USNWR offers a wealth of analyses and opinions of what the numbers tell us. Some of the more noteworthy facts include:
  • While the number of STEM bachelor’s degrees earned by Black college students increased 60 percent since 2000, the share actually shrunk compared to the overall number of bachelor’s degrees earned by Black students;
  • STEM degrees earned by white students increased 10 percent, compared to overall bachelor’s degrees;
  • Women still lag behind men in number of STEM degrees earned, exam scores, and general interest in STEM; and
  • White and Asian students and college graduates overwhelmingly outperformed Black, Hispanic, and American Indian students in STEM degrees earned, exam scores, and general interest in STEM.

You can read more about the trends here.

The portfolio of STEM info from USNWR is definitely worth the read. And it is a further reminder of why STEM literacy is so important, whether one wants to be a physicist or a playwright.

Good Teaching Trumps All

It is impossible to seriously improve student achievement without focusing on how we prepare teachers for the classroom. Over at the American Youth Policy a Forum blog, I recently talked to AYPF about the new for effective teacher prep and the impact it can have on student achievement, particularly in high-need schools. 

“If you have a good teacher in charge of a classroom to do what is necessary to educate the kids, the kids learn. There’s no getting around that,” said Riccards. “As policies change, as instructional approaches change, we know that good teaching trumps all.”

Give it a read. You won’t be disappointed. 

What Our Edu-Tweets Say About the Debate

In our quest to find hidden meaning in those 140 characters that dominate modern-day social engagement, Education Next has a new analysis of what Tweets are saying about the education debate

The piece from the Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli is definitely worth the read. In analyzing the Tweets of those who were designated “top education policy Tweeters” in last year’s Education Next, Petrili looks at what our posts say about our emotional, social, and thinking behaviors. 

EdSec Arne Duncan is Upbeat and Arrogant/Distant (the latter isn’t what one thinks, it means tweets show one is well read and smart, but the tweeter limits the online socializing). 

Educators like Jose Vilson are Upbeat. Randi Weingarten and Michelle Rhee are both Upbeat and Plugged In. Advocate Campbell Brown is Angry. The reporters on the list don’t share a common profile. They all seem to come at Twitter differently. 

And yours truly? Eduflack is branded as both Worried and Arrogant/Distant. Boy, did they nail that!

While I don’t want to give Twitter more credit than it deserves, Petrilli’s analysis is quite interesting. Definitely worth the read. Check it out!

Accolades and Gratitude

Allow me a few moments of self-congratulation here on the pages of Eduflack. In recent weeks, I’ve learned that my book, Dadprovement, has been recognized by two major organizations as part of their 2015 book awards.

The book is a finalist for the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the parenting category, and will be recognized at a ceremony at the end of the month.

And I’ve just learned that Dadprovement is also a finalist in the 9th Annual Indie Excellence Awards in the personal growth category.

I honestly wrote the book as a form of therapy. I had been telling the first part of the story for years, the part about how our family came to be, and folks would regularly tell me that I should write it down before I forget it all. So I finally took them up on it. But as I was writing that story, a whole new story came out of me. Chapter after chapter, I was better understanding how my role as a father and husband was evolving. And it seems just as important a part of the story. Consider it how we came to be to what we can become.

When Turning Stone Press wanted to publish the book, I was beside myself. Now, when I hear that someone has read the book or that they learned X about themselves or when I am asked to write or speak on the topic of fathers and parental engagement, I am reminded just how lucky I am. Lucky to have the family that I have, and lucky that I’ve learned what I’ve learned before it is too late.

So to now have groups like these decide that Dadprovement was one of the best books of the year on topics like parenting or personal growth, I am just moved beyond words. And I am very, very grateful to all of those who have helped make it possible, both for me as an author and as a person.