Archive for January, 2011

Muscogee plans to prosecute parents for illegal enrollment

It is not only Ohio going after parents illegally enrolling their kids in better school systems. Muscogee schools are also getting ready to go to court over the same issue.

The budget crisis and school overcrowding are feeding the increased fervor with which districts are chasing down illegally enrolled students. In the blog on the Ohio case, many posters defended the mother by noting that her father lived in the district where she illegally enrolled her children. They felt that since her father lived there and paid taxes there, Kelley Williams-Bolar deserved a break and her two kids should be able to go to the schools.

But how far do we extend that thinking? Should Bartow County kids be able to attend Cobb schools if their aunts and uncles live there?  Should people who operate businesses in a town but live elsewhere be allowed to enroll their children in the schools?

The argument for Williams-Bolar is that her father lives in the district but doesn’t now have children in …

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School chief: Georgia grad rate will drop at least 10 points

At a joint House and Senate Education Committee today, State School Superintendent John Barge said that he expects the Georgia high school graduation rate — now at about 80 percent — to dip at least 10 percentage points this year when Georgia adopts a new federally mandated formula to count dropouts.

As did Senate Education Chair Fran Millar, in making the same prediction of a lower high school grad rate earlier this month, Barge emphasized that Georgia has been making steady progress.

On top of the formula dip, Barge warned of another possible plummet next year in grad rates because of the extreme failure rates of high school students in the new integrated math.

He outlined several ways to allow kids to pass the math portion of the Georgia High School Graduation test, including breaking the test down to its domains/components — algebra, statistics, geometry and numbers and equations — and letting students only retake the parts that they fail. The state may also seek …

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Two dozen DeKalb educators yanked after cheating probe

Big news in DeKalb where the school system has removed 24 employees from the classroom today as a result of an investigation into CRCT cheating.

The employees were notified that they will be re-assigned to other duties while the state investigates their certification. And the school is giving the results of the cheating investigation to the DA.

All told, the system referred 29 employees to the state Professional Standards Commission including five principals and five assistant principals.  The rest were teachers. But five of those employees have already resigned or were fired.

The employees are from nine schools. Anyone out there have any idea which schools were involved?

According to the breaking AJC news story on this:

This afternoon, the district will deliver those findings to the DeKalb district attorney.

“No cheating has been proved and no one has come forward and admitted to cheating,” schools spokesman Jeff Dickerson said. “It’s just to keep the district attorney …

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Mayoral takeover of Atlanta Public Schools? Bad idea.

This is a bad idea.

I just don’t think that the leadership of the city of Atlanta is ready to assume control of the city school system. The city itself, like every municipality in the state, is struggling with funding. The effort to revive downtown is still ongoing. There are neighborhoods that need stabilization and revitalization.

Instead, hire a good superintendent to lead the troubled system. Keep the good principals in place. Get rid of the bad ones. Let those principals run their own show — see Baltimore’s success as a blueprint. Maintain the pressure on the school board, which has a few members who seem to be using it as a stepping stone for higher profile and higher office.

And keep the focus every day on what is best for the students of APS.

Here is an excerpt from the AJC news story. What do you think of the idea?

Although it is not officially on the table – that would take legislative action – there are formulating opinions that Atlanta should follow in the …

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Six minutes of segregation a day: Can it help black students?

A Pennsylvania high school has begun to segregate black students for daily homeroom to address the lower academic achievement, build mentoring relationships and explore stereotypes and challenges unique to African-American students.

Good idea?

Before you judge, take a look at this story about McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pa. It is clear that this unique response came out of good intentions — an effort to see whether grouping students homogeneously both by gender and race even for a brief period each morning provides a backdrop to discuss tough issues and give teens personalized attention.

I hate to be wishy-washy for two blogs in a row — I am also torn on the punishment given to the mom who lied about residency  — but this is another story where I have mixed feelings. I first asked myself whether the school could accomplish its goals without resorting to segregating the students. I would think it could.

