Archive for December, 2009

Consent question murkier in second Cobb teacher/student romance

I am not sure why Cobb County has two high profile cases of teachers dating students, but the second case reported this week by the AJC appears markedly different than the one we discussed here a few weeks ago.

In the earlier case involving former Marietta High School teacher Christopher King, the female student took the stand during his trial to assert that the love affair was consensual and that she was not coerced in any way.

Given that Georgia law considered her old enough to consent to a relationship with a teacher, there wasn’t much the court could do except find him not guilty. (Please note that King is no longer at the school and had his teaching license yanked. The trial was a result of criminal charges brought by the Cobb DA. )

However, this second case seems far less forthright on the question of consent. Steven Parkman, a 34-year-old former orchestra teacher at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, faces five counts of sexual assault against a person in custody and …

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A civil discourse: Choice, charters and money

I received this e-mail from a reader named Nate and thought it was provocative on the issues of choice and charters. I am posting Nate’s original note to me, my response and his follow-up. (Pour a cup of coffee as this is long.) He gave me clearance to put it all up here for our discussion.

After reading an Op-Ed piece that you posted in a recent paper titled “School boards: Charter school law violates constitution” I thought to myself… It would be good if an organization like the GA Public Policy Foundation or some similar unbiased organization could publish a paper that details in something akin to layman’s terms, how education funding works within the context of Charter Schools, and other choice legislation in GA.  They could highlight a few scenarios:

How Is Education Funding for Traditional Pubic schools affected when..

1.  A “regular ed” student previously enrolled in a traditional public school attends a charter school

2.  A “regular ed” student previously …

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National Board Certified Teachers could get bonuses

This is good news for the state’s National Board Certified teachers: Some key folks in the General Assembly want to restore their bonuses.

Some states are debating whether a salary boost for National Board Certified teachers is a good investment, suggesting that bonuses might better go to teachers with proven track records of raising student achievement rather than to teachers who earn the certification. Sometimes, they are one and the same. Sometimes, they are not.

Georgia has been a leader in urging teachers to seek certification ever since ex Gov. Roy Barnes became impressed with the program. (He continues to be a national champion of it.)

I have interviewed Georgia teachers who said the certification process was grueling and a few who said it was a cinch.  I have been impressed with the certified teachers I have met, although I can’t speak to their records of increasing student achievement.

According to the AJC story:

The session begins Jan. 11, about five months after …

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Life does not end with a rejection letter from Duke

A teenager recently told me that he was worried that he might not win admission to the University of Georgia Honors Program. This from a kid with perfect scores on the SAT and a grade-point average well above 4.0.

Given all that, I told him, UGA President Michael Adams ought to deliver his invitation to the honors program in person.

But he’s not alone. This time of year, jittery high school seniors all over the country are putting the finishing touches on their college applications, and they’re worried. (I’ve been through it, and I’m relieved to be on the sidelines this year. With my two oldest children in college, my challenge has shifted to paying for school.)

Somehow, we’ve scared kids — even those in the top 1 percent — into thinking that their chances of getting into the right college equal those of winning the Powerball.

True, admission to the nation’s most selective colleges has never been harder. In 2009, Ivy League schools admitted 15 of every 100 high school seniors …

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School boards: Charter school law violates constitution

Here is an op-ed that I ran on the Monday education page in the print newspaper. It deals with the new charter schools law and was written by Jeannie M. Henry, Georgia School Boards Association executive director,  and Joseph White, Georgia School Boards Association president and a Mitchell County Board of Education member.

By Jeannie M. Henry and Joseph White

The lawsuits filed by several school districts that challenge the constitutionality of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and the funding for its schools have created considerable controversy.

It is important that the public not be confused by rhetoric. Georgians need to understand the constitutional distinction between charter schools approved by school boards and those approved by the commission established last year by the Legislature.

Article VIII of the Georgia Constitution clearly recognizes two kinds of public schools: (1) local schools under the control and management of elected boards of education and (2) …

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Dyslexia study: Why some very smart people can’t read

Among the interesting mail awaiting me was this release from the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity on a new study that will be published in the January 1st issue of Psychological Science, titled “Uncoupling of Reading and IQ Over Time: Empirical Evidence for a Definition of Dyslexia.”

