Archive for June, 2011

Mayor Shirley Franklin: Dr. Hall’s victories outnumber her defeats

In her “Blogging While Blue,” blog, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin thanks outgoing APS school chief Beverly Hall for improving schools during her 12-year tenure, saying, “She leaves the school district significantly better than she found it.”

Among Franklin’s other comments:

As the imminent departure of Atlanta Public School Superintendent Beverly Hall draws near and I reflect on her 12-year tenure here, I am reminded of my early years in Atlanta. There is no question that Beverly Hall invited and embraced a broad coalition of community input and support that has greatly benefited Atlanta students. Today there are some 400 partners who support APS, that input has been significant in the progress of the district.

During Dr. Hall’s tenure as superintendent there have been notable improvements in APS. First among them is her invitation to the broader community to partner with the schools. She knew she would need the business community, parents, public …

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Can teachers and schools adapt to rise in non white students?

A reader sent me this note after reading the AJC story that more than half of the children under age 2 in the U.S. are now minorities:

Our student demographics will also be majority non white children in 3 years.  Can you please post a discussion topic on this?  I am interested to hear the opinions of those teachers who think they would only be teaching white students all their lives.

Are there teachers who thought they’d be teaching white students all their lives?

I have interviewed principals and researchers over the years who have said that some white teachers cannot work in an urban school with majority minority students because they are either afraid of the students or unable to relate to them.

And I have friends back in New Jersey who have chosen to teach in parochial schools because they attended Catholic schools and are more at ease in that setting. (But urban parochial schools in New Jersey are not all white and weren’t back when I attended, either.)

But for …

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Charter school conference converges on Capitol today

The National Charter Schools Conference concludes today with a rally at the Capitol where pro-charter school legislators will speak.

Speakers at the 11 a.m. event include former Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Howard Fuller, Georgia House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, and state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell.

The conference has had an impressive slate of speakers, beginning with President Bill Clinton and Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Tuesday. (These speeches are now online so you can watch them here.)

On Wednesday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke via conference call from his office in Washington.

Essentially, the secretary told charter supporters to spread their good ideas; he praised collaboration between charters and districts, as is occurring in Denver; he held out Common Core Standards as a boon to states and charters rather than a straitjacket and he said the only help the feds can give underfunded charter schools to get more cash is to use …

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New research paper: Demand for college-educated workers will rise by 16 percent by 2018.

Here is yet another paper on the impending shortage of college-educated workers, released on Wednesday by the Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

The paper looks at each state’s jobs in 2008 and projects what the job needs will be in 2018.

In 2018, Georgia will have 306,000 more jobs requiring postsecondary education than it does now, from 2,523,000 jobs to 2,830,000 jobs.

The paper also lists unemployment rates by level of education in each state. In Georgia, the unemployment rate for someone without a high school degree is 16.9.

With a high school degree, the unemployment rate is 11.7.

The unemployment rate for Georgia workers with college degrees is 5.8. For those with graduate or professional degrees, the unemployment rate is 3.6.

From the release:

The paper, Not Just Kid Stuff Anymore: The Economic Imperative for More Adults to Complete College, finds that over the next decade, there will be no national growth …

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CRCT scores are in: What do they tell us this time?

The state released state CRCT scores by system today, with strong metro performances by students in Cherokee, Fayette, Decatur and Buford.

Clayton and Atlanta had some of the lowest scores.

The longer I report on education, the less comfortable I am with test score results, which often speak more to the affluence of the families in a district than the proficiency of either the schools or the teachers.

I think a fairer comparison is to juxtapose scores in systems with similar socio-economics. If you are interested, here is the AJC database that will allow you to look at district performance.

A DeKalb parent has already looked at that system’s scores and noted that, “If you go look at the score report, you will find that in 8th grade, DCSS had lower pass rates than either Clayton or Atlanta in 8th grade reading and math.  In fact, Clayton’s pass rate for reading (8th grade) was actually 2 percentage points higher than DeKalb.”

According to the AJC:

For example, among eighth …

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Former employee alleges cheating cover-up by APS school chief

Many of you are already commenting on the latest AJC story on the ongoing drama at APS over who knew what in the CRCT cheating scandal and who covered for whom.

