Archive for April, 2011

Cobb school chief to SACS: Stark divisions on board, which is ineffective. Widespread anger over calendar vote.

Here is a fascinating and candid response from Cobb County Superintendent Fred Sanderson.to the concerns of  the accrediting agency SACS over recent school board actions.

Sanderson faults the board on many fronts. Please click on the link and read the entire letter, which is quite amazing for its criticisms, especially in the calendar reversal vote.

I am just sharing a small part of the five-page letter on the blog –  Sanderson’s response to SACS’ concerns that the calendar vote “eroded public trust and public confidence in board members’ ability to govern stemming from the “efforts of four board members to exclude their fellow colleagues and use their personal and political agendas to drive school board decisions, including the decision regarding the calendar.”

Sanderson responded:

The process of approving a system calendar in February 2011 was legal, but did not represent the spirit of effective governance. The board was hasty in raising the issue and voting to replace a …

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One of DeKalb finalists already had agreement to leave current job

Arthur Culver had negotiated a departure settlement from the superintendency in Champaign, Ill., before he became one of three finalists for the DeKalb County school chief’s post, according to a story in the News-Gazette. The newspaper used the Freedom of Information Act to unearth the settlement agreement and report on it.

(I want to take a moment here to praise the tenacious and excellent reporting by the News-Gazette. Their staff is terrific.)

Both the Champaign school board and Culver agreed that he would resign from his job. The question was never whether he would leave the district, but when he would go.

A  reader from Champaign who has been following the DeKalb saga sent me this comment: “Though Board of Education still is mum on other issues that can’t be FOIA’d.  I think once you read the article your community should be informed that your transparency process did not turn Culver’s candidacy off, it helped him not find a hideout in your district.  Transparency is …

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APS leadership landing top roles in other districts

If  you assumed the taint of the ongoing and still unresolved CRCT cheating investigation would undermine the careers of APS leaders, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

According to the AJC:

Randolph Bynum, the city district’s associate superintendent for high schools, was named this week as the new superintendent of schools in Sumter County, S.C.

Bynum officially starts July 1. APS’s deputy superintendent for instruction, Kathy Augustine, was picked last week as a lone finalist to lead the suburban DeSoto Independent School District in Texas. Both of their departures coincide with that of Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall, who will leave the district June 30 after a 12-year tenure.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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Presidential honors go to Dunwoody and Augusta teachers

Congratulations to math teacher Linda Fountain of Rollins Elementary School in Augusta and science teacher Amanda McGehee, Dunwoody Elementary School 2010-11 Teacher of the Year.

They are among the 85 math and science teachers President Obama announced today as winners of the  Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The annual awards are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators following a state selection process.

Winners receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation  and travel to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Administration.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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Indiana: Vouchers and warnings to parents about ineffective teachers

In an update to a story that we have discussed on the blog, Indiana passed the nation’s broadest voucher bill this week. It also passed a teacher merit pay bill that seems designed to create discontent among teachers and parents.

Part of  Gov. Mitch Daniels’ education reform package, the voucher bill gives tax dollars to parents who want to send their children to private schools. The bill is not limited to low-income families or those whose children attend low-performing schools.

In a media statement thanking state legislators, Gov. Daniels said, “Their political courage and their commitment to a great education for every single child deserve the thanks not just of parents but of every citizen; Indiana has a far brighter future because of them.”

Critics maintain that the changes will  drain funds from already struggling public schools in Indiana, which, like most states, has been cutting funding over the last few years. (This year, Indiana restored some funding, which will be …

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Parents asking feds to undo Gwinnett redistricting. Is it time for public school choice?

The Gwinnett school board decision to move students out of the Peachtree Ridge cluster — which has some of county’s most affluent areas — has ed a group of parents to file federal civil rights complaints.

I still wonder if open enrollment isn’t the answer in most counties. I think public school choice would go a long way to appeasing parents.

l talked yesterday to a father from another county who wanted his child to attend the public school a mile from the family business so he and his wife could pick her up and bring her back to the shop in the afternoons. (They both work every day in the shop.)

