College of Education in the news

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3 ways schools can improve STEM learning for Black students

James Holly Jr., assistant professor of urban STEM education, wrote an article for The Conversation on improving STEM learning for Black students. “Black people make up just 9% of the STEM workforce in the U.S. As a scholar who studies how STEM educators can more effectively reach Black students, I want to help all people develop an understanding of how anti-Black racism is a significant barrier for Black students learning STEM. Many scholars have argued that our current ways of teaching STEM are bad for everyone because only the experiences and contributions of white people are discussed, but the negative effects are greater for Black people. Teachers frequently question the intellectual ability of Black students and prevent them from using their cultural worldviews, spirituality and language in the STEM learning setting. Still, Black people continue to boost STEM knowledge across the world. It is time to generate new teaching practices in STEM that affirm Black students in a way that connects with their lives.”
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Prom send-offs celebrate Black girls and their communities

Aja D. Reynolds, assistant professor of education, wrote a piece for The Conversation. “As a researcher of Black girlhood, I interviewed and attended prom send-offs for both Danielle Nolen, 20, who attended prom in 2019, and Tonayvia Turner, 19, who attended prom in 2020 amid COVID-19 restrictions. My purpose was to learn more about what these occasions represent – both for the girls and for their communities. In my research, I didn’t find much – if anything – that discussed the kinds of prom send-offs that I observed in Chicago.
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Do you really need 8 glasses of water a day? An exercise scientist explains why your kidneys say ‘no’

Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sports science, wrote an article for The Conversation on the health risks associated with overhydration. “The warmer weather and longer days have inspired reminders to “stay hydrated” and drink eight glasses of water – or about two liters – a day. Not to burst anyone’s water bottle, but healthy people can actually die from drinking too much water. I am an exercise physiologist, and my research focuses on overhydration and how drinking too much water affects the body. Since water – and sodium – balance is essential to life, it is extremely rare for people to die from drinking too much – or too little – fluid. In most cases, your body’s finely tuned molecular processes are unconsciously taking care of you.”
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America goes back to school – 5 essential reads on parenting in the pandemic

Beyond safety and survival, a paramount question throughout the pandemic has been: When will things get “back to normal”? But as the nation gradually gets vaccinated against COVID-19 and various facets of society begin to reopen, it becomes evident that a return to normalcy poses a whole new set of questions, challenges and concerns. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to the education and parenting of America’s school-age children, whose childhoods have been uprooted in unparalleled ways since the pandemic struck in early 2020. COVID-19 isn’t the only threat children face as in-person instruction becomes more common. Michael Addonizio, an education policy scholar at Wayne State University, shines light on the deteriorating conditions at many of America’s schools and the threat those conditions pose to students. “Many kids are attending public schools this spring with the use of COVID-19 safety protocols, including more desk spacing, more frequent cleaning and mandates to wear masks,” Addonizio writes. “But far too many of the school buildings themselves remain dilapidated, toxic and in desperate need of structural improvements.”

Amid Pandemic, Wayne State University to hold virtual job fair

As unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic remains high, Wayne State University in Michigan has announced that it is holding a virtual job fair on May 5. To be hosted by the school’s College of Education, the fair aims to meet potential candidates for a variety of positions in teaching, counseling, librarianship, administration, social work, psychology, and special education. Approximately 30 recruiters from the Midwest are expected to attend and conduct interviews with people looking for jobs in education. “The college is excited about connecting our students and others to careers in education,” Assistant Dean of the Division of Academic Services Paul Johnson stated. “We are committed not only to supporting our students and alumni and members of the community in their job search but also to serving as partners to school districts and other educational organizations that are seeking qualified candidates for open positions,” he added. Aside from new job seekers, the event is open to current education professionals who are seeking new opportunities. The event is free of charge.
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Why student athletes need a new playbook to stay safe in the COVID-19 era

Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sports science, wrote a piece for The Conversation. “Kids are eager to play ball, and parents are eager to be back on the sidelines supporting them. But COVID-19 cases have risen in places where kids have been playing sports, complicating the issue. Michigan, where I live, is now the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The resumption of youth sports activities has been widely implicated in Michigan’s latest COVID-19 surge, with 40% of new outbreaks occurring in K-12 schools or youth programs.  Experts also blame Michigan’s unprecedented rise to the top on an unfortunate mixture of reopening, virus variants and COVID-19 fatigue. As an exercise scientist and clinician, I believe that sports participation – and even watching sports – has health and social benefits which far exceed winning and losing. My physiologist brain, however, argues that at this very moment, people should be focusing their energy not against each other, but rather toward defeating the world’s deadliest team: SARS-CoV-2, or, if you will, Team Coronavirus. 
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America gets a D+ for school infrastructure - but federal COVID relief could pay for many repairs

