Associate Prof. Walkington and Ph.D. Student Pruitt-Britton Write Ed Week Commentary Debunking Alleged Indoctrination in Math Textbooks

Simmons Associate Professor Candace Walkington teaches a class in Harold Clark Simmons Hall on the SMU Campus.

Education Week published a commentary by Candace Walkington, Simmons associate professor of mathematics education and learning sciences, and co-author, Ph.D. student, Tiffini Pruitt-Britton, who show that math textbooks are not about indoctrination, but fall short in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Their commentary comes at a time when political accusations inflame education discussions at the local and national levels. Some politicians are declaring what books schools should carry and what subjects should not be taught, such as critical race theory.

“We found no references to race or social justice let alone critical race theory, a framework for understanding how racism has been persistently embedded in policy. But our analysis did show a lack of substantial attention to differences linked to race, culture, gender norms, and sexual orientation in math-story content, they say. Read their commentary here.

Tiffini Pruitt-Britton, Simmons Ph.D. student, and co-author of Education Week commentary.

NPR’s Planet Money Podcast Interviews Associate Prof. Dominique Baker About her Research on Black Students’ Loan Debt

The Indicator, NPR’s Planet Money podcast, delves into the issue that Black students are more likely to default on student loans than white students. To examine this, reporters count on the expertise of SMU’s Associate Professor Dominique Baker, who teaches in the Simmons School’s Department of Education Policy and Leadership.

As they report, “We explore why Black borrowers are three times more likely to default on their student loans than white borrowers. From the intergenerational wealth gap to discrimination in the labor market to the type of majors and colleges they choose, find out how Black students are often disadvantaged even before college starts.”

Baker has been examining Black student loan debt and the for-profit schools that market heavily to people of color, who may later default because of the cost and lack of scholarships.  Baker believes the government should conduct fuller investigations of the for-profit school practices that often lead to students defaulting.

Simmons Associate Professor Dominique Baker, Department of Education Policy and Leadership

Listen to the podcast here.

 

 

 

Toyota’s President Reflects on the Importance of STEM and Working with Partners in Education

In an op-ed for The Dallas Morning News, Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, expresses his concern over training the workforce to meet the challenges and demands of the 21st century. His article stresses the importance education has in ushering change. Toyoda also delineated the partnership his company has in North Texas with Dallas ISD, SMU Simmons and the community of West Dallas to create a significant PreK to 8 STEM school near L.G. Pinkston, the neighborhood high school.

With successful partnerships and the creation of a STEM school, Toyota decided to replicate the STEM school model in 14 other U.S. cities and work with communities to bring in educational change.  As Toyoda writes, “Toyota’s U.S.-Japan partnership has flourished thanks to the shared values and mutual respect forged by the people of both countries at all levels. At its heart lies education and developing people. And as a company that calls both America and Japan home, Toyota will continue working to support students and all citizens of these great countries to help ensure we can, and will, provide mobility and happiness for all.”    Click here to read his article.

Carrolton Leader Profiles Doctoral Student Josue Romero

Josue Romero, a doctoral student in Education Leadership, is featured in a Q&A profile by the Carrolton Leader.  He also serves as principal at McLaughlin Strickland Elementary School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch School District.

Romero is a first-generation college graduate. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy from The University of Texas Arlington.

Read his profile here.

Aki Kamata Receives the Holdsworth Endowed Professorship in Simmons

Dr. Akihito Kamata, Dept. of  Education Policy and Leadership

 

 

Professor Akihito Kamata, director of Simmons’ PhD program and a faculty member in Educational Policy and Leadership, was named to the Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Endowed Professorship in Simmons. The nominating committee commended him for his responsiveness to students and his top-notch research. 

Comments submitted by faculty in support of his professorship include, “He has been compassionate and responsive to the doctoral students and has encouraged their participation.” And as for his research, the following is noted: “He has three currently funded grants from the Institute for Education Sciences- two are related to assessment of oral reading fluency and another relates to English Language learners. He is well-known as a psychometrician and statistician in Education. He has also served on many grant review panels and even has a statistical procedure named after him.”

