Headlines @ U.Va.
Better Test Scores By Design?
In this accountability era of standardized testing for K-12 pupils,
school boards everywhere are looking for any suggestion that could
boost test scores. Studies suggest that improving a schools
physical environment has a measurable effect. But Daniel Duke,
director of the Curry Schools Thomas Jefferson Center for
Educational Design, cautions that renovations arent a magic
bullet. We know that the space a persons in has an
impact on their behavior, but theres not one design that
will work best for every student. That doesnt mean
improvements arent a good idea. The justification
for providing students with high-quality schools is not an achievement
issue, Duke said. It is a moral or ethical issue.
You just dont put kids in lousy environments.
(Saginaw, Mich. News, Sept. 7)
Make Battle Against Plagiarism Personal
Part of the cure for academic plagiarism lies in asking better
questions, English professor Mark Edmundson wrote in a recent
New York Times commentary. He argued that students should be forced
to go beyond mere literary analysis in their writing; they should
also be challenged to think and write about how their reading
will affect their lives. Im sure that there are plenty
of essays to be had over the Internet on Wordsworthian nature
and Shakespearean eros, he wrote. But you cannot buy
your own opinion from someone else. If professors asked students
not only for analysis, but also for personal reasoned responses,
they would, I trust, get fewer purloined papers.
(New York Times, Sept. 9)
Panel Targets Underage Drinking
A National Academy of Sciences commission charged by Congress
to examine the issues of underage drinking and chaired
by Richard J. Bonnie, director of U.Va.s Institute for Law,
Psychiatry and Public Policy recently issued wide-ranging
recommendations. The report called for sharp tax increases on
beer, nationwide anti-drinking ad campaigns and curbs on the marketing
of alcohol to minors. Alcohol industry leaders complained about
a return to Prohibition-era remedies, but Bonnie stuck to his
guns. The social cost of underage drinking is $53 billion
a year, including $19 billion for traffic crashes alone.
[Yet] the federal government spends 25 times more on preventing
illicit drugs than preventing illicit drinking by young people.
(Washington Post, Sept. 10)
Springs a Leak, Four Decades Later
It is a treasure trove for Cold War historians: handwritten minutes
of Khrushchev-era leadership meetings in the Soviet Union
the holy grail of the Central Intelligence Agencys
unsuccessful efforts to penetrate the Kremlin, says Miller
Center of Public Affairs historian Timothy Naftali. The minutes
have now become public, and the Miller Center is producing an
English-language edition under an agreement with the Russian State
Archives of Contemporary History in Moscow. Naftali recently published
some excerpts in the New York Times.
(New York Times, Sept. 14)
Tuition Sticker Shock
Pity the parents of college-bound students, who save for years
with a rough idea of a tuition goal, only to face sudden, unexpected
hikes in midstream. Their plight was the basis of a question asked
of Curry School dean David W. Breneman during a recent online
colloquy on the future of tuition. Breneman said he favors giving
parents upfront information about the entire estimated cost of
earning a degree, but cautioned that such forecasts probably would
have to be non-binding. Unforeseen events may occur that
would cause a college to mis-estimate its needs over a multi-year
time horizon, and then either the contract would have
to be abridged, or the college may fall short of its needs.
(Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 17)