Many kids are attending public schools this spring with the use of COVID-19 safety protocols, including more desk spacing, more frequent cleaning and mandates to wear masks. But far too many of the school buildings themselves remain dilapidated, toxic and in desperate need of structural improvements. On average, U.S. public schools are more than 50 years old – and by and large they are not being properly maintained, updated or replaced. The American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s public K-12 infrastructure a D+ in their 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the same abysmal grade as in their prior 2017 report. But help may finally be on the way. 
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For thousands of Michigan students, the barriers to getting to school are steep

Of the 50,000 students who attend Detroit Public Schools, more than 29,000 counted as chronically absent — missing 10% or more days in a school year — in the 2019-2020 school year. Statewide, nearly 300,000 students counted as chronically absent that year, according to state data. A new report from Wayne State University's College of Education finds the reasons for chronic absences for Detroit students are complicated. The report illustrates the lengths parents often have to go to get their child to school, in the face of unreliable transportation options and precarious financial circumstances. "We have the highest chronic absence in the country of any large city by a lot," Sarah Lenhoff, a Wayne State researcher and professor, said. The findings from the study mirror what other education leaders around the state have anecdotally noticed about chronically absent students. A lack of transportation plays a role in student absences, Lenhoff said, but just blaming absences on transportation leaves out more nuanced factors. Systemic problems like unemployment, financial insecurity and crime all contribute to a school district's chronic absenteeism rate. In interviews with families for the Wayne State report, researchers found those systemic, societal issues collided with a family's circumstances.  "It was rarely as simple as, 'I just have no way of getting my child physically to school,' " she said. "Most families are not going to enroll in a school that they physically can never get to."  
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Great Grocer Project aims to help independently owned grocery stores in Detroit

The Great Grocer Project, a community-based program to strengthen relationships between independently owned grocery stores and their customers in Detroit, launched on Wednesday. The program is a joint initiative by Wayne State University, the Detroit Food Policy Council and members of the Detroit Grocery Coalition, according to a press release. It also aims to provide support to increase awareness and sales of healthy foods within Detroit neighborhood. Detroit has nearly 70 full-service grocery stores, almost all of which are family or independently owned. The Great Grocer Project will train and host fellows in seven community-based organizations, which will then adopt a grocery store in each of Detroit's districts. Fellows will work with store owners to help them better compete with big-box grocery stores by improving their relationships with customers and conducting food and nutrition assessments.
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Third-graders return to classroom, but are they prepared to succeed?

313 Reads is a Collective Impact Coalition that supports programs in direct service to Detroit children. The organization is also part of the Detroit Education Research Partnership at Wayne State University, which has released several reports on Detroit literacy and education. These reports have pointed to a lack of access to resources that have created more barriers to literacy proficiency for Black and Brown students within Detroit than students in other parts of the state. Sarah Lenhoff, an assistant professor at Wayne State University and director of the Detroit Education Research Partnership, questioned whether this year can be used to gain an “accurate picture” of student achievement. “Are we using meaningless terms to compare (students) to other years?” asked Lenhoff, who also said students lack “reliable” technology and broadband access. Lenhoff said chronic absenteeism has played a major role in Detroit’s literacy rates, which may also be a burden this year to students who were not consistently attending school during the pandemic. “Parents want to get their students to school, they just face these little barriers in doing so,” Lenhoff said. “Policies and practices that are focused on an accountability of punishing parents or students for missing school really just missed the boat in terms of what is really going on.”
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Want to fix the chronic absenteeism problem in Detroit schools? Start with transportation.

