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Washington State University
College of Education


Up the academic ladder

Come August, Cathyrn Claussen, Joy Egbert, Michael Pavel and Kelly Ward will be full professors; Jason Margolis, Lali McCubbin and Judith Morrison will be associate professors; and Leslie Hall will be a clinical associate professor. Click here for the WSU list of faculty promotions.

kucer-bookHow do you know that you’re a successful textbook writer? When your publisher puts out a third edition. That’s what happened for WSU Vancouver faculty member Stephen Kucer with Dimensions of Literacy: A Contextual Base for Teaching Reading and Writing in School Settings. The dimensions in question are linguistic (the nature of language, oral-written language relationships, language variation), cognitive (constructive nature of perception, the reading process, understanding written discourse, the writing process), sociocultural (literacy as social practices, authority of written discourse) and developmental (constructing the written language system).

Cyberbullying: Hot topic of the week
This Thursday’s Education Research Forum and Community Dialogue on Cyberbullying couldn’t be more timely. Listen to this NPR report on the subject, which discusses proposed legislation to prosecute offenders. It begins: “For years, kids who were the victims of bullying and teasing at school or on the playground could find refuge at home. But in the age of new technology, bullying has become a 24-hour problem, with harassers able to taunt and tease their peers through e-mail, text messages and social networks.”

Notable quote (from an ’02 Ph.D. Cougar)
From the April 2 Spokesman-Review:  Raphael Guillory, EWU Faculty Organization vice president, said legislators must recognize that if the state has any hope of pulling out of the current economic slump, it must make an investment in the future. “What you see here today,” Guillory said of the crowd of enthusiastic students in Cheney, “is the return on that investment.”

Reading matter
Stimulus Providing Big Funding Boost for Early Childhood. While other education officials are weighing the risks of starting new programs with federal money that may dry up in two years, early-childhood programs are ramping up for expansion after years of being underfunded, their supporters say.
Education Secretary Says Aid Hinges on New Data. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tells the nation’s governors that in exchange for billions of dollars in federal education aid provided under the economic stimulus law, he wants new information about the performance of their public schools, much of which could be embarrassing.

Pondering among the posters

Adisa Anderson greets a visitor at the Academic Showcase
Adisa Anderson greets a visitor at the Academic Showcase

It’s fun to wander around the annual WSUPullman Academic Showcase and ponder studies that are outside the range of most mortals (“Jump Frequencies of CdProbe Atoms”) and others that are charming as well as elucidating (“Shadow Play and Romance: The Oboe in Southeast Asia”).  The giant poster session is a great place to eavesdrop, too.  At Friday’s Showcase, I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about research being done at the College of Education, such as “Academic Achievement Among Native Americans: Performance or Data Gap?” Grad student Adisa Anderson explained to me, with passion, the findings displayed on a poster that featured striking Native art.  Did you know that almost 75 percent of Washington school districts that have Native students do not report their test scores? That’s to protect the privacy of students, who comprise a tiny minority, but clearly makes it hard to gather data about how Native students are doing.  Adisa worked on the research with recent Ph.D. graduate Jason Sievers, student Lisa Bruna, and Assistant Professor Lali McCubbin.

Got perspective? Students, faculty and staff in Pullman still have time this semester to sharpen their intercultural skills and earn a certificate confirming the fact.  Christian Busnardo, who is finishing his master’s in higher education, is one of the presenters at the Global Perspectives Workshop, which “provides participants with a working knowledge of different cultural values, norms, behaviors and expectations that are critical in today’s multicultural workforce. ” The hour-long workshops sponsored by the Cougar Leadership Program are tailored to fit each group’s specific needs. Interested? Contact Christian at

Alumni success: Gene Schmidt (’08 Ph.D. education administration, ’73 teaching certificate) is superintendent of the Bridgeport, Wash., School District, which is a grand prize winner in the American School Board Journal’s 15th annual Magna Awards program.  The district will receive $4,000 in scholarship money during a presentation at the National School Boards Association’s conference in April. Bridgeport was recognized in the under-5,000 enrollment category for “College in the High School,” which offers college-level classes to high school students in the tiny district. Students from the past five graduating classes have completed high school with up to 45 college credits and many now attend colleges and universities throughout the nation. The college-level classes also have helped increase scores on state reading and writing graduation tests.  Read other success stories on our alumni news page.

