Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education
23Mar/16Off

Teachers are educators, not saviors

Kudos to the Albuquerque Journal for printing CESE president Lisa Durkin's editorial on March 21st, 2016. Here follows Lisa's letter.

Lisa DurkinTeachers are educators, not saviors

By Lisa Durkin / President, Coalition For Excellence In Science Education
Monday, March 21st, 2016 at 12:02am

For decades society has looked to schools for social engineering.

Legislation from IDEA to NCLB requires schools to be the remedy for poverty, apathy and dysfunction. While it is true that a student cannot choose the milieu from which they are born, it is also true that the deficiencies a student arrives with on campus are out of a school’s control.

Teachers can educate any student. That is the profession they have been certified in, and every child can learn. But teachers will always do a poor job of parenting kids, erasing their troubles and bridging economic gaps.

The assumption is that educators are the reason for poor performance in and out of school. Perceptions about teacher incompetence are based on manufactured metrics that are rigged, since they require teachers to make up for insufficiencies born of social, economic and mental strife.

Teachers and administrators are expected to be saviors, and we are failing. Our failure suits a political narrative.

Policy makers, who use educational hot buttons and sound bites to gain election, pitch one reform after another, all of which are based on the assumption that teachers are the problem.

At what point will society realize that pounding schools with accountability measures will always fail as long as it rests on faulty assumptions?

The truth is, society needs to solve its own problems.

Schools can’t fix kids, fix families or fix the economy. Schools can only educate a healthy and willing population.

It is the product of society that educators serve. Schools are merely a reflection, not the creator of society.

Communities that fill schoolhouses with economically advantaged kids from stable homes have always performed better than those tormented by social and economic strife. Statistical analysis yields these results again and again.

No one has the solution to this age-old problem, but many slick programs claim they do. Billions of tax dollars slip down that rabbit hole every year.

Accountability needs to rest on the shoulders of an American population who find it easier to shirk their responsibilities onto the schools.

It’s far easier to blame educators, and expect them to meet impossible requirements, than to hold members of society accountable.

Do schools have areas of concern? Yes, some districts would most certainly fail if they were businesses. Although, it would be prudent to hold them accountable for only that which they have control over.

It’s hard to sift through rhetoric based on agenda-born conclusions. Statistical twisting and pseudo-analysis traps many folks into counterproductive presumptions.

Here is what we know: Schools have been under a constant state of reform since 1958. Results can be attributed to a myriad of factors other than the contribution of educators. It’s time for society to face the fact that they need to look to themselves for economic and social solutions, and leave schools to simply educate.

Lisa Durkin is a science teacher at Valencia High School.

19Feb/16Off

Our Annual Meeting Speaker (June 2016) will be…

Lawrence_KraussLawrence M. Krauss, prominent physicist, author, and commentator!

CESE is pleased to announce that Dr. Krauss will be the keynote speaker for CESE's 2016 Annual Meeting, slated for the afternoon of Saturday, June 25th 2016, at a venue still to be determined. Stay tuned for details - you won't want to miss this one!

Filed under: General, News Comments Off
8Nov/15Off

CESE Founder Dr. Marshall Berman, 1939 – 2015

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Dr. Marshall Berman

Dr. Marshall Berman passed away on October 25, 2015 in Louisville, CO, at the age of 76. Marshall was a devoted father, scientist, educator, and leader. He is survived by his partner Jan Harkins, his sons Brandon and Brian Berman, his daughter Brenna Berman, his sister Rhoda Berman, and four grandchildren.

Marshall was born on June 16, 1939 in Detroit, MI, to his parents Martin and Esther Berman. He was valedictorian of his high school class and graduated with a B.S. with Distinction in Physics from the University of Michigan. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from Wayne State University.

In 1966, Marshall married Nancy Thomadsen and shortly thereafter moved to Albuquerque, NM, after accepting a position at Sandia National Laboratories where he worked for 32 years on nuclear reactor safety, managed a variety of defense research projects, and served as Executive Director of the Innovation Initiative for the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. He raised his family in Albuquerque and enjoyed excelling in hobbies including photography, landscaping, and woodworking.

