Monday, November 24, 2014

Help for families with substance abuse issues

LAWRENCE — The number of children in foster care in Kansas has hit a new record, and one in five of 
those children are there because of issues related to caregiver substance abuse. Researchers in the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare have secured a five-year, $2.9 million grant to help agencies across the state serve the youngest, most vulnerable children and strengthen families affected by substance abuse. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, will allow KU to partner with state agencies and Kansas’ two foster care agencies and service providers throughout the state to focus on improving safety, well-being and permanency for children up to age 3. Kansas Serves Substance Affected Families is a research project funded through the third round of Regional Partnership Grants from the Children’s Bureau at DHHS, which seek to promote interagency collaboration to enhance services for substance-affected families. In the first two rounds of this funding, KU researchers Tom McDonald, Jody Brook and Becci Akin focused on enhancing services for children ages 3-12 who were affected by caregiver substance abuse in Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa. This new project, led by McDonald, Susana Mariscal, and doctoral candidate Kaela Byers, expands on this earlier work and shifts the focus to young children who are especially vulnerable.  [More]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Study builds on progress for women in STEM fields

LAWRENCE — To help bridge the gap between men and women in math-intensive STEM fields and careers, educators should engage girls as young as elementary school in intervention programs focused on more math skills, according to a new report on the landscape of women in science-related careers. "Math is the key to many of these majors where women are underrepresented," said Donna Ginther, University of Kansas professor of economics and director of KU's Center for Science, Technology & Economic Policy at the Institute for Policy & Social Research. "The mathematical careers and those majors pay significantly better than social science, life science and psychology, and I really think that in the long term — because of computers, information and data — math is key to having a well-paying job and a career." Ginther further discusses the study here. The intervention strategy is the main policy recommendation from a study Ginther, psychological scientists Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams of Cornell University and Boston University economist Shulamit Kahn conducted on the gender gap in academic sciences since 2000. The full report and an accompanying commentary by Diane Halpern of Minerva Schools at the Keck Graduate Institute are published this month in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. A New York Times op-ed also addressed the study. [More]

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Employment Status and Occupations of Gulf War-Era Veterans

Veterans who entered the Armed Forces after 1990 also had a substantially different military experience than their predecessors. During the 1990s, significant changes in legislation and policy opened up over 80 percent of the services’ career positions to military servicewomen. The nature of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq also changed the kind of work done by men and women in the Armed Forces. The occupational experiences of Gulf War-era veterans while in the military could be expected to have some impact on the kinds of occupations they hold once they leave the military. The data used in this report are from 2011–2013 American Community Survey (ACS) 3-year estimates. This report presents data on the employment situation of non-institutionalized post-1990 Gulf War-era veterans, 18 to 64 years old, living in the United States. Where appropriate, non-institutionalized non-veterans 18 to 64 years old are included as a reference group.More of this U.S. Census Bureau Report

Monday, November 10, 2014

Doing Business 2015, World Bank Group publication

Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency, a World Bank Group flagship publication, is the 12th in
a series of annual reports measuring the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. Doing Business presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 189 economies—from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe—and over time. Doing Business measures regulations affecting 11 areas of the life of a business. Ten of these areas are included in this year’s ranking on the ease of doing business: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.Doing Business also measures labor market regulation, which is not included in this year’s ranking. Data in Doing Business 2015 are current as of June 1, 2014. The indicators are used to analyze economic outcomes and identify what reforms of business regulation have worked, where and why. This year’s report introduces a notable expansion of several indicator sets and a change in the calculation of rankings.”

Monday, November 03, 2014

How Facebook Is Changing the Way Its Users Consume Journalism PARK, Calif. — Many of the people who read this article will do so because Greg Marra, 26, a engineer, calculated that it was the kind of thing they might enjoy. Mr. Marra’s team designs the code that drives Facebook’s News Feed — the stream of updates, photographs, videos and stories that users see. He is also fast becoming one of the most influential people in the news business. Facebook now has a fifth of the world — about 1.3 billion people — logging on at least monthly. It drives up to 20 percent of traffic to news sites, according to figures from the analytics company SimpleReach. On mobile devices, the fastest-growing source of readers, the percentage is even higher, SimpleReach says, and continues to increase. The social media company is increasingly becoming to the news business what Amazon is to book publishing — a behemoth that provides access to hundreds of millions of consumers and wields enormous power. About 30 percent of adults in the United States get their news on Facebook, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. The fortunes of a news site, in short, can rise or fall depending on how it performs in Facebook’s News Feed.  [More]

Monday, October 27, 2014

Screening for trauma in foster youths

LAWRENCE — Researchers in the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare have completed initial efforts to learn more about adoption and the foster care system in Kansas, particularly about the challenges and facilitators of successful adoptions. The efforts are part of the Kansas Adoption Permanency Project, created to enact trauma screening and functional assessment for all children who enter foster care and improve adoption outcomes for children, families and the state. The project, also known as KAPP, is a public-private-university partnership among the School of Social Welfare, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services and the state’s network of private foster care contractors – KVC Kansas and Saint Francis Community Services. The partners are members of the KAPP Steering Committee.
Researchers analyzed state administrative child welfare data and conducted surveys, interviews and focus groups with youths in foster care and youths who have been adopted from foster care, parents, child welfare and mental health professionals, judges, district attorneys, court-appointed special advocates and others to determine how they can best create an integrated child welfare and mental/behavioral health system that promotes well-being, family functioning and positive permanency outcomes.  More

