Archive for October, 2011

Is policy the ruination of public education?

In researching themes for the AJC panel on education next week, I have been reading a lot of Richard Elmore’s stuff. I have heard Elmore, the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, at two conferences and had a long sit-down session with him when he was in Atlanta to a few years ago. Since then, I try to read all of his commentary.

He wrote a post for the Harvard Graduation School of Education blog that I found fascinating and pertinent to the panel next week.

(The post was itself an excerpt of a longer piece for the Harvard Education Letter, which you ought to read if you have the time and which is now part of an essay collection, “I Used to Think . . . And Now I Think . . .Twenty Leading Educators Reflect on the Work of School Reform.”)

Here is a portion of the blog:

I used to think that policy was the solution. And now I think that policy is the problem. I am a child of the 1960s — the New Frontier, the Great …

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Confessions from Dougherty educators in CRCT cheating scandal

Because of all the attention on APS, it’s often forgotten that Dougherty County had 14 of its 26 schools flagged in the state’s audit of improbable wrong to right erasures on the 2009 CRCT.  Atlanta is a larger system under a more relentless media glare than this southern Georgia system.

But investigators for the state have now completed their interviews of between 300 and 350 employees and gained confessions from at least 10 educators.

According to the AJC:

Some of those interviewed have admitted to violating test protocol by either sharing with students the correct answers or changing answers after students turned their tests in, special investigator Richard Hyde told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Now we need to see if those violations rise to the level of a crime,” he said.

Hyde, former state Attorney General Michael Bowers and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson were appointed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue in August 2010 to investigate possible …

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APS high schools: Evidence of cheating and fraud in some schools. Is it happening at your school?

The AJC investigatory team is now turning its attention to high schools, reporting today that, while not as systematic as the CRCT cheating, Atlanta broke rules — cheated on standardized tests, falsified attendance records and changed grades — to meet performance targets in some high schools. (This is a long piece, so please try to read it.)

This story suggests an answer to one of the pressing questions asked in the wake of the CRCT cheating scandal — what happened to elementary and middle school students pushed along who were not performing on grade level?

I want to point out that posters on the Get Schooled blog have cited these same scenarios at other high schools, so I don’t think these practices are limited to a single system. The AJC had a piece not long ago about Hall County shifting kids to alternative high schools to make AYP.

Have you seen any of these practices at your school?

Here is an excerpt of today’s AJC front page story on APS high schools:

After school …

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Math teacher: Whatever math is called, too much content, too little review.

Georgia math classes will now be following the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, but it is not the traditional path of old.

Georgia math classes will now be following the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, but it is not the traditional path of old.

A math teacher sent me this informative e-mail, which I am sharing with the author’s permission. In essence, the teacher reports that state school chief John Barge has been telling groups that Georgia will follow “traditional” math in its Common Core Georgia Performance Standards — the merger of our state curriculum with the new Common Core State Standards.

But the teacher cautions that the “traditional” math path should not be viewed as  “going back to” how math was taught in the past, and that integration remains.

And the teacher says the same problems with math remain.

(Here is an earlier Get Schooled blog on this issue.)

Here is the teacher’s note:

Dr. Barge has announced to various groups over the past two days that Georgia will follow the “traditional” path for the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in High School Math. I am sure …

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Here is promised video of Mount Zion High teacher winning her teaching “Oscar” today in Clayton County

Thanks to the Milken folks and DOE for sending me this video of Clayton County teacher Shekema Silveri learning this morning that she won the prestigious Milken Educator Award. Please watch the entire video as it is very reaffirming and uplifting. I love the chant, “We, MZ, love Silveri.” (Share it with your kids; mine are sitting here with me watching it for the third time. And now they are saying the chant, too.)

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Clayton teacher wins prestigious Milken Award. Congrats to Shekema Silveri.

Milken Award winner Shekema Silveri (Clayton schools)

Milken Award winner Shekema Silveri (Clayton schools)

Called the Oscar of teaching, a Milken award went this morning to stunned Mount Zion High School teacher Shekema Silveri. Silveri teaches English/Language arts. She is the only Georgia teacher this year to win the prestigious teaching award and its $25,000 prize.

