Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education
28Jan/15Off

CESE and NMSR are Sponsoring a lecture by Dr. Michael Shermer

moral-arcThe Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education  (CESE) and New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR) are pleased to sponsor a lecture by Dr. Michael Shermer on Saturday, February 21st, 2015, 1:30PM, at the First Unitarian Church, 3701 Carlisle Boulevard Northeast, Albuquerque, NM 87110.

Dr. Shermer will be signing copies of his new book, "The Moral Arc of Science - How Science Has Bent the Arc of the Moral Universe Toward Truth, Justice, Freedom, & Prosperity."

The arc of the moral universe bends toward truth, justice, freedom, and prosperity thanks to science-the type of thinking that involves reason, rationality, empiricism, and skepticism. The Scientific Revolution led by Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton was so world-changing that thinkers in other fields consciously aimed at revolutionizing the social, political, and economic worlds using the same methods of science. This led to the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, which in turn created the modern secular world of democracies, rights, justice, and liberty.

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About the Speaker
Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University and Chapman University. Dr. Shermer's latest book is The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies-How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. His last book was The Mind of the Market, on evolutionary economics. He also wrote Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and he is the author of The Science of Good and Evil and of Why People Believe Weird Things. Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). He was a college professor for 20 years, and since his creation of Skeptic magazine he has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, and Larry King Live (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!). Dr. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown.

 

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28Oct/14Off

Presentation on the CESE Method is now On Line!

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CESE has received many requests for copies of the presentation on "Data Quality and Methods for School Grades and Teacher Evaluations" that was given to the LESC/LFC committees and other groups of professionals concerned with public education.

kimber_200We are pleased to announce that the latest version of the presentation is available here for download and perusal. The document is just under 5 Megabytes in size; it is a PDF version of CESE's Powerpoint presentation, augmented with notes as necessary.  Questions about the presentation should be directed to CESE past president/ current board member Kim Johnson, who has spent months developing this briefing. Kudos, Kim!

28Aug/14Off

CESE Briefing to Legislative Committees a Big Hit!

Congrats to CESE's own Kim Johnson on a successful briefing on the CESE Method to the LESC/LFC comittees, who met today in Las Vegas, NM.

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Way to go,Kim!

17Aug/14Off

2014 Annual Meeting Minutes are Posted!

Click here to read the minutes of the 2014 Annual Meeting (June 7th). Comments from out-going president Terry Dunbar, and from in-coming president Patty Finley; election of slate for 2013-2014; presentation of award, general discussion.

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 Want more Annual Meeting Minutes? Click here!

12Jun/14Off

Skandera, Journal Just Don’t Get It on Teacher Evaluations

Ken WhitonKudos once again to CESE Past President Ken Whiton for yet another stirring editorial in the June 12th, 2014 issue of the Albuquerque Journal (link). Ken's latest op-ed is titled "Gov., Skandera, Journal just don’t get it on evals."

Here follows Ken's letter.  Well said, Ken!

What more can a teacher do when a student, in spite of the teacher’s best efforts, still doesn’t “get it?” The teacher has tried every tool in the toolbox, every technique, every “best practice,” but still no comprehension.

Finally, the teacher realizes the student is refusing to learn the material, no matter how well it is presented. Instead of listening, the student dismisses everything the teacher says, refuses to listen to valid criticism, makes excuses and rejects any information that contradicts the student’s preconceived notions.

Please reread the above two paragraphs and replace the word “student,” with the phrase, “Our current governor, the Education secretary-designate and editors of the Albuquerque Journal.”

Teachers must keep trying until these “students” understand the damage they are doing to our children and public education in New Mexico. Let’s hope they listen this time.

Any evaluation process must be valid, consistent, fair, truly reflect the quality of the work teachers are doing and give them clear guidelines for improvement. The new system, in spite of claims to the contrary, fails every test. In spite of assertions in the Journal editorial, the people who really understand statistical analyses have tried, repeatedly, to point out the numerous flaws, but so far, few are listening.

It is outrageous to rate a teacher’s performance based on subjects she or he has not taught and students who have never been in that teacher’s classroom. It is even more outrageous to judge a teacher based on factors that are out of that teacher’s control. Perhaps the governor and Education secretary-designate would like to be evaluated based on what takes place in another state.

No one in charge of education in New Mexico seems to grasp the simple truth that raising student test scores becomes more difficult as the scores improve and yet a school’s grade is lowered if an arbitrary increase is not made.

No one seems to understand that basing a large part of a teacher’s evaluation on student test scores only captures part of the picture. It demeans students and the profession of education by treating teachers like piece-workers and children like widgets on an assembly line. While private-sector businesses can reject raw materials that don’t meet their standards, our public schools welcome all students.

No one seems to understand that overloading students with incessant testing is demoralizing to them and their teachers and that forcing students to take more tests lessens their motivation to do well. Why does taking the SAT require less than four hours, but testing in New Mexico schools takes weeks?

No one seems to realize that cherry-picking statistics to make “school reform” look good gives a false picture of what is happening in public school classrooms.

8Jun/14Off

CESE Elects New Slate at 2014 Annual Meeting

A new slate of officers for the year 2014-2015 was nominated and elected at today's CESE Annual Meeting (June 7th, 2014).  Leading CESE for the next year is new president Patty Finley. PattyFinely200The vice-president/president-elect for this year is Lisa Durkin. Steve Brügge will continue as treasurer, and Marilyn Savitt-Kring is staying on as secretary.  Board member Marvin Moss has announced his resignation from the board, to allow him more time for his museum activities.

CESE thanks outgoing president Terry Dunbar for a splendid year of service. Here are some pictures from the meeting, which followed a social at the home of Steve and Karen Brügge.