But I also have to point out that the premise behind the program — …

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Should it be a felony to lie to enroll your children in school?

I am torn over the story of the Ohio woman sentenced to 10 days in jail — she was released this week  after serving all but one day — for lying to send her two girls to a better public school system.

Kelley Williams-Bolar of Akron used her father’s address to enroll her children in the Copley-Fairlawn schools. To great national debate last week, she was sentenced to 10 days in jail after a jury convicted her of two felony counts of record tampering.  Williams-Bolar lied on school registration forms and free lunch forms to enroll her daughters into the Copley-Fairlawn schools in August 2006.

Despite her deceit, the single mother who was in college to be a teacher has engendered sympathy for her desire to send her children to the best schools possible. Now, her felony convictions mean she cannot become a teacher in Ohio, which has set off a furor. (The judge taking the heat for that points to the prosecutor’s office, which she says refused again and again to reduce the charges …

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Could No Child Left Behind become Every Child Counts?

American schools have squirmed under the heel of No Child Left Behind for a decade now.

Are they ready for a sleeker, less onerous model of education reform, an Every Child Counts law?

That may be coming, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Sen. Mike Enzi R-Wyo., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Congress is about to delve into a rewrite of the controversial No Child Left Behind law that was the signature legislation of the Bush White House. In a media conference today,  the Senate education leaders joined Duncan in pushing for greater flexibility, increased state and local control and a federal focus on the bottom 5 percent of the nation’s schools.

The suggestion was also made for a new name for the much-disparaged No Child law, which dramatically enlarged the federal presence in the American schoolhouse.

Enzi said there’s support for simply falling back on the admittedly bland generic name for the education funding bill, the …

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Academically adrift: College students learn little

A new study and book find that colleges are asking less of students who are working less as a result.

A new study and book find that colleges are asking less of students who are working less as a result. (AJC File photo)

Any parent paying college tuition — and I am one of them — will cringe when they read “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” a new book that says 45 percent of college students “demonstrated no significant gains in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and written communications during the first two years of college.”

Written by sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia, the book also looks at the workload of today’s college student and finds it lacking.  Students are not taking courses that require more than 40 pages of reading each week or classes where they have to write more than 20 pages per semester. It seems colleges are demanding less of students, and students are happy to comply.

In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Arum said, “What concerns us is not …

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Obama: Race to the Top most meaningful ed reform

President Obama didn't announce any major new education initiatives in his speech tonight.

President Obama didn't announce any major new education initiatives in his speech tonight. (AJC file photo)

President Obama didn’t unveil any major new education plans in his State of the Union address tonight, although he did proclaim his Race to the Top grant program  “the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation.”

I thought that was a bold proclamation, given that the grants had only just begun and we don’t have any results yet. I would agree that the RTTT program propelled many states to move quickly on legislative reforms in an effort to better position themselves to win a grant, from more charter schools to pay for performance. I think it can be said that Race to the Top may be the most cost-effective tool to push through major reforms in public education in a generation.

Otherwise, the speech touted familiar themes of the Obama White House: More math and science teachers. Education as the key to reshape and revive the economy. A need to remake …

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How many warning bells before we get real reform?

NAEP released science scores today that reaffirm the nation's troubling achievement gap. (Photo/NAEP)

NAEP released science scores today that reaffirm the nation's troubling achievement gap. (Photo/NAEP)

I don’t normally print entire statements but I thought this one from Education Trust raised some good discussion points for us.  This is the Ed Trust response to the NAEP 2009 science scores, which I posted earlier today when they were released:

Tonight, President Obama’s State of the Union address will focus on the need to revive our economy through innovation. Science is essential to this enterprise. The sciences have long been a springboard for innovation and will only become more important in driving our nation forward. Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that science and engineering jobs in the U.S. will increase by more than 21 percent between 2006 and 2016 – double the growth rate of all other workforce sectors combined.

However, the results of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) cast a troubling shadow over our future as …

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