Instead, the county was holding firm that the family had to send the girl to the school nearest their home, but 18 miles from the shop.

As a taxpayer with a home and business in the school district, the dad couldn’t understand why he couldn’t get approval to send his daughter to a different school within the system. I told him that most schools are zoned by community and that the …

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Phoebe Prince: Resolution of bullying charges coming

Phoebe Prince. (AJC file)

Phoebe Prince. (AJC file)

The Boston Globe is reporting that five of the six teens charged in connection with the bullying of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince have agreed to admit to a misdemeanor.

Prince committed suicide last year, allegedly in despair over the bullying she encountered at South Hadley High School.

According to the Globe, prosecutors will drop more serious charges against the teens in exchange for the pleas.

The lesser charges will likely spark outrage from people angered by the torment Prince experienced from older classmates in her Massachusetts high school. The teen’s tragic death became a catalyst for anti-bullying laws and tougher policies in some places.

But a criminologist from Northeastern University told the Globe that the resolution was reasonable.

“The district attorney wanted to make a strong statement and draw a line in the sand, which she did,’’ said criminologist James Alan Fox. “But for so long, we ignored and tolerated bullying, And to say at this …

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Teacher sheds clothes and sense. Have to worry about what went on in his classroom.

Based on this teacher’s response to stress, the termination appears warranted.

The AJC is reporting that a school teacher who may have been upset about losing his job was arrested after he disrobed at his school and walked around naked.  Harlan Porter was caught by another teacher walking the halls of B.C. Haynie Elementary School in Morrow with his clothes off, according to a police report obtained Wednesday by the AJC.  It was around 3:20 p.m. Friday, after the students had gone home, and no child saw him naked, said Capt. James Callaway of the Morrow Police Department. “Had he been seen by students, he would have been charged with child molestation,” Callaway told the AJC.

As a parent, I have deep concerns about the fifth graders who had this teacher.  His response to a job loss is so bizarre and alarming that I  worry about how he behaved in the classroom.  Parents ought to be talking with the principal,  if they haven’t already.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get …

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Two senators want AG to investigate Deal session with APS for open meetings violation

Atlanta Sen. Vincent Fort contends that the Atlanta school board meeting with the governor Tuesday possibly violated the open meetings law and is asking the state attorney general to investigate.

The meeting with Nathan Deal, Mayor Kasim Reed, Superintendent Beverly Hall and APS board members was closed to the public and the media.

“They are using a tortured logic to justify closing the meeting,” says Fort.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution objected to the closed session, maintaining that the Georgia Open Meetings Act requires such meetings to be open to the public because a quorum of the board was present.

At a 2 p.m. press conference at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building,  Fort and Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) will ask Attorney General Sam Olens investigate a potential violation of the open meeting law.

After the meeting, Deal said he was impressed that board members were willing “to put issues aside and work together” to regain full accreditation for Atlanta Public …

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You go girl: Women outpace men in advanced degrees. But where are the boys?

Women are graduating high school land college at higher rates than men. AJC files/Jon Krause NewsArt

Women are graduating high school and college at higher rates than men. AJC files/Jon Krause NewsArt

Women are now outpacing men in attainment of both advanced college degrees and bachelor’s degrees, according to new Census data.

Among adults 25 and older, 10.6 million U.S. women have master’s degrees or higher, compared with 10.5 million men.  However, women still trail men in professional subcategories such as business, science and engineering.

About 20.1 million women have bachelor’s degrees, compared with nearly 18.7 million men.

The findings will not Thomas Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, DC., and an independent higher education policy analyst.

I’ve interviewed Mortenson in the past on the growing gap in educational achievement between boys and girls in Georgia.  For example, Georgia’s high school graduation class of 2005 began freshman year with 64,000 boys. Four years later, only 40,000 …

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