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Federal Reserve Board Beige Book

Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions By Federal Reserve District, October 2014
“Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts generally described modest to moderate economic growth at a pace similar to that noted in the previous Beige Book. Moderate growth was reported by the Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts, while modest growth was reported by the New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and Kansas City Districts. In the Boston District, reports from business contacts painted a mixed picture of economic conditions. In addition, several Districts noted that contacts were generally optimistic about future activity. Most Districts reported overall growth in consumer spending that ranged from slight to moderate, at a pace that was often similar to that reported in the previous Beige Book. However, general merchandise retailers in New York noted that sales were weaker on balance since the previous report. Several District reports indicated that retailers were relatively optimistic about the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, tourism activity remained upbeat in several areas, with some reports of higher occupancy rates and solid advance bookings for travel and lodging. Several Districts reported that nonfinancial services grew at a moderate pace since the previous Beige Book. Districts reporting on transportation services generally noted growth in this sector, with a few pointing to capacity constraints in railroads, trucking, or both. Manufacturing activity increased in most Districts since the previous Beige Book; contacts in the Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Kansas City Districts reported positive near-term outlooks. Residential construction and real estate activity were mixed since the previous report. Commercial construction and real estate activity grew in most Districts. Banking conditions continued to improve relative to the previous Beige Book. Commercial loan volumes increased in nearly all reporting Districts. However, consumer loan demand was mixed, and some Districts pointed to low or reduced levels of demand for refinancing. Credit standards generally remained unchanged, and there were no reports of deterioration in credit quality.”  Information provided by Sabrina I. Pacifici

Monday, October 13, 2014

Common Core State Standards

CRS Report – Common Core State Standards: Frequently Asked Questions. Rebecca R. Skinner, Specialist in Education Policy; Jody Feder, Legislative Attorney. September 15, 2014.
“Over the last two decades, there has been interest in developing federal policies that focus on  student outcomes in elementary and secondary education. Perhaps most prominently, the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110), which amended and reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), marked a dramatic expansion of the federal government’s role in supporting standards-based instruction and test-based accountability, thereby increasing the federal government’s involvement in decisions that directly affect teaching and learning. Under the ESEA, states are required to have standards in reading and mathematics for specified grade levels in order to receive funding under Title I-A of the ESEA. In response to this requirement, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted and implemented standards that meet the requirements of the ESEA. Since the ESEA was last comprehensively reauthorized by NCLB, recent developments have taken place that have possibly played a role in the selection of reading and mathematics standards by states: (1) the development and release of the Common Core State Standards; (2) the Race to the Top (RTT) State Grant competition and RTT Assessment Grants competition; and (3) the ESEA flexibility package provided by the Department of Education (ED) to states with approved applications. As of June 2014, 43 states, the District of Columbia, 4 outlying areas, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) had at some point adopted the Common Core State Standards. Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina recently became the first states to adopt and subsequently discontinue use of the Common Core State Standards.” [More]     Information provided by Sabrina I. Pacifici

Thursday, October 02, 2014

KU announces departure of Dean of Libraries

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Libraries announced today the departure of Dean Lorraine Haricombe, who has accepted the position of vice provost and director of the University of Texas Libraries.
Haricombe’s last day will be Dec. 12. Associate Deans Kent Miller and Mary Roach will assume the roles of interim co-deans at that time. Search information will be announced at a later date. “The years I have enjoyed at KU have been exhilarating, challenging and most rewarding, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with thoughtful and dedicated colleagues, both in the libraries and across campus,” Haricombe said. “I am proud of the accomplishments of our library faculty and staff. I believe their efforts have moved the libraries—and by extension, the university—forward. I have no doubt the future of KU Libraries will be bright.” Miller and Roach will lead a team to ensure a smooth transition in the months ahead. “Dean Haricombe’s visionary approach and dynamic leadership have positioned KU Libraries at the forefront of the rapidly changing world of library and information science,” according to the interim deans. “We are grateful for her contributions, and we wish her the very best in this new endeavor.”  (More)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Art and Science of Data-driven Journalism “Journalists have been using data in their stories for as long as the profession has existed. A revolution in computing in the 20th century created opportunities for data integration into investigations, as journalists began to bring technology into their work. In the 21st century, a revolution in connectivity is leading the media toward new horizons. The Internet, cloud computing, agile development, mobile devices, and open source software have transformed the practice of journalism, leading to the emergence of a new term: data journalism. Although journalists have been using data in their stories for as long as they have been engaged in reporting, data journalism is more than traditional journalism with more data. Decades after early pioneers successfully applied computer-assisted reporting and social science to investigative journalism, journalists are creating news apps and interactive features that help people understand data, explore it, and act upon the insights derived from it. New business models are emerging in which data is a raw material for profit, impact, and insight, co-created with an audience that was formerly reduced to passive consumption. Journalists around the world are grappling with the excitement and the challenge of telling compelling stories by harnessing the vast quantity of data that our increasingly networked lives, devices, businesses, and governments produce every day. While the potential of data journalism is immense, the pitfalls and challenges to its adoption throughout the media are similarly significant, from digital literacy to competition for scarce resources in newsrooms. Global threats to press freedom, digital security, and limited access to data create difficult working conditions for journalists in many countries. A combination of peer- to-peer learning, mentorship, online training, open data initiatives, and new programs at journalism schools rising to the challenge, however, offer reasons to be optimistic about more journalists learning to treat data as a source.”   (Information: Sabrina I. Pacifici on