The newest story is complex, and I would recommend that you read it in full.

In quick summary, an employee charged with sexual harassment later alleged that Superintendent Beverly Hall ordered the destruction of investigative documents that detailed “systematic” cheating and that the harassment allegations grew out of her resistance to Hall’s actions.

The ex employee is Colinda Howard, who from 2005 to 2010 headed the district’s internal investigations office. And the allegations were in a letter from a lawyer seeking a monetary settlement for Howard, who resigned under pressure after accusations she made lewd comments to male employees.

Howard’s attorney maintained in his letter that the investigation into his client’s conduct represented retaliation because she objected to “illegal and unethical actions she …

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APS school chief search down to two candidates as one drops out

APS spokesman Keith Bromery confirmed that Barbara M. Jenkins of Florida has dropped out of the selection process for Atlanta school chief, leaving two candidates in the running. Jenkins is deputy schools superintendent of Orange County.

“Yes, the candidate has withdrawn her name for consideration for APS superintendent,” he said in an e-mail today.

Interesting that Jenkins was the only one of the three candidates who declined to talk to the AJC last week for its story on the finalists. Bonita Coleman-Potter, deputy superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, and Superintendent Cheryl L.H. Atkinson of Lorain City Public Schools in Ohio were interviewed for the news story.

In the meantime, University System Chancellor Erroll B. Davis is about to step into the APS school chief job July 1 as interim. He steps down from the chancellor’s post at the end of this month. In an interview, Davis told the the AJC that he could lead the 49,800-student system for …

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Bill Clinton: Health, energy and a bit about charter schools

President Bill Clinton urged charter school advocates to focus on energy efficiency and student health in a speech Tuesday in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

President Bill Clinton urged charter school advocates to focus on energy efficiency and student health in a speech Tuesday in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

After the soaring rhetoric of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the 4,000 attendees of the National Charter Schools Conference received a dose of practical advice from former President Bill Clinton, winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the group this morning.

America had one charter school when Clinton took office and 2,000 when he left. Clinton said his advisers were dismayed when he insisted on talking about the unknown concept of charter schools on the campaign trail during his first run for office.

Yes, he told his campaign team. People don’t understand what a charter school is, but they do understand that America needs education change.

But rather than exhort the charter school advocates in the auditorium today to treat the movement as a civil rights cause as Mayor Booker had done a few minutes earlier, Clinton …

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Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Charter school advocates are modern-day freedom fighters

Charismatic Newark Mayor Cory Booker told the annual National Charter Schools Conference in Atlanta this morning, “This room is full of modern-day freedom fighters who refuse to accept what is and demand every day what we know can be.”

In fiery rhetoric suitable for a civil rights rally, Booker called for an end to an achievement gap that he described “as wide as the Grand Canyon.” He applauded an effort by charter schools “to transform pitfalls into pools of potential.”

“This is not our children’s fault. It is our fault,” Mayor Booker said. “We must stop playing the blame game where we blame the parents or the teachers or the politicians or the community. This is what the charter movement is about. Democracy is not a spectator sport where you stand on the sidelines and give colorful commentary.”

Charter school advocates “do not let their fear grow bigger than their faith. They do not let their inability to do everything stop their determination to do something,” he said to …

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Clinton, Duncan to address Atlanta charter school conference

An impressive roster of speakers will address the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools 11th annual National Charter Schools Conference this week in Atlanta.

Today, the 4,000 attendees will hear from President Bill Clinton. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will speak to the conference.

In a statement, Peter C. Groff, alliance president and CEO, said, “We gather in Atlanta, a significant location for civil rights accomplishments, and recognize that improving public education for all students is the most pressing civil rights issue today. Public charter schools are leading the charge and delivering new options to children who deserve access to high-quality, public schools.”

This year, 1.8 million students attended 5,277 public charter schools, an 11.8 percent growth over 2009-2010.

In Georgia, 122 charter public schools serve about 65,000 of the 1.66 million public school students in the state.

According to the National Alliance for Public Charter …

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