Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener and the Liberty Justice Center. Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.
Showing posts with label public education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public education. Show all posts

Sunday, September 1, 2019

UMass Dartmouth appoints 6 to 'Chancellor Professor,' first awarded high academic rank since 2003

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has appointed six faculty to the rank of "Chancellor Professor," effective today.  I'm honored and humbled to be among them.  These are the university's first promotions to chancellor professor since 2003.  The number of persons who may hold the high rank is limited to ten percent of the faculty, campus-wide.  The provost's office reported, "All have demonstrated excellence in the art and practice of teaching, a record of scholarship that contributes to the advancement of knowledge, and have made outstanding contributions to the University or to their profession."  From UMass Dartmouth News, here is something of the accomplishments of my colleagues:

Electrical & Computer Engineering
Professor John R. Buck, who has received the prestigious Office of Naval Research Young Investigator award and the National Science Foundation CAREER award, is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, a Fulbright Scholar and a Senior Member of IEEE. His scholarship focuses on underwater acoustics, signal processing, animal bioacoustics and engineering pedagogy. Professor Buck received fifteen research grants from federal agencies. Many of his graduates have continued their research at prestigious universities and national laboratories. Professor Buck’s classes incorporate active and collaborative learning, making the students’ learning the central focus of the classroom. He was UMass Dartmouth’s inaugural winner of the Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching for outstanding development of curricular materials and innovative assessment of student learning. Professor Buck also received the IEEE Education Society’s Mac Van Valkenburg Award, and the Faculty Federation Leo M. Sullivan Teacher of the Year Award. Professor Buck founded and led several faculty mentoring programs in the Office of Faculty Development, as well as directly mentoring several junior faculty from across the campus.

Bioengineering
Professor Qinguo Fan has made substantial leadership contributions to the College of Engineering overseeing the transformation of Textiles Department into its current form as Bioengineering. As Bioengineering chairperson, he led the development of the new undergraduate major in bioengineering, recruitment and mentoring of new faculty, major renovations to laboratories and formation of an industrial advisory board. Under his strong leadership, the BNG undergraduate program successfully completed its first ABET accreditation in Fall 2016, considered exceptional for a new program doing the ABET accreditation the first time. The Bioengineering department now offers, in addition to the Bioengineering major, a Bioengineering minor, the 4+1 BS/MS program and a Biomedical Engineering concentration. Several Bioengineering graduates have gone on to medical schools, research positions and work at medical device companies. Professor Fan’s research has primarily focused on structural color, blue light cured polymers, and conducting polymers during the last ten years. He is a co-inventor on one U.S. patent. Professor Fan is a member of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering. Professional recognition includes receipt of the Highly Commended Award at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence for one of his research articles.

Mathematics
Professor Gottlieb has demonstrated a deep passion for incorporating research into undergraduate education. She has adopted an exploratory, discovery-based approach by using “computing for intuition” as a critical tool to learning, and has worked to engage her undergraduate students in research in computational mathematics. Her advisees have gone to have successful careers at universities and research laboratories. Professor Gottlieb is known internationally as an expert in strong-stability-preserving time discretizations and other schemes for hyperbolic equations. As PI or co-PI, she has been responsible for securing well in excess of $3.5M to support her research. In recognition of her expertise and impact on the field, Professor Gottlieb was recently elected a Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). Professor Gottlieb’s most significant service has been her leadership of the Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research (CSCVR), which she helped form and served as director (2013-2017) and co-director (2017-present). In this capacity she has worked to support, facilitate, and promote the research activities of the scientific computing group and to mentor students and junior faculty of scientific computing in a supportive, broad, and deep interdisciplinary research environment.

Estuarine & Ocean Sciences
Professor Howes played an integral role in the initial development of the marine science graduate program, an internationally recognized marine science and technology program. He has advised and funded graduate students who have gone on to pursue successful careers. Professor Howes has maintained a high level of scholarly productivity in his field, as well as produced numerous technical reports as part of the Massachusetts Estuaries Program (MEP) requirements. He has raised over $23M in extramural research funding through federal, state and municipal extramural grants and contracts. Professor Howes has also made significant contributions to his profession in the form of scientific advances, as well as practical applications that have had a major impact on coastal ecosystem health and water quality in the region.

