higher education and the new economy ronald w marx university of arizona january 2010 n.
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Higher Education and the New Economy Ronald W. Marx University of Arizona January, 2010. We have failed to educate all Americans Enduring disparities between Rich and poor White and non-white. Black-White 4 th gr. reading achievement gap (NAEP, 2007).

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We have failed to educate all Americans
  • Enduring disparities between
    • Rich and poor
    • White and non-white

Data for 8th grade are nearly identical

  • NAEP (2007) claims a reduction in 4th grade reading achievement gap, but at the current rate of gap reduction we would achieve parity…..
  • For Black children in 2091!!!
  • For Hispanic children in 2397!!!
  • How about school completion?
    • Who completes high school?
    • Are there differences by ethnicity?

Who can help solve these problems?

  • America’s k-12 system is
    • Enormous—almost 15,000 school districts
    • Decentralized and loosely coupled
    • Highly politicized
  • State education systems are not much better off
    • Micromanagement by legislatures & electorates
    • Political conflicts between chiefs, governors, legislatures

What about higher education?

    • Lots of talent
    • Freedom and autonomy to determine agenda
    • Historic commitment to teaching and service

….but do we have the resources?

  • States are disinvesting in higher education
  • Policy makers view higher education as a private good, not a public good

State appropriations for higher education by $1000 of personal income (Archibald & Feldman, 2006)


How do Ed Schools fare on campus?

  • UA as an example
  • State $ spent per
    • Major
    • Degree granted
    • Student FTE

The College of Education serves 5% of the students, awards 6% of the degrees, and spends 2.5% of the university’s state and tuition revenue.

  • …and our budget cut was 7%, which is in the highest group
  • In the current situation, it is not likely that education colleges will receive sufficient funds for our work to overcome the challenges P-12 education faces.

We don’t get much, but what about K-12?

  • Government investment in K-12 is enormous
    • $536B in FY 2005
    • 83% state and local
    • 8% federal
    • 9% private (mostly private schools)
  • Cost per student is going up, but achievement is not

K-12 failures and challenges are our business.

  • Our role is not simply to describe and critique. Our job is to help.
  • How do we do this?
  • My answer is neither complex nor new.

Enter into partnerships with the right constituents

    • K-12 districts
    • Businesses
    • State agencies
    • Foundations and non-profits
    • Charter schools
    • Community colleges
    • Other universities


    • Provides leverage to fund programs
    • Provides political support from valuable groups
    • Increases chances that our work will be valuable and useful for practice
  • Costs
    • Risky, will it work?
    • Institutional barriers
      • Proper role for academics?
      • T & P, other rewards, sanctions
  • More than simply talk. Must integrate teaching, research, & service missions


  • Reconsider how we divide the world into our obligations
    • Design combined research service, teaching programs
  • Renew commitment to multiple research approaches
  • Reflect on our research metaphors
    • Medicine is the wrong metaphor
    • More like engineering, or even architecture.
    • These are design fields, and that is largely what we ought to be doing.

Education is normative.

    • Goals are important
    • Means and ends must align
    • Description and explanation are important….but action is essential
  • Design-based research is an approach that can contribute to our need to engage in action.

Examples from My Work

  • Center for Learning Technologies in Urban Schools
  • University of Arizona College of Education

What I Learned

  • Framework for research on systemic technology innovations

(Fishman et al,., 2004)

  • Innovations must be….
    • Usable-can be used to accomplish work
    • Scalable-spread to other teachers, schools, districts
    • Sustainable-take root in context beyond initial introduction

Applying these ideas to a college of education

  • Creating the right context
  • Partnerships with P-20
  • Collaborative research
  • Engage in policy

Creating the Right Context

  • Recruiting people
  • Creating culture
    • Norms
    • Activities
    • Clear communications
  • Leadership

Programs & Partnerships

  • Pima Educational Research Collaborative
  • Cooper Center for Environmental Learning
  • Arizona Early Childhood Institute
  • Literacy for Life
  • Worlds of Words
  • Southern Arizona Science and Math Internship Center
  • Wildcat School
  • SOAR

Collaborative research

  • Pima Educational Research Collaborative (PERC)
    • Funded through dean’s office, $40-50,000
    • 2:1 ratio, College of Education to district
    • Max $15,000 a year
    • Most projects are one year, some more
    • About 4 a year
    • Goal is to establish collegial partnerships that will move to additional work

A Case in Point

  • K-12 science assessments for Tucson USD
  • 2 year project initially
  • Outcomes
    • Collaboration on Teach Arizona
    • Creation of the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning
      • TUSD manages physical plant
      • CoE manages program
      • Now a regional resource, not only one district

Literacy for Life

  • Goal to develop a culture of literacy in Tucson region
  • Program elements
    • Awareness--communication
    • Advocacy—events, mobilize funding
    • Action—research & evaluation
      • COE faculty and grad students working to increase literacy in an extended neighborhood in Tucson south side


    • University of Arizona
    • Pima Community College
    • Community Foundation for Southern Arizona
    • Many other community agencies
  • Funding
    • Community Foundation for Southern Arizona
    • Jewel Lewis Distinguished Professor

Worlds of Words

  • Second largest collection of children’s & adolescents literature in the world
    • Brainchild of Kathy Short
    • Example of what talent at a research university can accomplish
  • Program elements
    • Collection
    • Instruction
    • Outreach
      • Conferences
      • Community time
      • School engagement


    • Donors
    • Grants
    • Volunteers
  • Partners
    • Foundations
    • Districts
    • Community agencies

Southern Arizona Science & Math Internship Center

  • Focus on early career middle & high school teachers (~25 annually)
    • Program elements
      • Industry internships at industry wages
      • Masters program-Colleges of Education & Science
      • Leverage summer work for classroom application


    • Science Foundation Arizona
    • Industry
    • Sustainability through UA business model
  • Partners
    • State agency
    • School districts
    • Industry
      • Raytheon Missile Systems
      • Sebra, Inc
      • Southern Arizona Gas
      • Southern AZ Leadership Council--TVT

Wildcat School

  • Charter middle school
  • Program elements
    • Math/science focus
    • Target poor, minority students
    • Substantial contributions from


    • Major private donor
      • Bill Estes
    • Grass roots donors who have heard about project
    • State funding through charter school legislation
  • Partners
    • UA colleges
        • Education
        • Science
        • Agricultural
        • Fine Arts
        • Pharmacy
    • United Way
    • Business community

SOAR: Student Access, Outreach & Resiliency

  • Developed & taught by higher education faculty
    • Jenny Lee
    • Regina Deil-Amen
  • Program elements
    • Service-learning course for students across campus
    • Mentoring middle school students
    • Stipends for successful completion of mentoring


    • Private donor
    • Helios Education Foundation
    • Sustainability through UA general education funding
  • Partners
    • Districts,
    • Charter schools


  • Our educational system is desperate
  • Our work must be used to help
  • Our financial base is weak
    • Cannot rely on university budgets
    • We must be masters of our fate
  • Requires us to think differently about our work
  • Take this opportunity to rethink what it means to be a faculty member in a College of Education