Archive for September, 2011

Kids can’t listen to Obama, but they can watch “Jersey Shore.” Only in America.

President Obama told kids that education is critical to their lives and the country's future. (AJC file)

President Obama told kids that education is critical to their lives and the country's future. (AJC file)

Several of you are commenting on President Obama’s speech in a way that suggests you didn’t hear or read it. If your children did not hear it in their schools, it is worth sharing with them, especially the short bios the president provided of teens making a difference in their communities.

In one of the most contradictory conversations of my week, I fell into small talk with a woman at a sports field and it came up that I am from New Jersey. She told me she knows nothing about my home state except what she sees on “Jersey Shore,” which is her children’s favorite reality TV show. Later in the conversation, she told me that she would never would have allowed her kids to watch the Obama speech had it been shown at their private school.

OK, I thought, your kids can’t hear Obama talk about the power of education but they can watch a crass TV show that venerates drinking, …

Continue reading Kids can’t listen to Obama, but they can watch “Jersey Shore.” Only in America. »

No Child: Forced us to face children we shortchanged but focused on wrong data

nochild (Medium)My former AJC colleague and ex GaDOE spokesman Dana Tofig sent me this piece on the pros and cons of No Child Left Behind by school chief Joshua P. Starr, for whom Dana now works in Montgomery County, Md.

Here is the piece by Starr:

As a school superintendent, I’m glad to see that President Barack Obama has launched a national conversation about dismantling No Child Left Behind. However, I’m concerned about what may take its place and whether a new law will be what our education system and our country need to improve.

The problems with NCLB have been discussed at great length, but we must absorb the lessons learned from the last 10 years or risk repeating the same mistakes.

NCLB rightly forced us, as a society, to own up to the fact that certain children have been systematically shortchanged by public education. History has proven that, without meaningful oversight, states and local districts will not always do what is necessary to ensure that all children have access to a …

Continue reading No Child: Forced us to face children we shortchanged but focused on wrong data »

As GOP calls for more charter schools in No Child rewrite, school boards endorse local control. And Cobb has charters on its agenda today.

Charter schools continue to dominate local,  state and national discussions of school reform. The GOP rewrite of No Child Left Behind contains a bill called the Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act 2011. The bill expands funding opportunities for the replication of successful charter schools and facilities assistance. It also encourages states to invest in high quality charter schools.

Quality will be the issue this afternoon when the Cobb school board takes up the two-year renewal petition for Imagine International Academy of Mableton. Because of academic under performance, the county administration has recommended denial of the renewal for the school, which serves 600 students. The school is expected to counter that its performance is in line with other county schools and better than some.

According to its posted agenda, the Cobb board will  consider a renewal petition from the International Academy of  Smyrna and a start-up request from Turning Point …

Continue reading As GOP calls for more charter schools in No Child rewrite, school boards endorse local control. And Cobb has charters on its agenda today. »

Cobb Muslim lesson leads to threats to curriculum publisher. State school chief renounces material.

Is discussion of burqas and Sharia law appropriate for a middle school assignment on dress codes? (AP Images)

Is discussion of burqas and Sharia law appropriate for a middle school assignment on dress codes? (AP Images)

After our discussion here on the blog, I suggested that the AJC do a deeper story on the controversial Cobb lesson plan that featured a fictional two-page letter written by a 20-year-old Saudi Arabian woman in which she writes approvingly of wearing the Islamic veil and of her fiance’s multiple wives and the law of Sharia. A Cobb parent complained that the lesson was not balanced, and his concerns spread across the Internet this week.

In the course of reporting the news story, the AJC learned that the company that created the material, InspirEd Educators, is getting  threats.

And now even the state school chief is saying that he doesn’t approve of the material, although it was offered to teachers as a resource through the state Department of Education.

If the message of this lesson was supposed to be tolerance, it seems to have demonstrated to students that …

Continue reading Cobb Muslim lesson leads to threats to curriculum publisher. State school chief renounces material. »

Wisdom of the ages: Children ought to listen to the president urge them to greatness

I received this e-mail about President Obama’s speech today from a woman who is a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent. I thought it was worth sharing:

In viewing the 5 p.m. news today on Channel 2 that reported parents in Duluth being upset over the president of the United States offering advice to school students, I was disappointed tremendously.  Schools are designed for students to learn positive information from teachers, counselors and other significant personnel.  Mr. Obama is the leader of this country and he should be respected in his position in caring enough about the future welfare of our children today.

Any parent who wishes to “opt-out” of their children listening, learning and being encouraged to strive toward a great education is missing the message. Nor do they understand the need for our nation’s leader and other leaders  to encourage them.