 
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Professor Yuegang Zuo has a record of contributing to active learning and has sustained a record of graduating M.S. and Ph.D. students. He provides high quality mentorship resulting in graduate students winning external awards for their work. He has also worked with undergraduate students, who have won American Chemical Society awards. Professor Zuo has maintained a high level of scholarly publishing and is successful in attracting substantial extramural funding. He has contributed to the University and his profession serving on diverse departmental, college and university committees as well as the Faculty Senate. He has served his profession as a reviewer, editor, and meeting organizer and serves on the editorial board for seven journals and recently became the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Endocrinology Research.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Massachusetts Bar honors UMass Law's Francomano, advocate for labor, public education

Francomano center. MassBar eJournal photo.
Attorney Patrick Francomano is a first-class person and excellent teacher, one of the assets that makes UMass Law a best-buy treasure for law students and the Commonwealth.  He's a tremendous public servant—and in the same vein, frequent thorn in the side of those in power through his work in labor and in school supervision.  I'm delighted to see him and the work he represents honored by the Massachusetts Bar.  From UMass Law News and the MassBar eJournal:

"Francomano draws inspiration from John Adams’s efforts to establish Massachusetts as one of the first states to grant a constitutional right to education. He believes that public education and the legal system rest on many of the same tenets, and that 'education and social justice are very difficult to disconnect.' As Francomano explained, 'If you have a well-educated society, that is going to be the foundation of a good republic and democracy.'"

Monday, April 29, 2019

Poli sci panels span U.S. con law, Tunisian Arab Spring, Japanese ag reg, Chinese investment in Africa

On the final day of the annual meeting of the New England Political Science Association, Saturday, April 27, I was treated to more intriguing papers and especially enriching discussion on constitutional law with co-panelists and discussants in the Public Law Section.  For the time being, I'm skipping presentation of my own work with Polish attorney Gaspar Kot—and my thanks to Kevin McGravey, Merrimack College, for his thought-provoking feedback—and sharing highlights of colleagues' work.

Right to education.  A common theme on our late-morning panel was probing the line between civil rights as passive protections and civil rights as affirmative entitlement.  Michael Paris, College of Staten Island CUNY, is working on a book that will consider the problem of race consciousness/race blindness relative to the right to education.  That's the same lately embattled right that rests at the heart of the federal court claim to civics education pending against the State of Rhode Island; the Government filed its motion to dismiss a scant few weeks ago.  Compare A.C. v. Raimondo, No. 1:18-cv-00645 (D.R.I. complaint filed Nov. 28, 2018) with Sheff v. O'Neill, 678 A.2d 1267 (Conn. 1996) (holding, 4-3, state bound by affirmative duty to provide equal opportunity of access to education for Connecticut schoolchildren).

U.S. Supreme Court in politics.  Kyle Morgan, Rutgers University, has coded, on various bases, no fewer than 11,000 U.S. congressional press releases about U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  He reports that this feat has caused more than one laptop crash.  Morgan is prepared to demonstrate that the way Republicans and Democrats frame disapproval of Supreme Court rulings differs fundamentally.  In short, Republicans bemoan the Court as anti-majoritarian, while Democrats frown on perceived abuses of democratic process.  As a result, the two sides talk about Court rulings without actually talking to each other in comparable language.  Morgan promises that his subsequent work will look at how the two sides might be brought together, that is, whether they can be made to care about the other's perspective.

This 1917 Louisiana poll tax receipt (public domain) well post-dates the 1870
15th Amendment.
'Resistant compliance' under the 14th and 15th Amendments.  My runaway favorite paper of the morning came from Lauren Foley, Western Michigan University, who is studying what she has termed "resistant compliance" with constitutional law.   That's when an actor complies with the law but takes a course of action that undermines its implementation—maybe openly, maybe quietly; maybe intentionally, maybe carelessly.  In this piece of her work, Foley compares white supremacist resistant compliance with the 15th Amendment, specifically the use of devices such as poll taxes and literacy tests to undermine black access to the polls while technically complying with the law, with University of Michigan resistant compliance with the state affirmative-action ban in an effort to prioritize diversity while without focusing on race.

Take a second to think that over.  "There are many reasons not to equate literacy tests with affirmative action," Foley conceded in her paper.  Motive matters, I thought.  But I admit, by the end of it, she had me.  Foley's interest is not in the policy priorities, no matter whether "revered or reviled," she wrote, but in the tools of resistant compliance.  Her comparison in that vein is not only apt, but illuminating.  Foley's work is informed by anonymous sources within Michigan higher ed and casts an unfamiliar light on how admissions officials have used technology to approach the diversity problem.  Those evidentiary revelations alone have the makings of an intriguing book.