I found this interesting because I have met highly intelligent people can’t read well. This study helps explain why that might be:

New Haven, Conn. — Contrary to popular belief, some very smart, accomplished people cannot read well. This unexpected difficulty in reading in relation to intelligence, education and professional status is called dyslexia, and researchers at Yale School of Medicine and University of California Davis, have presented new data that explain how otherwise bright and intelligent people struggle to read.

The study, which will be published in the January 1, 2010 issue of the journal Psychological Science, provides a validated definition of dyslexia. “For the first time, …

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AP classes: Making kids smarter or College Board richer?

I hope everyone had a good holiday. I am delighted to be back in Georgia after a week slogging through 22 inches of snow visiting family in the Northeast.

If anyone has kept up with education reading, a good debate raged on The New York Times Room for Debate blog about the value and integrity of AP classes. In my past reporting on the boom in AP classes, I have interviewed several of the experts quoted in the blog.

I found that the most consistent research suggested that AP classes were most valuable when the students took the AP test and scored a 3 or better. One of the researchers in the Times piece told me in an interview a few years back that the positive outcome on college performance was only visible in those students who had taken the AP test along with the course. She saw no enhancement in college performance in students who had taken AP classes in high school but had not sat for the AP exams.

(If you read the NYT, you will see that view espoused by several experts.) …

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Here’s to peace on earth and on the blog — at least through the holidays

Folks, I hope everyone has a good holiday. The debate over the fate of Dr. Smith and Deerwood Academy has been lively, to say the least.

I have to agree with some posters here that no leader is ever beloved by every employee. I do not find it strange that Dr. Smith has both detractors and admirers.  That is to be expected in any school attempting new programs and ideas.

The only point that I want to address in Michael Smith’s letter is the notion that the AJC went after certain schools in its series of CRCT scores that didn’t add up.

Our investigative team produced its list of schools with improbable swings in CRCT scores based solely on data from the state.  There were schools throughout Georgia on the list. However, APS had the greatest number of schools. The Atlanta schools get most of the attention here because most of us on this blog live in metro Atlanta.

At this point, I think we need to await the findings of the outside experts hired by Dr. Hall to review APS scores. …

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Husband of Deerwood Academy principal: Travesty of justice

The husband of the Deerwood Academy principal reprimanded earlier this month by the state Professional Standards Commission over alleged CRCT cheating at the school and then removed from her post by Atlanta Public Schools pending her appeal wrote this letter on her behalf. Michael Smith sent this protest to a long list of recipients, including the U.S. Secretary of Education.

December 16, 2009

In the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act, a travesty has occurred against a phenomenal educator that has dedicated her life to educating children for the last twenty years. I am most assured that this will reach national headlines because if this can happen to my wife without justification, it can certainly happen to principals/administrators across the United States. My wife, Lisa Smith, is in the midst of battling this dilemma legally and cannot give voice to this racially motivated unjust attack against her character and ethical behavior. I however am not silenced and am seeking …

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Parent: Deerwood principal unfairly tarnished by cheating allegations

The CRCT cheating scandal has cost several longtime administrators their posts.

Here is a letter to me from a parent upset that the APS principal at Deerwood Academy has been reassigned in the wake of the scandal. Parent Stephanie Robinson feels that Lisa Smith is being held accountable for something that — if it happened, at all — was not on her watch or within her power to change since she was not on site.

I just searched your blog and I found no information concerning the outrageous response to the so called cheating scandal at Atlanta Public Schools involving Deerwood Academy.

I am the parent of a Deerwood Academy student. Today, our beloved principal, Dr. Lisa Smith, was re-assigned to an agency position with Atlanta Public Schools and removed as principal at our school.

Based on a reading of the indictment against her, she is accused of “being the principal of an Atlanta Public School” and being on the payroll at the time of the alleged cheating. Both of course are …

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