The Simmons School congratulates Professor Kamata for this honor and his contributions to SMU.

 

 

 

SMU Student Senate To Fund Scholarships For West Dallas STEM School Attendees, Rotunda Scholars

When Austin Hickle was elected SMU student body president in 2021, he was determined to inspire other student leaders to leave a legacy of opportunity for future SMU students faced with economic challenges. With his leadership, the 2021-2022 Student Senate has created two need-based scholarships – one to help students in SMU’s Rotunda Scholars Program, and one to help students from the SMU-supported Dallas ISD STEM school, who will begin applying to college in other four years.

“This is SMU students’ chance to extend a helping hand to other students,” Hickle says.

The Senate voted to award $100,000 to the Rotunda Scholars Program, a program designed to help first-year students achieve early success at SMU by promoting academic achievement, leadership and personal excellence. Members of the program are often first-generation college students attending SMU on merit and financial-need scholarships. The Student Senate Rotunda Scholars Grant Award provides funds for expenses often not provided by other scholarships, such as books, computers, membership fees for honorary organizations and study abroad.

The second scholarship, for students who attended Dallas ISD’s West Dallas STEM School, won’t be awarded until 2026. That’s when eighth-graders at the newly opened school will apply to college. The K-8 school is a collaboration between Dallas ISD, Toyota and SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, designed to bring top-notch STEM education to students in West Dallas, where incomes and opportunity tend to lag behind other areas of the city.

Hickle has been involved with the West Dallas STEM School since he was a first-year student and scheduled an appointment with Stephanie Knight, dean of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, to discuss education equity. In turn, Knight shared her own passion, the West Dallas STEM School. After discussing their shared goals, Knight appointed Hickle to the school planning leadership team and college and career readiness committee. Hickle also volunteers at the school, which opened to 7th and 8th graders in fall 2021.

“I became determined to enhance the opportunities for students from lower-income families and build on the growing connections between the STEM School and SMU,” Hickle says. “When I brought the West Dallas STEM School scholarship proposal to the Student Senate for vote, every elected student senator voted in favor of using student fees to support underrepresented Dallas students. The Student Senate pledged $50,000 a year to build a scholarship fund for future graduates of the West Dallas STEM School.”

Hickle graduates from SMU in May, 2022. He earned a Fulbright grant to teach students in South Korea in 2022-23, then he plans to return to the U.S. and use his Truman Scholarship to earn a law degree and a Master’s degree in education.

“Under the capable guidance of future SMU student leaders who will follow me, I hope these scholarship funds are only the beginning of a legacy of improving equity and creating a school that supports all students,” Hickle says.

His support for student scholarships is in good hands with the next SMU student body president. In addition to other leadership honors, incoming SMU Student Body President Sydney Castle is an SMU Rotunda Scholar.

 

Photo caption: SMU Student Body President Austin Hickle, West Dallas STEM School Principal Marion Jackson and SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development Dean Stephanie Knight tour construction of STEM Alley at the West Dallas STEM School. By fall 2022, students will experience hands-on learning here in robotics, theater tech, STEM labs and a maker space. In 2026, when they graduate from high school, West Dallas STEM School graduates will be eligible to apply for a new SMU scholarship just for them endowed by the 2021-22 SMU Student Senate. The Pre-K- 8 school is a partnership between Toyota, SMU and the Dallas ISD.

Photo by Hillsman Jackson, SMU. 

Professor Ketterlin Geller Gives Address at Honors Convocation 2022

Professor Leanne Ketterlin Geller gave the address at SMU’s 2022 Honors Convocation. She advised students to understand not only what they do, but why they do it. Also, she said it was important to find “your people” for intellectual and emotional support. Lastly, set “hairy, audacious goals,” ones that are worth fighting for, even when feeling at the lowest ebb. Her introduction by President R. Gerald Turner starts at  26:05. See the video below.

