SEF Blog

Welcome to SEF’s Blog!

Posted: 11/24/2014 5:28 PM

For nearly 150 years, SEF has attempted to change the trajectory of the South by engaging in research, advocacy, and collaborative efforts that highlight not just the challenges we see in providing an excellent education to all students, but show what is working on a local, state and regional level to close these achievement and opportunity gaps. We hope through our new blog and website we can provide a new forum for learning, engaging and thinking through with our partners what kinds of research, evidence and solutions are most important to improving education equity and outcomes for all.

The Effects of Zero-Tolerance Policies on Student Dropout Rates - Latanya Fanion, Public School Program Advisor at the Arkansas Department of Education

Posted: 11/14/2014 2:46 PM

Conversations surrounding the safety of students in public schools have been significantly influenced by haunting accounts of school shootings, countless recordings of students engaged in violent brawls, and repeated reports of students caught with drugs and weapons on school grounds. As these incidents became seemingly more widespread, a sense of fear developed in communities across the country. Consequently, the national discussion on safe and drug-free schools was reignited. Parents, community members, educators, and students called on school leaders and policymakers to do something to protect the nation’s schools from the perils of society that were robbing young people of their innocence. To regain the public’s trust and restore security in our nation’s schools, policymakers responded by passing various pieces of legislation, and school leaders subsequently adopted zero tolerance policies to safeguard schools and students from drugs, weapons, and crimes of violence in schools.

Birth to Five Education – the Learning Laboratory for True K-12 Reform - Pat Willis, Executive Director of Voices for Georgia's Children

Posted: 11/14/2014 2:43 PM

Having observed education reform at the local, state and national levels for more than 40 years, I am struck by the contrast in priorities between K-12 education reform and emerging efforts to create effective early childhood systems. My impression is that K-12 reformers focus primarily on academics whereas early childhood developers focus on the whole child.

Challenges Facing For Profit Higher Education and America - William G. Tierney, President of AERA

Posted: 11/14/2014 2:40 PM

The for-profit higher education sector has come under increased scrutiny in Congress, in response to a flurry of criticism, alleging shoddy and fraudulent practices. Reports in the New York Times, the New American Foundation and public television have shown stories of students who were defrauded – they thought they would get a job and did not, or they did not realize the large size of the federal loan they would have to pay back. One commentator charged that the entire sector is “socially destructive” and “morally bankrupt.” In arguing for public hearings on the sector Senators Franken of Minnesota and Harkin of Iowa urged that a serious look needs to be taken at the sector so that it can be brought into line and/ or shut down. These charges are based on four assumptions about for-profit higher education, all of which are faulty. There is also one significant challenge for-profits need to overcome. First, the assumptions:

Focus Simply on Finding the Best - Kent McGuire, SEF President and CEO

Posted: 7/1/2014 1:00 AM

Experience matters, but it does not guarantee effectiveness in the classroom. Indeed, we might prefer a new teacher who connects with students and brings a passion for teaching over an experienced one who does not. I’m certain this is the conclusion many charter networks have reached.

From Affirmative Action to Strategic Diversity Leadership: A New Model of Diversity in the Academy - Damon A. Williams, Vice Provost & Associate Vice Chancellor, University of Wisconsin- Madison

Posted: 4/14/2014 2:09 PM

As we consider the key diversity issues of access, equity, and inclusion, it is clear that the sun is fast setting on affirmative action. From the end to quotas and dualistic processes to the rise of holistic review and diversity as a “black box bonus factor”, the power of affirmative action has been, since its inception, gradually eroded. And though the need for some form of equity framework remains great, the spirit of the times, the voice of the courts, and the commentary of public opinion signal the end of affirmative action—particularly as it relates to race consciousness.

Mission Metamorphosis: Organizational Life Cycles and the Future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities - M. Christopher Brown II, President, Alcorn State University

Posted: 2/14/2014 2:15 PM

The missions, populations, and function of colleges and universities have transformed since the founding of Harvard College in 1636 to include an array of institutions. The exponential growth in institutions has led to the development of varied campus contexts, organizational structures, and academic offerings. At the core of each institution is a panoply of issues endemic to the definition and fulfillment of its mission. The topic of mission is further complicated when the focus shifts to more specialized institutions of higher education like historically black colleges and universities.

The Issue of Undocumented Students Still Looms Post-Election - William Perez, Associate Professor of Education at Claremont Graduate University

Posted: 1/14/2014 2:56 PM

During the last two decades, the U.S. has undergone a significant demographic transformation due to immigration from Latin America. As a result, Latinos are now the largest ethnic minority group. Due to failed immigration policies, however, among the immigrant population are 11 million undocumented persons, 75% of which are Latino, and approximately 2.8 million children under 18 years of age who were brought here by their parents and grew up as “Americans”. As these undocumented students approach high school graduation and begin to explore their post-secondary options, the process is often confusing and frustrating due to their legal status. I highlight three educational factors that impact higher education access for undocumented Latino students.

Achievement Gap - Pedro Noguera, Professor of Education, New York University

Posted: 8/1/2013 1:00 AM

The term “achievement gap” is commonly used to describe the disparities in academic outcomes and variations on measures of academic performance that tend to correspond to the race and class backgrounds of students. Though such disparities are by no means new, in recent years the effort to “close the achievement gap” has become something of a national crusade. Politicians and private foundations have exhorted educators to take urgent steps to close the gap and put an end to this social scourge. Former president George W. Bush went so far as to accuse those who thought the gap could not be closed of practicing “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” While it is not clear what he meant by this, it is clear he strongly believed it could be done.

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