Archive for May, 2009

Should students get credit for late work?

There were some interesting comments on yesterday’s blog about what should happen when students turn work in late.

More and more teaches say principals and other officials have pressured them to accept late assignments and to give students full-credit for the work. (I imagine more of these conversations are going on as we near the end of the school year.)

It used to be students would get penalized – they would get a zero, be docked a few points or face a sliding scale of depreciated grades depending on how late they were turning in the work.

I’ve had some principals say the focus should be on students doing the work and learning the material. Giving students less credit for late work, some principals say, could turn off kids from completing any assignments.

Many teachers say that isn’t fair to students who follow instructions. They wonder how kids will learn to respect deadlines, explaining that adults get penalized when they are late.

What should happen when students turn in …

Continue reading Should students get credit for late work? »

Educator furloughs

Presidents of the Georgia’s public colleges received permission Tuesday to furlough all employees – including faculty – for up to 10 days to cut costs.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis previously said he was “philosophically opposed” to furloughs but backtracked after angry responses from some state legislators.

Davis explained he didn’t want to furlough non-faculty staff when contracts protected faculty from being placed on unpaid leave.

The state university system was one of the few public state agencies that did not furlough employees this fiscal year.

Several school districts have furloughed employees and plan to do it again next year. Some school board members limited this to non-classroom teachers, while others extended it to everyone.

Furloughs are a way to save money, especially as budget shortfalls continue. But some prefer permanent cuts over temporary savings.

Do you think schools and college should furlough teachers? How can this be …

Continue reading Educator furloughs »

Becoming the teacher’s pet

Maureen Downey wrote an interesting column Monday about teachers’ pets.

Visit a classroom and it’s often easy to see there are some students that teachers favor. Lots of times these are the kids who are well behaved, follow instructions and seem interested in what the teacher is doing.

Yes, some students complain about a classmate getting preferential treatment. While that may be unfair, it does prepare students for what they will encounter as adults in the workforce.

Parents, how worried are you about teachers’ pets? Are you feelings different if your child happens to be the chosen one?

Teachers, do you give preferential treatment to some students? Which students get this attention?

Continue reading Becoming the teacher’s pet »

How to improve high schools

Atlanta school leaders are spending more than $65 million to transform all its high schools. The system is breaking the large high schools into smaller all-encompassing programs with different academic themes.

The district says graduation rates will improve if students receive personal and challenging experiences that are offered by smaller high schools.

Atlanta is succeeding with Carver, but it will take a few more years to see how it is played out elsewhere in the district.

School leaders in Georgia and across the nation have struggled with how to improve high schools. Many agree changes are needed to decrease dropout rates and increase test scores.

They’re changing the size of these schools. They’re changing the curriculum. They’re changing the teaching methods and styles.

Will this work? What should be done to improve our high schools?

Continue reading How to improve high schools »

Questions continue over bullying

Four teachers say they saw no evidence that Jaheem Herrera was bullied, even though family members say the 11-year-old committed suicide last month because of relentless abuse at the elementary school.

The teachers each wrote memos saying the never witnesses any bullying. One teacher even described the boy was well liked and popular.

But an intervention statement from the school’s culture chair says the boy was victimized during an incident in a school bathroom.

Jaheem’s death has gained national attention as family members accuse the school of failing to protect the boy.

DeKalb school officials and the county’s district attorney are looking into the situation.

The letters from teachers raise more questions about this sad case. Was Jaheem bullied or not? Were teachers oblivious to what was going on?

Even if we get answers, will anything change in our schools?

NOTE: Staff writer Nancy Badertscher is writing a story on teachers and paraprofessionals who are losing their jobs …

Continue reading Questions continue over bullying »

Clayton’s new superintendent

The Clayton school board picked one finalist in their search for a new superintendent. Edmond Heatley, superintendent of Chino Valley (Calif.) Unified School District is expected to be hired in two weeks.

Heatley is credited with improving tests scores in the district, but recently was challenged over a decision to close some schools because of budget cuts.

He met with Clayton parents and community members last night and has pledged to enroll his kids in the system.

Some members of the Metro Association of Classroom Educators have protested Heatley’s hiring because he’s from out of state. The group wants the school board to hire interim superintendent Valya Lee, a Clayton native who applied for the position but was not a finalist.

This argument has been repeated before – that an in-state superintendent is better because they know Georgia laws and understand the community.

That may be true, but is it always a plus? Are home-grown superintendents better for school systems?


Continue reading Clayton’s new superintendent »

Crime and punishment class for Georgia students?

Georgia PTA leaders are planning to lobby the state to create a public school class that would teach students about state laws to prevent teens with disciplinary problems from getting criminal records.

The class, which would be taught in middle and high schools, would explain how teens can be charged and punished for crimes involving alcohol, sex, drugs and violent acts.

The class also would explain students’ legal rights involving police searches and being questioned by the police.

The course would include much of the material found in “Ignorance Is No Defense: A Teenager’s Guide to Georgia Law,” written by former DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan.

What do you think of this class? While this may be important information for students to know, is it a school’s job to teach it?

NOTE: Staff writer Nancy Badertscher is writing a story on teachers and paraprofessionals who are losing their jobs because of budget cuts. If you fit in that category, please contact her at …

Continue reading Crime and punishment class for Georgia students? »

How to accommodate students’ religious beliefs?

ANOTHER UPDATE: The mock trial schedule was changed so the team of Jewish students could fully compete.

UPDATE: A member of the State Bar of Georgia board resigned Wednesday after the national organizer of a mock trial event being held in Atlanta refused to rearrange the schedule to accommodate a team of Jewish students.

A team of students from an orthodox Jewish high school says they can’t compete in Saturday’s National High School Mock Trial Championship because the event will be held during their Sabbath.

The mock trial organization has refused to provide the Massachusetts team with an earlier slot, saying it would provide the students with an unfair advantage. The competition will be held in Atlanta.

The team said similar accommodations were made in 2005 when a Jewish team competed.

While it’s easy to understand both sides’ position, this situation raises the question as to what steps organizers must take to accommodate different religions.

How far must schools and other …

Continue reading How to accommodate students’ religious beliefs? »

Remedial problems in college

A story in Sunday’s paper showed that as more high schools inflate students’ grades, kids enter college lacking basic English and math skills.

As a result, these high school graduates take remedial college classes to learn what they failed to master in high school.

Students must pay to take these classes, which often don’t count toward the credits they need for a college degree. This increases the amount of time – and money – needed for college.

The article focuses on grade inflation as the culprit for this problem, but it is not the only factor.

Could it be that some students aren’t in the right college?

The mantra elected leaders and school officials repeat is that students should be prepared to attend post-secondary education after high school. That could include four-year, two-year and technical colleges.

But it seems as if most kids are pushed into four-year programs, regardless of whether it is the right fit.

What else do you think is causing an increase in the number of …

Continue reading Remedial problems in college »

Probation for Clayton schools.

UPDATE: Clayton County schools have regained accreditation, but the system remains on probation for two years. This means seniors who graduate this month will graduate with an accredited diploma.

Clayton isn’t free from oversight. The district is required to keep working to improve its leadership and governance and SACS will monitor them.

What do you thinks of the SACS decision? What improvements must the district still make?

Continue reading Probation for Clayton schools. »