Archive for October, 2010

UGA prof: Merit pay could turn children into “producing” workforce coerced to create “profit margin” scores

Despite all the attention on this blog to merit pay, UGA professor Stephanie Jones asked a question that we have yet to consider: Would merit pay for teachers legislate 21st child labor?

I am running her piece on the Monday education page, but here is a preview. I liked her essay because it raised scenarios I had not considered. Here is the piece by Jones, an associate professor in the Department of Elementary and Social Studies Education at the University of Georgia:

In many places around the globe, young children toil in factories, harvest fruits and vegetables, clean houses, and perform other “jobs” we don’t want to imagine young children doing. This forced work in sweatshops, in factory farms, or in the illicit sex and drug trades is roundly condemned as “child labor.”

But what happens when you put about a million children in 1st through 8th grade classrooms across the state of Georgia and force them to work under conditions where their individual teacher’s salary …

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APS standoff: Mayor says “Enough” on power struggle. Board chair says system has more pressing problems.

APS parents are alarmed at the possible loss of accreditation and the consequences to scholarships for their high school students. But the five-member majority of the Atlanta Board of Education refuses to capitulate and intends to maintain its leadership changes, despite the Attorney General ruling that their actions violate the charter and thus are illegal.

Those of you urging the five to stand their ground are putting the agenda of the adults in front of the needs of the kids in APS. The five dissident board members do not have to have one of their own at the helm; they are in the majority on the nine-member board. They can wield power without owning the chair’s seat.

Their actions in ousting the sitting chair and co-chair before their terms were up without appropriate cause roused the interest of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which has been aggressive — overly so to its critics on this blog — in clamping down on school board overreach. Two years ago, …

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Importing high school students from China: Can they and their money save struggling American schools?

You run a small, rural school system that is steadily losing students and hope. With the closing of the local paper mill, the town is down to 5,000 people; the high school has 200 teens, half of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch. Where do you turn for relief?

China.

In one of the most interesting education stories of the year, The New York Times reports that the superintendent in Millinocket, Maine, is recruiting students from China to rev up his flagging system.

It’s an audacious plan, considering that the superintendent wants to charge Chinese families $27,000 a year to send their children to a high school that now offers one AP class.

Yes, Maine is beautiful as Superintendent Kenneth Smith tells the Times, but Chinese families can pay a lot less and just vacation in the state for a month. I give the guy credit for his chutzpah. If it works, we ought to think about the idea for our struggling Georgia districts as I don’t think relief is coming their way next year from …

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Gay student harassed at Emory: Was it his sexual orientation or his hat? Either way, his assailant ought to quit the bottle.

The mistreatment of a gay student at a frat party has turned Emory into a flashpoint for the current concerns over homophobia on campuses.

The mistreatment of a gay student at a frat party has turned Emory into a flashpoint for the current concerns over homophobia on campuses.

I read the account of the gay student being tossed out of a frat party in the Emory Wheel newspaper in a Decatur coffee shop earlier this week, but felt the story lacked some key elements, including comments from the frat brother who allegedly did the tossing. Nor was I clear that this party — at a private residence off campus — qualified as a frat party.

In a nutshell, a gay student in a wizard hat, lime-green jacket and red slacks drew the ire of a recent Emory grad at a Sigma Nu party. According to the alleged victim, the grad, Adam Smith, threw him out of the party amid anti-gay comments and “cheering” from other party goers. Beforehand, Smith had taken the student’s wizard hat and was needling the guy.

According to a statement from the alleged victim to the Emory Wheel: “This guy approached me and asked why I was wearing my hat. … …

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Atlanta school board members marching off the same cliff as Clayton counterparts and dragging students with them

With Atlanta’s accreditation in jeopardy, the five-member majority of the Atlanta school board that is operating in probable violation of the law ought to come to its senses and comply with the state attorney general. In refusing to acknowledge that the policy change they forced through to enable them to elect a new chair and co-chair violated their charter, the five are putting the children of Atlanta in the crossfire.

And those kids have already paid enough of a price because of the self-serving and illegal actions of adults in the system.

The cheating by some APS teachers and administrators on state exams has cast a shadow on the legitimate achievements of Atlanta schools. It has tarnished the reputation of honest teachers and sparked tensions with the governor who has now sent GBI agents into the schools to investigate cheating.

This week, Mark Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED, warned that his accrediting agency would be concerned if the board continued to operate in …

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Study: South needs to get more kids to graduate college. Regents agree. They are putting new pressure on colleges.

