e-Veritas Archive | January, 2011

Diane Ravitch Takes Critics of Public Education to Task over Education Reform

Diane Ravitch, right, signs a copy of her latest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, for School of Education graduate student Shahrzad Daneshvar.

With two years of service in the Teach for America program under her belt, Shahrzad Daneshvar settled into her seat in the University of Miami’s Storer Auditorium, anxious to hear what one of the nation’s top educational analysts and historians had to say about what is being done in the name of school reform.

For Daneshvar, a UM graduate student in the School of Education’s Community and Social Change Program, what she heard couldn’t have been more clear, direct, and unmistakable: Poor academic performance in the nation’s public schools is not a result of bad teachers but poverty, and to evaluate teacher effectiveness based on the test scores of their students will not help improve ailing school systems, but only hurt them.

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Honing in on the Idea of the Hospital

UM President Donna E. Shalala taught the first lecture of the School of Law's new interdisciplinary course The Idea of the Hospital.

The Idea of the Hospital, a new interdisciplinary course offering at the University of Miami School of Law, kicked off on Saturday, January 22, with an in-depth discussion about nursing. UM President Donna E. Shalala led the morning lecture of the all-day session for 21 graduate students from various disciplines: law, engineering, architecture, medicine, business, and epidemiology and public health.

Before addressing the future of nursing from a policy perspective, Shalala, who served eight years as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and more recently co-chaired the Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, gave an overview of the hospital industry. She explained that the health care system absorbs 30 percent of all U.S. health care dollars, or $788 billion out of the $2.6 trillion national health tab.

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Rebuilding Haiti

From left, panelists Andre Pierre, mayor of the City of North Miami; Gepsie Morisset-Metellus, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Neighborhood Center Sant La; Francois Guillaume, executive director of the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida; and Ronald Cesar, chief of Voice of America’s Creole Service, discuss Haiti’s political climate during one of four panel discussions at the School of Communication.

Rising from the rubble like harbingers of hope, projects and plans intended to aid in Haiti’s reconstruction have brought tangible signs of a quake-ravaged country on the mend.

In the slum area of Cite Soleil, a new 30-megawatt power plant has opened, providing much-needed access to electricity for residents and businesses. In northern Haiti, residents are encouraged by a recent agreement to build a new industrial park in their region, a venture that could bring thousands of jobs.

And in an innovative approach that uses a common device as a powerful short-term solution to the country’s financial crisis, the Haitian Mobile Money Initiative will enable Haitians to communicate as well as send, receive, and store money on their cell phones.

Such were some of the positive signs of reconstruction that Kenneth Merten, the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, reported at the University of Miami’s School of Communication on January 22. He was among the speakers during the day’s conference, which focused on the progress made in Haiti since the devastating January 2010 temblor and what it will take to lift the country out of the mire of despair that still plagues it.

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Physics department honors Alexandrakis

During his 25 years as chair of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Physics, George C. Alexandrakis raised the reputation of his department to new heights, recruiting world-class faculty members and spearheading the construction of the James L. Knight Physics Building. On January 21, the department honored Alexandrakis for his many years of service by dedicating the chair’s office in his honor. A professor of physics educated at Princeton, Alexandrakis is a two-time chair of UM’s Department of Physics, serving in that capacity from 1976 to 1980 and again from 1986 to 2007.

At the dedication ceremony, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Leonidas G. Bachas heralded Alexandrakis for his commitment to the University, the department, and to his students. The dedication is the culmination of several generous gifts from faculty, former students, alumni, and friends—funds that will be used to establish the Alexandrakis Undergraduate Travel Fund.

Pictured from left to right are Alexandrakis and his wife, Aphrodite; Ken Voss, professor and current chair of the Department of Physics; and Dean Leonidas G. Bachas.

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Distinguished engineer discusses advances in human imaging

The College of Engineering kicked off 2011 by hosting a lecture as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series. Thomas Budinger, a member of both the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering and the founding chair emeritus of the Department of Bioengineering at University of California, Berkeley, presented “Brain Chemistry, Heart Physiology, and Cancer Revealed by Advances in Human Imaging Technologies” last Tuesday, January 18, at Storer Auditorium. Pictured from left to right are Weizhao Zhao, associate professor of biomedical engineering; Budinger; James M. Tien, Distinguished Professor and dean of the College of Engineering; and Helena Solo-Gabriele, professor of environmental engineering and associate dean for research.

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