from the world's big
Fixing How We Learn
Zeke is the founder and chairman of Manhattan GMAT, a national GMAT test-preparation company. The company employs over 100 administrative and instructional staff, has classroom centers in 7 major US cities, while serving over 6000 students in 2008. Zeke began his educational career as a 6th and 8th grade teacher at I.S. 90, a public middle school in Washington Heights, New York City. Zeke has a B.A. from Yale University and a Masters in Philosophy & Education from Teachers College at Columbia University.
In January 2007, Zeke stepped down as CEO of Manhattan GMAT and began the process of founding The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School, a 480-seat public middle school which will serve at-risk student in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. TEP was granted a 5-year charter by New York State in January 2008. In his spare time, Zeke plays piano and guitar and eats almond croissants at his local bakery. He currently lives in Harlem with his wife Stephanie and daughter Ella.
Topic: Reforming our schools
Zeke Vanderhoek: The two things that come to mind initially is I would invest a lot more in teachers and I would intensify schools to do so but the ultimate goal of expanding the talent pool. And the second, and obviously I’m biased because I’m running a charter school, is I think charter schools are phenomenal vehicles for innovation and right now there is sort of inequity in funding for charter schools. Charter schools which are public schools get less money than traditional public schools. In particular, they don’t get facilities, which is a huge barrier to growth. So those are the two things that I would do if somebody somehow put a crown on my head and said you can go do whatever you want in education.
Question: Why do charter schools work?
Zeke Vanderhoek: I think charter schools work and in large measure the reason that they work is that when they don’t work they are allowed to be closed. So I think one of the great things about the charter school model is there is a mechanism for evaluating schools. The schools that are great continue. The schools that are not should be shut down. It’s very hard to do that in the traditional public system. There is no real mechanism for shutting down a traditional public school in a way that makes a lot of sense. I’m sure they are sort of restructuring those schools but that’s very different from shutting it now. So I think one of the reasons charter schools work is not that they are all successful but that there’s a mechanism for evaluating whether the school is successful. You know, there are phenomenal charter schools out there. There are a lot of charter management organizations that have had great results, keep achievement first on commons schools or three that come to mind. There are a lot of mom and pop charter schools out there that have been very, very successful. I don’t know because I don’t really believe anything I read until I walk into a school so I’m not the best person to say, “Oh, this is the best charter school and this is the charter school management organization.” But clearly, there are a lot of charter schools that are doing things that are right.
Question: What’s your take on standardized tests?
Zeke Vanderhoek: I think standardized tests have their place. I am sort of a moderate on this point. I think that one of the good things that they do is they can really help pinpoint when a school is really not being successful. A standardized test that test basic reading where half the kids in the school fail, that’s a huge problem and it exposes that problem and I think that’s a very important part of a standardized test. The flip side is a standardized test is not why we go to school and you know it’s limited in its uses. Schools are places that should be about much more than bubbling in answers to series of questions and I think any grade school that you walk into doesn’t have the feel of a standardized test exam factor and we all know what that feels like, the feel of a great classroom, the feel of excitement in the classroom. So, you know, the issue of standardized test again I think that they can expose problems better than they can sort of show greatness.
Yeah. I think one of the challenges is we need to find other mechanisms for schools to show their success. Standardized test has been the dominant mechanism right now. I don’t think that’s going to go away until we sort of a culture embrace other means. The writing portfolio is a good example. Every subject has its own sort of other ways of demonstrating success. If you’re in music and you play a musical instrument, can you perform in a concert? Can you sing? Can you sight-read? Every discipline has its own ways of demonstrating mastery. I think the challenge is not to say, “Oh, we should get rid of all standardized tests.” But really to complement standardized test with other more creative and more meaningful ways to assess whether students are learning.
Recorded on: June 30, 2009
We asked Zeke Vanderhoek, founder of a revolutionary public charter school in Manhattan, how he would reform the U.S.
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".