Page 1




ISSUE No. 4 • FALL ’12



Reinventing the Future Are we being too onedimensional when we think about STEM education, or do we need to follow a new blueprint?



The Bully Among Us Bullying is rampant in schools, and it creates a toxic environment that hurts bystanders, bullies and victims.


Lore vs. Law Exploring five prevailing myths in special education litigation, and why they lead to misguided policies.







 Lehigh faculty dissect the issues confronting the educational community.



 Lehigh’s research extends beyond borders, affecting policy discussion around the world.



 … that geography and the STEM disciplines are not mutually exclusive. By Tom Hammond


IN DEPTH 12 REINVENTING THE FUTURE  STEM education must be flexible enough


to change with the times.

26 34



 When bullies attack, there are more victims than you think.

24 IN RETROSPECT  George White forges ahead on community schools in Bethlehem, Pa.

26 FRACTURED DEBATE  How can educators effectively talk about the controversial process of fracking?


31 LORE VS. LAW  Misperceptions about education litigation are leading to questionable policy decisions in schools across the United States.



 No Child Left Behind has left special educators with a list of broken promises.



 Iveta Silova and Peggy Kong look at the rise of private tutoring.

37 FLASHBACK  The ongoing debate over teacher recruitment and retention.

A Renewed Focus

Each year this publication provides perspective on the issues facing

education around the world from some of the foremost experts in the field. Through quality research and innovative teaching, we create knowledge that helps our schools move forward.

With this issue of Theory to Practice, we look at how a renewed focus on STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics— influences our educational system, impacts other disciplines and provides opportunities for teachers to examine some complex topics in their classrooms. Two years ago, in a speech on improving the quality of STEM education in America, President Barack Obama said, “Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today— especially in science, technology, engineering and math.” Attention to the STEM disciplines, and how they are taught, has gained considerable momentum since then, as our country strives to remain competitive in a rapidly changing global economy. Our cover story, “Reinventing the Future,” imagines a world based on STEM advances and examines how educators and policy makers will need to keep up the pace to get us there. This spring, 18 Lehigh professors visited the hub of shale-gas mining in Pennsylvania to better understand the mining process known as “fracking” and its impact on the environment. Lehigh professor Alec Bodzin understands the challenges, but sees an opportunity for future science teachers to learn how to translate complex and highly charged issues—such as fracking—to students. You can read more in the article “Fractured Debate.” We also look at critical issues facing educators every day. Bullying is one of those concerns. Nearly 30 percent of our nation’s children have been bullied at some point in their lives. In the feature “The Bully Among Us,” we look at prevention efforts led by two Lehigh professors who are successfully curbing the destructive path of bullying. At Lehigh’s College of Education, we have a highly collaborative team of scholars and graduate students who generate research that responds to major educational challenges in the United States and abroad. Within these pages you’ll see how we’re turning that research directly into practice in current areas of need.

Gary Sasso Gary Sasso

Dean of the College of Education Lehigh University

EDU/STATS The Federal STEM Education Portfolio, published in December 2011, outlines the government’s financial commitments to STEM education. A few facts: n F ederal investment in STEM education today is less than one percent of the $1.1 trillion spent annually on education in the United States. nO nly three federal agencies dedicate at least 10 percent of their agency-wide research and development funding to STEM education investments: the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.






n A bout $312 million is being spent on programs that promote teacher effectiveness. n A nother $1.1 billion targets groups that are underrepresented in STEM occupations.

PUBLISHER Gary Sasso EDITOR Tom Yencho

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Barbara Finkelstein, Geoff Gehman, Emily Groff Theory to Practice is published annually by Lehigh University’s College of Education and the Office of University Communications and Public Affairs. We welcome all comments and story ideas at



Forging a Bright Future More than 50 percent of high school students with severe behavioral disorders never make it to graduation. And that’s only counting


the students who have been properly diagnosed.


For the thousands of teenagers who fail to receive proper services for aggression, delinquency, and other emotional, developmental and learning disabilities, a high school diploma may be hard to come by. In most cases, these students fall short because the system designed to help them succeed actually hinders their academic growth and presents insurmountable obstacles. “This group of students has long been underserved,” says Lee Kern, Lehigh’s Iacocca Professor of Special Education and program coordinator of Center for Adolescent Research in Schools (CARS), a national research center funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. “But that doesn’t mean they can’t be high contributors in the classroom. They just need the opportunity.” That opportunity came in the form of specially tailored assessments and interventions designed by special education professionals involved with CARS. The assessments identified academic, social, behavioral and mental health concerns for individual students, leading directly to individually designed intervention packages that addressed the broad and idiosyncratic needs of each participating student.

Now in their fourth year, Kern and her team of researchers are putting their assessments and interventions to the test. They’ve enrolled 634 students attending 54 high schools across Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina—the largest intervention program of its kind in the country. Kern says she’s happy to have successfully implemented multiple interventions in all of their An underserved group of students is getting a fighting chance.

participating schools. But despite the progress they’ve made, it has not been without challenges. “One issue is that we have been surprised by the nature and intensity of the difficulties our students experience,” says Kern. “Many have very complex psychiatric, family, academic and other needs requiring specialized services that may not be readily available. And when students have as many as seven different teachers, coordinating the interventions has been difficult. “We’re very pleased with the outcomes and the positive effect our efforts have had on students. Remember, this is the first and largest study of its kind, so we’re working in unchartered territory,” she adds. “But the interventions appear to have had a positive effect and we’re optimistic for the long-term.” 

Students of color may face socio-economic pressures that impact their academic experience.


Culturally Relevant Leaders Brown v. Board of Education helped usher a new era of civil rights for America, but the transition to a society free of social inequality has been turbulent. In an ironic twist of fate, that struggle seems greatest in our urban classrooms where, for nearly 60 years, progress has been slow. There are several reasons why, says Floyd Beachum, the Bennett Professor of Urban School Leadership. “White flight. Poverty. Politics. Culture. For three generations, students of color have faced an unrelenting wave of socio-economic pressures that has hindered their academic growth—and, consequently, the positive development of their urban communities. “The result is the evolution of suburban schools and the plight of many urban schools. Both are products of a social history that is intentional,” says Beachum. “So urban communities are now geographically isolated, leading to different lives and experiences. The worldviews of residents, educators and leaders are all remarkably different.” As a result, Beachum says it’s time for educational leaders to be culturally relevant, to rethink their commitment to their students and what it means to be properly prepared to lead inside and outside of urban schools. That means accepting a set of three ideals: • Liberatory consciousness: Looking inward to foster personal growth • Pluralistic insight: Positively acknowledging student uniqueness • Reflexive practice: Trying new ideas, reflecting on their success and, ultimately, adopting them into your leadership philosophy “This country will continue to become more ethically and racially diverse,” says Beachum. “Academic success is a social imperative. We need school leaders to embrace different perspectives and to work toward raising consciousness levels that balance the scales of excellence and equity in education.” 

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to the simple concept: “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Among its video library are a number of inspirational talks about education. The following six descriptions come from

CAMERON HEROLD Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs Bored in school, failing classes, at odds with peers: This child might be an entrepreneur, says Cameron Herold. In his talk, he makes the case for parenting and education that helps wouldbe entrepreneurs flourish—as kids and as adults. An entrepreneur since childhood, Cameron Herold wants parents and teachers to recognize—and foster—entrepreneurial talent in kids.

SUGATA MITRA The child-driven education Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education—the best teachers and schools don’t exist where they’re needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching. Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they’re motivated by curiosity and peer interest.


In the Classroom



A Pop Culture Pariah No More? PARIAH [puh rahy uh] noun 1. A person without

status. 2. A rejected member of society. 3. An outcast. In the final moments of the critically acclaimed film Pariah, 17-year-old Alike finally finds comfort in her identity: “Even breaking is opening and I am broken. I am open... My spirit takes journey. My spirit takes flight and I am not running, I am choosing.” It’s a rather poetic ending for Alike, an African-American teenager from Brooklyn who has spent her adolescent life hiding her homosexuality from family and friends. For that reason, Pariah has become an emotionally charged American coming-of-age story.


A 2011 film brings to light the struggles of a Brooklyn teenager.


Adolescents who embrace multiple minority identities—in this case, a lesbian African-American— have long struggled to earn acceptance from their communities, says Cirleen DeBlaere, assistant professor of counseling psychology. “The film makes a very striking point: that there is a lack of role models for sexual minority people of color,” says DeBlaere. “This complicates identity development and makes coming out as a sexual minority person that much more difficult.” The search for acceptance is something today’s educators need to better understand and appreciate, she says. “The struggles for sexual minority youth in schools, within their families, within their communities and within the broader society are real,” says DeBlaere. “And they are important to acknowledge if we want to improve the environment for LGBTQ youth, both as educators and trainers of educators.” While schools should serve as a home for tolerance, DeBlaere believes they should also inspire a greater understanding of cultural and social differences. School may be the only place students like Alike can turn for acceptance. Throughout the movie, parental tension and her mother’s strict religious beliefs force Alike to withhold her identity and find comfort in a select group of peers—one of whom is closeted, like herself. “This bravery in embracing one’s identity, who one is, in the face of challenge is a powerful message and a goal that I think many of us aspire to someday reach,” says DeBlaere. “You don’t have to be gay to know the struggle for self-acceptance.” 

