- 東京女学館大学（東京都町田市）が学生募集を来年度から停止する。現在の１年生が卒業する２０１６年３月で閉校する方針。学生の定員割れ が続き、約２５億円の累積赤字があるという。同大の理事会は４月下旬、教職員や文部科学省に大学閉校の方針を伝え、学生らに通知文を発送した。同大は、 １９５６年に開設された短大が前身。０２年に国際教養学部のみの４年制大学となったが、定員割れが続いていた。少子化が進むなか、大学経営はいよいよ厳し さを増している。今回の事例が示していることは――。
Millions in Asia and the western United States watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies.
The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across Asia early Monday. It then moved across the Pacific and was also seen in parts of the western United States Sunday afternoon.
Viewing parties were held in Reno, Nev., Oakland, Calif., and elsewhere. In some parts of the U.S., special camera filters for taking photographs have been sold out for weeks in anticipation of the big event.
People from Colorado, Oklahoma and as far away as Canada traveled to Albuquerque to enjoy one of the best vantage points.
Members of the crowd smiled and cheered and children yelled with excitement as the moon crossed the sun and the blazing halo of light began to form. Eventually, the moon centered and covered 96 percent of the sun.
"That's got to be the prettiest thing I've ever seen," said Brent Veltri of Salida, Colo.
Albuquerque city officials had urged residents to go to organized events or watch one of the many live webcasts to avoid damaging their eyes.
The eclipse cannot be viewed with the naked eye or even sunglasses. And solar glasses, which make the sun look like a huge orange disc, are a rare commodity in communities along the eclipse's path.
In Japan, "eclipse tours" were arranged at schools and parks, on pleasure boats and even private airplanes. Similar events were held in China and Taiwan as well, with skywatchers warned to protect their eyes.
A light rain fell on Tokyo as the eclipse began, but the clouds thinned as it reached its peak, providing near perfect conditions.
"It was a very mysterious sight," said Kaori Sasaki, who joined a crowd in downtown Tokyo to watch event. "I've never seen anything like it."
At the Taipei Astronomical Museum in Taiwan, the spectacle emerged from dark clouds for only about 30 seconds. But the view was nearly perfect against Manila's orange skies.
"It's amazing. We do this for the awe (and) it has not disappointed. I am awed, literally floored," said astronomical hobbyist Garry Andreassen, whose long camera lenses were lined up with those of about 10 other gazers in a downtown Manila park.
Hong Kong skywatchers weren't so lucky.
Several hundred people gathered along the Kowloon waterfront on Hong Kong's famed Victoria Harbor, most of them students or commuters on their way to work. The eclipse was already underway as the sun began to rise, but heavy clouds obstructed the view.
The eclipse followed a narrow 8,500-mile path for 3 1/2 hours. The ring phenomenon lasted about five minutes, depending on location. People outside the narrow band for prime viewing saw a partial eclipse.
"Ring of Fire" eclipses are not as dramatic as a total eclipse, when the disk of the sun is entirely blocked by the moon. The moon is too far from Earth and appears too small in the sky to blot out the sun completely.
Doctors and education officials have warned of eye injuries from improper viewing. Before the event started, Japan's Education Minister Hirofumi Hirano demonstrated how to use eclipse glasses in a televised news conference.
Police also cautioned against traffic accidents — warning drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Some of the News Fit to Print
ABOUT HIGHER ED
HOW COMPETITION IS KILLING HIGHER EDUCATION
Mark C. Taylor writes in Bloomberg: Competition, we are constantly told, encourages individuals, institutions and companies to take the risks necessary for innovation and efficiency. But in higher education, competition often discourages risk taking, leads to overly cautious short-term decisions, produces a mediocre product for the price, and promotes excessive spending on physical plants and bureaucracies. While overestimating the value of competition can lead to less, not more, innovation, underestimating the value of cooperation tends to discourage the exploration of possibilities for creative interaction. With escalating costs, limited resources and growing political concern about student debt, institutions should be developing innovative ways to cooperate that will prove to be mutually beneficial, in the same way that companies merge and become more efficient.
