Archive for March, 2011

President Obama recalls favorite teacher to recruit new ones

As part of the TEACH initiative, President Obama has done a short video on his favorite teacher. The President and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan created TEACH to recruit young people to the field.

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A Republican takes an unpopular school diversity stand and wins a Profile in Courage award

I was intrigued to read that a school board member from Wilmington, N.C., won a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her stand on school diversity. The news announcement contained little detail about what Elizabeth Redenbaugh did to earn the award,  so I searched the news archives of the local paper to find out more about her.

Elizabeth Redenbaugh

Elizabeth Redenbaugh

An attorney and mother of three, Redenbaugh was elected to a four-year term on the New Hanover school board in 2008. Among the news stories was a controversial letter she wrote on why she was voting against a school redistricting plan that restored neighborhood schools and that had the support of many residents.  The plan, Redenbaugh said, would create middle-class enclaves and consolidate poverty in two schools, setting them up for failure.

In writing about her stance, the Wilmington Star-News said:

Rarely does a politician take a stand so bold and so potentially unpopular that it may mean the end of any further …

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Lottery defends its percentage going to HOPE, pre-k, saying more prizes ensure more players

The lottery cannot keep up with the costs of HOPE and pre-k. Should it start giving more of its proceeds to the programs?

The lottery cannot keep up with the costs of HOPE and pre-k. Should it start giving more of its proceeds to the programs?

Many of you have complained that the lottery is giving a smaller slice of the pie to HOPE and pre-k than was originally intended and urged the AJC to write about it.

The paper has a good story today on the issue of why the lottery is returning less than the third that voters approved in the statewide referendum that legalized lottery sales in Georgia. In a nutshell, the lottery officials maintain that new games and more prizes attract more players and the cite Georgia Lottery sales and earnings as their evidence.

The AJC reports that a state audit found the Georgia Lottery is fifth-highest among 42 lotteries in the nation for jackpots and still ranked seventh in total money transferred to the state because it had maintained high overall sales. The auditors found the correlation between the higher or more-frequent jackpots and better sales benefited the …

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Amid cheating probe, why would anyone order teachers to tamper with records?

The most amazing aspect of this AJC news story on an assistant principal at Stoneview Elementary in Lithonia ordering teachers to tamper with attendance records is when it occurred: Between December of last year and this January.

That means this DeKalb administrator allegedly ordered illegal actions despite full awareness of the state cheating scandal and the growing intolerance for any sort of record tampering.

If this charge is proven, whatever possessed this assistant principal to take such a risky step?  He calls in teachers and orders them to change attendance records at a time when state prosecutors and GBI agents are walking the halls of APS buildings interviewing educators for testing irregularities and possible test tampering? His own county was in the midst of an internal investigation after the state found DeKalb had more wrong answers erased and changed to correct answers than most school districts in the state.

Everyone was on edge and on alert, and yet he …

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De-professionalization of teaching in America sets us back and apart

Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond takes a sobering look at U.S. teacher training in a guest column for the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog. (This is another great referral from Jordan, who is going to start charging me a finder’s fee.)

Founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, Darling-Hammond writes about the first ever International Summit on Teaching and the growing efforts of academically forward-thinking nations to recruit, train and retain great teachers.

While noting all the firsts associated with the summit, Darling-Hammond said, “And it was, perhaps, the first time that the growing de-professionalization of teaching in America was recognized as out of step with the strategies pursued by the world’s educational leaders.”

Among her other comments:

Perhaps most stunning was the detailed statement of the Chinese Minister of Education who described how – in the poor states which lag behind the star provinces of …

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DeKalb spending by school: A few surprises but special needs cost the most

In tandem with my prior entry on Bill Gates and per-pupil-spending in education being dramatically accelerated by special needs programming, check out the good work at DeKalb County School Watch, which has posted per pupil spending by school in the county.

While there are some oddities to DeKalb’s spending patterns, it’s apparent that three conditions impact education costs: children receiving special services and the intensity of those services, the number of low-income children, and the school size.