Healthy Schools Summit, May 28-29, Seattle, co-sponsored by WSU Extension.

Reading matter:
Lessons from the Ivory Tower. K-12 learns from higher education’s online experience.
Idaho teacher sells advertising space on tests. Good morning, class, and welcome to U.S. history, brought to you by Molto Caldo Pizzeria.

Book news & more

coverpage1All in the family: There was celebrating at the home of Vancouver professors Gisela Ernst-Slavit and David Slavit when copies of their latest books arrived three days apart.

David’s book, co-edited with Associate Professor Tamara Nelson and Anne Kennedy, is Perspectives on Supported Collaborative Teacher Inquiry.  Gisela’s book, regarding the daunting task of teaching English language learners, is Paper to Practice: Using the TESOL ELP Standards in PreK-12. Her co-authors are Anne Katz of San Francisco and Margo Gottlieb of Chicago.

Meanwhile, in Pullman, Clinical Assistant Professor Kimberly Robertello is awaiting a copy of her new book, Evidence-Based Practices in Alcohol Treatment: The Robertello Evaluative Tool for Assessment and Evaluation. It’s based on Kimberly’s dissertation research, which grew out of her concern about revolving-door nature of  many substance abuse programs.

Sharing expertise: Professor Linda Mabry of Vancouver is a keynote speaker at this week’s educational technology learning institute, “TechPraxis 2009,” at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Read about it here.

Reaching OutArt report:  Three examples of light photography by Assistant Professor Pauline Sameshima are on display as part of the “Reinterpreting Reality” exhibition under way at various venues in the Palouse region.  Pauline’s works can be seen at the Market Square Building, 107 S. Grand Ave., in Pullman.  They include Reaching Out, shown here. Says the artist: “These photos are part of Ann-other’s Dreams, a book of poems by the same name. The poems and art look at a woman’s search for the space between being Ann and Ann-other. Her stories of love, no matter how real, always weave themselves into dreams where she is seeing in from the outside; being in, and yet watching the dream.”

Web update: Click here to see the School & Community Collaboration Center’s impressive list of partners and projects.

Reading matter:
Where Education and Assimilation Collide
. A record influx of immigrants has put classrooms on the front lines of America’s battles over whether and how to assimilate the newcomers and their children. 
Reinventing Professional Development in Tough Times
. Many experts don’t see the current financial crunch in schools as necessarily being all bad when it comes to teacher professional development.
Title I Turnaround Programs Due for Big Cash Boost
. In the seven years since enactment of No Child Left Behind Act, the number of academically troubled schools identified for turnarounds has grown steadily. The federal money for the work of turning around them hadn’t—until now.

A really good week

A big “Wahoo!” was the reaction for many faculty and staff, when state and national accreditation teams gave the college glowing preliminary reports on Wednesday.  At Thursday’s celebration, Dean Mitchell noted that, while we all know our programs are good, it is wonderful to have that confirmed by 18 very qualified outsiders.  The visitors repeatedly noted the collegial atmosphere they found, what one called “a small university feel” uncommon at a big university. Many folks worked tirelessly before and during the teams’ five-day joint visit, under the direction of college accreditation czar Ed Helmstetter. For his efforts, Ed, former chair of the Department of Teaching & Learning, was honored with a leaf on the Legacy Tree.  See some photos from the accreditation visit here.

Woman of the Year
joan.o'sa oviawe and President Elson S. Floyd

A big “Wow!” On Wednesday, doctoral candidate joan.o’sa oviawe became the first student in the 12-year
history of WSU’s Women of Achievement Awards to win the top “Woman of the Year” accolade.  Joan, whose homeland is Nigeria, is specializing in cultural studies and social thought in education.