In the Classroom

The Montessorian Solution Can our educational culture be changed by thinking more like children

and less like adults? The Montessorian philosophy may offer the answer. Despite widespread conjecture about what the next iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will look like, one thing is certain: Educational reform is on everyone’s mind. Tim Cauller believes that’s a change that can only happen if Montessorian philosophy is part of the conversation. In Montessori schools, children have complete control over their interaction with a task. The child educates himself, and a student’s progress is measured solely on what he is cognitively ready for. “We as individuals know what is right for us. The Montessorian philosophy most closely parallels natural human learning,” explains Cauller, associate director of Lehigh’s department of English as a Second Language. “And the data support that conclusion. Results show that Montessori’s approach to education works on an universal scale, regardless of socio-economic, cultural and geopolitical differences.” Cauller should know. He won first place in the 2012 American Montessori Society’s doctoral dissertation competition for his dissertation titled “Toward an improved model of education: Maria Montessori, Karl Popper, and the evolutionary epistemology of human learning.” In the paper, he argues for

an “Education-as-Evolutionary Epistemology,” or EEE, model for educational reform. EEE addresses three critical areas for future school reform: a revised structure of the learning environment, new roles and training for educators, and the redesign of curricula and assessments to support students’ trialand-error learning processes. Cauller believes changing our educational culture will take time, perhaps generations. It may require that Montessori philosophy be integrated into charter schools—programs that tend not to be beholden

CHARLES LEADBEATER Education innovation in the slums Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education—and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world’s poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become. A researcher at the London think tank Demos, Leadbeater was early to notice the rise of “amateur innovation”— great ideas from outside the traditional walls, from people who suddenly have the tools to collaborate, innovate and make their expertise known.

MAE JEMISON Teaching arts and sciences together

to traditional policies and attitudes. He knows that’s a tough sell in education circles, where changes are designed around adult priorities and conveniences. “Power, politics, bureaucratic control and financial costs too often drive conversations about reform,” he says. “Meaningful change happens in spite of—not because of—those conversations.” 

Mae Jemison is an astronaut, a doctor, an art collector, a dancer ... Telling stories from her own education and from her time in space, she calls on educators to teach both the arts and sciences, both intuition and logic, as one— to create bold thinkers. In 1992, Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to go into space. She’s become a crusader for science education— and for a new vision of learning that combines arts and sciences, intuition and logic. Ed. Note: This presentation is rather prescient, given that it was filmed 10 years ago.






If 72 percent of all K-12 educators in the United


superintendents women?

Teaching one child at a time

States are female, why are only 14.5 percent of school


Salvation from the Past In 2005, more than 1.5 million war refugees were living throughout the

world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Understanding


their past and their ability to adjust can help predict their future.


John’s first few days on the North American continent were spent getting to know his father once again. Megan was most surprised by the amount of traffic lights, while Sam was occupied with finding a job. For these three refugees—and a handful of others fortunate enough to escape their war-torn homelands—a childhood of trauma and oppression is a tie that will forever bind them together. Their former lives, and their ability to adjust to a new society, are of great interest to counseling psychology doctoral student Arlette Joëlle Ngoubene-Atioky. “A paucity of research on

refugees exists on this subject,” says Ngoubene-Atioky, who hopes to develop a series of research-based measures that effectively evaluate how well refugees adapt to their new environments. To date, NgoubeneAtioky has investigated the offerings and operations of 124 refugee agencies in both the northeast United States and the Vancouver, Canada, metropolitan area. She’s also interviewed a range of war refugees from places such as Sierra Leone, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeking to learn more about their life experiences in their native lands and new homes.

“Refugees who experienced a higher-level nature of exposure to war reported more war-related experiences than other participating refugees,” Ngoubene-Atioky says. “High-level war-exposure refugees also shared their perspectives on their school performance and noted few friendships with their host country’s native residents.” Her early findings reveal that most refugee agencies offer an average of five types of resources to refugees: educational services, case management, basic needs assistance, employment assistance and social activities and outreach services. The rate at which they are accepted is a different matter and depends upon a refugee’s past. “The need and expectation for academic excellence and professional success are indeed more discernible in high-level, war-exposed adolescent refugees than in lower-level adolescent war refugees. High-level war-exposure refugees may view such success as a form of salvation from their past experiences.” 

Today, just 1,984 out of 13,728 district leaders are women. While that is a significant improvement from the early 1990s when that number was just 6.6 percent, there is still no clear understanding of why women have been so slow to move into these positions. Is it discrimination, based on public perceptions and misguided stereotypes of women lacking leadership skills? Could it be difficulty accessing traditional career paths as a high school teacher and principal? Or is it a personal choice, given the high demands on time? “It is important that decisions about something we value as highly as the education of our children be made equally by women and men, and that women play an equal part in the creation and organization of schools where children can learn and thrive,” says Jill Sperandio, associate professor of educational leadership. “More women in the superintendency are needed to make this a reality.” Pennsylvania has done better than the national average, where women make up 26 percent of the state’s 501 superintendents. Despite that, women at a recent Women’s Caucus of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators reported ongoing gender insensitivity and stereotyping from male-dominated school boards, among other professional and familial concerns. Sperandio is studying those drawbacks and their impact on the leadership growth of women in Pennsylvania’s school districts. She is drawing on the experience of Louise Donohue, a professor of practice at Lehigh and retired superintendent of a school district in eastern Pennsylvania. Their findings show that a large number of school districts in the state may make it easier for women to apply for positions without having to relocate their families, often an inhibiting factor for women aspiring to a higher-level position. “Other results suggest that some districts are more ‘women friendly’ than others, offering women opportunities to gain administrative experience at all levels. They regularly appoint women superintendents,” says Sperandio. 

Educating the poor is more than just a numbers game, says Shukla Bose. She tells the story of her groundbreaking Parikrma Humanity Foundation, which brings hope to India’s slums by looking past the daunting statistics and focusing on treating each child as an individual. Shukla Bose is the founder and head of the Parikrma Humanity Foundation, a nonprofit that runs four extraordinary schools for poor children... Parikrma’s four Schools of Hope teach the full, standard Indian curriculum to children who might not otherwise see the inside of a classroom, with impressive results.

ELIZABETH GILBERT Your elusive creative genius Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses—and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk. The author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert has thought long and hard about some large topics. Her next fascination: genius, and how we ruin it.


Equality Among the Ranks



The Reach of Research Education in America is at a crossroads. Lehigh’s commitment

to innovative research and focus on applying research to practice allows College of Education faculty to help shape education and


mental-health policy across the nation.


Greensboro, N.C. Kingston, R.I. Bethlehem, Pa. For young adults strained by the pressures of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, college can be a difficult place to navigate. Research shows they are at increased risk for obtaining significantly lower grade point averages, withdrawing from a greater percentage of courses, and not completing their degree programs

relative to control individual without ADHD. As a professor of school psychology, George DuPaul would like to reverse those trends. He is working with peers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Rhode Island on the TRAC Project, a five-year study that explores how ADHD impacts the educational, cognitive, psychological, social and vocational functioning of college students. More than 200 first-year college students are taking part in the study. A related study shows that five percent of incoming college freshman across the U.S. have ADHD. Data from the TRAC Project should help increase the probability that students with ADHD will succeed and graduate from college, thereby impacting their long-term chances for financial stability and positive mental health. 

Bethlehem, Pa.

Aurora, Ill.

The College of Education at Lehigh is forging a new partnership with Donegan Elementary School, blocks away from Lehigh’s South Side Bethlehem campus. Donegan is set to become another “community school,” joining Broughal Middle School and three others in the city. “Our work is all centered around improving the quality of learning experiences for children and youth in the South Side,” says George White in an article that appeared in the Express-Times newspaper. “This means that every kid who attends Broughal will have been engaged in the philosophy of a community school from the time they enter school... It really does build a sense of community.” White is a professor of educational leadership and says the community school is a vital addition to the South Side. “I know Alice Gast, [Lehigh’s] president, and the board have said this is an important contribution that needs to be made,”

Robin Hojnoski, assistant professor of special education, and a team of researchers studied nearly 200 students before finding that Preschool Numeracy Indicators (PNI) can be an effective measurement tools for young children in special education—as long as they are sensitive to changes in performance over time. Hojnoski questioned whether children in special education and

he told the newspaper. With the addition of Donegan, South Side Bethlehem students will now be part of a community school environment from kindergarten through eighth-grade—an initiative involving the United Way, corporate partners and two universities. 

general education start with different performances on the PNI— and whether the two groups have different growth rates over the course of the year. The results indicate that PNI meets a critical need for the special education community. “We saw that growth was constant over time. Children grow throughout the year, and not in spurts from winter to spring, for example,” says Hojnoski. “We also learned that there is significant variability in where kids start and their growth rates over the course of the year. This means that children enter with a range of skills and that individual children grow differently throughout the year.” Her research suggests that, since children in special education started the school year with lower performance on most measures, instructional efforts could begin during the early intervention period from birth to three to increase early performance. 

Around the World

In a world that is becoming more connected, Lehigh faculty have become an integral part of the international dialogue surrounding education—particularly in regions where educational reform is undergoing intense scrutiny.




Assistant Professor Peggy Kong is examining the dynamics between parental involvement, student outcomes and school-family interactions among a poor rural population in western China. Her studies investigate how parental involvement is conceptually different in the rural Chinese context. They also explore changes in parental involvement across age groups.

Entering Lehigh’s third year of partnership with Caring for Cambodia, teams of students conducted extensive field research on topics ranging from teacher quality and school readiness to child problem behavior and information and communication technology assessments. Four separate grant proposals have been written and their work has been featured in International Educator magazine.

