Sausage, Springsteen, and (Against) School Violence
A week and a half ago I posted about the teacher education program negotiated rulemaking process going on at the U.S. Department of Education. As I wrote at the time, the panel appointed by the Secretary of Education was having trouble coming to consensus on the regulations the Department should promulgate to evaluate teacher education programs. Sure enough, the panel was unable to agree on a set of rules to recommend to the Department, so the ED will now move forward on its own. The major sticking point was the role that student test scores, or “value-added measures,” should play in the evaluation of the programs in which the students’ teachers were trained. Inside Higher Ed reported that the panelists also disagreed over the role that job placement rates should play in evaluating the teacher preparation programs. While the Department has reported that it will take into account the views that were expressed by the various members of the panel, we will just have to wait and see what the final rules look like when they are issued some time around November 1.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend two momentous musical events on opposite sides of the North American continent. The first was a concert by Bruce Springsteen at Madison Square Garden. Now what does Bruce Springsteen have to do with education, you may be asking yourself? Well, if you are familiar with his songs you’ll know that many deal with the theme of opportunity and inequality in the United States. As usual, Springsteen and the E Street Band put on a fabulous three straight hours of high-energy, crowd-pleasing rock and roll.
The other musical event occurred in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association. The AERA conference is the largest gathering of educational researchers in the world. I did not hear the tally of the number of attendees at this year’s conference (which is still going on in Vancouver as I write), but the conference typically attracts 10,000 to 12,000 people from around the world. The conference program weighs in at a voluminous 450 pages, with literally thousands of sessions and authors contributing. Much of the research one hears at AERA deals with very similar themes to Bruce Springsteen’s music – how education, and more specifically, educational institutions, can help to provide opportunity and help people overcome inequality (I’m not the first person to draw this parallel between Bruce Springsteen’s music and education – see, for example, Leonard Cassuto’s piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education last November 20).
The musical event that linked AERA to the Springsteen concert I attended was a performance by the MSU College of Education band, Against School Violence, at our reception at AERA. While Against School Violence has not been playing quite as long as the E Street Band, they do bring a couple of decades of experience to the floor. Bruce Springsteen may have Max Weinberg, Stevie Van Dandt, Nils Lofgren, Patty Scialfa, and Garry Tallent, but our front man on guitar and vocals, Associate Dean for Research Bob Floden (who I am sure is cringing at being mentioned in the same post as Bruce Springsteen), has strong support also. Against School Violence includes:
- Michael Sedlak (Associate Dean for Academic Affairs) on drums
- Michael Nauss (Academic Specialist in our K-12 Outreach office) on vocals and rhythm
- David Cline (COE alumnus and faculty member at Saginaw Valley State University) on guitar and vocals
- Rhonda Sherwin (COE alumnus and art teacher at Haslett, MI High School) on bass and vocals
- Abigal English on vocals
At AERA, the band also enjoyed the additional talents of band alumni Aaron Pallas, faculty member at Teachers College, on guitar and Tim Lensmire, COE alumnus and faculty member at the U. of Minnesota, on vocals. And they did close the evening with a Bruce Springsteen song, Pink Cadillac.
The College’s Alumni Coordinator, Sara Jones, took much better photographs of the event, so once those are posted I’ll provide a link. Sara and Angel Boshea, Executive Staff Assistant in the Dean’s Office, deserve all the credit (along with the members of Against School Violence) for organizing and coordinating the event, which attracted hundreds of people. My thanks to all the COE faculty and staff who helped make my first AERA as Dean a wonderful event.
Lest you think the College of Education’s presence at AERA is just about musical entertainment, I should note that the research of our faculty and graduate students was very well represented at the conference. A search of the on-line program finds MSU listed 163 times, from Mete Akcaoglu to Xuechun Zhou. I am extremely proud of the contributions the MSU College of Education made to the conference.
We also had the opportunity at the conference to honor three of our faculty members who are playing a major role in AERA in the coming years. Barbara Schneider, Hannah Distinguished Professor, is the president-elect of AERA, and at the completion of next year’s conference will assume the presidency of the 25,000 member organization. Ann Austin, Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, was recently elected to the AERA Council, the organization’s governing board. And Kris Renn, Associate Professor in Educational Administration is the program chair for next year’s AERA conference. My congratulations to these three scholars for their leadership positions in AERA.