Archive for September, 2009

Is the trashing of UGA due to tailgating or drinking?

Today, UGA President Michael Adams said the campus may be forced to crack down on tailgating slobs who left 70 tons of trash after Georgia’s home opener Saturday against South Carolina. (See the AJC story,)

“There are other things we can do [if the situation doesn't improve],” Adams said. “I don’t want to start arresting people or have a heavy police presence. We simply ask people to spend a little more time to maintain our campus.”

Adams blamed three factors for last week’s mess: The large crowd. It was a night game. And it was against a rival.

“We’ve also gotten into the situation where police estimate we have 15,000 to 25,000 people who come here to tailgate and spend the day with no intention of attending the ballgame,” he said.  “Basically there’s 110,000 people and in  the most egregious cases there’s usually excessive alcohol involved.”

Adams said night games make the situation worse because fans have all day to drink.

So, is it a littering problem or a drinking …

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Are parents reduced to begging for tuition money?

I  was uneasy when I watched clips of  an unemployed single mother standing on a freeway ramp near Seattle begging for money to send her son to a top dance program in California. After Shelle Curley said she begged for 10 to 14 days and only collected $350, I thought she could have just gotten a job and made that much and  more.

But then I realized that she may not be able to get a job in this economy. Normally, I would say anyone could get a job with enough effort, but I don’t think that’s true today. I know many good people who can’t find jobs. A friend just told me about being one of 2,100 people who applied for a low-paying job.

Then, I would say let the teenager go to classes closer to home, but apparently 17-year-old D.J. Strong can’t find a similar caliber dance program in his own area.  He received a $45,000 scholarship to the prestigious California program, but his mom still fell short on the money needed to transport him to the school.

On one hand, I admire her …

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Morning bell: Campus crime, Yale arrest, tailgating, slapper

Lots of stories today in the news related to education. Here are some of you might want to read:

No bond for baby slapper

Campus crime: From books to blight

Arrest in Yale Murder

Improving the first year of college for students

Schools looking abroad for teachers

National call to arms over improving reading skills

UGA tailgating trash. Check out this photo.

Why are some kids drawn to risky sex and drugs?  A study says it could be genetic. (OK, no comments “because it’s fun.)

Continue reading Morning bell: Campus crime, Yale arrest, tailgating, slapper »

School bus beating video: Reaction of bystanders is scary

After watching this school bus beating video, I don’t know what is more chilling, the protracted attack on the victim or the ho-hum attitude of the other high school students on the bus in  Belleville, Il.

Some kids even cheered on the attacker, which is apparently not uncommon in schoolyard brawls.

The  police chief released the video from the Monday incident, saying that the community needed to see it.

“We believe the public has a right to assess these things, see them and enter into dialogue,” Chief William Clay told the Bellleville News-Democrat. “I thought it was something we should entrust to the public. I believe the public as a whole has a right to view these kinds of things, to assess those, to talk to their children.”

When I watch this video and other videos of school fights, I think “Lord of the Flies” was on the money.

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Is any test reliable? CRCT? SAT? NAEP? ACT? Pick one.

I have to tell you that after writing about education for 12 years, I am still baffled by whether any test results can be trusted, whether  in Gwinnett County  (see comments on Gwinnett and the Broad Award below) or on the national level.

The New York Times has a chilling story on its state tests, noting that it found that even random guessing could produce a passing score.

Says the Times:  “A side effect of the adjustments in scoring is that on 5 of the 12 math and English tests this year, a student had a better-than-even chance of earning a Level 2 mark— a failing grade that reflects “partially meeting learning standards” — simply by guessing. On the sixth-grade English test, for instance, a student had an 89 percent chance of reaching Level 2 this year by randomly guessing, according to an analysis by The New York Times.”

But can we go back to relying purely on teacher assessments to measure student achievement and progress? After all, we have been reporting for …

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Gwinnett doesn’t win ‘Nobel Prize,’ but still gets bundle

Gwinnett did not snag the Nobel Prize of education awards minutes ago.

The $1,000,000 top prize went to the Aldine, Texas, district.

