Archive for January, 2010

We are less willing to let boys be boys in classrooms

Many parents worry that their boisterous 4-year-old son will never be able to sit still and focus on algebra. Others fret that their aggressive kindergarten toy thrower will never have friends.
Some fear that their toddler son’s refusal to make eye contact or engage playmates indicates Asperger Syndrome.

A new book suggests that the hands-on learning and motor skill focus on little boys is increasingly at odds with the test mania in our schools.

A new book suggests that the hands-on learning and motor skill focus of little boys is increasingly at odds with the test mania in our schools.

Now, a noted behavioral psychologist advises those parents to relax. Such behaviors are a normal part of boyhood and will typically fade over time in most children.

Anthony Rao, co-author of the new book “The Way of Boys: Raising Healthy Boys in a Challenging and Complex World,” wishes everyone would take a deep breath, slow down and realize that boys follow a rocky development path that may include troublesome behaviors.

“Most boys will grow up healthy,” he says. “When parents are too worried, they jump to conclusions that something …

Continue reading We are less willing to let boys be boys in classrooms »

Honor student world: Where all the students are above average

Here is an interesting op-ed piece by a tenured professor of biology at Piedmont College, Robert H. Wainberg. He is alarmed because he has been told by former students who are now teachers that some schools no longer hold Honors Day to recognize the accomplishments of above average and exemplary students so they don’t hurt the feelings of kids who don’t earn awards.

This piece will appear in the paper on the education page Monday. Enjoy.

By Robert H.Wainberg

I have been a professor of Biology and Biochemistry at a regional college for over two decades. Sadly, I have noticed a continual deterioration in the performance of my students during this time. In part I have attributed it to the poor study habits of the last few generations (X, XX and now XXX) who have relied too heavily on technology in lieu of thinking for themselves.

In fact, the basics are no longer taught in our schools because they are considered to be “too hard,” not because they are archaic or antiquated. …

Continue reading Honor student world: Where all the students are above average »

Education 2010: No money. Zip. Nada. None. Go fish.

I was at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education program for education writers most of Friday.

Here is the message of the day in a single line:

THERE IS NO MONEY. NONE. NOT EVEN A DIME IN THE COUCH CUSHIONS.

Among the presenters: Kathy Cox, state school superintendent, Erin Hames, education policy director for the governor, Alan Essig of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute and Herb Garrett of the Georgia Superintendents Association. The teacher of the year was there as were many state people and representatives of the state’s education groups.

Without tax increases, Georgia schools will most certainly take considerable hits in the next two years.

How deep is the financial hole at the state level? So deep, said Essig, that even wiping out 20 state agencies and the legislative branch and firing the 13,000 employees in those agencies wouldn’t plug it.

And it’s no better in local communities, which are also under water due to falling property digests and record …

Continue reading Education 2010: No money. Zip. Nada. None. Go fish. »

Is Perdue proposing a $34 million raid on HOPE and pre-k lottery funds?

It appears that Gov. Sonny Perdue plans to raid the lottery proceeds used to fund the HOPE Scholarship and pre-k, something I dare say he would not do if he wasn’t about to get out of Dodge.

There is a lively e-mail exchange among supporters of pre-k, who discovered deep in the proposed budget that the governor is substituting lottery funds for state general revenues for about $34 million in special scholarships and tuition grants awarded by the state each year. (I am adding this note on Sunday; There is a great story on this HOPE issue in the Sunday AJC,.)

According to pages 348 to 350 of Perdue’s budget, it appears the governor is proposing to use lottery monies for such things as:

-The HERO scholarships -$800,000.

-Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program–$966,757

-North Ga. Military Scholarship Grants—$1,502,800 and

-North Georgia ROTC Grants–$652,479.

The question on the e-mail chain: Is it legal? Yes, the lottery is designed to fund education and …

Continue reading Is Perdue proposing a $34 million raid on HOPE and pre-k lottery funds? »

Bad grade, kill your pet. Are some parents too threatening to call?

A frequent statement on this blog from teachers is that parents don’t care. don’t discipline their kids and don’t set rules. But there is a small, subset of parent that overreacts to grades and calls from school by physically punishing kids.

The terrible story of the Meriwether mom who made her 12-year-old kill his pet hamster with a hammer over a bad grade is an example of a dangerous and misguided parental response to a school problem.

Do you worry about those parents and those kids?

I spent a year on a child abuse project early in my career and interviewed many case workers in the New York City area. One familiar scenario was that a student, usually a middle school boy, came home with a poor grade or was involved in a school fight. In either case, the parent was called to the school to meet with the principal or teacher over the son’s bad behavior. Once the parent and child got home, a beating followed. When the boy showed up in class the next day with obvious bruising, …

Continue reading Bad grade, kill your pet. Are some parents too threatening to call? »

Weekend reading: The 200-page Race to the Top application

The race is on for Race to the Top grants and Georgia is in the running.

