Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education
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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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!

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!

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.

 

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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!

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