Transportation struggles aren’t the only reason chronic absenteeism is so pervasive in Detroit schools, but it is the most common reason so many students aren’t showing up for class on a regular basis, Wayne State University researchers say in a new report. About 50% of students in district and charter schools in Detroit are considered chronically absent, meaning they miss about 10% or more of the school year. The Wayne State researchers, who are part of the Detroit Education Research Partnership, warn that the pandemic has exacerbated the problem, and that seems to be validated by increased chronic absenteeism so far in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. The researchers predict chronic absenteeism will get worse in the fall unless school and community leaders come up with new solutions for school transportation. As part of the study, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with Detroit parents, high school students, and school staff during the 2019-20 school year. They also analyzed attendance trends in the city.
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School budgets have held up better than expected in some states, but looming cuts will hurt learning long after pandemic ends

Michael Addonizio, professor of educational leadership and policy studies, wrote a piece for The Conversation on the budget challenges facing school budgets. “The year 2020 may prove to be pivotal in the history of U.S. public education. Many children have gone missing from school completely since March, and millions more are struggling with wholly inadequate online learning experiences. Lower-income and minority children are particularly hard-hit. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated deep inequities across our public schools. Merely restoring school budgets to their prepandemic levels will not be enough to address them after this long period of limited learning. So far, most states have avoided deep education budget cuts this school year. However, they project revenue shortfalls for the 2021-22 school year.”

Wayne State archivists partner with College of Education to incorporate archival materials into K–12 curricula

The Wayne State University College of Education and Walter P. Reuther Library Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs were recently awarded a joint $83,100 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the grant-making affiliate of the National Archives and Records Administration. The two-year funding will support the ongoing partnership, “Bridging the Gap: Archives in the Classroom and Community,” which partners archivists and teaching students to bring community-based primary source materials into K–12 classrooms. The project originated five years ago when, as part of an effort to expand collaboration beyond the university’s history department, Reuther archivists considered where their collections might fit into other research areas. “I'm surrounded with the theories of education and education reform,” Daniel Golodner, archivist for the American Federation of Teachers historical collection, told LJ. “So I had the idea: Why aren't we reaching out to those who actually teach?” Wayne State’s College of Education, which offers bachelor's, master's, education specialist, and doctoral degree programs for teachers in 37 program areas, was an ideal place to start. Golodner and Outreach Archivist Meghan Courtney began working with Min Yu and Christopher B. Crowley, both assistant professors of Teacher Education at the College of Education.
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Civil rights report lays out ways Michigan schools can level playing field

Michigan schools need more money and less competition to better provide adequate education to all children, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Michigan Commission on Civil Rights. The report calls for changes to the way Michigan funds its K-12 education system, including a weighted funding formula that provides more money to schools with large numbers of students who live in poverty, have special needs or are learning to speak English for the first time. The report isn't binding, but it will be forwarded to policymakers in Lansing and elsewhere with a series of recommendations to make education in Michigan more equitable. Some of the proposals have been suggested before and others are sure to be controversial, including changes to Proposal A, an amendment to the state Constitution that lowered property taxes for schools in exchange for increasing the state sales tax. The proposal helped reduce the funding gap between Michigan's wealthiest schools and its poorest schools, but over time, it slowed the growth of Michigan school funding. "Michigan ranks a dismal 49th among the states in real per-pupil funding growth from 2005 to 2014, with an actual 7% reduction over that period," according to Michael Addonizio of Wayne State University, who testified at one of the meetings. Addonizio noted that in the 1980s, Michigan and Massachusetts funded education at nearly equal levels. Today, Massachusetts spends about 30% more funding than Michigan does. “Year after year, Massachusetts is at or near the top in all testing categories for fourth grade and eighth grade reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress,” Addonizio said.
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Reasons online students should be able to keep webcam off

Child psychology researchers don’t know yet what the effects of this school year will be on children, said Erika Bocknek, a Wayne State University associate professor of educational psychology. “We’re building the boat as we sail it,” Bocknek said. Unlike in a traditional classroom, children are viewing themselves and staring at the faces of their classmates, which can make them self-conscious about their own appearance, said Bocknek, who teaches courses on child psychology. “We don’t have good data on this yet, but a lot of people are in fact speculating that there may be impacts on self-esteem, on a positive sense of identity,” Bocknek said. Increased screen time during virtual school is another unknown for researchers, Bocknek said. But experts know this school year may exacerbate already existing mental and behavioral issues, she said. “I think we are going to have some positive and negative lessons learned from this time period,” Bocknek said. "We really don’t know yet for sure what the impacts are going to be. However, we hypothesize that there are children with different learning styles who might really benefit from being able to turn the camera off and focus on listening auditorily to the lesson.”
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As teachers brace for student learning losses, many worry about the impact on Michigan’s most vulnerable students

