Archive for April, 2010

Two new views of U.S. math instruction; Neither are reassuring

Some interesting developments on math instruction in the education press this week:

First, a new study of future math teachers suggests that we need to improve their grasp of math. The study raises the question of whether teachers need more training in math once they’re in the field or whether we should recruit potential teachers with stronger math skills. And should there be math specialists for elementary schools?

According to Education Week:

The findings from the first Teacher Education Study in Mathematics, or TEDS-M, were unveiled this week at a press conference in Washington.

Among the world’s aspiring elementary teachers, the results show that American college students nearing the end of their teacher-preparation programs performed “neither particularly low, nor particularly strong.” They scored at rates similar to those of future teachers in Germany, Norway, and Russia, but not on par with typically high-achieving countries such as Taiwan and Singapore.

At the …

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Here are some names for DeKalb superintendent: Any others?

Some posters on Get Schooled have recommended a return of former Dekalb administrator Garry McGiboney, now with DOE.

Some posters on Get Schooled have recommended a return of former DeKalb administrator Garry McGiboney, now with DOE.

In earlier blogs on the fate of DeKalb schools, several of you mentioned bringing back Garry McGiboney, a former top administrator with the county schools, to lead the system in the wake of Crawford Lewis’ termination Friday.

McGiboney had been deputy superintendent under Kathy Cox at the state DOE but is now associate superintendent for charters and policy at DOE. (Here is a link to a CNN transcript of an interview that McGiboney did on bullying while he was with DeKalb and here is a piece he wrote on getting juvenile offenders back in school.

As one of you said, “He is a good man and a wonderful leader.” I don’t know McGiboney well. He was always straight with me when I spoke to him as a reporter when he was with DeKalb.

Here’s another name that someone suggested to me: Dana Bedden, outgoing superintendent of Richmond County.

Unfortunately, Bedden just …

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Crawford Lewis is out of DeKalb. Who is the next superintendent?

Dr.Crawford Lewis agreed to step down today as DeKalb superintendent at the request of the school board.

Dr.Crawford Lewis steps down today as DeKalb superintendent at the request of the school board.

The DeKalb school board and Superintendent Crawford Lewis parted ways today after a stormy last few months marked by accusations of sweetheart car deals, questionable mileage receipts and, the most serious charge, a failure to lead the system through the worst budget crisis in its history with a clear course and decisive action.

Lewis will take at least $85,000 in cash with him now that the school board has terminated him after hours of discussion with him and his attorney. The 33-year system employee had his severance terms spelled out in his contract. (The amount represents four months of his $255,000 annual salary.)

The system has one of two choices: The proverbial “national search” or going with someone already on the DeKalb schools staff. That’s how Lewis won his job and he came to it amid many glad tidings from longtime staffers.  I can remember a lot of happy employees in …

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DeKalb: Close Kelley Lake, Glen Haven, Knollwood and Sky Haven schools

The DeKalb County school board appears to have used its own criteria for selecting four schools to close next year, announcing Friday that it was recommending that Kelley Lake, Glen Haven, Knollwood and Sky Haven elementary schools close at the end of the year.

Two of those schools were not on either of two lists of recommended closings presented to the board by a civilian task force that labored for eight weeks to come up with the fairest and most sensible closing scenarios.

According to the AJC:

The school board will advertise those schools as possible closures for the next 30 days to gather public input before making a final vote on May 14. Other possible closures include Gresham Park and Peachcrest.

The four schools are needed to help offset an estimated $115 million shortfall in the 2011 fiscal year budget, school officials said.

Closing those four schools will remove 2,200 of the districts 11,000 empty seats and save $2.3 million, said Dan Drake, the district’s …

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Pity the teachers who get these kids in their classes

Here is a great reader note to me about an experience in a restaurant where kids ran wild. Her main question in this piece: How can teachers cope with children whose parents won’t even discipline them when they are terrorizing restaurant patrons and staff?

One of our local pizza joints gets a big crowd of parents and young children on Friday nights. Friends of mine have taken to calling it “Birth Control Night” because the screaming kids are enough to make anyone wary of parenthood.

I think you will enjoy this reader’s account of her night out with friends:

As the mother of three sons, I know how hard it is to get through a meal at restaurant and keep everyone entertained. There were plenty of times I had to pick up a child and leave the restaurant so other diners would not be disturbed.