As Marshall neared retirement at Sandia, he was elected to the New Mexico State Board of Education and served on the board for four years. He was passionate about changing science education standards for the children of the State of New Mexico and went on to be the founding president of the Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education (CESE), devoting his time to help ensure the integrity of New Mexico’s education system. He was also an early and active member of New Mexicans for Science and Reason and served a term as president of the New Mexico Academy of Science.

A memorial service will be held Saturday December 12, 2015, at 1:00pm at the First Unitarian Church (3701 Carlisle Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110). All are welcome to attend and celebrate Dr. Berman’s life (please RSVP here).

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a tax deductible donation to CESE via mail Steve Brügge, CESE Treasurer, 803 Maverick Trail SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123.


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Dr. Marshall Berman campaigning for the State Board of Education, 1998. Below: L-R Sen. Harrison Schmitt, Dr. Richard Nygren, Dr. Al Narath, Dr. Marshall Berman, Dr. Laura Crossey, and Rev. Clyde Stansfield.

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My beautiful pictureThe "Darwinist Swat Team", L-R Marvin Moss, Marshall Berman, Eugenie Scott, Kim Johnson, Mark Boslough, Jesse Johnson, and Harry Murphy.

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Pro-science dinner, L-R: Jesse Johnson, Marilyn Savitt-Kring, Dave Thomas, Nancy Shelton, Ken Miller, Jerry Shelton, Marshall Berman, Lisa Durkin and Kim Johnson.

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At the Rio Rancho School Board, upon victory against a flawed "Intelligent-Design-Friendly" science policy (April 2006)

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Marshall and Brian "Fox" Ellis (Darwin performer)

MarshallB marshall-young MVC-007SMarshall Berman talks shop with Genie Scott and Kim Johnson.

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8Aug/15Off

New Slate Elected at CESE 2015 Annual Meeting

Lisa Durkin

Lisa Durkin

A new slate of officers for the year 2015-2016 was nominated and elected at CESE's Annual Meeting (June 27th, 2015). Leading CESE for the next year is new president Lisa Durkin.

 

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Jessica McCord

The vice-president/ president- elect for this year is Jessica McCord. Steve Brügge will continue as treasurer, and Marilyn Savitt-Kring is staying on as secretary. Other CESE board members are Marshall Berman, Cindy Chapman, Terry Dunbar, Patty Finley, Jack Jekowski, Jesse Johnson, Kim Johnson, Becky Reiss, Dave Thomas, and Ken Whiton. Jerry Shelton asked to change his status to board member emeritus, which gives him all privileges except voting rights.

CESE thanks outgoing president Patty Finley for a fine year of service at the helm.

Jerry and Nancy Shelton

Jerry and Nancy Shelton were honored with plaques commemorating their years of service to CESE.

At the meeting, which was held at the home of Buzz and Patty Finley, long-time CESE supporters Jerry and Nancy Shelton were given plaques honoring their years of service with CESE.

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier in June, CESE treasurer Steve Brügge was also given a CESE plaque on the occasion of his retirement from teaching.

In addition to the certificate below, Steve also got a copy adorned with salutory comments on his teaching, from an online Albuquerque Journal story.

Steve Brügge's award

Steve Brügge's award

 

Jack Jekowski (left) and Kim Johnson (middle) present a CESE award to treasurer Steve Brügge

Jack Jekowski (left) and Kim Johnson (middle) present a CESE award to treasurer Steve Brügge

 

 

 

 

20Jun/15Off

CESE Annual Meeting set for Saturday, June 27!

meteor-impactYou are cordially invited to CESE's Annual Meeting!
We will meet at the Los Lunas home of Buzz and Patty Finley on Saturday, June 27th, at 1:30 PM. The Business Meeting will be followed by an open discussion on the Impacts of Education Reform.

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From Albuquerque & points north: South on I-25 to Los Lunas exit (Hwy 6). East on NM Hwy 6 to Los Lentes Rd (McDonalds at corner). North on Los Lentes Rd. to 2000 block (about 1.5 miles); Turn right onto Macario Lane, cross irrigation ditch and curve right. House is first behind adobe wall, 912.

