Friday, March 10, 2017

This Is How My Daughter Celebrated International Women's Day

Forgive my self-indulgence on this snowy Friday. My younger daughter Emily is a second-year chemistry and physics teacher at City On A Hill Charter School on Circuit Street in Boston. The students at COAH are 98% minority and 83% low-income. Twenty-four percent are eligible for special education services and 10% are English Language Learners. Student outcomes are stellar; for example, 91% of COAH students scored proficient or advanced proficient in tenth-grade language arts on Massachusetts’ Common Core-aligned standardized assessments and 81% were proficient or advanced proficient in math.

 On Wednesday, in honor of International Women’s Day, Emily switched it up a bit in her physics classes and taught a lesson called “Data on Girls in STEM Classes."  Students were presented with a series of graphs on gender differences in STEM fields. Here’s an example:

Figure 4: Bachelor’s Degrees Earned in Selected Science and Engineering Fields, by Gender, 2007

After analysis and discussion of the graphs, the class read an article called “Are Women Worse at Math? It’s Time to Stop Asking,” followed by this writing prompt:
Reflect: Below, propose one specific step our school, community, or policymakers could take to address the issues facing women and girls in STEM. Why did you choose it? Why is it important?
Here are some student responses:
Start one commercial campaign that demonstrates the excellence that girls can do and how successful they can be. This will fill growing girls with self-esteem to become something greater and achieve more than men.
Schools can take one day to talk about women and their struggles. Educating everyone about women and coming up with alternatives to better women’s futures. It’s important because women are just as important as men.
We could have meetings with the women to talk about the issues going on in society and try to take a stand. 
An idea I have for my school and community is that they should offer more video game-related classes and fields , specifically for women and girls. In the gaming industry it is male-dominated; there’s the stereotype that video games are a male thing. I find that false because there are girls who love video games, like me. I’m referring to girls who are actually gamers. It’s important because there are very few female game developers , designers, programmers, artists, audioists, managers, etc. I know that there are girls like me who want to be in the gaming industry.

I'd be remiss to not point out that Massachusetts suburbanites voted down a proposition in November that would have permitted Boston to add twelve new charter schools, a demonstrated need because currently  34,000 Boston students are sitting on charter school waiting lists. You can thank teacher union president Barbara Madeloni for the state's rejection of Prop 2. Meanwhile, I'm thankful to have a daughter like Emily.


me said...

I love this!!! And boy, does it put the lie to allegations about "segregation" in charter schools. Way to go, school and daughter (and mom for raising her) :) - Liz Winslow

NJ Left Behind said...

Thanks, Liz!

Unknown said...

You were doing fine until the dig at teachers union. For an article claiming to be pro-STEM, your opinion was weak on facts.

YOU might want to look at the STATISTICS regarding charter school performance. I'd also suggest you and your readers examine the premise that Boston waiting lists reflect the need for charter schools.

Instead, it is likely that we need more resources put into k-12 public education to make it successful -- NOT less. There is considerable evidence that charter schools exacerbate the problem of race and gender inequality, that charter schools statistically under-perform when income, race, and gender variables are constant.

There are good reasons that unions are anti-charter schools. One of which is because they create duplicate systems (inefficient!). Another reason is because the pay and benefits are so low that it becomes difficult to attract high quality employees, further eroding the middle class and further eroding tax base for education.

There is over a decade of evidence on charter schools. Don't jump to easy conclusions.
Mom and Grandma and Foster Parent (CREDO study is most positive findings for charter schools, but read beyond the headlines and echo-reporting - lots of reasons to NOT jump to divesting from public education)