As schools across Michigan begin an unpredictable new year, teachers are facing what may seem like an insurmountable task: Helping students, particularly the most vulnerable, who’ve experienced learning loss because of the pandemic. There is little doubt that the disruption caused by COVID-19, marked by an unheard-of shift from physical to remote learning, will leave many students struggling academically. That concern runs especially deep in cities like Detroit, home to long-existing inequities and students whose communities have borne the brunt of the virus’s damage. Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, an assistant professor at Wayne State University, says schools offering choices between in-person and remote instruction should have considered the needs of students who may have suffered the greatest losses. Most district leaders left it up to parents to decide between the two. “Parents choose what’s best for them,” Lenhoff said. “But that really leaves it up to chance whether the students who would benefit the most from face to face are the ones who are going to sign up for it.” Lenhoff said it’s “scary, frankly,” to think about the long-term consequences for students from low-income families and students of color who attend economically segregated schools who will “are likely bearing the brunt of the learning loss.” 
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Schools caught in a ‘no win’ reopening situation

“School 2020 is going to be radically different than school 2019. No educator, administrator or parent has a model, and there is no one model that will work for all schools,” said Roland Coloma, professor and assistant dean, Division of Teacher Education, at Wayne State University. “The lack of universal internet access, for us to implement a fully online teaching and learning format, is one issue, as is full speed broadband. If they're using Zoom or Google classroom with 20 to 25 students – that's a lot of internet and broadband. We will also need to insure that every family will have enough computers, tablets, devices, as well as for parents or caregivers. We are also assuming that these homes will have an adult present who can supervise these children, and are not working outside the home.” Lauren Mangus, PhD, assistant professor for educational psychology at Wayne State University, offers a sobering consideration faced by all educators this year: “We're trying to cram education into a crisis. This is an ongoing tornado. This virus is not detectable to the naked eye. When students are stressed, it can manifest in different ways and can impede learning. School is important, but it is very difficult when students are stressed.”
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Until teachers feel safe, widespread in-person K-12 schooling may prove impossible in US

Michael Addonizio, professor of educational leadership and policy studies, wrote an article for The Conversation about the challenges of reopening in-person K-12 schooling in the U.S. “Safely resuming in-person instruction at U.S. public schools is important for the academic, physical, emotional and social well-being of children and their families. It’s also a key factor for the nation’s economic recovery. But in mid-July, despite considerable pressure from the Trump administration, many school systems around the nation had announced that they didn’t yet believe that anything close to resembling a traditional schedule would be feasible before the 2020-21 school year starts. Many school districts, including those in Los Angeles, San Diego and Houston, three of the nation’s largest, were planning to be fully online.”
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WSU, MSU professors author autism toolkit to guide centers amid COVID-19

The novel coronavirus pandemic has, without a doubt, forced many sectors of Michigan’s workforce to adapt and change how they operate. Autism therapy centers across Michigan are among them, and they’ve received a bit of help and guidance from industry experts. Wayne State University’s Applied Behavioral Analysis Program Director Krista Clancy and Dr. Josh Plavnick, of Michigan State University, co-authored the “Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies for Applied Behavior Analysis: Treatment of Children with Autism During a Pandemic” toolkit, bringing together experts to create a multidisciplinary approach to guide autism services during COVID-19. Clancy said data was a main driver guiding the group’s approach. “Knowing that things are pretty confusing right now and people are going back and forth, I was really trying to connect it with the data that’s out there. Don’t just make a decision that’s willy-nilly about what you think you should do. What does the data actually say? What are the recommendations?” Another goal, Clancy said, was to save centers time from mulling over multiple resources. “It’s really just to be a time saver, I hope, for some of these centers. They have enough to think about. This is not something they need to spend a ton of time researching themselves if the research is there.”
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Why safely reopening high school sports is going to be a lot harder than opening college and pro ball

Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sports science, and Phillip D. Levy, assistant vice president for translational science and clinical research innovation, wrote an article for The Conversation about reopening school and club sports amidst the pandemic. “Along with the revival of professional sports comes the yearning for a return to amateur sports – high school, college and club. Governing officials are now offering guidance as to when and how to resume play. However, lost in the current conversation is how schools and club sports with limited resources can safely reopen. As an exercise scientist who studies athlete health and an emergency medicine physician who leads Michigan’s COVID-19 mobile testing unit, we wish to empower athletes, coaches and parents by sharing information related to the risks of returning to play without COVID-19 testing. This includes blood tests to see if athletes have already had COVID-19 plus nasal swabs to test for the active SARS-CoV-2 virus. Regular COVID-19 testing on all athletes may seem like overkill, but the current tally of 150 collegiate athletes, mostly football players, who have tested positive for COVID-19 grows longer by the day.”