Doctoral student Amy Moyer, after completing Bangla Language acquisition courses in Bangladesh, is now conducting research there on the transfer of teacher training to classroom situations. Bangladesh is reforming teacher-training procedures, and Moyer plans to examine those aspects of public school environments that help or hinder new teachers attempting to transfer their initial training in schools.




Analyses by Associate Professor Alexander Wiseman and College of Education graduate Emily Anderson show that information and communication technology (ICT)-based instruction in Saudi Arabia relies on primarily lower-level thinking skills, and does not build innovation and knowledge capacity in youth. However, reforms to teacher training and professional development would reverse those trends.

Children embody society’s fears and hopes for the future. The meanings of “child” and “childhood” are therefore central to the political, economic and social (re)making of societies. Associate Professor Iveta Silova examines the social construction of childhood through the analysis of early literacy textbooks in Latvia. The study also includes research in other post-Soviet states, including Armenia and Ukraine.

Doctoral student Jonathan Johnson is studying the transfer of distributed leadership—or empowering teachers to take on leadership of school-wide initiatives—from U.S. to South American school environments. He is examining how culture-based understandings of leadership in Colombia inhibit the acceptance of distributed leadership in international schools with both U.S. and Colombian teachers.

* Associate Professor of Educational Leadership Jill Sperandio partners on these research projects.


The future holds new economic and technological possibilities for the war-torn African nation of Somalia. Understanding Somalia’s tragic socio-political history is just one way in which American students can better understand the intersection of global policy, social studies and the STEM disciplines.


Geography and STEM: A New Legacy? Among the social studies disciplines, geography has been in decline for the past several decades.

But that may change if STEM education remains a long-term trend for America’s classrooms. Recently, I sat in a third grade classroom watching a geography lesson. I was specifically interested in seeing what instruction students received on map skills. I observed the teacher as she reviewed continents and oceans with the students using a large cloth map on which students took turns applying labels.

She then used an interactive whiteboard to introduce latitude and longitude and absolute location. After the bell rang, I asked if there were any additional lessons on latitude and longitude? The answer was startling, but not shocking: No, that was it. For the rest of the year. If the current emphasis on the

science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines is not a flash in the pan but the start of a long-term trend in American education, I think things will look very different in that third grade classroom within the next three years. Yes, there will be more math and more science—along with a continued focus on reading and language arts, I assume—but there will also be more geography. While the elementary social studies curriculum as a whole has been “squeezed” by the demands of No Child Left Behind, geography is in an unique position among the social studies disciplines. While history, civics and economics may lose instructional time, geography will certainly gain ground. Start with the standards: If you look deep enough within the Pennsylvania geography standards, for example, you’ll find expectations that during the third grade students will, “Identify the effect of the physical systems on people within a community,” “Identify the effect of people on the physical systems within a community,” and “Identify the basic physical processes that affect the physical characteristics of places and regions.” These tasks certainly require science, technology, engineering and math; more importantly, study of the STEM disciplines in any logical, realworld context should also lead to these same topics. However, a STEM-influenced geography curriculum will look very different from the traditional approach that I described above. True, students will still learn about the continents and oceans or latitude and longitude. However, they will be using different tools to answer different questions. For

example, rather than use a cloth map, students will use Google Earth to view satellite imagery of continents, the oceans, weather patterns and the interaction of the natural and built environments. Instead of sitting in the classroom, students will learn outside with location-aware devices such as global positioning system (GPS) units or smartphones to observe latitude and longitude and watch values change as they move relative to the equator and prime meridian. In short, students will be doing geography, not just learning about it. At the same time, they’ll be doing math: Mark off a second of latitude and a second of longitude and see where that takes you. Why, in the United States, is a second of latitude larger than a second of longitude? Or estimate: If I walk A Somalian man working on fishing nets. STEM education infused with a global, geo-political underpinning—like understanding the dynamics of Somalia—can be an asset in America’s classrooms.

to the other side of the park, how many seconds of longitude will I cross? If I take a bus to Philadelphia, how many degrees of latitude will I drop? For students of science and engineering, the satellite system that communicates with GPS units is truly incredible—the algorithms they use provide a rare, everyday example of the Theory of

Relativity in action. After years of civil strife, Among the social Somalians are returning to their homeland. studies disciplines, geography has been in decline for the past several decades. Many colleges and universities no longer have a geography department; high schools typically no longer require our college’s teaching, learning and students to take a stand-alone technology program, teachers are geography course. The sole prousing GPS units to teach latitude longed exposure to the field now and longitude and conduct enrichhappens in middle school, where ment activities such as measuring students often take a single course, the height of neighborhood trees sometimes only a semester long. using latitude and longitude meaThis trend may change due to the surements and Google Earth. The influence of STEM initiatives as students then use the measured well as the growth of topics such as height, along with the tree’s cirglobal warming, immigration, arms cumference and species, to estimate proliferation, pandemics, overfishthe weight of the tree and how ing, cyberwarfare, water purity and much carbon is stored within it. The final step of the activity is to compare the carbon stored in a tree with the amount of carbon released from a common daily activity: driving. They are surprised to learn that by driving between my building on Lehigh’s campus and the elementary school, a mere four miles, I release more than a pound of carbon into the air. When we multiply that by all the miles driven by all the cars in the world... well, we’re going to need a lot more trees, not to mention technologies for reducing our carbon footprint. Through this integration of a globalized economy—to name a geography, science and math, few. The 21st century is going to students can see the need for be an exceptionally bad time to be engineering and thoughtful uses ignorant of world geography. of technology. I’m also hoping that The good news is that the they’re highly motivated to solve same third-grade classroom that some of the massive problems our I observed is indeed experimentgeneration will leave them with.  ing with a revised geography —By Thomas Hammond, assistant curriculum that integrates science professor of teaching, learning and technology at Lehigh University. and math. In collaboration with









It’s a sunny morning in 2112. You are sipping a cafe macchiato in the breakfast nook of your home, newly refurbished with building materials made out of re-engineered garbage. Before driving your driverless Google car downtown, you check your mail on the LED iTable to look over the latest iteration of a video game you and your three colleagues—in Shanghai, Haifa and Rio—are working on. Better jot down your to-do’s before the four of you meet next week in Vancouver: Take digital x-ray of teeth and forward scan to dentist. Clean house with virus-operated home cleaning system. Set aside a few hours to visit grandmother in Chicago to see how she is recuperating from a titanium jaw implant. Only a digital optimist who rarely questions the


limits of technology would have total faith in this Jetsons-like portrait of life a hundred years hence. Most of us understand that the road to tomorrow is littered with unforeseen obstacles: Disease. Economic downturns. Magical thinking. Political and social polarization. Yet most of us would travel down that path rather than remain in “simpler” times of inevitable crop failures and untreatable pandemics. It goes without saying that the developed world has embraced the benefits of an economy driven by science, technology, engineering and mathematics—the STEM disciplines. That bond will only grow tighter as forces align to create a truly global economy dependent on such issues as infrastructure development and energy production. It’s the world American children will largely help

WE’VE HEARD THIS ALL BEFORE AND LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT Richard Rothstein, who studies educational policy at the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, has suggested that panicking over dismal school performance is an American pastime. In 1896, for example, the Harvard Board of Overseers “published samples of freshman writing to embarrass secondary schools” and complained that there was “no conceivable justification for using the revenues of Harvard College” to instruct undergraduates who were unprepared for college work. And political theorist Hannah Arendt complained in 1954 that “the recurring crisis in [American] education… during the last decade at least, has become a political

problem of the first magnitude, reported on almost daily in the newspapers.” The most serious warning about American education came in 1983 when the National Commission on Excellence in Education published A Nation at Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform. Former U.S. Secretary of Education T.H. Bell created the commission in response to the “widespread perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational system.” Pause to consider that A Nation at Risk came out 25 years after the National Defense Education Act of 1958 poured millions of dollars into education, especially in mathematics, largely in response to the Soviets’ lead in the space race. By the early 1980s, the nascent computing industry was hiring computer programmers, database specialists, mathematicians, artificial intelligence logicians and software engineers, many of whom had benefited from the government’s commitment to math and science education. Despite the resulting influx of trained workers into the Internet economy, however, many well-meaning pundits reminded us again with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top that the U.S. had to redouble its efforts to improve schools. Critics have argued rightly that the genius who invents the light bulb or the personal computer is not proof of a superior educational system. Such individuals will always find a way to work with like-minded talents. The problem, they say, is that American students today are performing worse on math and science tests than their counterparts around the world. Just as problematic is the purported decrease in interest in the




to create, and future generations will inhabit. Yet every-day media and think tank experts tell us that as the workplace becomes even more high-tech, we are in danger of losing our jobs to higher skilled workers, especially in Asia. Indeed, media reports inform us that as many as 3.2 million jobs have gone unfilled for lack of qualified applicants. Has the United States really reached the point where its workers do not have the education and training to do the work of a hightech society? Are we in fact hamstringing our citizens with schools incapable of educating us for a new tomorrow? Are we in the United States, along with a foundering Europe, becoming, as essayist Gore Vidal once wrote, “irrelevant to the world that matters”? The answers may surprise you.


