Washington University

Elite universities go low cost

Wash U and Stanford have joined Harvard in loosening up the endowment pocketbooks to provide grants for students of middle-class families to attend for free or a least close to it.

Besides the obvious benefit of helping more students attend, I think this could have long-reaching benefits. Financial aid is a confusing, messy business. Yes, students can get it, but they don't know how much until they apply. This way lower middle-class families can aspire to send their kids to elite universities without worrying as much about money. The finances won't keep them from even dreaming.

❝We are concerned about assuring that students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to study here," said Chancellor Mark Wrighton. "We think this policy will encourage people who have modest circumstances to apply.❞

This news should be heralded in every 8th grade high school planning session in every district, including SLPS. I would put up flyers in every guidance office throughout the state. Heck, I would start younger. I would make sure to mention it at every opportunity in the elementary schools.

Elite universities are becoming a little less aristocratic.

Wash U involves multiple schools, depts. in KIPP sponsorship

Some are excited about Wash U.'s sponsorship of KIPP charter schools in St. Louis because it provides more options for families in the city, some because Wash U is one of the first "elite" schools to sponsor a charter school. Some like the data. I'm excited because I believe Wash U won't just write a report once a year; I think they will be an active sponsor.

❝The University expects to have significant involvement in the success of this new school.❞

This involvement isn't just tutoring although I'm sure undergrads and master's level students will work directly with kids. Faculty and doctoral students will perform research, which should provide interesting info on charter schools.

❝But he [Robert Wild], thinks the many different university schools — education, social work and others — can all get involved. KIPP schools would provide undergrads and faculty alike with real-world exploration and real-world research.❞

A top-ranked school of social work working with the ed dept. provides for exciting opportunities. The different schools working together isn't just happy talk; the dean of George warren Brown School of Social Work is officially involved. The reputation will be on the line.

Since Wash U emphasizes science education research and projects, I would watch to see if the KIPP schools follow suit.

I'm aware that KIPP schools are controversial, but I'll be eagerly following this partnership.

Passion, or lack thereof, in ed schools


I've been reading David Labaree's The Trouble with Ed Schools for my late-night reading material because I am passionate about improving the quality of teacher education. OK, I'm passionate about education in general and expect people going into the profession to be so also. Alas.

A friend and I were chatting yesterday about the people we knew in various teacher prep programs. Unfortunately, most of them majored in ed because they 1) needed a fallback if they couldn't make money doing what they really wanted to do 2) they had to choose something 3) like teaching well enough but only plan on doing so a few years until they have children.

None of these are bad reasons in themselves, and I don't fault these individuals, but it demonstrates the low status that Labaree demonstrates U.S. society gives to ed schools. Would anyone go to law school as a fallback? nursing school? (Ed school is often compared to nursing and social work schools, so I think that one is a particularly valid question.)

I asked someone who went to Truman if anyone she knew didn't feel passionately about teaching. Nope. Nobody there majored in education because they didn't know what else to do. Perhaps this is because Truman did away with awarding a bachelor's in education, so the students are planning on a five-year program. The purpose may be to strengthen the academics, but the side benefit may be to strengthen the education program. Passionate students improve classes.

Washington University is now also moving to a master's only program.

Education builds green

St. Louis Community College-Wildwood

Building green is popular here in St. Louis with commercial and residential properties having or going for LEED certification. Higher ed is getting on the bandwagon.

St. Louis Community College opened a fourth campus this year at Wildwood. The first building is going for LEED Gold with its green roof and daylight lighting.

St. Louis University built a new research facility that is connected to its med school. That facility is going for LEED Silver with its efficient, open space. Few labs go for LEED certification, so kudos to SLU. It also has a partial green roof.

Not to be outdone, Wash U opened its Danforth Center (student center), which is going for LEED Gold.

Universities are greening up because of the educational and environmental aspects.

❝To a large extent, the push is coming from the ground up, fueled by students' passions and interests and enthusiasms," says Peter MacKeith, associate dean in the School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis.❞

I could not find any secondary schools that were being built to meet even LEED certification including the new CBC campus. MRH built a new elementary school. While the school is beautiful, it is not green. Rockwood's 2008 bond issue proposition does not include any green elements even though many additional classrooms are listed. A few, however, are leading the way. (Excel document)

Crossroads College Prep is seeking platinum for its new science wing. (Fox news link)
Hazelwood East
John Burroughs Theatre addition

I had a hard time finding information on Hazelwood or Burrough's projects. I would think they would be telling the world.

I challenge those districts with future building or renovating projects to step up and take leadership. Our kids deserve no less.