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Monday, October 28, 2019

This and That

An excellent op-ed from Jordan Cahoon, a senior at Kent-Meridian High School, on how we talk about individual schools and the effects of a school's reputation on the students enrolled there.
In every city, there is always that high school. You know what I mean. The high school that doesn’t have great sports teams. The high school that doesn’t have a lot of money. The high school that just doesn’t get enough credit for its hard work.

After over a year at my new school, I now clearly see the gap between reputation and reality. This difference led me to reflect on the fairness of community members’ opinions and assumptions about the school and its students.

It’s heartbreaking to see my classmates start to give up because they think they aren’t “smart” or “good” enough.
How can you help support students? It can be as easy as showing up. Attend a play or concert. Take a few hours out of your day to cheer on the sports team.  When community members show they care, the students begin to emulate that care. They can graduate from high school with a can-do attitude. It’s on us to help students succeed.
Good story from EdScoop about Pennsylvania students who hacked into the Naviance website at their school.  The reason is funny; how they did it is not.
Students recently hacked a school computer system at Downingtown Area School District, a K-12 district in Eastern Pennsylvania, to uncover student addresses and gain a competitive edge in a districtwide water-gun competition.

The perpetrators obtained teacher-level login credentials to access Naviance, a college and career resource website and extracted student profile information for the entirety of DASD’s student population, including identification numbers, student directory information, gender, ethnicity, academic data and household relationship information.

The investigation is ongoing, but according to district officials, no information was altered or manipulated in any way and no Social Security numbers or credit card information for students or parents was stored in the system.
From Spokane Public Radio, a story about the University of Iowa's work for teens on the spectrum who are also gifted.
 Educators refer to teens like Alex as "twice exceptional." 

He has skipped two grades so far, and began taking college math courses last year, when he was still 15. But when he was younger, Alex's underdeveloped social skills caused him a lot of grief.

At the end of each school year, Alex didn't know what to do. "I was always that one kid who was unhappy whenever summer vacation came around," he says.
That changed when Alex's parents learned about the the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa's College of Education.
Belin-Blank's mission is to identify and nurture young people who excel at math and science and the arts. And they have made a point of reaching out to, and accommodating, twice-exceptional kids.
There's also another story about the struggle for jobs for autistic adults from the New York Times
In 2018, Mr. Dai co-founded Daivergent, a start-up that is connecting tech companies with a pool of candidates on the autism spectrum. The company already has 20 corporate clients and has helped 75 people find work. There are about 1,100 candidates in the Daivergent pool.

It’s not that their abilities are lacking, said David Kearon, the director of adult services for the advocacy group Autism Speaks. “Anecdotally what we hear all the time is that autistic adults have the intellectual capability, but, because of their challenges with social skills, they’re often unemployed.” Brandon Dai, for example, “can focus on detail-oriented, complex, repetitive kinds of work that underlie much of the data structure that go into artificial intelligence and machine learning,” his brother said.
And Daivergent is working with the software giant SAP, which is a leader in employing those on the spectrum through its Autism at Work initiative, which started in 2013.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

HR departments at tech firms have found a subset of workers who are unusually loyal, willing to work long hours, willing to forgo social lives, are extremely gifted and hyper-focused, and isolated when it comes to pushing back on the exploitation by their employers. It is this way precisely because of the difficulty of finding employment and an accepting community. Groups like Autism Speaks are ever so willing to promote the hiring of “highly functional” autistic people, while still claiming that autism is something to be “eradicated”, rather than accepted as a neurovariance . In this world, autistic people are only valued because they contribute to the bottom line. SPS is poising itself to perpetuate this for students as they get ready to enter the adult world. It is sad to see this promoted on this blog without comment.

Not a NT

Anonymous said...

@Not NT, but it often is important for people on the spectrum to have jobs, and finding jobs that are a decent fit is often a challenge. Further, at most companies, neurotypical people are also typically valued for their contribution to the bottom line. People are typical paid the least companies can get away with, and provided the fewest benefits they can. People are often pressured--sometimes internally--to work long hours.

I'm not saying tech firms haven't found a way to tap into the unique characteristics that can make some neurodiverse people a particularly good employee, nor that they don't maximize the benefit to the company. However, for many on the spectrum, these may be exceptional jobs--not just financially, but also in terms of personal interest, flexibility re: work schedule, etc. There may be cons, I think there can be a lot of pro arguments as well.

Can you clarify what you mean by SPS being poised to perpetuate this for students? What is SPS getting ready to do? What do you think they should do instead?

all types

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not a NT, I didn't comment as the issue is personal to me. I'm sorry you don't see the flipside which is that people who want a job, need a job but can't keep on are being given opportunities. Like most workers, ownership is keen to capitalize on keeping workers in line and that's why we should be aware of all the issues.

Anonymous said...

People on the highly functional end of the spectrum are employed in large numbers across many fields. Their social emotional quirks and well known and managed by skilled HR managers.

As you start to move towards the lower functioning range there are less opportunities.

KL

Anonymous said...

What is the latest on WMS? The teachers apparently voted down the creative school option (there was some reference to TAF requiring teachers to reapply for their jobs?). Now the district is supposedly trying to push it through as a "program placement."

district machinations

Melissa Westbrook said...

District Machinations, here's what I know.

I believe some WMS teachers are receiving on-site viewing of how STEM by TAF works. That's probably a good thing because the teachers had complained about the lack of information. Nothing like seeing it first-hand.

I know there have been a number of meetings with current and prospective parents. I hope that people are going with an open mind but I can see how some parents might be truly upset, given the lack of clear and accurate information about HCC from the district.

Juneau seems hellbent on proving that she is large and in-charge and I think the current and future Board should try to rein in some of that tendency.