WHAT WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT DEBT
Student debt has been a hot topic lately, both in the 2012 presidential race and in national news media, most recently in a high-profile (and hotly contested) New York Times article that highlighted colleges with high levels of debt nationwide. But pieces of information crucial to understanding the problem fully, especially how much students borrow at each college, are unavailable — and that's not likely to change anytime soon. The lack of readily accessible, accurate information about borrowing at specific colleges means that prospective students can’t use the information in their decisions about whether or not to apply. It also makes it more difficult for colleges to compare their own students' indebtedness with that of students at other institutions — a process that some say might lead to changes in financial aid policy at colleges where students carry an abnormally high debt load. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
EDUCATION REFORMERS SIT DOWN: WE NEED A REVOLUTION
High school teacher Larry Strauss writes in the Huffington Post: For years educators, politicians, and the public have debated to what extent quality teaching is a function of talent, intelligence, training, and hard work and to what extent it is a reflection of institutional factors, students and their circumstances, and other factors beyond the control of teachers. We have heard endless calls for increased teacher accountability and little sensible talk about how to accomplish it without destroying the autonomy of our best teachers and eroding the quality of their instruction. What ought to be clear to all of us by now is that the institutional structure of schools and school systems is ill-conceived. It is a failure. And this failure is at the root of all other educational failures.
HOW STANDARDIZED TESTS ARE AFFECTING PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN FLORIDA
Florida’s standardized testing program is being misused and has “severely impacted student learning,” according to a new white paper that says that school districts in the state are required to give as many as 62 tests a year to some students. The white paper, called “The Ramifications of Standardized Testing on our Public Schools,” was just released by the Central Florida School Board Coalition, a group of top officials from 10 school districts. While the specifics are about Florida, the general conclusions about the negative impact of state standardized programs are relevant across the country — not only because other states have their own version but because some looked to Florida as a model as they developed their own school accountability systems. The article is in the Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet blog.
FLIP THIS: BLOOM’S TAXONOMY SHOULD START WITH CREATING
Teacher/education blogger Shelley Wright writes in the MindShift blog: I think the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is wrong. I know this statement sounds heretical in the realms of education, but I think this is something we should rethink, especially since it is so widely taught to pre-service teachers. I agree that the taxonomy accurately classifies various types of cognitive thinking skills. It certainly identifies the different levels of complexity. But its organizing framework is dead wrong. Here’s why. The pyramid creates the impression that there is a scarcity of creativity — only those who can traverse the bottom levels and reach the summit can be creative. And while this may be how it plays out in many schools, it’s not due to any shortage of creative potential on the part of our students.
‘CHRONICALLY ABSENT’ STUDENTS SKEW SCHOOL DATA, STUDY FINDS, CITING PARENTS’ ROLE
Up to 15 percent of American children are chronically absent from school, missing at least one day in 10 and doing long-term harm to their academic progress, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. They argue that policy makers tend to look at absenteeism in the wrong way, requiring districts and states to measure average daily attendance rates, but — with the exception of a few states — not focusing on the relatively small number of students who account for most absences. They found that some schools report an average of more than 90 percent daily attendance, masking the fact that 40 percent of their students are chronically missing. The article is in The New York Times.
THE HIGH STAKES OF STANDARDIZED TESTS
Standardized tests are nothing new in public schools. Chances are you filled out bubbles on an answer form at some point during your schooling. But for the past few years, scores from statewide tests in English and math have been used to determine which schools are doing a good job of educating students and which are “failing.” Today, the test results count for more than just a letter grade for a school. Teachers in some states are now being labeled good or bad based on their students’ scores. Welcome to the world of high-stakes standardized testing. The article is in CNN’s Schools of Thought blog.
TEST SCORES ADD VALUE TO TEACHER REVIEW
Research over the last two decades has confirmed what most parents already knew: Teacher quality is any public school’s most important asset. Taking that simple and obvious premise seriously means working to identify and remove ineffective teachers. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in New Jersey and nationwide is pursuing this path. Students are harmed when they are taught by bad teachers. Research shows that being assigned to an ineffective teacher can reduce a student’s learning during the school year by as much as a grade level. Anyone who understands the importance of education won’t be surprised to learn a recent study by economists at Harvard and Columbia universities showed that assignment to one or another teacher is related to later life outcomes, such as the likelihood of early pregnancy, the chances of college attendance and lifetime earnings. The commentary is in The Star-Ledger’s NJ Voices Guest blog.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
SILICON VALLEY NEEDS HUMANITIES STUDENTS
Vivek Wadhwa writes in the Washington Post: Quit your technology job. Get a PhD in the humanities. That’s the way to get ahead in the technology sector. That, at least, is what philosopher Damon Horowitz told a crowd of attendees at the BiblioTech Conference at Stanford University in 2011. Horowitz is also a serial entrepreneur who co-founded a company, Aardvark, which sold to Google for $50 million. He is presently the In-House Philosopher / Director of Engineering at Google. Wait, you say, that’s insane. At a time when record numbers of people, among them those with high-level degrees, are receiving public assistance, what kind of fool would get a degree in a subject with no clear job prospects beyond higher education or teaching?