Protesters march on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in downtown Tunis, angry
over unemployment, rising prices and corruption, January 14, 2011
(VOA photo by L. Bryant).
Tunisia's Arab Spring.  In the early morning hour, I hit a comparative session on Asia and Africa and learned a great deal from and Ann Waldemar, University of Bridgeport, and Nicole L. Freiner, Bryant University.  Waldemar is investigating the unusual success of the Arab Apring in Tunisia (home of RightsCon 2019), in contrast with its MENA neighbors (at least to date).  (See James M. Dorsey writing on Libya and Egypt just Saturday.)  Especially interesting from a comparative-law perspective, incorporation of Islamic law into the new Tunisian regime has been a piece of the puzzle in public acceptance, Waldemar reports.

Rice law and policy.  Freiner is investigating the surprisingly compelling story of rice in Japan, or, more broadly, the development and regulation of agriculture relative to priorities as far-ranging as GMOs, public health, and foreign development.  She had some fantastically illustrative visual from the rice fields, and her research has been on the ground, talking with farmers.  Her new book from Palgrave is Rice and Agricultural Policies in Japan: The Loss of a Traditional Lifestyle (2019).  (Law school programs on food law and regulation, take note: Freiner would be a great guest to bring in from Ph.D. world, and U.S. food law and policy studies could benefit from an infusion of eastern comparativism.  Freiner is a neighbor of mine from Barrington, R.I., so invite me, too, and I'll drive.)

Chinese legitimacy in Africa.  In the afternoon, Drake Long, Georgetown University, talked about China in Africa.  For his master's work, he's taking a deep dive into China's vigorous strategy for international legitimacy, countering a historic deficit in international communications.

China's Belt and Road Initiative (CC BY-SA 3.0 by Tart)
Perhaps needless to say, this move coincides with a trend of waning U.S. influence, or "crisis of U.S. legitimacy."  East Asia has been circumspect of Chinese influence, Long explains, but Africa has been receptive.  Long has traced the history of Sino-African relations from the 1940s to China's post-Mao economic reconstruction, to Angola oil investment, to Xi Jinping's pledge of tens of billions of dollars to African development amid the Belt and Road Initiative.  Belt and Road will cost $900bn according to China, Long says, or from $1tn to $8tn according to observers.  The ties to Africa meanwhile multiply.  For example, more Anglophone African students now go to China than to the United States or United Kingdom.

Does this mean an inevitable careening arrival at Chinese hegemony?  Well, there is an enduring debate within in China, Long explains, in trying to sell African development as worthwhile relative to unmet social and economic needs at home.  Whereas Americans will sign up for the foreign inculcation of democracy, no exceptionalist ethos so clearly dominates Chinese popular opinion.  Recent maneuvering within Chinese party leadership and propaganda machinery suggest awareness of this domestic ideological deficit and emerging strategies to address it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Civil rights suit claims a right to education.
The problem might be bigger.

My UMass Dartmouth colleague in history, Professor Mark Santow, also a member of the Providence, R.I., School Board, is part of litigation filed Wednesday, November 28, against the State of Rhode Island, claiming that the government is violating civil rights by failing to provide adequate education to youth in the public school system.

The complaint in Cook v. Raimondo, in federal district court in Rhode Island, where I reside, is available online from WPRO.  The suit was ably contextualized by Alia Wong for The Atlantic and covered by The New York Times.  Wong's piece, along with its sidebars and links, recounts the troubled history of claims to education rights under the U.S. Constitution and the unique if stubborn position of the United States in the world in refusing to add children's education to our pantheon of civil rights.

Personally I worry about the overuse of human rights language to enshrine the mundane as sacred and thereby downgrade basic human needs to aspirational wish lists—witness the dilapidated state of South African townships while the courts struggle to engineer economic rights into reality.  But I also readily admit that our 1789 Constitution, in part owing to its excessively burdensome Article V amendment process, has fallen behind the times on some omissions that, with the benefit of hindsight, seem to be no-brainers—such as sexual equality, the right to privacy, the freedom of information (a.k.a. right to access to information), and quite well arguably, rights to breathable air and basic education.