The race is on for Race to the Top grants and Georgia is in the running.

Here is the link to the entire 200-page Race to the Top application.

I am just reading it. We all ought to read and discuss Monday. (What? Homework on weekends?)

Here is an excerpt that will interest teachers outside of core areas on the issue of performance pay:

Value-added score, which measures the effect of a teacher or a school on student learning. Value-added scores will be calculated on the basis of standardized tests currently available in Georgia (CRCTs in Reading, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science and End-of-Course Tests in High School). This means that only teachers in tested subject areas (approximately 30% of teachers) will have value-added scores, a constraint that all VAMs have in common. Georgia does not plan to create new summative tests in non-core areas. Because such tests must be developed across multiple courses and subject areas, they are not cost-effective. Instead, …

Continue reading Weekend reading: The 200-page Race to the Top application »

Facebook case: Deposition reveals Barrow didn’t know e-mail source

Many of you have been asking me about the fate of Ashley Payne, the Barrow County high school teacher who lost her job over her Facebook page and whose experience sparked a national debate about Internet privacy, anonymous e-mails and teacher rights.

One of the Facebook photos that a "parent" complained about in an anonymous e-mail

One of the Facebook photos that a "parent" complained about in an anonymous e-mail

The legal case is proceeding. Ashley Payne’s lawyer just deposed the principal and assistant principal. She is fighting to get her job back.

I asked attorney Richard Storrs if Barrow ever traced the source of the incriminating e-mail that led to Payne being called in by her principal in August and told to consider resigning rather than face losing her teaching license. Under that pressure, the 23-year-old UGA honors graduate says she felt she had no recourse but to resign – a mistake according to veteran teachers.

Here is what Storrs told me this week:

“We took depositions of the principal and assistant principal last week. The principal …

Continue reading Facebook case: Deposition reveals Barrow didn’t know e-mail source »

Budget is bad enough for Kathy Cox to break ranks and silence

It has to be dire for GOP School Superintendent Kathy Cox to break ranks with the governor and warn state budget-writers that Perdue’s proposed spending cuts could undo the progress that Georgia schools have been making.

In the past, I would describe Cox as a team player; she has not spoken out strongly in public against too many decisions by the governor. (She is running for re-election – to a third term – and he is not. And Cox has a line forming to challenge her, including folks from her own party.)

According to the AJC’s James Salzer, Cox told a joint House and Senate budget committee, “The 2011 budget takes away our ability as a state to do anything to help our schools.”

State School Superintendent Kathy Cox warned that budget cuts could reverse progress in Georgia schools

State School Superintendent Kathy Cox warned that budget cuts could reverse progress in Georgia schools

Among her points: Over the next 18 months, the cuts would give schools $710 million less in basic school funding. That could be a lethal cut to some systems. Gone would be the regional offices that DOE …

Continue reading Budget is bad enough for Kathy Cox to break ranks and silence »

Today’s children see the world through and on a screen

Covering a DeKalb commission meeting two years ago, I noticed a year-old or so baby quietly sitting in her stroller while her mother waited for her turn to speak at the podium.

Children today are growing up in a world of screens. (Photo/NYT)

Children today are growing up in a world of screens. (Photo/NYT)

As the mom left the meeting and passed where I was standing, I understood what had kept the baby preoccupied for an hour. She was watching a children’s movie on a portable toddler DVD player – one encased in colorful plastic so it could survive drops and drools.

So, I was not surprised to read this startling data in The New York Times:

The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last …

Continue reading Today’s children see the world through and on a screen »

Georgia Tech president: No guns on campus

G.P. “Bud” Peterson, president of Georgia Tech, sat down with writers at the AJC today and made clear that he did not support the pending legislation in the Georgia General Assembly to allow guns on college campuses. (We talked about other education issues that I will write about later.)

Under a bill in the House, Georgia gun owners with conceal carry permits could bring their guns everywhere except the courthouse and the jailhouse.  The restrictions on churches and campuses would be lifted. The bill was discussed Wednesday at a packed hearing. See the AJC story

Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson says "absolutely not" to guns on his campus in an interview Wednesday with the AJC

Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson says "absolutely not" to guns on his campus in an interview Wednesday with the AJC

“Absolutely not,” said Peterson, who was appointed as the 11th president of Georgia Tech in April after serving as chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and provost at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. In addition, Peterson has held various positions at Texas A&M University …

Continue reading Georgia Tech president: No guns on campus »