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Education and Politics
Joel I. Klein became New York City schools chancellor in July 2002 after serving in the highest levels of government and business. As Chancellor, he oversees more than 1,500 schools with 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees, and a $21-billion operating budget.
Mr. Klein’s comprehensive education reform program, Children First, is transforming the nation's largest public school system into a system of great schools.
Before Mr. Klein became Chancellor, he was chairman and chief executive officer of Bertelsmann, Inc., and chief U.S. liaison officer to Bertelsmann AG from January 2001 to July 2002. Bertelsmann, one of the world’s largest media companies, has annual revenues exceeding $20 billion and employs more than 76,000 people in 54 countries.
From 1997 to 2001, Mr. Klein was assistant attorney general in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division. Serving one of the longest tenures ever as head of the 700-lawyer division, Klein led landmark cases against Microsoft, WorldCom/Sprint, Visa/Mastercard, and General Electric, prevailing in a large majority of cases. Mr. Klein was widely credited with transforming the antitrust division into one of the Clinton Administration’s greatest successes. He also served as Acting Assistant Attorney General and as the antitrust division’s principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General. His appointment to the U.S. Justice Department came after Klein served two years (1993-95) as deputy counsel to President William J. Clinton.
Question: Are you satisfied with the political discourse on education in this election year?
Joel Klein: I’m not satisfied with the current discussion on public education. Whether you wanna call it a Marshal Plan, the fact of the matter is we have racial and ethnic achievement gaps that have bedeviled this country for as far back as anybody can remember. And small bore reforms are not going to remediate that. Feel good proposals won’t change that. We’ve had those for a long time.
What it’s going to take is some very serious restructuring, rethinking and real leadership. Second of all we have an increasing challenge vis a vis the global environment. I was on a group that came out with a book called “Tough choices for Tough Times” and that did the kind of global comparison, the competitiveness challenges that we face.
If you look at just recently there was a test of 15 year olds throughout the world, in math and in science, and America came in like 21st and 25th out of 30 OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries. And that’s not a place where we can be comfortable. In math, in science, in engineering, in technology--we are not doing the kind of work that we need to do in transforming the educational process to a 21st century process. We’re not doing the work we need.
So, for a whole host of reasons, I would like to see a debate that started to focus in a much, much more aggressive way with the nature of the challenges. They make us uncomfortable but focus on the real nature of the challenges. Why is it that our K-12 education system has not been doing the work that everybody thinks we need to do and come up with robust, meaningful, if difficult and challenging, and sometimes even costly, new measures to address the nature of the problem that I think is out there.
Question: Would that come in the form of massive spending?
Joel Klein: I think it's got to be policy. And then coming in behind policy is appropriate resources. But I, for example, would put a lot of federal money into creating incentives to get many more science and math teachers to come into the system, and particularly to teach in our most challenging schools. We know there's a shortage of science and math teachers, and we know that in the absence of good science and math teachers, our kids won't learn science and math.
I would create many more programs, externships for those kids--they should be working in labs in the summer, so on and so forth.
I would use incentives to reward excellence. I believe performance-based pay. The federal government should be doing things like that. I would support far more innovation.
I think there's too much blocking of charters [charter schools]. That doesn't mean all charters will succeed. But I think we need to tolerate the risk that some charters won't succeed--because we know many public schools haven't succeeded.
I think we need to experiment with new models. Everybody's got this model of one teacher in a classroom of twenty-five kids or something like that. But I don't think that's a model. I think we need to think about models in which kids cluster together, do more inquiry-based learning, team-based learning.
Why can't we use lectures that are delivered through distance learning? I always think about the lecture at Harvard by Steven J. Gould. It was such a brilliant--I can remember how brilliant it was, and not everybody is Steven J. Gould, and not everybody can lecture like he can. If you look at Richard Fine and the work he did at Cal Tech in his lecture of physics; now there's no reason that we can't use that, followed up by a real world, in-the-classroom teacher.
Now talking about some of those things and differentiating, so that some classes could be quite small, like they are in college, particularly in high school, they could be almost tutorials.
On the other hand, it could be some large lecture classes.
So these are all areas where we need to be much more dynamic and innovative and when people say, "Well, we don't know for sure that this one or that one will work." The answer is we don't, but we'll never find out if we're afraid to try. And if we continue with the same kind of stereotype thinking, homogenous, everybody's gonna be 1 to 25 and that kind of model doesn't work.
Recorded On: March 30, 2008
Klein says all the talk falls short of the grand plan needed.
Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!
Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".