Sari Pekala Kerr, Ph.D., who arrived at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) in 2010, brings not only experience in economic research and consulting in the U.S. to her work at WCW, but also expertise in analyzing economic effects of government policies in her homeland of Finland. That expertise became possible because of Finland’s remarkable record of demographic statistics, which reflect—in a breadth of detail that can amaze many—the experience of three generations of Finns. The Centers expect many of Kerr’s contributions to benefit from that research. Her newest project—supported by the Centers’ 35th Anniversary Fund—will study how maternity leave policies in both Finland and the United States affect women’s subsequent employment.
Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2011
by Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D.
U.S. education is in trouble . Many types of school reform have been proposed and tried, but most are not working. They are not creating real solutions to problems. I believe that education reform will continue to falter unless it treats teachers as whole human beings, not as neutral pass-throughs, or as failing parts of machinery. Too often teachers are punished, disrespected, and excluded from conversations on what might actually make education successful for all of our students. What teachers know, what they can contribute, is left out of most efforts to reform education. We cannot change our schools, our systems, without respecting the deep experience of teachers.
Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2011 Last year, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson identified 14 “Turnaround Schools,” described as significantly underperforming and in need of monitoring, support, and reform. Twelve of these schools were also designated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as “Level 4” schools: those with consistently low scores and no substantial improvement over a four-year period in both English/ Language Arts and Mathematics on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).
Last year, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson identified 14 “Turnaround Schools,” described as significantly underperforming and in need of monitoring, support, and reform. Twelve of these schools were also designated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as “Level 4” schools: those with consistently low scores and no substantial improvement over a four-year period in both English/ Language Arts and Mathematics on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).
For many years, research done by the Work, Families, and Children Research Group at Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) has provided policy makers, community leaders, and other scholars with data, commentary, and testimony concerning the effects on family members of many factors, including working conditions, poverty, the division of labor at home, and early care and education. Nancy Marshall, Ed.D., who joined WCW in 1985, now leads the group, which includes Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D., and Joanne Roberts, Ph.D., senior research scientists at WCW.
with Georgia Hall, Ph.D.
With funding through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ’s Active Living Research Program , the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women, has launched a one-year project designed to assess physical activity and healthy eating standards and practices in out-of-school time programs. A collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Boston and the YMCA of the USA, the project will look at out-of-school time programs that serve children and youth in grades K-12 during afternoons, evenings, holidays, and vacations. Programs serving low-income children of color will be a particular focus in the national sample studied. The project allows the investigators to initiate policy research that will assess current out-of-school physical activity and healthy eating policies and practices before new national policies are put in place.
Project directors Georgia Hall, Ph.D., senior research scientist at NIOST, and Jean Wiecha, Ph.D., associate professor in the UMass Boston department of exercise and health science, will work with Ellen Gannett, M.Ed., director of NIOST, and Barbara Roth, M.Ed., YMCA national director for youth and family programs, in carrying out the study.
Reflections and perspectives from Amy Banks, M.D., JBMTI director of advanced training
“I am so glad you are offering the webinars. Twenty years ago I went to the Wednesday evening Stone Center Colloquia and loved them. But then I moved to Texas and had kids so I couldn’t travel. These allow me to feel a part of it again.”
These words were shared with me last October by a participant who attended the pilot webinar, “I Feel Your Pain,” offered by the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at the Wellesley Centers for Women. This webinar was part of a new lecture series, The Neurobiology of Connection. Clinical trainings are not new for the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute. We have been teaching Relational-Cultural Theory to mental health providers, educators, and social policy advocates throughout the United States and abroad for almost 30 years.
Open Circle, a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women, works with elementary school communities in New England, New York, and New Jersey to help children become ethical people, contributing citizens, and successful learners. This program helps foster the development of relationships that support safe, caring, and respectful learning communities of children and adults. The Open Circle team is currently updating its grade-differentiated curriculum to provide more support around bullying prevention and increase accessibility and applicability to urban communities. More details about these updates will be posted in the next issue of Research & Action Report.
On an almost daily basis, I see, read, or hear a story about how women can improve their careers, advance in their pay levels, and avoid the stereotypes associated with women in the workforce. As a feminist, I am interested in these developments and am always rooting for women to pioneer new positions and achieve new forms of advancement.
This past summer, few of us could escape the media’s relentless coverage of the controversy surrounding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. Perhaps not surprisingly, the controversy centered on her racial background rather than on her long and impeccable record as a judge, or on her peers’ opinions of her abilities.
Michelle Porche, Ed.D., a senior research scientist at Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), studies academic achievement in literacy and science among young children and adolescents. She is especially interested in the influence of gender and socioemotional factors on the academic achievement of children from low-income families. More recently she has expanded her work to study the impact of trauma on learning and achievement. In addition to work at WCW, Porche spent ten years as a researcher on the longitudinal Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, where she received her doctorate. She is co-author of Is Literacy Enough? Pathways to Academic Achievement for Adolescents, which describes findings from the Home-School Study. In 2002 she was a corecipient of the International Reading Association’s Albert J. Harris Award for contributions in literacy research.