 

Simmons Continues on the Upswing in U.S.News & World Report Rankings for Best Graduate Schools in Education

SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development advances for the third consecutive year in U.S. News & World Report 2023 national rankings released online on March 29. The Simmons School ranks 54 in public and private graduate schools of education, rising from 59 last year. Previously, the school’s placement was 63, which represented a significant leap from 105 in 2021.

This progression reflects continued upward growth for the school’s placement among top public and private education schools. Simmons now has moved from the top 15 private graduate schools to the top 12.

In the state, only UT Texas at Austin and Texas A&M at College Station have a ranking higher than Simmons.

“Our ranking is shaped by many factors, but what our research faculty members are doing is extraordinary. External funding per faculty member is $323.8 thousand and our researchers’ determination to pursue important work is setting a grant funding record at SMU,” says Leon Simmons Endowed Dean Stephanie L. Knight.

“We know the Covid pandemic impacted students and their families with many challenges, but now what we can do as educators is to assess and improve learning. The evidence-based practices we teach in Simmons are defined by our research.”

To rank schools of education, U.S. News & World Report considers measures of academic quality, including faculty resources, student selectivity, doctoral degrees granted, in addition to peer assessment scores and research activity. Rankings for 2023 were assessed for 274 schools.

 

Dallas Innovates Reports on Toyota’s National Roll-Out of School Model Based on the West Dallas STEM School

West Dallas STEM School Inspires Toyota’s

$110M ‘Driving Possibilities’ Program

by Mar 3, 2022

Based on the success seen at a West Dallas school, Toyota is taking its STEM-focused educational model across the country. The Toyota USA Foundation announced the launch of a new education and community-focused initiative called Driving Possibilities. And it’s putting $110 million behind it.

“We need to better prepare the workforce of the future by providing a broader education and getting the next generation ready for high-growth careers,” said Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, in a statement. “In addition, addressing inequities that create barriers to success will help improve lives throughout the U.S.”

West Dallas origins

The company, which has its North American headquarters in Plano, said the aim of the program is to drive innovation and remove barriers to access in education, and to prepare students in pre-K through 12th grade for the workforce.

On the educational side, Driving Possibilities will be modeled after the West Dallas STEM School, which serves pre-K through 8th grade students with a project-based STEM curriculum, in addition to providing professional development to teachers and coordinating community services.

The West Dallas STEM School opened last August, supported by around $5 million in donations from Toyota and a collaboration between Dallas ISD and Southern Methodist University. In addition to offering extracurricular programs, the West Dallas school acts as a community center and food pantry.

“This partnership has afforded us the space to realize what’s possible when we focus our collective efforts on changing how we meet the needs of our students and families,” said Marion Jackson, principal at the West Dallas school, in a statement last year. “We’re committed to equipping our students to succeed in an evolving global society.”

Helping out in the community

In addition to the educational aspect, the Driving Possibilities initiative includes a focus on community engagement, with things like job training, mobility services, and food insecurity alleviation. Toyota said it’s looking to partner with other companies, local governments, educators, and nonprofits to meet those needs.

The initiative, which is being funded by Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Financial Services, will be rolling out across Toyota’s “operational communities” nationwide.

“Through our active partnerships with communities across the U.S., we collaborate to improve education and help shape the future for the next generation,” said Mark Templin, CEO at Toyota Financial Services, in a statement.

Texas Tribune Features Comments from Dean Knight on Recent Exodus of Superintendents

An unprecedented number of resignations from school superintendents in North Texas prompted questions about the slew of exits. The superintendents from Dallas and Fort Worth announced their resignations on the same day, and seven other education leaders have said they also are leaving. Pressures from the pandemic and the political battles waged around public education have made it difficult to lead.

“The most detrimental part of it is that the superintendents are dealing with extreme polarization around almost any decision that they make,” Dean Knight said. “It would be a mistake to say that they’re running away from the job or the situation. They may be running toward a job that would enable them to have the impact that they don’t feel they could have right now as superintendent.”

For more on the story, read here.