after college, but often leave for more lucrative managerial and professional occupations. The Center’s authors wonder who will fill the 1.1 million net new STEM jobs and the 1.3 million STEM job openings to replace workers who permanently leave the workforce between 2008 and 2018. An examination of U.S. Census Bureau statistics on the number of students graduating with science and engineering degrees, however, tells a somewhat different story. According to U.S. Census Bureau tabulations, 502,561 students in 2009 received a bachelor’s degree in science and engineering. This “STUDENTS ACROSS OUR ENTIRE EDUCATIONAL SPECTRUM, FROM number was up from 399,686 in SUBURBAN HIGH SCHOOLS TO INNER CITY SCHOOLS, TAKE THESE 2000. Female recipients outnumTESTS. THE REAL QUESTION IS, WOULD WE WANT TO LIVE IN A bered male recipients by 3,071 and COUNTRY THAT FOCUSES ON THE ACADEMIC SKILLS ONLY OF THE 4,032, respectively. TOP SCORERS ON STANDARDIZED TESTS?”—ALEX WISEMAN The same holds true for advanced degrees. In 2009, almost never was the golden era of American education 40,000 more master’s degrees—and nearly 7,500 that people now seem to say we’ve lost, or that we’re more doctoral degrees—were conferred in STEM entering into some sort of new crisis,” adds Wiseman. fields than in 2000. “We seem to exist in a media state of crisis about our When the definition of “science and engineering” education system, and that’s very unfortunate.” degrees included physics, earth sciences, mathematThe Georgetown University Center on ics, computer sciences, biological sciences, agriculEducation and the Workforce set out to analyze tural sciences, social sciences and psychology, the what was diverting students from the STEM path. numbers are even stronger. So why are observers of It wrote in a 2011 report that even students enrolled the U.S. educational system worried that we are fallin STEM majors tend to steer away from related ing behind in the STEM subjects? careers. For one, those majors can earn more over Perhaps they don’t see just how diverse our edutheir lifetimes in some non-STEM occupations. cational pipeline is. “There is a tremendous amount And STEM workers with bachelor and master’s of variation here. A lot of that is a product of the fact degrees may start out with high-wage STEM jobs that we have the most decentralized education system

in the world—almost 14,000 independent school districts,” says Wiseman. “And by independent, I truly mean that we tend to think that there is a national education system—and there really isn’t.”

COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING, WE’RE DOING JUST FINE Their concern comes from apparently poor scores in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which measures fourth- and eighthgrade math and science knowledge. Thirty-six countries are included in the fourth-grade rankings, while 48 countries are included in the eighth-grade rankings. In 2007, the American math scores for Grades 4 and 8 were above average (529, 508), but students elsewhere in the world scored higher: Fourth-grade students in Hong Kong scored 607, while eighthgrade students in Chinese Taipei scored 598. Another test, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), measures the “literacy” of 15-year-old students in mathematics, reading and science. The most recent data is from 2009, when 65 education systems participated. Our Asian counterparts again routinely scored above the average 500 in math and science. The United States? A 502 in science. A shocking 487 in math. “If you looked at these numbers out of context, you would have to conclude that the U.S. is falling behind,” says Wiseman. “But many educators are looking at the same data sources—TIMSS and PISA—and observing that we have students

performing at the highest levels in the world.” It may appear that countries with high-stakes testing, such as Japan, Singapore, South Korean and China, are faring far better than American students. But Wiseman says that’s not the whole story. “We don’t have the kind of system where only students who test well on standardized tests get to participate in TIMSS and PISA,” Wiseman says. “Students across our entire educational spectrum, from suburban high schools to inner city schools, take these tests. “The real question is, would we want to live in a country that focuses on the academic skills only of the top scorers on standardized tests?” Wiseman asks. “The argument that I’m making is that other countries are producing students that are very good at taking tests. They’re very good at it. Because they have to be.” “Our students do not have to be good at taking tests,” he says. “We don’t have a system that is like that. We have a system that is full of second chances.” The TIMSS and PISA test designers themselves offer up a caveat that points to at least one inherent problem in the tests: “The content represented by the scale scores is not the same across different ages within a subject domain.” In other words, a test given in Singapore may be significantly different from a test given in the United States. Even if we take international rankings with a grain of salt, what should we conclude about test scores inside the United States that have fallen over time? David C. Berliner and Bruce J. Biddle, educators who have studied the drop in Graduate Record Exam




STEM subjects. All this despite the many education initiatives, academic studies and government reports detailing the system’s flaws and offering up fixes. “These sorts of assertions about American education are not new. They’re not unique to this particular economy or geopolitical mess,” says Alex Wiseman, an associate professor of comparative and international education at Lehigh University’s College of Education. “They are actually pretty stable characteristics of educational reform and educational commentary for the past 100 years.” “I think one of Rothstein’s big arguments is, there


eighth-grade math. Only South Korea scored as well as FiW in fourth-grade science. Only in twelfth-grade advanced math physics did a significant number of countries score higher than FiW students. Michael Lach, former special assistant for STEM education in the U.S. Department of Education, suggests that, “FiW results indicate that our most advantaged kids are absolutely competitive. But the kids on the South Side and the West Side of Chicago are not competitive because of the social and economic inequalities that frame their educational experience.” Lach’s explanation may strike some observers of American education as an excuse for low test scores. But educators point to more than anecdotal evidence in the success of various inner city schools—schools that have strengthened their entire curriculum for the purpose of enhancing the students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, not for the purpose of taking international tests.

IT’S TIME TO INFUSE STEM WITH A GEOPOLITICAL CURRICULUM While the American education system is not experiencing the crisis that critics allege, educators and policymakers do need to acknowledge the need for a sensible emphasis on STEM education. “The fact is that other countries, like China, like India, wanted to understand how the U.S. became an economic powerhouse, and they concluded that science and math were responsible,” says Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation, a non-profit

organization that is mobilizing the business commueducational system has not neglected reading— nity to improve STEM education. largely because of No Child Left Behind testing “They focused on the K-12 pipeline to produce requirements—but educators say it should be about a population of their own citizens that was strong in much more than basic literacy. these subjects,” she says. “We’ve gotten where we are today due to our Understanding the needs of the business commuapplications of math and science education,” says nity is critical, says Lynn Columba, an associate proThomas Hammond, an assistant professor of teachfessor of teaching, learning and technology at College ing, learning and technology at Lehigh’s College of of Education at Lehigh. “It’s important for those of us in “I WOULDN’T SAY WE HAVE A HEALTHCARE CRISIS ON OUR HANDS the classroom to know what comBECAUSE WE HAVE INSUFFICIENTLY WELL-TRAINED DOCTORS AND panies are looking for. There’s someRESEARCHERS. WE HAVE A CRISIS OF RISING COSTS AND ACCESS thing called the SCANS Report. It’s BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE A POLITICAL SYSTEM TO EFFECTIVELY from employers and what characterDEAL WITH IT.”—THOMAS HAMMOND istics they want in their employees. The top two things they want are problem solving and Education, who has focused much of his research on communication skills. Right up there is being a team the use of technology in social studies instruction. player,” says Columba. “All these skills are things we “Most of our big societal problems come out of our can teach in the math classroom.” lack of social studies knowledge. In keeping with the conviction that one size does “For example, I wouldn’t say we have a healthnot fit all, educators, corporate CEOs and researchers care crisis on our hands because we have insufficiently in every academic discipline are proposing technolwell-trained doctors, technicians and researchers. We ogy tools, curricula and even public boarding schools have a crisis of rising costs and access because we do to help students acquire the critical thinking and not have a political system to effectively deal with it.” problem-solving skills they will need to compete in And that draws attention to the inherent flaws a globally integrated economy. And while people can in such a highly focused, STEM-driven curriculum. only guess at the type of jobs that might exist a hun“A concern is that STEM is giving us a false sense dred years from now, the future workplace will require of security,” says Hammond. “It crowds out the other workers and entrepreneurs whose greatest asset is the competing goods. Every good economist will tell you, critical thinking skills they learned not only in their there’s an opportunity cost to everything. As we focus STEM classes, but also in their social studies, foreign more and more on STEM, what is the opportunity language, philosophy and English classes. cost? What are we crowding out by focusing more on The curriculum in a math and science-focused those disciplines?”




(GRE) scores from 1965 to the early 1970s, note that the percentage of students who took the test during that period actually doubled. “Since 1971 the percentage of students taking the GRE has not varied greatly, but average GRE scores have gradually risen,” they write in The Manufactured Crisis, Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America’s Public Schools. “What this means is that average total GRE scores are now roughly the same as they were in the 1960s—despite the fact that the percentage of students taking the GRE now is more than twice it was a generation ago.” The same story applies for the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and the Medical College Admission Test (GMAT). This discrepancy between perception and truth is being debated in smaller education circles. Concerned about an unscientific comparison between the U.S. and high-stakes educational systems in the Far East, for example, a group of superintendents in Chicago formed a consortium of districts “committed to providing a world-class education for their students.” In the 1990s, the First in the World (FiW) Consortium consisted of a relatively homogeneous group of students—comparable to the test groups in Shanghai, Korea and Japan. Nearly four out of five students (78 percent) were white, non-Hispanic. Using TIMSS testing as a baseline measure, FiW students did “exceptionally well” in fourthand eighth-grade math tests and the twelfth-grade advanced math and physics tests. In fact, only Singapore scored higher than FiW in fourth- and



WHEN SUCCESS IS CONTINGENT ON TEACHER TRAINING Is American education in need of reform? Yes— but not because the whole system is broken. The separation of knowledge into distinct disciplines—mathematics, chemistry, social studies, English—might have made sense before the advent of predictive analytics, which requires a deep understanding of statistics and data mining. It may have also made sense before the study of economics required as much intimate knowledge of household buying habits, global warming, game theory and many other phenomena that have an impact on poverty and wealth. Columba, author of The Power of Picture Books in Teaching Math and Science: Grades PreK-8, says that the most effective STEM education will be

cross-disciplinary. “Students learn math and science by making connections and by integrating concepts and procedures. Outside of school, we do not compartmentalize thinking as just math or science. Problems in the real world are always multidimensional—historical, cultural, sociological, economical, political, technological and anthropological.” Restructuring education so that it looks more like an interdisciplinary high-tech workplace must be high on the reform agenda. Columba insists teachers can lead that charge. “Today, teachers are preparing students for jobs that have yet to be created,” she says. “The proliferation of information has created an informationknowledge gap. No one person can know everything about a particular content area.” Columba believes teachers need to guide their students so that they’re better equipped to solve tomorrow’s challenges. “Since information and knowledge are significantly different, teachers today have to rethink what it means ‘to know’ so that new ideas will emerge. The best teachers are lifelong learners who are willing to explore innovative teaching strategies and methods in addition to acting on current research in the classroom.” This problem is that school districts across America, regardless of their demographics, are having a very difficult time recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. The problem is exacerbated by a changing workforce: Since there are fewer STEM teachers in the pipeline, schools are often under pressure to replace mathematics and science teachers. (See “Flashback,” page 37.)