But Gwinnett still wins $250,000 for college scholarships for its students.

The Broad Foundation said it named the district and its superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks one of five finalists for its prestigious  award for these reasons:

• Outperforming other districts in Georgia that serve students with similar income levels in reading and math at all school levels (elementary, middle and high school).
• Raising the participation rates for African-American and Hispanic students taking the SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement exams, as average ACT scores for Hispanic students.
• Narrowing the achievement gaps between both African-American and Hispanic students and white students in reading and math in elementary and middle school.

I would agree with posters that Wilbanks is autocratic. (The district once sent school resource officers to the …

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A few Clayton voters pass SPLOST, but everyone will pay

I am glad to see that Clayton passed its SPLOST Tuesday, but I wish more people had voted. Clayton has about 136,901 registered voters. The SPLOST — a penny sales tax to fund school construction  — drew only 3,350 voters

In the finaly tally, 2,500 voters supported the measure, and 850 opposed it.  A sliver of the eligible voters  decided a pocketbook issue for thousands of their neighbors who did not vote, either because they didn’t care or they didn’t know.

Don’t blame Clayton voters. The entire election system in Georgia conspires to deflate turnout. Consider that special elections are held on random  Tuesdays in September rather than during general elections. That makes as much sense as shopping malls  holding after-Thanksgiving Day sales in August.

Brilliant poster Angela pointed out that this will finally change in 2010.  A law sponsored by state Rep. Jeff May (R- Monroe)  ends the practice of stealth special elections. 

Under May’s legislation,  special elections …

Continue reading A few Clayton voters pass SPLOST, but everyone will pay »

A college scholarship that begins in high school for DeKalb

Amid all the dismaying news about education, we forget that there are students achieving remarkable things despite poverty and fractured families.

I listened to 20 0f them tonight at the Simon Family Foundation awards at the Emory Conference Center. These high achieving students from DeKalb high schools are the newest class of Simon Scholars, chosen not only for the adversity in their young lives, but for their determination to rise above it. Unique in that it identifies students as high school juniors and offers them not only financial support but college advice, SAT prep and a team of caring adults to guide them through their last two years of high school and onto college, the Simon Scholars program was created by California philanthropist Ron Simon. Since the program began in 2003, there have been 300 scholarships awarded nationwide.

“I don’t want just to write checks and tell the students to do their best,” said Simon. “Anyone can do that. I want to do more, and to do …

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State releases 2009 National Blue Ribbon Schools

From Georgia DOE:

2009 National Blue Ribbon Schools Named

September 15, 2009 — Seven Georgia public schools were named 2009 National Blue Ribbon Schools today.

“These seven schools are outstanding examples of how high expectations and hard work can lead to outstanding student achievement,” said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox.  “These schools show that, regardless of a school’s size, geography or demographics, all students can achieve at high levels.”

The No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools award distinguishes and honors schools for helping students achieve at very high levels and for  making significant progress in closing the achievement gap.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the National Blue  Ribbon School award winners this morning. (See U.S. Department of  Education Release.)

Blue Ribbon Schools are chosen in one of three categories
- TOP 10%: (40% Disadvantaged): Schools that scored in the top 10 percent in student achievement AND have …

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Gwinnett must be doing something right. What is it?

I have great admiration for the the folks at the Broad Foundation, having attended several conferences funded by them in which they brought in great researchers on all sides of  issues and from all over the world. Tomorrow, the foundation announces its 2009 Broad Prize for Urban Education, and Gwinnett County is one of the five  finalists.

This prize carries great prestige and is not won easily; there is a scrupulous vetting process.

So, we have to acknowledge that Gwinnett is doing something right to be a finalist.  I have known frustrated teachers who have fled DeKalb for Gwinnett and reported  better working conditions. I am sure the reverse happens as well.

What is Gwinnett doing right?

(Info below is from the Broad Foundation>)

Who:   U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Members of Congress
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty
Philanthropist Eli Broad
300 leading education policy-makers and practitioners

What:     Announce the winner of the 2009 …

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