(If I can get video of the surprise announcement at the high school this morning, I will post.)

Here is her bio information from the Milken Family Foundation:

Shekema Silveri is a natural leader at Mt. Zion High School in Jonesboro.. Bringing to the table an extensive community service background and first-rate academic credentials, Silveri employs multi-layered instruction and well-defined practices, all in a school with a large at-risk student population.

In the classroom, Silveri requires students to produce evidence of learning, justify their perspectives, evaluate their reasoning and set their future goals.

As part of her well-rounded approach to …

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Guest columnists: Cobb, Fulton and Forsyth schools lose luster in global comparisons

When held up to global standards, even Georgia's top systems fall short, according to two researchers. (AP Images)

When held up to global standards, even Georgia's top systems fall short, according to two researchers. (AP Images)

A guest column by Jay P. Greene, the 21st Century Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute, and Josh B. McGee, the vice president for public accountability initiatives at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, suggests that high-performing metro Atlanta suburban systems are not as good as we may think they are when compared to other nations.

This piece runs on the Monday education page, but here is an early look at the column, which focuses on Fulton, Cobb and Forsyth schools:

By Jay P. Greene and Josh B. McGee

Education reform efforts have focused almost exclusively on improving big city public school systems. The problems of Atlanta Public Schools are well-known to everyone. What is much less understood is that many of our affluent suburban districts are also badly in need of improvement.

Suburban …

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Football teams shaking hands under police watch. Are school sports programs broken?

Update from AJC.com: The sheriff of Hancock County has requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation look into the beating of a visiting high school football coach.

I have to wonder about high school sports when Georgia school systems feel compelled to add security to the post-game handshake to prevent mayhem. That is what Richmond County decided in the wake of the Warren-Hancock game that ended with the Warren coach in the hospital for facial surgery after being struck in the face with a helmet. The attack, allegedly by Hancock players angry after their loss, is still under investigation.

If violence is such a concern, should we reconsider competitive sports programs in schools and leave them to community centers and rec departments? There’s a lot of flaming the fires of longtime football rivalries in some Georgia communities. Hancock and Warren were longtime rivals.

Here is the Wednesday story from the Augusta Chronicle on the Richmond County’s board decision to amend …

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You’re invited: AJC roundtable on education on Nov. 3

From the AJC editor Kevin Riley to readers:

I’m hosting my first Editor’s Roundtable the evening of Thursday, Nov. 3, at the AJC’s office near Perimeter Mall. The topic will be education and teacher quality. I want to take you beyond the headlines and share what the AJC’s education team has learned about the state of teacher quality in Georgia. This event will include a panel discussion with parents, educators and school advocates and time for questions.

There will be open house with our education team, and light refreshments at 6:30 p.m. The roundtable discussion will go from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

I hope you can join me at this event to learn more about what parents can do to ensure their students are getting quality teaching. Space is limited, so please RSVP here - and continue reading the AJC for our ongoing series on teacher quality.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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Congrats to Fulton teacher Jordan Kohanim for honesty and advocacy

Jordan Kohanim (Fulton County)

Jordan Kohanim (Fulton County)

As I have noted, the best blog postings often come from people who use their own names because the comments are more thoughtful, more respectful and more compelling.

One of the most honest and courageous commenters on this blog is Fulton teacher Jordan Kohanim, and I am delighted to report that her candor and her intellectual honestly have been recognized.

If you aren’t familiar with her writing, please read this wonderful piece that she co-authored. It appeared both on the Get Schooled blog and on the education op-ed page of the AJC that I edit. And here is another piece she co-wrote on merit pay.

And here is the good news:

The Georgia Council of Teachers of English, an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English has awarded the 2011 NCTE/SLATE Affiliate Intellectual Freedom Award to Jordan Kohanim, Centennial High School, Roswell.

Jordan Kohanim is recognized for her courage to speak up and her ongoing advocacy for intellectual …

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