“Significant professional development that is susAmazon to life. tained over time, addresses specific needs, and is part Finally, looking at American schools in isolaof a supportive work environment in which teachers tion—without acknowledging the impact of the curfeel valued, will result in meaningful outcomes and rent recession, the $1 trillion in student loans and a positive effect on retention of STEM teachers,” especially the shifting labor and resource requirements Columba argues. of a behemoth we now call the globally integrated Rethinking the obsession with testing must be enterprise—unreasonably asks schools to shoulder the part of that agenda too. As Diane Ravitch, research burden of an educational system in need of sensitively professor of education at New York University, and wrought change. The many business-education partmany others discovered in studying the effects of the nerships throughout the U.S. attest to the anxiety that Blueprint initiative, a school day full of reading and educators and business have over what the future holds math drills is a joyless affair— “OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL, WE DO NOT COMPARTMENTALIZE THINKING for teachers and students alike. AS JUST MATH OR SCIENCE. PROBLEMS IN THE REAL WORLD Blueprint was an educaARE ALWAYS MULTI-DIMENSIONAL—HISTORICAL, CULTURAL, tional reform plan originally SOCIOLOGICAL, ECONOMICAL, POLITICAL, TECHNOLOGICAL AND implemented in New York ANTHROPOLOGICAL.”—LYNN COLUMBA City’s District 2 system and later adapted by the San Diego Unified School District. Two years into San Diego’s for the American workforce. But it also expresses their reform program, mathematics was added along with determination to help us prepare for the best of what reading as a core subject. Teachers who objected to our idealized future has to offer. the Blueprint methodology were fired. More than a The changes American education is undergoing third of the district’s teachers left between 1998 and as it struggles to incorporate intelligent problem2005, and some 90 percent of the district’s principals solving and critical thinking into the curriculum will were replaced. Ravitch has said she was surprised to not come over night. “This notion that we have to be learn that curriculum never even entered into the poised and ready to continue learning in any way that Blueprint plan. we can means that the unknown future is not scary Blueprint did not result in any long-lasting or but rather exhilarating,” says Change the Equation’s favorable educational outcomes. And it’s unlikely Linda Rosen. that the command and control managerial style that It takes courage to look ahead and not know imposed the plan on unwilling principals, teachexactly what’s coming, but keep learning just the ers and students is one that would have inspired same. This is what American education does—and the creative risk-taking that brought an Apple or an always has done. 



Hammond argues that, if it is implemented properly, STEM could open up opportunities to study the history of industrialism and new technologies, and the shift away from imperialism and the economic ascendance of the developing world. He sees a chance to truly study how influential writers such as Henry David Thoreau, William Dean Howells, Frank Norris, Ayn Rand, Arthur Miller and David Mamet can lend credence to a critique or affirmation of American business principles. (See article on page 9.) Lach agrees. “Educators have been saying for years that No Child Left Behind promoted a narrowing of the curriculum. We want to push for a well-rounded education that combines STEM and the humanities.”


Bullying is rampant in schools, and it creates a toxic environment that hurts bystanders, bullies and victims.

Mia* is in fourth grade. Sometimes, a girl in her class, Sophie, would make fun of her. Then one day, Sophie brought invitations to her birthday party to school. She handed them out to everyone in her class. Everyone, that is, except for Mia. Every day for what seemed like weeks, Mia watched as the girls sat together at lunch and played together at recess, always talking about the party. Written by As the only child in the class not going to Emily Groff the party, Mia was increasingly excluded. Soon, Illustration she started having trouble sleeping and she didn’t by Michelle feel like eating. She stopped wanting to come Thompson to school, and her performance when she was in the classroom dropped. Finally, things started to change. Trainers from a local organization that fights bullying started an educational program at her school. Through this program, Mia says she “realized that bullying happens to lots of kids every day, and really nice kids too.” With her new understanding of bullying, Mia confronted Sophie and asked her how she would feel if she were similarly excluded. Mia also started speaking with her friends again. With the behavior out in the open, Sophie stopped bullying Mia and the environment in the classroom began to improve.


Two Lehigh professors are studying how to restore order and build peaceful school communities.




“Bullies don’t have a good future,” says Warren Heydenberk. “They have all the correlates of delinquency, alcohol abuse, suicide, a whole gamut of problems you don’t want to see.” The Heydenberks’ most recent research shows that the people who benefit the most by reduced bullying are the people who witness the activity—the bystanders. This means that while roughly 30 percent of children are bullied, nearly everybody in the school suffers from its side effects. “Bullying erodes the whole school-based community,” says Warren Heydenberk. “Kids get shut down; they don’t want to go to school. But bullying is like air pollution. If you can open the windows and clear it out, all the kids are better.”


WALKING IN ANOTHER’S SHOES The Heydenberks’ goal is to clear out that pollution. Roberta Heydenberk is the research director at the Peace Center, an organization in Langhorne, Pa., that promotes community peace and social justice through programs that help reduce violence and conflict in our schools. The Peace Center runs the bullying prevention program that gave Mia the power to confront her bully. The program uses interactive exercises to raise awareness of bullying, increase communication, build empathy and teach children to think before acting. The program is integrated into the school curriculum and facilitated by trained peace educators. “We try to get children to step into the shoes of the other person,” says Barbara Simmons, the executive director of the Peace Center. “This work shows them how their words can hurt or lift other people.”

One of the Peace Center’s success stories is Jacob. Every morning, when students arrived in his classroom, Jacob would stand in the doorway. He wouldn’t let the students pass until he had insulted each one. After observing this, the peace educator asked Jacob to sit next to her and help her with the program. That day, the children were doing an activity called “The Torn Heart” that uses a beautifully decorated paper heart to illustrate the damaging power of words. The peace educator reads a story about bullying, and every time the main character is put down, a student volunteer rips the heart. The children can hear the paper rip with each insult, and they can see how it looks.

AS HE RIPPED THE HEART, JACOB BEGAN TO CRY “If you asked that boy what bullying is before the program, he would not have said he was bullying. He would have said he was teasing,” says Marianne Elias-Turner, the program director at the Peace Center. “Through the activity, he saw that he was tearing his classmates’ hearts. He was trying to connect, but

he had no language to do it.” Jacob ended up apologizing to the class for his actions.

THE CLASSROOM AS A FAMILY The Heydenberks’ research shows that comprehensive conflict resolution programs, like those run by the Peace Center, boost students’ academic achievement and moral reasoning. These programs teach students skills like listening and stopping to think before acting. When these strategies are embedded in the curriculum and practiced throughout the day, students learn how to recognize, express and manage their emotions, and how to solve conflicts. All of this creates a better learning environment and increases school attachment. And if students feel like they’re part of something enjoyable, they are more willing to go to school, and they perform better academically. To see how effective the Peace Center’s work is, one only has to visit Deborah Walker’s second-grade

classroom at Willow Dale Elementary School in Warminster, Pa. Walker first contacted the center almost 20 years ago, and she has been integrating conflict resolution and character education into her curriculum ever since. She has seen discipline problems drop and academic performance increase as a result. “We’re raising future citizens here,” says Walker. “Isn’t it imperative that we teach them character as well? Teachers say they can’t take one more thing on the plate, but this is the plate,” she adds. “It holds the curriculum together.” Walker makes principles like respect and empathy part of every lesson. For example, when her students read a story about baseball legend Jackie Robinson, they examine the actions of Warren and Roberta all the characters for lessons Heydenberk about good behavior. “Even fractions are fair,” she laughs. “What you do to the numerator, you do to the denominator.” Because these principles are part of every lesson they learn, the students in Walker’s class understand how to stop bullying. They don’t pick on other children, and they have the strength to stand up to people who pick on them. And through the common language of the program, the class has become a tight-knit community. The students feel the difference. For example, take Anna, who moved to Pennsylvania from Ukraine. When she was in first grade, children in her class excluded her and made her feel unwelcome. “Last year, there were people bullying me,” she says. “This year, I didn’t want to go to school on the first day because I was scared it would happen again. But it didn’t happen. There are no kids that bully here in this class, so I like this class. We’re like a family.”  *All of the children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

HOW CAN YOU COMBAT BULLYING IN YOUR SCHOOL? Roberta and Warren Heydenberk have been studying bullying and conflict resolution for more than 20 years. Here are some tips that teachers and administrators can use to reduce bullying in their schools. Watch your own attitude. “The attitude of the teacher about bullying is the strongest predictor of whether there’s

going to be bullying in a classroom,” says Roberta Heydenberk. Remember that bullying isn’t just physical. More often, especially as children get older, it’s verbal. Make a social contract. At the beginning of each school year, work with students to develop a social contract that outlines how classmates

want to be treated and how they will treat each other. Students are more likely to follow the contract if they write it. Check in with each other. The Heydenberks’ research has shown that the most effective way to reduce bullying is to begin each day by going around the room and having students check in with a brief


Before Mia entered the anti-bullying program, she didn’t understand that Sophie was bullying her. That’s because many people think that bullying is simply physical aggression. But the aggression can also be verbal, or it can be relational, like that experienced by Mia. “The technical definition of bullying is an unidirectional, unprovoked abuse of power,” says Roberta Heydenberk, an adjunct professor in the College of Education’s teaching, learning and technology program. Roberta and her husband, Warren Heydenberk, an emeritus/adjunct professor at the college, have been studying bullying and conflict resolution for nearly 20 years. They have found that bullying is astonishingly common: Nearly 30 percent of children have been bullied, and three-quarters have experienced attempted bullying. All this aggression takes a toll. Bullying decreases the subjective well-being, or happiness, of victims. These students have difficulty focusing and don’t feel a strong sense of attachment to school.


