Archive for December, 2011

A second grader draws one person shooting another and labels them “me” and “you.” Cause for concern?

UPDATE: Folks, I closed comments on this at 10 p.m. Friday. Have a great holiday weekend. Maureen

A former-teacher-turned-advocate has been talking to me about an incident involving his second grader and a classmate. The classmate had handed his child a drawing of one figure shooting another. The boy labeled the shooter “me” and the victim “you.” In the primitive sketch, both the stick figure shooter and the victim are smiling.

Upset by the possible implications of the sketch, the former educator and his wife went to the school but were unhappy with how their concerns were addressed.

Here is a description he wrote about the entire experience. What do you think?

I am a former educator and most recently represented educators on various issues. One would be hard pressed to find a parent more understanding of the demands facing educators today. Schools often talk about their desire to have parental involvement in the education process. This has been the retort anytime …

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Being pagan in Georgia: Do schools promote some religions while denigrating others?

UPDATE: Folks, I closed comments on this at 10 p.m. Friday. Have a great holiday weekend. Maureen

A common plaint on this blog is that religion has been banished from our public schools. The usual comment is that we have kicked God out of the schools.

But some argue that not all religions are met with hostility in the classroom, only those far outside the mainstream.

That complaint was made this month via an Internet campaign on behalf of a pagan family in Carroll County. Stephanie Turner said her 11-year-old son was singled out and punished after he took off the neopagan holiday of Samhain. Once the boy returned to class, his teacher allegedly questioned him and said,  “Paganism is not a religion.” Then, the teacher assigned a class essay on “How Christmas started,” according to the complaint.

(You can read more details on the “Turner Family Support” Facebook page.)

I exchanged e-mails with Turner seeking information about her son’s experience, but then received a call …

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Why educators (and others) behave badly under pressure

Blog contributor and statistician Jerry Eads, a faculty member at Georgia Gwinnett College and past president of the Georgia Educational Research Association, sent me this provocative essay and series of questions about why educators cheat and whether we have created accountability systems that foster such behaviors:

Here is his piece:

This inferential statistician asks a probability question: Who among you think that two school systems in Georgia were the only ones in the nation that engaged in unauthorized test data manipulation (“cheating”) under No Child Left Behind?

I have watched the Georgia events unfold since questions arose about test results more than a decade ago. This saga has reminded me frequently of Stanley Milgram’s research in the 1960’s. See an overview here.

Milgram wondered whether Adolf Eichmann could have “just” followed orders as he testified during his trial. In Milgram’s studies, participants readily administered what they were told were potentially …

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Why aren’t people more concerned about the impact on kids from CRCT cheating scandal?

crcted.0920 (Medium)Albany Herald columnist Carlton Fletcher talked to the mother of a child in the Dougherty County schools about the fallout from the erupting CRCT scandal there and wrote a good piece about the conversation.

As we discussed here six days ago, state investigators issued a scathing report on cheating in Dougherty County schools, writing that there was “an acceptance of wrongdoing and a pattern of incompetence that is a blight on the community that will feel its effects for generations to come. This is the Dougherty County School System. Hundreds of school children were harmed by extensive cheating in the Dougherty County School System. In 11 schools, 18 educators admitted to cheating. We found cheating on the 2009 CRCT in all of the schools we examined. A total of 49 educators were involved in some form of misconduct or failure to perform their duty with regard to this test.

The mother told Fletcher that she was frustrated with the people who see the scandal only through …

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Tennessee governor responds to outcry over new teacher evaluations

over (Medium)The expedited reform timeline embedded in the federal Race to the Top grants is a concern among the state officials here in Georgia charged with creating and launching one of the most controversial new reforms: How to better evaluate — and ultimately pay — teachers.

Georgia is about to pilot its new evaluation system next month in the systems that agreed to be part of the Race to the Top grant.

And there is good reason for trepidation. Our neighbor Tennessee rushed its new, complex eval system into operation with no real piloting, and complaints are mounting. Last week,  Gov. Bill Haslam requested more study of Tennessee’s evaluation tool.

As we discussed here a few weeks ago, Tennessee seems to have bumbled into a perplexing method of teacher evaluations. As in every state, Tennessee had to devise a fair way to rate the more than 50 percent of its teachers for whom there are no student test scores — teachers in the early grades, art, music and vo-tech.