The Cook complaint smacks of activist litigation, aimed as much at media and policymakers as at the courts.  It gets around to its legal claims in number 121 of its 133 paragraphs.  Nevertheless, the claims are clever and worth pondering.  In five counts, the complaint neatly alleges violation of (1) the equal protection clause (mostly "fundamental interest," though there's a strong thread of "diversity" too), (2) the due process clause, (3) the privileges-and-immunities clause, and then—here's where things get spicy—(4) the Sixth and Seventh Amendments, and (5) the republican guarantee clause.

The Fourteenth Amendment claims are built upon a compelling background that heralds the Framers' recognition of education's essentiality to democracy, followed by a depressing account of how public education in civic virtue lately gave way to a bottom-line-oriented mill of standardized test preparation, woefully inadequately equipped and devoid of vision or values.  The story is downright Orwellian, as the complaint describes the plodding production of glassy-eyed sheep to populate America, children robbed and broken of the knowledge, skill, or will to challenge the status quo.  One wonders that Ayn Rand herself would not be persuaded to the cause of public education.

Added to the conventional Fourteenth Amendment angle are those thought-provoking latter claims about jury service and republican governance.  Citation to the Sixth and Seventh Amendments, as well as the federal Jury Act, focuses on that vital and rare obligation of citizen direct participation in government to assert a denial of rights both to the jurors who are ill prepared for the job and, consequently, the litigants and criminal defendants who depend on an informed jury to vindicate their rights.  In the final count, the republican guarantee clause is cited with indirect reference to the First Amendment ("free speech and other constitutional rights"), suggesting that an ill informed electorate can neither vote nor participate in government sufficiently to maintain representative democracy.  I can't help but think of the seemingly insoluble dilemma of money in politics, evidenced by the fealty to corporate donors pledged by our paralyzed, gerrymandered, and hardly-any-longer representative Congress.

Cook brings readily to mind the Juliana climate change lawsuit (and the Dutch Urgenda decision), about which I wrote recentlyJuliana seems doomed in the U.S. Supreme Court, if ever it were to get that far, despite a curiously indulgent ruling by Judge Ann L. Aiken in federal district court in Oregon (and later), sending the case on to trial.  It's overwhelmingly probable that the Juliana plaintiffs do not expect to win.  Rather, they seek to make a point, and they're doing so well.  So in Cook, too, as in a similar case on appeal in Michigan, the litigants have opined publicly that they hope to draw the attention of lawmakers and to stimulate public discussion—even to educate student-plaintiffs through the process, something also happening in the Juliana case, in which students appears as plaintiffs, and Judge Aiken relies deliberately on the work of student externs.  Consonantly, these cases stir up amicus feeding frenzies; NGOs in Cook already are jockeying for position to get their say on the public record.  (I'm not above it.)

As something of a separation-of-powers formalist, I'm troubled by the use of the courts for policy-making activism.  The courts are not designed for policy-making, and judges are not hired to be activists.  The late Justice Scalia famously and aptly lamented the prospect of nine black-robed "moral philosophers" in Washington, D.C., with lifetime appointments, making policy decisions for a purportedly democratic nation.  When I see a complaint that is drafted for public consumption and political persuasion rather than for judicial interrogation and a search for truth, I fear the strategy undermines whatever remains of the bar's reputation for professional integrity and objective clarity.

At the same time, this rise in judicial activism is a sign and symptom of something very broken about our democracy.  People are resorting to the courts because the political branches are not responsive.  Much as the Cook plaintiffs suggest, our system of government is failing to represent its constituents.  The complaint asserts, "Most social studies classes in Rhode Island do not discuss social problems and controversial ideas ...."  The complaint concludes: "A positive civic ethos requires all students to feel that they have a stake in the society and in its political system, and that institutions can work for them and their families in the future, even if these institutions have not been fully responsive to their needs in the past."

Whether for the right to breathable air or a basic education, a frustrated youth is turning to the courts not as a first resort, but as a last resort.  If in the end, none of our three branches of government delivers on the American promise—not the dream per se, but the opportunity to attain it—where will complainants go next?

The Brookings Institution opined in 2011:

Education has played an important role in the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa with many commentators noting that educated youth have been integral to what has come to be called the “Arab spring.” However, what they fail to mention is that spending many years in school has failed to give many Arab youth a good education. These revolutions were not propagated by well-educated youth; these uprisings were spurred by the needs and demands of poorly educated youth, whose knowledge and skills do not meet the demands of a rapidly-advancing world.... [Despite near universal access to education,] there has been very low return on investment in terms of meaningful educational outcomes. Education systems throughout the region are hindered by low quality, irrelevancy and inequity.

Next stop: American Spring?