Archive for September, 2010

Good news: More students in Georgia taking AP classes and more doing well on the exams

The other day, David S. asked if there was ever good news about Georgia schools. There is good news and here’s some of it.  We are doing better on AP tests, even while encouraging more students to take the rigorous courses and to sit for the AP exams, which are administered and graded by the College Board.

Here is the official release:

Gov. Sonny Perdue and State School Superintendent Brad Bryant today announced Georgia’s 2009-10 Advanced Placement (AP) results. Since the 2004-2005 school year, Georgia has seen a 97 percent increase in students scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams, compared to a 52 percent increase nationwide.

The six-year trend also shows Georgia has experienced a 106 percent increase in the number of AP public school test-takers, compared to a 56 percent increase nationwide.

“More and more Georgia students are meeting the challenge by taking and passing tough AP classes and exams,” Gov. Perdue said. “These tests often lead to earning college credits, which …

Continue reading Good news: More students in Georgia taking AP classes and more doing well on the exams »

Sex, death and videotapes: College student’s suicide exposes the ugly side of our show-all society

As a New Jersey native, this story about the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate filmed him in a sex act and posted it online caught my attention last night. It is a depressing story that raises questions about both morality and the invasive nature of today’s electronic toys.

Police believe Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge last week after two students filmed him in a private sex act and posted it.

Police believe Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge last week after two students filmed him in a private sex act and posted it.

I am not sure what to say except people can be cruel and that cruelty has a price. How we are raising our kids today that they would think it was funny to videotape another teen in a sexual encounter and post it for the world to see?

But, we have become a nature of voyeurs, whether it’s gawking at the poor woman caught picking her nose on camera this week or a TMZ-surprise attack on some celebrity eating an ice cream cone with his kids.

A friend of mine who threw herself a birthday bash was stunned when a guest posted photos from the party …

Continue reading Sex, death and videotapes: College student’s suicide exposes the ugly side of our show-all society »

Education professors: Are they spending too much time in the Ivory Tower and too little in real classrooms?

Are professors of education living in a fantasy world on their campuses that prevents them seeing what aspiring teachers really need to know today?

Are professors of education living in a fantasy world on their campuses that prevents them seeing what aspiring teachers really need to know today?

Based on the number of studies and surveys sent to me, there appears to be nothing more studied today than education. (Although it seems sometimes that the more we study in education, the less we know.)

But I thought this Thomas B. Fordham Institute survey looked at one area that hasn’t gotten enough attention — what’s happening in our colleges of education.

In its report, “Cracks in the Ivory Tower,” the Fordham Institute, an education think tank in Washington,  suggests that the teachers of teachers are disconnected from the real-world challenges and prefer a more aesthetic approach to teacher education.

In a statement, Fordham Institute President Chester E. Finn, Jr., said. “Too many education professors still cling to outmoded, romantic views of what education is about and what teachers need. America has grown very practical …

Continue reading Education professors: Are they spending too much time in the Ivory Tower and too little in real classrooms? »

Settlement finally in sight for Kathy Cox’s game show million; schools and creditors will split the prize

Under a settlement, half of the million dollars that Kathy Cox won on a game show will go to education. The other half will go to creditors.

Under a settlement, half of the million dollars that Kathy Cox won on a game show will go to education. The other half will go to creditors.

I am sure former state school chief Kathy Cox is relieved to have this settled, but I wish all her winnings from becoming the first grand prize winner on the game show “Are You Smarter than a 5TH Grader?” could have gone to education, as she wanted.

Instead, the three schools Cox designated will get half of her million dollar first prize, and her husband’s creditors will get the other.

Three months after Cox  won the show in 2008, builder John  Cox, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, a victim of the housing market collapse. The state Board of Education argued that the superintendent would not have been invited to the program other than in a position of playing for a charitable interest and the the money should go to the schools.

According to the AJC:

Three schools for blind and deaf children will receive half of the $1 million …

Continue reading Settlement finally in sight for Kathy Cox’s game show million; schools and creditors will split the prize »

How do you like your eggs? In Marietta school cafeterias, expired. Really green eggs and ham.

The eggs may really be green in Marietta where the schools were serving expired food to students.

The eggs may really be green in Marietta where the schools were serving expired food to students.

May I tip my hat to former Marietta City Schools warehouse manager Howard Clotfelter who took his complaints about the schools there serving expired food to WGCL-TV after he got no response from the system.

And may I suggest that the system should consider whether it is safe for the children of Marietta to have people in the food service division who order workers to serve expired food.

Superintendent Emily Lembeck dropped the ball on this one, initially denying that expired foods were being served. Now, she needs to act decisively before all the children in Marietta start bringing their lunch — which is what I would be doing right now if I had children in the system.

According to the AJC:

Marietta City Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck said inspections at two school cafeterias confirmed claims that former warehouse manager Howard Clotfelter relayed to the news station.