On Google Maps: 912 Macario Ln, Los Lunas, NM 87031.

Please RSVP to Marilyn Savitt-Kring, at 505-856-6654.

See you there!

Filed under: Governance, News Comments Off
6Mar/15Off

Another New Beacon Already?!?

That's right, there's another brand-new edition of the CESE Beacon!

The February 2015 Beacon (Vol. XVIII, No. 2) is online.

Contents Preview: Editor’s Message – Kim Johnson. – Part II of the Beacon version of the briefing on NM educational performance and new teacher evaluation protocol (growth based portion) given to the Legislative Education Study Committee and the Legislative Finance Committee Joint Meeting in August 2014.beaconteaser

 

16Feb/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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Michael_Shermer

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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10Feb/15Off

Updated version of CESE Method Now Online (February 2015)

brief-coverWe have an update to the briefing given to the Legislative Education Study Committee and others  here.  Please note that there have been changes to the graduation data (page 8)  and an addendum added (page 34) addressing the percentage of teachers evaluated at or above proficient.

6Feb/15Off

The New Beacon is Here!

The January 2015 Beacon (Vol. XVIII, No 1) is online!

Contents Preview: Editor’s Message – Kim Johnson; Special reprint of letter that went viral on NM teachers; Part 1 of the Beacon version of the briefing on NM educational performance and new teacher evaluation protocol (growth based portion) given to the Legislative Education Study Committee and the Legislative Finance Committee Joint Meeting in August 2014; Announcement of guest speaker - Michael Shermer for February 21, 2015.

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You can browse previous issues of the Beacon here.

1Feb/15Off

Use caution with teacher evals

My beautiful pictureKudos once again to CESE Past President Ken Whiton for another stirring editorial in the January 29, 2015 issue of the Albuquerque Journal (link). Ken's latest op-ed is titled "Use caution with teacher evals."

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

As it has with many other aspects of modern life, our federal government has increasingly interfered in individual states’ education policies, usually with disastrous results.

Now, under President Obama’s “Race to the Top,” the U.S. Department of Education is requiring New Mexico’s Public Education Department to use a Value Added Model, or VAM, based on student growth when evaluating teachers.

Supposedly, this method measures the contribution of a teacher to a child’s learning, which makes sense until you consult experts in the field.

The American Statistical Association has found the VAM to be unreliable, at best. Research conducted by another group contracted by the U.S. Department of Education found that one in four teachers who are actually average in performance will be erroneously identified for rewards or punishments by VAMs.

Our children and their teachers deserve better than an evaluation regime based on this level of error, especially when a “poor” evaluation can destroy a qualified teacher’s career.

Unfortunately, Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera has chosen to base 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on these same unreliable VAM scores, which is the maximum allowed by the U.S. Department of Education. And yet, she has already lowered Santa Fe’s VAM percentage to 35 percent. Why isn’t she treating all our school districts equally?

If the method Skandera is supposed to use is as bad as the American Statistical Association says it is – and who would know better? – why use the maximum amount of an unreliable method to evaluate teachers? Shouldn’t we want to make the best of a bad situation by using the smallest percentage possible, rather than the largest?

My second point: The U.S. Department of Education is also now allowing states more time to make the required changes in their public education systems. The goal is to avoid problems, to make certain reform is done correctly and to ensure teachers are evaluated accurately.

Skandera should take the same care and consideration and do what our most qualified educators across our state are asking: Give us more time.

If other states can negotiate with the U.S. Department of Education, why can’t New Mexico?

We must comply with “Race to the Top.” But when its requirements are making a quality education for all our children harder to provide, we should be looking for ways to lighten that load.

Skandera should reduce the effect of the thoroughly discredited VAM on teacher evaluations for the entire state to the amount already set for Santa Fe schools. And, give our students and educators the extra time the U.S. Department of Education is allowing for states to implement these large changes.

Let’s take the time to get it right, for our children’s sake!