Boy, I’m out of touch!

Last night, a friend brought me home after I dropped off my car for service. We met another friend and I took both women to Fellini’s Pizza on LaVista Road for a slice …

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Teacher protests torpedo merit pay in Florida

Clearly, teachers held sway today in Florida where Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a merit pay bill despite strong business backing for it. The bill also had the blessing of former Gov. Jeb Bush.

In a statement, NEA president Dennis Van Roekel said:

“I commend Governor Crist for vetoing SB 6 and ensuring that this harmful and disruptive legislation did not become law. He listened to tens of thousands of educators and other Floridians who clearly saw a better path for Florida’s schools.

“It was especially heartening to see all members of the community joining together to fight such drastic legislation. Parents, teachers, students, community leaders, Republicans, Democrats—we all worked side by side to defeat this harmful law.

“It’s time for us to work together to improve schools the right way, for every student, for the long term.  We know that the NEA leaders and members in Florida are eager to make changes that work for students.  Our teachers and education support …

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In Race to the Top redux, Georgia may not have its same big fan

Georgia’s chances to land a Race to the Top grant – where we came in third in the first round – don’t look as likely when you look at an analysis by the Democrats for Education Reform, Education Equality Project and Education Reform Now.

The analysis notes that we had one renegade reviewer who awarded us a boatload of points. If we don’t have such a big fan in round 2, we may not win.

The analysis states:

Every indication we have is that the competition in Round 2 will be even stiffer than Round 1. All of the remaining finalists will be using their Round 1 feedback to strengthen their Round 2 applications, and surely some of the states that were not Round 1 finalists or that sat out the first round will submit strong applications.

To be competitive, Georgia should focus on the four key areas analyzed in this memo as the state prepares its application for Round 2. One important factor for Georgia to consider is that its Round 1 scores may not be a reliable predictor of what …

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DeKalb school board should worry about its own credibility

In a news story, the AJC is reporting that the DeKalb school board doesn’t believe a 20-member citizen task force created to recommend schools for closure has much credibility since it reversed itself on how many schools to close, going from none to two.

According to the AJC:

The DeKalb County school board will discuss school closings on Friday but likely won’t give much weight to a citizens’ task force recommendation.

That’s because the Citizens Planning Task Force – which was charged with recommending schools to close – has lost credibility with some board members and even with some of its own members.

On Friday, the school board will look at closing four elementary schools to help offset part of an anticipated $115 million shortfall in the next fiscal year’s budget. The district now has about 11,000 empty seats, causing it to lose state funding, school officials said.

The board will receive a final report from the task force, recommending that Gresham Park and …

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Gwinnett: No tax increase. Larger classes. Furloughs. Hiring freeze.

Gwinnett schools will lope $251 million in expenses next year to keep property taxes from rising.

It will be a neat trick considering that enrollment is expected to increase by 1,633 students to about 161,000 as the district opens and staffs seven new schools.

According to the AJC, here’s how the state’s largest system plans to pull off this balancing act:

  • Increase class sizes by one student. Savings: $31.2 million or 416 positions gained primarily through retirements and attrition.
  • No salary increases and three furlough days for all employees except bus drivers and food service workers. Savings: $15.6 million.
  • Cut district-level operating expenses across the board by 7.5 percent. Savings: $7.5 million.
  • Continue a district-level hiring freeze, except for critical need positions. Savings: $8.5 million.
  • I addition, the district plans to save $9 million by reducing its retirement system contribution rate for 2011.
  • Another key reduction involves capital improvements, which are …

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What did the CRCT monitor want that delayed testing by 90 minutes?

Anyone have any idea what this CRCT monitor from the state did that resulted in a Fulton County school postponing testing today? I can’t imagine the procedures the monitor wanted in place that would take so much time to set up. After all, Georgia schools are supposed to have been following strict testing protocols all along with the CRCT.

The test delay of 90 minutes at Woodland Middle School led the administrators to call off testing today and reschedule for Monday. I understand the need for a careful process since Woodland Middle was one of the schools on the state’s severe concern list. Nearly 30 percent of its classrooms were flagged with wrong-to-right changes that fell above the state average.

But still, this seems odd to me. Were the school staffers and the monitor locked in a difference of opinion?

I would love some insights.

The AJC reports:

New state testing measures meant to guard against test tampering instead caused problems Wednesday at one Fulton County school, …

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