He …

Continue reading How do you like your eggs? In Marietta school cafeterias, expired. Really green eggs and ham. »

Big is not always bad. How a 4,100-student high school changed a culture and minds about large schools

Successful mega schools are defying the mantra that smaller is always better in education.

Successful mega schools are defying the mantra that smaller is always better in education.

In the last few weeks, I have watched three new documentaries on education that suggest small, intimate settings are more effective in reaching children and raising achievement.

My own view of school size was altered a few years back when I spent a day at Dacula Middle School, then one of the largest in the state. (The opening of a new school the following year decreased the school size.) I was impressed with the school, which did not feel anonymous or chaotic. I expected Grand Central Station at rush hour. Instead, the school was inviting and efficient, and students seemed at ease with the size.

The school functioned well and the classes I saw were engaging, all of which reflects credit on the principal and staff. (I will stand by my observation that Alvin Wilbanks is a great judge of leadership, and has put some very fine people in charge of Gwinnett schools.)

Another one of the …

Continue reading Big is not always bad. How a 4,100-student high school changed a culture and minds about large schools »

A teacher despondent over poor rating takes his own life, reopening the debate over public rankings based on student test scores

We have not discussed in depth the controversial LA Times project in which the newspaper obtained student test scores, correlated them with teachers and then rated teachers accordingly as effective or ineffective. The project is back in the news after the suicide of a teacher despondent over his rating by the newspaper.

The teacher’s death is reopening the debate about  public disclosure of teacher performance based solely on test scores. I do think a compilation of test scores tell you something about a teacher, as long as you also know something about the students as well.

In explaining what it did, the LA Times wrote:

About 6,000 Los Angeles elementary school teachers and 470 elementary schools are included in The Times’ database of “value-added” ratings. Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers who taught at least 60 students from the 2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years were evaluated in the Times analysis. Most of Los Angeles Unified School District’s elementary …

Continue reading A teacher despondent over poor rating takes his own life, reopening the debate over public rankings based on student test scores »

Two new studies: We need to send more kids to college. They’ll fare better and so will the state of Georgia

Two new studies emphasize the need for more college graduates to powe Georgia's economy.

Two new studies emphasize the need for more college graduates to power Georgia's economy.

When I began writing this education blog a year ago, I expected to run into disagreements on vouchers, charter schools and merit pay. But I assumed that everyone would concur we need to send more students to college in Georgia.

Instead, I have run into a sizable contingent arguing that we send too many kids to college already. There has been a steady drum beat for more vocational options because “not all students are meant for higher education.”

Yet, college graduates will earn, on average, over $1 million dollars more over the course of their working lives than peers with just a high school education.

At a hearing on his Bridge bill, which would have created a separate track for kids who are not college material and give them skills to land decent jobs,  state Rep. Fran Millar once reflected that while Georgia parents will agree that some kids shouldn’t go to college, they …

Continue reading Two new studies: We need to send more kids to college. They’ll fare better and so will the state of Georgia »

Uncle Sam wants you: In a classroom with a protractor.

The feds want to recruit 10,000 teachers in science, technology, engineering and math over the next two years.

The feds want to recruit 10,000 teachers in science, technology, engineering and math over the next two years.

From the US DOE:

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan today launched a national teacher recruitment campaign during a live MSNBC broadcast as part of the NBC Education Summit in New York.  The campaign features a new web site dedicated to providing information and resources for students and prospective teachers — including a new interactive “pathway to teaching” tool designed to help individuals chart their course to becoming a teacher.

“With more than a million teachers expected to retire in the coming years, we have a historic opportunity to transform public education in America by calling on a new generation to join those already in the classroom,” said Secretary Duncan. “We are working with the broader education community to strengthen and elevate the entire teaching profession so that every teacher has the support and training they need to succeed.”

The campaign …

Continue reading Uncle Sam wants you: In a classroom with a protractor. »

Obama: His daughters get better education at private school than D.C.’s public ones. Can’t argue with that.

President Obama said Monday that we can longer accept the status quo in education.

President Obama said Monday that we can longer accept the status quo in education.

In an expansive interview today, President Obama called for a longer school year and the firing of the worst-performing school teachers if they don’t improve their skills quickly.

Speaking on the “Today’ show, Obama also said money wasn’t the sole solution to our nation’s education failings.

“We can’t spend our way out of it. I think that when you look at the statistics, the fact is that our per-pupil spending has gone up during the last couple of decades even as results have gone down…Obviously, in some schools money plays a big factor …On the other hand, money without reform will not fix the problem,” he said.

However, money does matter. It enables people like Obama to pay the $31,000 annual tuition bill at Washington’s prestigious Sidwell School where his two girls are now enrolled. (That is $31,000 per child.)

As to the decision to send his daughters to private school, Obama said that his …

Continue reading Obama: His daughters get better education at private school than D.C.’s public ones. Can’t argue with that. »