A new study says Georgia needs to graduate more kids from college. The Regents agree, ordering colleges to improve their completiion rates.

A new study says Georgia needs to graduate more kids from college. The Regents agree, ordering colleges to improve their completiion rates.

Let’s follow up some good education news — Georgia’s rise in its high school graduation rate — with some bad: Most Southern states lag not just the U.S. but other developed nations in college completion rates.

The report  The State of the South 2010 by MDC, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational and economic opportunities,  ranks 13 Southern states in comparison with the 36 members and partners in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on their percentage of residents ages 25-34 with at least a two-year degree.

Eight states fall below the OECD average of 35.4 percent. With a rate of 35.7, Georgia is not among the eight, but our rate is  still lower than the U.S. average of 41.6.

“For states and communities, a citizenry with a higher level of educational achievement has multiple pay-offs,” the …

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Democratic school chief candidate protests GOP flyer attacking him as “radical liberal.” Over the top or politics as usual?

Here is a mailer for John Barge that his opponent Joe Martins thinks is appalling.

Here is a John Barge mailer that has irked opponent Joe Martin.

Democratic school chief candidate Joe Martin is unhappy with a flyer being sent out by his GOP opponent John Barge.

The flyer calls Martin “Obama Liberal Joe Martin” and an “Unqualified Radical Liberal” and charges that Martin has spent no time working in public schools.

“This flyer is a throw-back to the hard-nosed tactics of attacking one’s opponent by hurling epithets and playing to fears, ” says Martin in a mass e-mail.

To me, it seems that Barge is playing to the audience dissatisfied with President Obama, as are most Republican candidates this election season. The flyer seems like typical Georgia politics.

I am showing it for your judgment: Politics as usual or over the top?

I have now attended three school superintendent panels and noticed that Barge has  softened his disdain for federal aid over the course of the campaign, especially Race to the Top. I was told that he has chatted with the governor or …

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Past domestic violence charge: DeKalb school board candidate Corey Wilson releases statement

Corey Wilson

Corey Wilson

Here is the release from Corey E. Wilson, candidate for DeKalb School Board, District 3,  in response to revelations of arrests in his past, including a 2006 arrest for domestic violence:

“I have worked to address the real issues that impact our children in the DeKalb County School System: improving our schools; and supporting our teachers. I encourage everyone to look at my complete record and focus on the big issues. Let me be clear. I have been in love with my wife since we were teenagers, and I still love her. After recently celebrating our 12-year wedding anniversary, I am committed to my family, this school board district, and winning this race. I have a history of community service that speaks for itself. Look at the lump sum of my achievements and not a just few acts.”

Wilson’s campaign provided this additional statement:

In 2006, Corey E. Wilson and his wife experienced a marital disagreement. The incident occurred just after the death of Mr. …

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School bullying: White House takes on bullying today. Does it belong on the federal agenda?

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has sent out the word that states ought to apply soon for federal jobs money to rehire educators.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants schools to pay more attention to all forms of bullying.

I dropped off my 11-year-old daughter at a middle school event recently. She was with a new friend who just moved to our town. As soon as we arrived, another girl walked up to my daughter’s new pal and announced, “Suzy Q in my social studies class does not like you.”

The poor kid was startled to hear that news and protested that she didn’t even know Suzy. It was a terrible way to greet a newcomer who was probably already concerned about fitting in at a new school, so I told the carrier of the bad news that I didn’t understand why she would pass on such information and that it sounded like Suzy had the problem.

At that point, my daughter jumped in and I was able to step back and let kid justice prevail.

But I had one thought: Kids can sure be mean to one another.

The White House agrees. “We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage, or an inevitable …

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As we expected, state says grad rate rose to 80.8 percent. Do you buy it?

As we predicted based on the governor’s plan to fan out across the state today to announce the news, the state’s high school graduation rate is an an all-time high, according to the state Department of Education.

I will add the usual caution that Georgia’s method of counting dropouts — the leaver rate — is flawed and misses kids. Because it tends to undercount dropouts or rely on sketchy dropout data, the leaver rate  produces an inflated rate of success.

A new national model that follows kids through high school — the more accurate “cohort rate”  — is expected to correct those omissions. When Georgia moves to the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, we expect to see a lower graduation rate. The methodology takes the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma, and divides it by the number of students who entered high school four years earlier, adjusting for transfers in and out, emigres and deceased students. No longer can schools …

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