WSU Tri-Cities award winners: Lindsay Lightner, academic coordinator for T&L, is winner of the Region 8 New Advisor Award, given by the National Academic Advising Association.  She’ll pick up her prize at April’s regional conference in Missoula, then it’s on to the national competition.  … Barbara Ward, visiting assistant professor, will receive the Literacy Award from the Washington Organization for Reading Development for her significant literacy contributions at the state level.  Barbara was nominated by the Benton-Franklin Council of the International Reading Association.

Headline of the week:
Obama Outlines Plan for Education Overhaul

Coug alumnus quote of the week:
“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.” — Edward R. Murrow

Tapping our faculty expertise

Kudos to Joan: You’ve read about WSU Spokane’s partnership with the Spokane Public Schools, funded by the Stuart Foundation.  Now, the foundation has invited Academic Director Joan Kingrey to become a stuartfounding member of its Leadership Advisory Council, which is being established to advise the foundation’s staff.  The council will be composed of a dozen educational leadership experts from California and Washington.

Vancouver public forum: Associate Professor Susan Finley, an expert in education for the homeless, will be among WSU faculty panelists taking part in a March 12 public forum about the financial crisis and policy responses for the Southwest Washington community. The forum will focus on the social impacts and opportunities created by the crisis.

Distinguished guests: Pullman has some important visitors March 7-11: a team from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.  The visit culminates many months of hard work by faculty and staff, an effort spearheaded by Ed Helmstetter. update: WSU has launched its new Web home page. While the update won’t affect the College of Education’s pages directly, it provides opportunities for those of us who work across the university system to tell WSU’s stories in a multimedia fashion.  If you have ideas for slide shows, videos, photos and just plain old good yarns, please send them my way.

Continuing education: A WSU co-sponsored Parenting and Family Education Conference, March 25-27 in Lynwood, will offer teacher clock hours and continuing education credits.

Interesting links:
High school reforms: Take your time
In Search Of Answers, Teachers Turn To Clickers

Did you know?
(a stimulating video on the progression of information technology)

Finally, if you’re a Simpsons fan you won’t want to miss the view of American education as seen from Bart and Lisa’s school. Watch the video here.

Hot off the e-press…

Newsletter news: You’ve probably heard that one of our college cost-cutting moves will be elimination of the annual print newsletter.  As a longtime ink-on-paper person, I hope we’ll be able to bring it back when the fiscal sun shines again.  Meanwhile, I’m gratified by the quick delivery of our bi-monthly e-mail version of Education News.   Check out the latest edition, which features an easier-to-read format thanks to our Web developer, Geoff Jensen.   Subscribe! Forward the link to friends and alumni!

Speaking of alums, please encourage them to share their career news with us so we can post it here. A special thanks to Pullman faculty member Jim Williamson for putting me in touch with Daniel Allbery (M.Ed. ’08) … I was able to persuade Dan to write from Japan about his experience teaching in Nishinomiya.

Making news: Research Professor Bruce Becker of our ELCP faculty is quoted in the Nebraska news feature So you can’t run in winter? Swimming might be better.  …. Closer to home, the award-winning Superintendent Certification Program is highlighted in President Floyd’s “Campus developments” section.

Links of interest:
Top 100 education blogs

Key Provisions for Higher Education in the Economic Stimulus Plan
Rename Law? No Wisecrack Is Left Behind

Flicks: Even folks who aren’t registered for this week’s Globalization, Education and Diversity Conference can take advantage of the occasion to see two intriguing documentaries, and meet the filmmakers.  Alan Ereira will give a free presentation of “From the Heart of the World, the Elder Brothers’ Warning” to the public at 3 p.m. Thursday in Kimbrough Hall 101 on the Pullman campus, before going to Spokane and giving a presentation at 6:45 p.m.  Friday at the conference venue, the Red Lion Hotel at the Park. The film is about Colombia’s Kogi people, who for 400 years have tried to remain isolated in the mountains in order to preserve their way of life, culture and philosophy.  Another film, Lee Boot’s “Euphoria,” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Red Lion. It begins by asking: In a country built for the pursuit of happiness, are people happy? Admission to the Spokane showings is $5.

