Education Update: 3/4/15

Education Update is a weekly blog post highlighting recent developments in the world of education. The linked articles and summaries are not endorsements, rather frame points of view to begin conversations about the state of education, trends, and how we as designers can play an active role in shaping schools.

Why I Teach: Local educators share triumphs and challenges

The Seattle Times Education Lab hosted “Why I Teach” last Wednesday, February 25, where five local teachers took the stage to discuss their motivations, difficulties and successes in the classroom. The attached story, linked here, contains audio from all five presenters along with photography from the evening.

Putting a Dent in College Costs with Open-Source Textbooks

The New York Times reports on a a study from the Student Public Interest Research Group showing significant savings for students when colleges and professors choose to use open-source textbooks. According to College Board, the average cost of textbooks is $1,200 to $1,300 per year. What makes open-source texts unique is their licensing, which usually allows for free printing or download. The University of Minnesota and Rice University have both started to develop open-source libraries for student use. Beyond the cost savings, free digital texts offer an opportunity for students to use iPads or similar devices to access the information, where they can then highlight and note in texts and lighten their backpack by not lugging thousands of pages around. Amongst professors there is still skepticism regarding the quality of these open-source books and David Ernst, the creator of the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library, is trying to combat this aversion by touring the country, discussing the financial burden of traditional texts, and advocating for a change.

Olympia Watch: House passes bill to strengthen law on student restraint, seclusion

The Washington State House passed House Bill 1240 on Monday, March 2, which would modify current regulations and allow isolation or restraint to be used only in the case of emergency, reports the Seattle Times. This is the latest in a string of discussion on isolation rooms and restraint in Washington State. In December, 2014, KOMO news reported that an autistic student’s parents had filed a legal complaint to the Office of Administrative Hearing on the use of an isolation room at Inglewood Middle School in Redmond, Wash. In 2011, a a mother sued the Peninsula School District after over the use of an isolation room at her son’s school. The case, Payne v. Peninsula School District, was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and garnered enough attention that the Obama Administration filed an amicus brief. It will be important as designers of education facilities to watch closely as the legal and legislative landscape around special education moves.


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