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From the Dean

Posted by on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 in From the Dean, Summer 2014.

“Those of us who work in education are used to controversy.”

—Camilla Benbow

Those of us who work in education are used to controversy. Public preK-12 education in the U.S. has been a target for politicians, unions and civic organizations—not to mention parents and students—for more than 100 years.

Likewise, any proposal to alter the status quo is met with fierce opposition from one corner or another. From desegregation to school vouchers, education reforms have engendered wave upon wave of advocacy, obstinacy and entrepreneurship.

In the midst of the noise there are a few colleges of education, like Peabody, known for peeling away the hyperbole and the doom-saying to look at the facts and determine the merits of arguments both pro and con.

And so we come to the Common Core State Standards initiative. I have been surprised at how rapidly the effort to develop and promulgate a new and mostly higher set of standards has been politicized. It must be acknowledged, to be fair, that the speed of the politicization rivals the speed with which the standards were created and rolled out to a public still struggling to grasp them.

Although currently adopted by a majority of states, the Common Core standards and the new tests associated with them are being subjected to uncommon public scrutiny. This issue of the Peabody Reflector examines the standards, as well, including the objectives behind their creation, the possible pitfalls in their implementation and their potential to change the education landscape.

The promise of change is inherent in another Reflector story, in this instance change brought on by developments in technology. Augmentative and assistive communications technology is supporting new treatments for children with autism and similar disabilities who have language delays.

That iPad you use to check email, browse the Web, or watch movies can also change lives in much more revolutionary ways.

Also on the special needs continuum are America’s gifted children. As some of you know, my own research is on talent identification and talent development. Through the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth, David Lubinski and I have been following several cohorts of exceptionally intelligent individuals for several decades.

I hope you will be interested in the recent study results, which affirm that we can identify our likely future innovators quite early in life, and that we ignore their needs at our own competitive peril. As always, Peabody alumni and parents inspire us to greater heights, and we share several of their stories with you, as well.

Last, but not least, I hope you will enjoy the Reflector’s fresh new design. You’ll notice that within each of the stories there are pointers to additional content online, including related stories, videos and photos. In the new Get Social section, you’ll see a sampling of activity on our social media sites, where we hope you’ll interact with us regularly.

Camilla Benbow
Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development


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