“I statement” of how they feel. This takes just minutes and builds a culture of community in the classroom. Ask the bully, not the victim. “One of the classic mistakes is to ask the victim what happened. But the victim is almost always revictimized, because then they’ve been a snitch,” says Roberta Heydenberk. Instead, ask the bully to tell you what happened.

The director of the College of Education’s Center for Developing Urban Educational Leaders reflects on the opportunities for children in south Bethlehem, Pa., who benefit from the Community Schools Initiative.


“A community school is more than a place—it is an integrated focus on academics, health and wellness, and youth and community development. Our goal is to improve student learning, build stronger families, create healthier communities and provide countless opportunities that most students in suburban schools already receive. It’s truly a new approach to school reform, right here in the South Side of Bethlehem.”



In Retrospect: George White



No matter which way you drill down, the controversial process of fracking is part of the national lexicon. By Geoff Gehman


Lehigh contemplates the political, social, economic and technological challenges of fracking—and how best to teach it.


This spring, 18 Lehigh University professors from six departments spanning three colleges took a field trip to the center of shale gas mining in Pennsylvania, one of America’s shale gas hotspots. First they visited a well pad in Bradford County, which leads the state in issuing permits for extracting shale gas with blasts of chemicals, sand and water—a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Then they visited a plant for recycling fracked water in nearby Lycoming County, a new boomtown for shale gas subsidiaries.

One sight surprised Alec Bodzin, an associate professor in the College of Education’s teaching, learning and technology program and a faculty member in Lehigh’s Environmental Initiative. He just couldn’t believe the chronic rush-hour traffic of trucks carrying water to and from the fracking sites. Without pipelines or pumping stations, heavy-duty vehicles have to haul three million gallons of water per well, a massive procedure and procession that severely stresses rural roads and municipal road crews.

For Bodzin, the phenomenon solidified his belief that trucking is a key to understanding, and teaching, the fractured debate over fracking. His environmental studies students learn that while trucks damage roads and pollute the air, they also provide jobs and stimulate depressed local economies. Future science teachers, he insists, need to provide a fair, objective assessment of a highly complex, highly charged issue to middle and high schoolers, particularly those with parents directly affected by fracking. “The shale gas train is rolling and won’t stop,” says Bodzin. “As a society we need to do our

homework and make informed decisions. We shouldn’t just jump on the bandwagon for the economy or the environment.”

Understanding the Controversy The field trip capped Lehigh’s 2011-2012 exploration of the vast, increasingly valuable rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale. A black shale formation rich with natural gas, Marcellus Shale runs from Ohio and West Virginia northeast into Pennsylvania and southern New York. The fracking process used to extract the gas was discussed in

panel discussions throughout the year, one of which was moderated by Bodzin, and in courses ranging from Bodzin’s Environmental Education to environmental engineering’s Risk Assessment. Lehigh presented its Marcellus Shale initiative during a political tsunami. In February, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 13, which permits most oil and gas operations in all the state’s zoning districts, including ones with schools, parks and hospitals. In April, President Barack Obama authorized the creation of a high-level federal agency to coordinate shale gas production, a rapidly growing

industry likened to a 21st-century gold rush. Indeed, over the next two decades more than 50,000 fracking wells are expected to open in Pennsylvania alone. The complexities of fracking were presented during an April panel discussion, which took place five days after Obama’s executive order. The busiest panelist was Ray Stolinas, director of the planning commission in Bradford County, Pennsylvania’s ground zero for fracking. His county, he pointed out, has granted more than 2,000 permits to extract shale gas, the largest number in the state. The fracking industry has boosted the fortunes of restaurateurs, hoteliers


Images by Theo Anderson


heating costs, a cheaper energy alternative to foreign oil) to disadvantages (more greenhouse gases, more contaminated wastewater), and recommended replacing backflow ponds for wastewater with steel tanks. Markiewicz then used testimonials to personalize

The challenges are greater for students in Bodzin’s course in Science in Middle Level and High School Education. Imagine the difficulty of making an eighth grader grasp the economic and social dynamics of leasing land to shale gas drillers. On one hand,

School, Lehigh’s geographic neighbor and a curricular partner. The subject is just too complex and too controversial for eighthgraders, says science teacher Lori Cirucci, who has relatives who won’t lease their property for fracking because gas producers

opponents, represented by the likes of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “Students need to know both sides of the argument,” says Holland, “no matter what.” However, as a social activist, Holland acknowledges that bias. She has no problem telling

The Marcellus Shale contains trillions of cubic meters of untapped natural gas reserves.

“Teachers have to present the facts from the perspectives of the many stakeholders involved, in unbiased, non-threatening ways.”

Williamsport, Pa. and nearby Bradford County could become home to some of the nation’s larger fracking operations. The northern Pennsylvania locations are part of the Marcellus Shale.


­ Alec Bodzin, associate professor of — teaching, learning and technology


wish list is a systematic study of the effect of fracking on drinking water. They also requested more tests of public water before and after the opening of fracking wells, procedures that many property owners decline because they’re expensive and confusing.

Fracking in the Classroom The panel clarified issues for Luke Markiewicz, a student in Bodzin’s Environmental Education class and a native of Pennsylvania’s Washington County, another fracking center. The master’s candidate in education then synthesized this information into a final paper on fracking. He compared advantages (lower

how fracking fractures communities: A woman traced her son’s stomach pains to well water spiked by fracking chemicals. A man discussed the $3,000 an acre he received for leasing his land with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning. Even after attending the panel and completing the paper, Markiewicz remains puzzled by fracking. He struggles to comprehend why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can’t identify many of the exotic compounds in the nearly 600 fracking chemicals, or the health problems linked to the chemicals. He finds it easier to understand other ecological challenges, like planting wild grasses to restore Pennsylvania hills stripped by zinc mining.

leasers may fund their children’s college tuition. On the other hand, their children may be ridiculed in school by the children of anti-fracking neighbors. Maybe these neighbors don’t want to live a few hundred yards from an open waste pit. Or they may be jealous because they don’t own the mineral rights necessary for collecting rent and royalties. “Students have to understand that environmental issues revolve around people’s livelihoods and lives,” says Bodzin. “Teachers have to present the facts from the perspectives of the many stakeholders involved, in unbiased, nonthreatening ways.” Mining the Marcellus Shale is a mere dot on the environmental studies map at Broughal Middle

have refused to remove potentially hazardous waste. It’s simpler for her students to manage energy resources on the imaginary island of Navitas (Latin for energy), an instructional unit created by Bodzin and Lehigh colleagues.

Two Sides of Every Argument Fracking is an exceptional exercise for Breena Holland, associate professor of political science and an expert on everything from air pollution to urban farming. Her Environmental Policy students had to write point-counterpoint papers where they defended fracking supporters, represented by the likes of the Marcellus Gas Coalition, and fracking

her students that she believes fracking advocates often deny the fact that the process is hazardous and may violate federal environmental laws. One of her sources is Andrew Stewart, a lawyer with the EPA’s Civil Enforcement division. During the April panel discussion, he revealed that heavy trucks and tankers have severely polluted a shale gas center in Wyoming, prompting the EPA to declare the former cattle farming hotspot an ozone danger zone. Holland doesn’t need to visit Wyoming, or even the upper reaches of northeastern Pennsylvania, to interview citizens directly affected by fracking. She can find them in her classroom. Kimberly Williams, who took Holland’s Environmental Policy

course this spring, opposes her parents’ desire to join their Virginia neighbors in leasing land for shale gas mining. A sophomore majoring in political science and environmental policy at Lehigh, she insists that fracking is an ecological and economic disaster. “There is a high likelihood that I will receive no financial gain,” she says, “only a heavy burden to deal with the damage.” Williams prefers cleaner, greener sources of renewable energy, including solar power and wind power. She’ll learn more about the forces behind these alternatives during an internship with the EPA’s Office of Public Engagement, a forum for public and private stakeholders. The April field trip attended by the 18 Lehigh professors was a forum, too. The mission was to increase awareness and decrease prejudice, says Frank Pazzaglia, chair of the department of earth and environmental sciences (EES) who organized the expedition with colleagues in four Lehigh departments and with leaders of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research. He indicates that teachers met workers at the Bradford County well pad who could become resources for academic projects. At the water recycling plant in Lycoming County, they discovered that some shale gas producers are trying to protect the environment, albeit with some pressure from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “We wanted to open people’s eyes to the scope and scale of fracking to the number of people involved, the pace, the footprint,”


and landlords; however, it’s been a misfortune for low-income families forced to leave their apartments after their rents tripled. Stolinas and his five fellow panelists agreed on the need for better monitoring of shale gas health issues. Near the top of their


City of Bethlehem’s wastewater treatment plant and converting wastewater from a candy factory into electricity. Brown also plans to continue teaching the politics of fracking in his Risk Assessment course. Future policy planners, he points out, need to know how to navigate the choppy gulf between too much rhetoric and too little scientific data. “I tell my students that you better know your stuff if you talk to a Marcellus group,” says Brown, a co-director of the Environmental Initiative. “You have to go in with the right approach. If it’s all emotional and you go in technical, they’ll run you out of the room.”