WITH CHOICE OF NEW LEADER, COLLEGE BOARD HOPES TO EXTEND ITS REACH
David Coleman has read a ton of Chaucer, Milton, and Shakespeare. He has earned degrees from Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge. As a lead writer of the common core curriculum standards adopted by all but a handful of states, he has become known as a dynamic—and controversial—reformer. Now, Mr. Coleman is poised to lead the College Board, one of the most powerful forces in American education. His appointment could bring further changes to the nonprofit organization's best-known product—the SAT—and its wide blanket of other programs. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
STUDENT LOANS: IS THERE REALLY A CRISIS?
Student debt is completely out of control, right? The more than $1 trillion in outstanding college loans is front-page news and is pretty much the only educational issue the presidential candidates are talking about. Yes, ballooning student debt is causing real hardship for some Americans. But as with many educational flare-ups, the public debate is giving us more noise than signal. So before you decide to skip college based on the hysteria, here are a few things to keep in mind. The article is in Time.
Some of the News Fit to Print
LAWSUIT TAKES AIM AT CALIFORNIA'S LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR TEACHERS
A Bay Area nonprofit backed partly by groups known for battling teachers unions has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn five California laws that, they say, make it too difficult to dismiss ineffective teachers. The suit, filed on behalf of eight students, takes aim at California laws that govern teacher tenure rules, seniority protections and the teacher dismissal process. The group behind the legal action is the newly formed Students Matter. The founder is Silicon Valley entrepreneur David F. Welch and the group's funders include the foundation of L.A. philanthropist Eli Broad. The article is in the Los Angeles Times.
GETTING TEACHER EVALUATION RIGHT
Math teacher Kyle Hunsberger writes in The Hechinger Report: In Los Angeles, where I teach seventh-grade math, our current teacher evaluation system is undeniably broken. Initially designed to be a robust observation protocol and rubric, our system has degenerated into a 10-minute checklist. A well-intentioned but often overspent administrator comes into my room, fills out the requisite paperwork and signs on the dotted line. The actual outcomes of my students—both tangibles (test scores, GPAs, future college attendance rates) and intangibles (increased love of learning, increased desire to achieve)—are never factored in. Our teacher evaluation system may have been intended to capture such nuances of teaching and learning, but ineffective implementation has rendered it meaningless. The success of even the most well-intentioned evaluation system remains dependent upon the time, energy and full effort of both administrators and district officials to see it fully implemented.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
PAYING FOR COLLEGE: MORE TOUGH DECISIONS
Middle age is prime time for saving money. From your late 40s through early 60s, you're supposed to squirrel away cash to cope with health care costs in your old age. But for millions of Americans, middle age also is the time when children are seeking help with higher-education bills, and elderly parents may be needing assistance with daily care. Scott and Kelley Hawkins, both 46, are in that middle position. As they brace for paying rising college expenses for two daughters in school at once, they know they will have many tough financial decisions to make. "A lot of extra stuff we used to have money for, we don't have the money for" now that the hefty-tuition years are looming, Scott Hawkins said. The article is from NPR’s Family Matters series.
OUR VIEW: EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT MUST COME FIRST
One of the glaring embarrassments of our educational system is that we also fail our successes. These are the students who graduate high school and go on to a state university or community college but are forced to take remedial classes because they are ill-prepared to handle the challenges at the next educational level. Upward of 70 percent of those students need remedial classes — a costly alternative for students. But instead of focusing attention on the cause of the problems, the effort to “fix” it is to further erode the educational quality. The editorial is in The Bulletin (Norwich, CT).