(Please note that the DeKalb school spending nearly $36,000 per student has 78 children with profound disabilities.)

Some of our most outrageously expensive programs are of course high needs special education (Margaret Harris spends $35,942.47 on average per pupil and Coralwood: $24,881.44 per pupil). But you may be surprised to learn that some of our alternative programs cost much more (Some examples: DeKalb Truancy: $45,292.61 per pupil, DeKalb Early College Academy: $14,410.78 …

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Bill Gates has “careless disregard for accuracy” in his education statements

Those of you with concerns over Bill Gates’ influence on education policy ought to read Richard Rothstein’s Economic Policy Institute piece.

Rothstein challenges Gates’ statements in a recent Washington Post op-ed, including, “over the past four decades, the per-student cost of running our K-12 schools has more than doubled, while our student achievement has remained virtually flat,” and “spending has climbed, but our percentage of college graduates has dropped compared with other countries.”

I am delighted that Rothstein addresses the spending question and cites the same information that I repeatedly offer here:  The cost of educating the regular student without any special needs has not risen much at all. What has jumped is the money going to the education of children with disabilities.

(Which is why the private school spending comparison that many of you offer is fallacious.  The per-pupil averages that systems spend include the children with special needs who are …

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Degreed and disgusted: College grads fed up with dismal prospects

Take a gander at the provocative op-ed in The New York Times comparing the unemployment of young Americans with that of Egyptians. Author Matthew C. Klein notes, “About one-fourth of Egyptian workers under 25 are unemployed, a statistic that is often cited as a reason for the revolution there. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January an official unemployment rate of 21 percent for workers ages 16 to 24.”

The piece hit home as I saw old friends this weekend and was surprised how many of their children who recently graduated have yet to find real jobs and were considering master’s programs as a result. (I have a daughter in her first year of grad school although she went straight from UGA to Georgetown and never negotiated the job market.)

In the piece, “Educated, Unemployed and Frustrated, Klein says:

My generation was taught that all we needed to succeed was an education and hard work. Tell that to my friend from high school who studied Chinese …

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Charter school case is clash of titans. Who will fall?

In a clash of titans, seven school systems – Gwinnett, Bulloch, Candler, DeKalb, Griffin-Spalding, Henry and Atlanta – and the state of Georgia are awaiting the state high court ruling on the charter school case. The systems want the state’s sweeping 2008 charter school law deemed unconstitutional.

The AJC has a long piece updating the 2-year-old charter school case before the state Supreme Court for which a ruling is expected in the next 10 days.

The case features legal heavyweights, including Mike Bowers for Gwinnett schools and Thomas Cox for APS. The attorney general is arguing for the state, but has brought in powerhouse litigator Bruce Brown as well.

(Am I the only one who finds it odd that at the same time former AG Bowers is suing the state on behalf of Gwinnett schools, he is representing the state in the governor’s probe of APS cheating?)

(The high court has waited to the bitter end to release its ruling. I am not sure if that means the justices had a tough time …

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APS: The failings of adults continue to overshadow education of kids

My former AJC colleague Maria Saporta reports increasing pressure from the business community for  mayoral or state intervention in APS schools, and the parent group Step Up or Step Down wants the APS board chair to resign his chairmanship in the wake of the e-mail exchange I printed a few days ago. In the exchange,  former chair LaChandra Butler-Burks accused Chairman Khaatim Sherrer El of shooting her the bird in an executive session.

In its petition for El to step down from the chairmanship. Step Up or Step Down says: “Given the seriousness of the accreditation issue facing Atlanta’s public high schools, we are appalled at the open displays of animosity and lack of professional leadership by the Atlanta School Board. Board Chair Khaatim Sherrer El should immediately step down from his leadership post and move for the Board to hold elections for new officers. A 2/3 vote should select the new leadership and both El and former Board Chair LaChandra Butler-Burks should recuse …

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