Human Nature David Casagrande, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology who studies how communities recover from natural disasters, is recruiting a fracking task force at Lehigh. The ecological anthropologist knows it will be difficult to herd scientists and social scientists into collaborating. He believes the wide divide could be narrowed by using geospatial devices to create an interdisciplinary database, a map of everything from income stratification to volunteer firefighting, quality of water to quality of life. For Casagrande, shale gas mining is an ideal vehicle for

“It pits engineer against engineer, neighbor against neighbor, parent against child. It’s more difficult to understand, and to teach, because it’s more emotional.” —David Casagrande, associate professor of sociology and anthropology

The environmental impact of fracking on Pennsylvania countrysides and waterways continues to be a point of contention in communities and among activists.

Derick Brown, associate professor of environmental engineering and a water-quality authority, envisions his students preparing a capstone design project revolving around fracked water or the impact of fracking on public water. It could dovetail with previous capstone projects involving the expansion of the

Holland has many options. The political scientist could examine how fracking impacts the rights of state bureaus, federal agencies and homeowners. She could also develop studies aimed at persuading legislators to replace fracking with ecologically friendlier activities, like farming and hiking.

exploring the confluence of nature and human nature. “Fracking is not just a hotbutton environmental issue, it’s an extremely divisive force,” he says. “It pits engineer against engineer, neighbor against neighbor, parent against child. It’s more difficult to understand, and to teach, because it’s more emotional.” 

SOURCES OF CONFUSION Where do principals get these misperceptions? The sources are many and varied. The mass media report sensationalized stories of school lawsuits, rarely providing intensive investigation and follow-up coverage. Other organizations share a self-interest in promoting the illusion of an “explosion” of education litigation, profiting from the resulting peril of PREVAILING BELIEFS & liability. You can throw school insurance companies into this mix. Similarly but more subtly, OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE teacher unions recruit and retain members by offering the dues “benefit” of professional liability insurance. Tort reform groups and broader legal reform organizations such as Common Good use public school issues to promote government paralysis and a fear of legal consequences. Politicians respond with immunity laws such as the the Coverdell Teacher Protection Act. Even the school law profession, ranging from law firms representing school districts to the nonpartisan Education Law Association, benefits from skewed information that emphasizes specialized—and preventive—services. Moreover, special education professionals and other educators often confuse PRINCIPALS, ALONG WITH TEACHERS AND THE PUBLIC, OFTEN HAVE legal requirements with expert recommendaPERCEPTIONS ABOUT KEY ISSUES IN SCHOOL LAW THAT ARE REMARK- tions, in their efforts to ABLY WRONG. YET, PRINCIPALS HELP REINFORCE THESE PREVAILING promote misguided “best practices.” MISPERCEPTIONS BY SHARING THEM WITH OTHERS, ULTIMATELY The principalship is such a multifaceted and CONTRIBUTING TO MISGUIDED PRACTICES AND POLICIES. demanding position that the incumbents often By Perry Zirkel do not have the time to keep up with the ever-changing and complex set of pertinent Perry Zirkel is the university legal requirements, thus relying on outdated professor of education and law at Lehigh University’s information and reinforcing peer hearsay. To College of Education help alleviate some of that confusion, here are five examples of school lore—misperceptions about the volume and the outcomes of education litigation in America.





says Pazzaglia, who also codirects the Environmental Initiative. Pazzaglia admits that Lehigh’s Marcellus Shale footprint is intentionally light. “We decided not to dive right into the deep end of the pool, that it was better to start off by walking into the baby end,” he says. “We practiced due diligence. Now people will take it from here and vote with their feet.” Pazzaglia, for example, plans to introduce the debate over water-hauling trucks into next spring’s EES Survey class. He’ll tell students that the rush-hour traffic “was incomprehensible, mind-boggling, crazy. It was impressive and depressing.”


EDUCATION LITIGATION Contrary to the continuing perception, studies have shown the “boom” of education lawsuits was in the 1970s and the early 1980s, with an uneven, but gradual, decline during the rest of the 20th century. The first decade of the new millennium marked a moderate resurgence of overall education litigation, but that’s due to the rise of litigation in the federal courts. Moreover, contrary to the accompanying image of a booming specter of liability, the outcome trends for K-12 litigation and within the student and employee categories have been clearly in favor of school districts.

THE LESSON: Principals need to adopt a more particularized, prioritized basis for analyzing and responding to litigation patterns rather than having knee-jerk reactions.





Due to these misleading reports, it is not uncommon for educators generally and teachers particularly to have nightmares about being liable for negligence arising from student injury. Television and newspaper stories of student suicides and catastrophic student athletic injuries sometimes include reports of lawsuits against teachers, counselors and coaches for alleged negligence. Yet, one only needs to look at the court decisions arising from such suits to see that students (the plaintiffs) won at least partial damages in only 11 percent of the cases. And in none of these cases was the individual defendant liable. One reason why? The defense of governmental and official immunity, which— contrary to the common conception—is far from dead doctrine in most states. Thus, even for the tragic area of student suicides, the plaintiffs have not fared well in court decisions premised

on negligence. Similarly, for the specialized area of K-12 science teaching, including high school laboratories, the low volume and district-favorable outcomes of published court cases is contrary to the perception promoted by science education organizations and literature.

reasonably intervening to stop student bullying, is lore, not law.

THE LESSON: There is good reason to take a pre-

Contrary to the public perception that the law provides a Teflon shield protecting bad teachers and administrators, studies consistently show the opposite: A vast majority of court decisions where school leaders exercised their authority to evaluate and eliminate incompetent teachers ruled in favor of the defendant districts. Similarly and even more strongly, the case law was in favor of school boards that exercised their authority to terminate or take other disciplinary action against their superintendents.

ventive approach in risk-rich areas as a matter of student safety and professional ethics, but fear of liability is the wrong reason. Unfortunately, it is an overreaction that can actually cause a reduction in laboratory learning.


STUDENTS’ RIGHTS How often do we hear students proclaim, “It’s a free country, I can say whatever I want!” and “You can’t touch me!” They’d be surprised to learn that’s rarely the case. As an overall matter, the outcomes of K-12 litigation on behalf of students have shifted significantly to an even more districtfavorable position from the late 1970s to the late 1990s. That trajectory has been in place since the 1969 student victory in Tinker v. Des Moines Community Independent School District. Similarly, various lines of law that concern touching students, e.g., negligence, battery and Section 1983 claims, generally favor the district defendants.

THE LESSON: The belief that teachers cannot touch students, including (but not limited to)

DISTRICTS WINNING MORE APPEALS According to Perry Zirkel, university professor of education and law, special education is the most legalized segment of schooling in the United States. And much of that has

to do with regulations laid out in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. The law outlines a formalized process for determin-



THE LESSON: Time and again, courts have entitled school districts to exercise their legal authority when confronting internal personnel issues.


ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION Another popular belief is that fear of litigation liability results in paralysis, preventing administrators from taking action against student violence. This vision causes public school personnel, including teachers and principals, to avoid interfering in student fights. Yet, research reveals that legal liability is not

ing such contentious matters as whether a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) provides a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. It’s a matter that is often left to the courts, as parents strive to

secure the most rights fo their children provided by IDEA. Zirkel analyzed 65 hearing officer decisions in Illinois between 1982 and 2010 that were subject to a court appeal. His findings were significant: Not only were the outcomes skewed

a major factor for teachers when they calculate their response to student fights and that, based on the case law, the odds of teacher liability in the event of intervention or nonintervention are negligible—less than one in 40,000. Likewise, there is a prevailing perception that public school educators are legally hamstrung from taking strong disciplinary action, such as suspensions and expulsions, against offending students, especially those in special education. Yet again, research reveals that the case law is the opposite of common conception; studies of student suspension cases among the general education population have found the courts have been extremely deferential to school districts. Similarly, although the legal protections for students with disabilities are more extensive, federal legislation does not generally apply to suspensions of up to 10 days, and the major legal safeguard for lengthier removals—determining whether the misconduct is a manifestation of the student’s disability—has generally not favored parents.

THE LESSON: Case law concerning functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plans under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has cumulatively moved in the direction of districts, revealing that professional recommendations should not be confused with legal requirements.  Adapted with permission from an article published in the October 2012 issue of Principal Leadership, a publication of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

in favor of districts at both the hearing/review officer and court levels, but the outcomes upon judicial appeal were the same or largely unchanged for the vast majority of the issue rulings. “The most practically significant finding of this study,




however, was the pronounced propensity for the outcomes to remain stable upon appeal,” Zirkel writes in an Exceptional Children article. Both review officers and trial courts upheld earlier judicial outcomes in nearly three-quarters of all rulings.


Special education appeared to be an afterthought when No Child

Left Behind was passed nearly 10 years ago. Now there is a a growing


and vocal consensus that the legislation needs to be fixed... quickly.