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Rear left: Steve Brugge, Nancy and Jerry Shelton ; table: David Hsi, Margaret Mavretich and Robert Walko, and Mary Ann Jekowski.

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Outgoing president Terry Dunbar talks to the audience. Foreground: Jack Jekowski, Ken Whiton. Far rear: Patty Finely, Jeanette Dunbar.

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Patty Finley, incoming president, addresses the attendees. Terry Dunbar at right.

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Patty Finley addresses the audience. Far left: Kurt Steinhaus.

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Kim Johnson reads an award which was presented to Dave Thomas.

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Dave's award.

23May/14Off

CESE Annual Meeting set for June 7 2014

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The theme for this year's annual meeting is "CESE – An Educational Odyssey"!

You are cordially invited to CESE's Annual Meeting!

We will have a picnic lunch at the Four Hills home of Steve and Karen Brugge on Saturday, June 7th, at 4:00 PM. A Business meeting will follow; it will include election of the slate of officers for 2014-2015.

Please RSVP to Marilyn Savitt-Kring, at marilynsavitt-kring@comcast.net.

 

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The Brugges live on 803 Maverick Trail in Four Hills.

Directions

From Central/Tramway, go south to 4 Hills Road. Take the 2nd left, Warm Sands Dr., then the 2nd right onto Maverick Trail.

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You will not see the house from the street – look for the 803 on the carport.

 

Filed under: News Comments Off
29Apr/14Off

Does a Brutal Winter mean ‘So Much for Global Warming?

days-below-0-fNow that we're leaving the winter of 2013-2014 behind, we've probably heard several comments to the effect "With all this snow back east, so much for Global Warming, huh?"

However, this season's bizarre ups-and-downs are more of a symptom of climate change than a disproof of the same. Yes, there can still be heavy storms - a warmer climate means more moisture, and the potential for more snow at times.

The fact is, there used to be more frequent snow-storms before the late 20th century.  A recent XKCD cartoon called "Cold" makes this point very well. The cartoon shows that the frequency of days below 0 degrees F in St. Louis, Mo. has fallen off as global warming continues.

A few months back, CESE's Kim Johnson and Dave Thomas were guests on the 94 Rock Morning Show, and discussed various topics related to climate and warming. As  prep for the show, Dave downloaded 80 years of climate data for the Albuquerque International Sunport, and plotted a chart similar to XKCD's for St. Louis. The same trend exists in Albuquerque - frigid days (below 0 deg. Fahrenheit) used to happen two or three times a decade before 1990, but only one such day has occurred since 1990 - and that was the infamous Groundhog Day Blizzard, which paralyzed much of the nation for a couple of days in February 2011.  If you were in Albuquerque in the winter of 1970-71, you probably remember the severe cold snap of 17 deg. below zero. It's on the chart!

Groundhog day Blizzard in Peralta, NM, February 2011

The Groundhod Day Blizzard of 2011, as seen by Dave Thomas at his home in Peralta, NM.

You can listen to Kim and Dave on 94 Rock at these links:

 

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14Apr/14Off

Be Friends with CESE on Facebook!

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CESE now has a new Facebook Page. Check it out, and be sure to Like the page, and Share it with your friends!

Filed under: General, News Comments Off
10Mar/14Off

Test explanation makes no sense

Ken WhitonKudos once again to CESE Past President Ken Whiton for a stirring editorial in the March 7th, 2014 issue of the Albuquerque Journal (link). Ken's op-ed was titled "Test explanation makes no sense."

Here follows Ken's letter.  Well said, Ken!

Many op-ed columns and letters to the editor by teachers, parents and community members, have expressed frustration and lack of confidence in what is being demanded of students and educators. This is not “defense of the status quo,” or fear of evaluation. These are valid expressions of concern.

Secretary of Education-designate Hanna Skandera responds to criticism with dismissive platitudes about caring for children, as if teachers don’t. But, not caring about teachers’ concerns is also not caring about students. When teachers are shut out of the process of reform and are denigrated and devalued, their students are, as well.

Skandera claims in a column in Tuesday’s Albuquerque Journal that she has reduced the number of hours of testing required by the state. However, as secretary of education, she bears responsibility for the total amount of testing to which students are subjected. Educators are right to be concerned about excessive testing, since every hour spent testing, no matter who requires it, is an hour lost from instructional time.

This lost time would be bad enough, if the same tests were used consistently, every year, but they’re not. Each year brings a different test. Asked about the difficulty of comparing results from last year’s “apples,” to this year’s “oranges,” to next year’s “watermelons,” her dismissive response was, “It will be a non-issue.”

The spokesman for PARCC Inc., creator of the new test, disagrees. “It’s hard. It’s complex. But it’s possible.”

“Possible?” Really? With Skandera’s track record on school grades, teacher evaluations and many other failures, it’s no wonder those concerned with teaching and learning in our public schools have little confidence in her ability to get this right.

In addition, the Journal reporter, Jon Swedien, who actually talked to a teacher, reported on the difficulties of using our current tests on the new “Common Core” curriculum. Because “Common Core” covers fewer topics in greater depth, students will be tested on topics not covered in class.

Skandera said, “While those questions won’t count toward test scores, they will give teachers and students an idea of what next year’s test will be like.” She seems unaware that teachers are not allowed to look at test questions. Unless something changes, teachers will have no way of knowing what next year’s test will be like without adding to their already staggering workload. Students will not be taking this year’s test next year. Knowledge of this year’s test questions does them no good.

We need reform! However, Skandera’s “reform” with no understanding of the consequences of her misguided edicts is not the “reform” we need. That is the reason she faces so much opposition.

If Skandera actually sat down with educators, listened to them, trusted them, gave them a voice in reform, we could have the public education we deserve.