It seems to me that some of these negative parents need an education about how children need to excel in …

Continue reading Wisdom of the ages: Children ought to listen to the president urge them to greatness »

Two APS teachers named in cheating report cleared and back to work

Two APS teachers named in the devastating state CRCT cheating report have been cleared, which I have to imagine will allow them to sleep better at night.

The clearing of Kiatonya Wormley of Miles Elementary and Lori Dewberry of Jackson Elementary and their return to work reminds us that everyone named in the state cheating investigation has to have a chance to respond to the charges.

The two teachers were among 180 educators implicated in the report, including five high-ranking administrators. If the cheating allegations are upheld, the educators could lose their license to teach and some may also face criminal charges and termination.

According to the AJC:

The reversal doesn’t mean the report’s remaining findings are flawed, said former state Attorney General Mike Bowers, one the special investigators who worked on the probe.

“We were trying to do justice, but to be just,” Bowers said. “Where we are shown we have made a mistake, or read things incorrectly, we are …

Continue reading Two APS teachers named in cheating report cleared and back to work »

Technical college in Georgia enrollment dips. Is reduced HOPE the reason?

The consequences of reducing HOPE Scholarship awards are being felt at the state’s technical colleges, according to this AJC news story.

It will be interesting to see the long-term impact of the cuts to HOPE across all campuses in the state.  I am not sure anybody is monitoring in a cohesive fashion, but it would be helpful in future debates to know the outcomes.

The story reports:

After three years of record enrollment, the number of students attending Georgia’s technical colleges dropped by more than 12,000 this fall and leaders say a reduced HOPE scholarship is partly to blame. Technical College System of Georgia officials are still analyzing the data. But with about 75 percent of the system’s students receiving HOPE, the state-funded scholarship program’s influence can not be underestimated.

Lawmakers overhauled HOPE last spring, decreasing the aid students receive to keep the program viable for future recipients. Tens of thousands of 4-year college students …

Continue reading Technical college in Georgia enrollment dips. Is reduced HOPE the reason? »

State putting its faith and money in alternative teacher training programs

ART-School (Medium)In the fourth installment of the AJC series on teacher quality in today’s newspaper, reporters examine the growing group of Georgia teachers who don’t have education degrees or traditional teaching backgrounds but are now staffing some of the state’s most challenging schools.

Teachers who have gone through some of the gold-standard alternative programs contend that they are well prepared for the challenges of urban classrooms.

The AJC is making this occasional series on teacher quality available only to subscribers. You can read the full article by picking up a copy of today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s iPad app. Here is a link to the AJC digital options, including an E-subscription, which gives you the actual paper online.

Here is a link to our discussion of Part 1 of the series.

Here is a link to our Part 2 discussion.

Here is a link to our discussion of Part 3.

And here is an excerpt of Part 4:

Thanks to federal Race to the Top funding, …

Continue reading State putting its faith and money in alternative teacher training programs »

More than one in five recent Georgia teachers did not come from traditional ed school

brownart0629 (Medium)The ongoing AJC series on teacher quality reported in the Sunday newspaper that more than one in five teachers hired to work in Georgia’s classrooms since 2003 didn’t graduate from a traditional education college.  Instead, the teachers completed alternative programs that provide aspiring teachers with a quicker route to the classroom.

The AJC is making this occasional series on teacher quality available only to subscribers. You can read the full article by picking up a copy of Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s iPad app. Here is a link to the AJC digital options, including an E-subscription, which gives you the actual paper online.

Here is a link to our discussion of Part 1 of the series.

Here is a link to our Part 2 discussion.

And here is an excerpt of Part 3 from Sunday:

Georgia is among the top five producers of teachers through such alternative routes, according to a 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Education.

Those trained under …

Continue reading More than one in five recent Georgia teachers did not come from traditional ed school »

President Obama will tell students the importance of education but some of them won’t hear him

President Obama will talk to students this week in a "stay-in-school and study" speech. Why is this controversial? (AJC file)

President Obama will talk to students this week in a "stay-in-school and study" speech. Why is this controversial? (AJC file)

I said this last year and I will say it this year: It is a sad commentary on political incivility when schools feel compelled to allow students to opt out of watching a back-to-school speech by a U.S. president.

But it is happening in local schools systems, including Gwinnett, which sent this note home to parents at some schools.

Dear Parent(s) or Guardian(s):

We will air President Obama’s third annual national address directly to students on Monday, October 3, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. President Obama’s speech coincides with the beginning of school for many districts across the nation. His actual speech will be delivered on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, at 1:30 p.m.

If you do not want your child to view the address, please complete the bottom portion of this letter and return it to your child’s homeroom teacher no later than Friday, September 30, 2011. …

Continue reading President Obama will tell students the importance of education but some of them won’t hear him »