In a recent episode of “The Daily Show,” host Jon Stewart asked U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “What’s going on with No Child Left Behind?” “No Child Left Behind,” the secretary declared, “is broken.” His abrupt epitaph for the G.W. Bush-era legislation strikes one as a bit paradoxical given that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) remains the law of the land and continues to have a profound effect on America’s public schools. The bipartisan Act of Congress was designed to improve student outcomes by establishing high academic standards and annual standardized assessments. Highstakes testing remains perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of NCLB. Assessments are now in the forefront of most educators’ minds: There are high-stakes tests and tests to prepare for high-stakes tests. In Pennsylvania this past March, 15 of the 25 days that schools were in session were reserved for the annual administration of Pennsylvania System of Standardized Assessments. NCLB is also known for some unachievable provisions, such as the requirement that 100 percent of students, including students with disabilities and disadvantaged students, reach the same state standards in reading and mathematics by 2014. The law has also become

somewhat notorious for its use of punishment as a way to motivate school officials toward compliance. Today, many, including the Obama Administration, perceive the law as a “barrier” to educational reform, the very outcome its enactment was supposed to have achieved. The interface of NCLB with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is awkward and clumsy. The two laws fundamentally oppose one another. NCLB calls for standardization and accountability to reach common goals by all children, even those with disabilities. IDEA calls for an emphasis on the individual child with modifications and accommodations to the general education curriculum as designed and agreed to by a team of parents and educators through the Individualized Education Program process (IEP). To many special educators, it appeared that special education was simply an afterthought during the passage of NCLB. There was astonishment and, in some cases, mild outrage among special educators at some of NCLB’s newly enacted provisions. How, for example, could children and youth with disabilities achieve the same academic standards as children without disabilities, when by definition children with disabilities are “unable” to perform com-

mensurate with children without disabilities? Is it even feasible or ethical to submit children with disabilities to standardized grade-level assessments when those children are clearly unable to participate meaningfully? Federal legislators quickly began scrambling to align the two important pieces of legislation when IDEA came up for reauthorization in 2004. IDEA requires that states and local education agencies ensure that all children with disabilities are included in all general state and district-wide assessment programs. If necessary, a state or school district may create an alter­ nate assessment. This provision may have been one of the first of many legislative retreats from the requirements of NCLB. Over the years other “exceptions” to the legislation have been adopted. Changes have been wrought with regard to testing; there are now alternative tests and modified tests for children with disabilities. There are revisions and exceptions to the “Highly Qualified Teacher” provisions. Each revision calls for modifications in test distribution and recording. Workshops are conducted to keep teachers abreast of the ever-

changing requirements. Yet some things remain the same. In schools across Pennsylvania, including in my school for children with disabilities, students known to be functioning well below grade expectancy will be handed test booklets containing material at their chronologically appropriate grade level. They will be unable to answer a single question on any page in the test booklet. They will be directed to “try hard” in accordance with the directions that accompany the assessment materials. As one special education teacher aptly put it, “We are asked to do something we ordinarily would never do. It’s analogous to asking a child in a wheelchair to run the hundred-yard dash. Although we would never do that with a child having physical disabilities, when it comes to state assessments, that’s exactly what we are doing in many cases.” Today, there appears to be a growing consensus that the legislation is in need of significant revisions. Despite nearly 10 years of implementation, myriad revisions, modifications, “retreats” and

ongoing assessments, there is little empirical evidence to suggest that NCLB, the law that demanded accountability, has been effective in achieving its outcomes. As stated in Homeroom, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education: “The act’s emphasis on test scores as the primary measure of school performance has narrowed the curriculum… at the expense of

“Michael George understands, better than most of his contemporaries, the inherent contradictions in No Child Left Behind. His voice is a necessary component of any serious conversation involving school reform and our nation’s special education community.” —Gary Sasso, Dean of the College of Education

important subjects such as history, civics, science, the arts and physical education… and the one-sizefits-all accountability system has mislabeled schools as failures even if their students are demonstrating real academic growth. The law is overly prescriptive and doesn’t allow districts to create improvement plans based on their unique needs. It also has not supported states as they create teacher evaluation systems that use multiple measures to identify highly effective teachers and support the instructional improvement of all teachers. Unfortunately, the law is

A CAPITAL LESSON Michael George, director of the Centennial School of Lehigh University’s College of Education, recently testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington, D.C. regarding

unintentionally creating barriers for these reforms.” Sadly, after 10 years of effort on the part of school officials, the only clear “winners” when it comes to NCLB are the test developers and corporations that produce the mandated assessments. Some might argue that the federal government is also a beneficiary of the law in that NCLB further shifted

legislation that limits seclusion and restraint of students. Under the provisions of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, students can only be secluded or restrained if they act in a way as to pose a clear and present danger to themselves or oth-

authority for making decisions about education from local school boards to the state and federal governments, a process begun many years ago under the Reagan presidency with the introduction of A Nation at Risk. Left unsaid by Secretary Duncan in his appearance on “The Daily Show” was precisely when government officials came to the unsettling conclusion that NCLB was broken and needed a fix. Public school officials have known that for many years.  —By Michael George, Director of the Centennial School in Bethlehem, Pa.

ers in the school setting. By employing positive behavioral teaching approaches and working to establish a relationship with students that make school environments fun and engaging, George testified that the Centennial School has been able to do away with archaic forms of discipline.


Broken Promises


“I hope my testimony heightens awareness of the issue of seclusion and restraint in this country and illustrates the benefits of positive behavioral approaches for working with children and youth who have problem behaviors,” says George, who has worked at the Centennial School since 1998.



lion industry in the U.S. Iveta Silova and Peggy Kong, both professors of

comparative and international education at Lehigh, examine five implica-



According to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, education should be free and accessible to all. Yet, many families believe that public schooling is becoming increasingly insufficient to meet their children’s educational goals. Evidence from Asia, the United States and the former Soviet Republics suggests that parents view private tutoring as an integral part of their children’s education. Whether preparing for high-stakes examinations or pursuing extracurricular activities, families rely on private tutoring to increase their children’s educational opportunities.




The rise of private tutoring signals an increasing commodification of education worldwide. Education is no longer perceived as a public good, but rather as a private benefit that can be bought and sold in the education marketplace.



tions of tutoring for educational quality and equity across the world.


The burden for “buying” education is increasingly shifted onto families. Due to the tightening of educational budgets, music and arts have been practically eliminated in public school curricula in many education systems around the world. The responsi-


According to the 2012 estimates, private tutoring constituted an $11 bil-

bility for nurturing creativity and appreciation for developing the heart, mind and body has thus shifted into the private sphere where music, art and even physical education can be purchased by those who can afford it.


Notwithstanding its multiple positive aspects—such as expanding knowledge and interests for individuals, accumulating human capital for societies and providing new strategies for coping with rapid geopolitical transitions— private tutoring has serious implications for educational equity. It is generally unaffordable to families of lower socio-economic groups and rural areas. Private tutoring thus functions as a “sorting machine” through which inequality and privilege are reproduced, thus undermining education’s main purpose of equalizing the society.


Public Schooling and Private Tutoring


Private tutoring also has major ethical implications. It is frequently linked to educational corruption, whereby underpaid teachers use tutoring to supplement their official salaries. Research reveals that teachers can make private tutoring “compulsory” by forcing their own students to take private tutoring lessons after school hours. This sends mixed signals to students about the value of education in public schooling and private tutoring. Moreover, the integrity of teachers is compromised in the eyes of students and parents, further discrediting the public education system. 

Recruiting and Retention Five years ago, The New York Times dissected STEM education and realized, yet again, that America was falling well short in preparing

its teachers to lead successful, STEM-driven curricula. Even today, recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers is a problem that confounds the entire educational community. The national debate on teacher preparation, especially within the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, was brought into clear focus by The New York Times education reporter Sam Dillon in August 2007. In his article, “With Turnover High, Schools Fight for Teachers,” Dillon looked at the trouble that school districts across America—from Kansas to New York City, Los Angeles to North Carolina—had in recruiting and retaining highquality teachers.

It was a problem with a big price tag. Earlier that year, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future reported that teacher turnover was costing school districts upward of $7 billion every year. The commission’s president, Thomas G. Carroll, told Dillon the issue wasn’t retirement. “Our teacher preparation system can accommodate the retirement rate,” he said. “The problem is that our schools are like a bucket with holes in the bottom, and we keep pouring in teachers.”

The emphasis on STEM education created an additional burden. No Child Left Behind required that every classroom be led by a qualified teacher. What was already a big problem for high-poverty schools had become

“The problem is that our

schools are like a bucket with holes in the bottom, and we keep pouring in teachers.” —Thomas G. Carroll

an even greater challenge. “We had schools where we didn’t have a single certified math teacher,” said Guilford County, N.C. superintendent Terry Grier. “We needed an [$10,000] incentive, because we couldn’t convince teachers to go to these schools without one.” 




In This Issue

Lehigh University’s College of Education is a research-intensive and highly collaborative team of scholars and graduate students. Over the past year, we’ve studied a

number of issues that are changing the educational landscape in the United States and around the world. In this, our fourth issue of Theory to Practice, we explore the ideas behind STEM education and introduce a few creative—and

alternative—visions for a future curriculum driven by STEM. We also take a look at how bullying affects more than just its victims, and how school administrators have a misguided understanding of education litigation.

Theory to Practice - ISSUE No. 4 • FALL ’12  

Theory to Practice, a research review produced annually by Lehigh’s College of Education, is designed to reflect both the changing nature of...