Speaking to Congress, speaking of awards

Stephen Kucer
Stephen Kucer

Remember last October’s article on Associate Professor Stephen Kucer and his colleagues, Authors of New Book Will Brief Congress on Complex Nature of Reading? Well, Stephen reported in an e-mail that the Feb. 3 briefing, which came as Congress is delving into No Child Left Behind Act reauthorization, was “an incredible experience.  We had standing-room only, with about 50 seats filled.  The audience was largely congressional and senatorial aides.  Patty Murray sent an aide to talk with me before and after the presentation.  She asked about my thoughts concerning NCLB and Reading First and said she would relay these to the senator.  My impression was that NCLB would be reauthorized in a radically different form and a different name.  I also e-mailed the aide and gave her some suggestions for the reauthorization.  Rep. Patrick Kennedy, whose office extended the invitation, sent his aide as well and she gave a short speech supporting the work of the authors.  I’ve also received a receipt from NCTE—the publisher of the book—who said that the sales are quite strong given that the book has only been available for two months.”

By the way, all of the profits for the book, What Research REALLY Says about Teaching and Learning to Read, are being returned to the National Council of Teachers of English to support its literacy initiatives.

Great program, twice noted: Phi Delta Kappa, the Professional Association in Education, has given its PDK-Washington “Great Teacher” award in the university category to the WSU Superintendent Certification. This is the second recent recognition of the quality of the program, which is directed by Gene Sharratt of WSU Spokane. It also won the 2008 Program Award from the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Great advisor: Lindsay Lightner, academic coordinator for Teaching & Learning at WSU Tri-Cities, won the New Advisor — Primary Role Award, one of the first-ever Outstanding Advisor Awards presented by the WSU Academic Advising Association. Read Lindsay’s comments in the Daily Evergreen. WSU’s four winners will be among competitors for the national awards.

Great grad student news: WSU’s new director of Professional Education is Kelly Newell, who will receive her Ed.M. in higher education leadership from our college in May.  Kelly told me: “I am really excited to finally have my degree done as I’ve been working on it since 2004!” She can be forgiven if it’s taken her a few years. Besides the full-time job, she’s become the mother of twins and kept up her participation in triathlons.

Final word…  here’s a NYT opinion piece that is likely to get our researchers nodding in agreement:  Education is All in Your Mind.

Good news

Greetings, all.

I’ll launch this blog with potential good news: Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education.

Some definite good news: The Gates Foundation is increasing its funding during these hard times, and that improving education remains a priority. My vote for quote of the week, from Bill and Melinda Gates’ first annual letter: “It is amazing how big a difference a great teacher makes versus an ineffective one. Research shows that there is only half as much variation in student achievement between schools as there is among classrooms in the same school. If you want your child to get the best education possible, it is actually more important to get him assigned to a great teacher than to a great school.”

Read the portion of the long Gates letter that deals with education, and here to watch the related video.

There’s another video from the West Side that’s of interest. It features Associate Professor Michael Pavel appearing before House Education Committee, discussing the faculty-produced and state-sponsored report “From Where the Sun Rises: Addressing the Educational Achievement of Native Americans in Washington State.” Click here and type the words “Native American” in the search video box.

And here’s my favorite literary passage of the week. “Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.” Those are the opening lines of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, judged last weekend to be the finest example of children’s literature by the Newbery Medal selection committee. Our own Assistant Professor Sarah French, director of the Brain Education Library, was at the group’s meeting in Denver because she will be among those picking the 2010 Newbery and Caldecott award winners.