So, it created a …

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Cyberbaiting teachers: In the media, but is it in the schools?

After reading several news items on cyberbaiting  –  students taunting teachers to the point of outburst and then recording and broadcasting the scenes  — I checked out a few YouTube videos of teachers “losing it.”  Very few of the so-called tirades caught on cell phones struck me as extreme; I found the students who deliberately goaded the teachers far more disconcerting than the angry teachers.

But apparently some teachers are concerned about cyberbaiting.  I am not sure if this is an issue that is getting attention  because it is trendy or because it is actually occurring. As with the recent study that found incidents of sexting by adolescents have been exaggerated, I wonder about the true prevalence of cyberbaiting.

Anybody see this much in real life?

A recent Education Week blog stated:

A new study, which looked at the effects of technology on youth and the impact on parents and teachers, found that one in five teachers has either experienced or known another teacher …

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New study: Charter schools have a 15 percent closure rate

The Center for Education Reform issued a report this morning on charter school closure rates.

From the center:

Refuting assumptions and statements by opponents and proponents alike about the state of America’s charter schools, The Center for Education Reform released today an unprecedented analysis of and data documenting the high level of accountability that marks the nation’s charter schools. The report, ” The State of Charter Schools: What We Know – and What We Do Not – About Performance and Accountability.”  finds that charter schools historically have experienced a 15 percent closure rate.

The report is the first-ever national analysis regarding the number of charter schools that have closed since 1992, the basis by which authorizers ensure performance-based accountability.

“All too often, supporters and opponents of charter schools claim that bad charter schools don’t close,” said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform. “The truth is charter schools …

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State report on Dougherty: “Acceptance of wrongdoing and a pattern of incompetence that is a blight on the community.”

Update: I added the statement of Georgia school superintendent John Barge at 3:30.

Sit back and get ready to read another searing report on a Georgia school system gone bad. The state report on cheating in Dougherty County schools is online, and it is not pretty. Investigators secured confessions about cheating that was blatant and systematic.

And as with APS, investigators concluded that the district superintendent, Sally Whatley, and her senior staff should have known cheating was occurring. “In that duty, they failed,” the report states.

Here is what investigators said about New Jackson Heights Elementary in the report: Cheating was a way of life at this school. On unit tests, for example, teachers would mark the correct answers, and then return the marked-up tests to the students. The teachers would do this so that the students would see which answers were wrong and make corrections.

State school chief John Barge was quick to issue a statement:

Today’s report on …

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Cheating toll in Dougherty: 49 educators implicated

Remember when Dougherty County said its own investigation of CRCT cheating found no evidence of test tampering and credited the improbable score swings to smart test-taking skills? That led to an angry Gov. Perdue sending in his own investigatory team.

And now the results are about to be released: 49 educators implicated in cheating.

One clear fact from the cheating scandal: Systems cannot do their own probes. Either through a lack of investigatory expertise or a lack of will, they are not capable of eliciting the truth. (The legal powers accorded to the state’s investigatory team make a big difference, as do the use of trained investigators to conduct the interviews.)

And now the AJC is reporting this morning:

As many of 49 educators have been implicated in a test cheating scandal in Dougherty County, The Albany Herald is reporting.

Former Attorney General Mike Bowers, former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson and special investigator Richard Hyde investigated …

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Should the FAMU president go in wake of hazing death?

In a family photo, Robert Champion demonstrates the flair that earned him the prestigious drum major role in the FAMU band.

In a family photo, Robert Champion demonstrates the flair that earned him the prestigious drum major role in the FAMU band.

The Florida A&M University president keeps his job, despite a call by the governor last week for his suspension in the wake of the death of a member of the renowned Marching 100 band.

The university’s board of trustees decided today not to take action against FAMU president James Ammons. According to the news story: The university’s board of trustees on Monday rejected a call by Gov. Rick Scott that James Ammons be suspended. “We will stand firm against outside interference, no matter how well intended,” Solomon Badger, the FAMU board chairman, said during a board meeting that was held by conference call.

The parents of Robert Champion, the DeKalb drum major who died of alleged hazing at the hands of fellow band members, are disappointed in the decision.

Experts on hazing said it will not stop without dramatic action by colleges showing that such …

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