Archive for December, 2011

Boarding school: Wish it was an option for more kids



His selection into a public boarding school changed Anthony Black's life, as this photo with President Obama shows. (White House)
His selection into a public boarding school changed Anthony Black’s life, as this photo with President Obama shows. (White House)

The AJC has an interesting story today on the rise in Southern families sending their children to boarding schools.

According to the story, Boarding school enrollment at schools in the Southeast rose 8 percent since 2010, according to the National Association of Independent Schools. Member schools in the region have more than 2,200 students. Nationally, enrollment increased about 1.1 percent to nearly 22,200 students in the same period.

My oldest attended boarding school on a merit scholarship that paid for everything including summer travel. It was an unsettling experience to put a 14-year-old on a plane, but it ended up being a wonderful opportunity for her. It changed her life in many positive ways, including introducing her to the wonderful young man she married two months ago.

Boarding school made my daughter resourceful and …

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Truancy: Getting tough on parents may help, but we have to connect kids to schools

Students can’t learn if they don’t come to school. Atlanta intends to turn up the heat on parents whose children miss school. It intends to enforce a tough 2009 ordinance that allows a $1,000 fine and up to 60 days in jail when students skip school .

In writing about truancy policies over the years as an editorial writer, I have found inconsistent and ineffectual policies that kick in too late to deter kids from dropping out. This is a critical issue because today’s dropouts become tomorrow’s prison inmates. Nationwide, 71 percent of the prison population never finished high school. When you look at the arrest records of inmates, the first charge is typically truancy.

Despite all the hand wringing over intransigent truants and indifferent parents, there are some responses that have made a difference. One is having enough social workers. Under the staggering caseloads they now carry, school social workers are expected to be miracle workers. We need more …

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Melee at Arabia Mountain High: ‘Turn Up Thursday’ and Twitter turn DeKalb school into a mess

An Arabia Mountain student posted this Facebook photo of police at Arabia Mountain High on Thursday.

An Arabia Mountain student tweeted this photo of police at the school Thursday.

UPDATE Monday: AJC education writer Ernie Suggs is doing a news story on what happened at Arabia Mountain. He says: I want to talk to a parent or a student who was at the school and witnessed the event. I can be reached at 404-526-5672 and esuggs@ajc.com.

Several of you have asked about a purported student melee at Arabia Mountain High School on Thursday that apparently was fueled by an avalanche of Twitter messages and led to police descending in force.

I have asked DeKalb Schools for official comment. I have not received one yet.

Here is one of the e-mails I received from a reader: On Thursday there were two food fights, a fire in the bathroom, flooding from a broken pipe, over a dozen county police officers.  It appears to be something called Turn it up Thursday.

If you search Twitter, you will find dozens and dozens of messages from Arabia Mountain students saying,  “I survived …

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Teacher residency programs: Not a surefire route to higher student achievement

There is a great deal of focus on improving teacher education, but it is still not clear how best to do that. One program that has earned attention is the Boston Teacher Residency Program, which duplicates a medical residency in its approach. Aspiring teachers go through a yearlong apprenticeship under a mentor teacher and also earn a master’s degree.

A new study of the residency program shows the proverbial mixed results: Math teachers in the program were less effective initially than their peers, but eventually were more effective. The English/language arts teachers were no more effective than novice teachers who did not go through the program. The residency program improved the diversity of the teaching corps, and its graduates had less turnover.

Asked to design the ideal teacher training approach, many people would cite facets of the Boston program. Yet, even the director calls these study results “disappointing.” What is the ideal way to train effective teachers and — …

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Florida medical examiner: FAMU drum major death is a homicide.

The Florida state medical examiner has declared that FAMU drum major Robert Champion died of hazing-related injuries and is calling his death as a homicide.

According to the AJC:

A Florida A&M University drum major was severely beaten in a hazing incident last month and died within an hour, the state medical examiner said Friday in declaring it a homicide.

Robert Champion, 26, had bruises to his chest, arms, shoulder and back and internal bleeding that caused him to go into shock, which killed him, the office said.

Champion’s Nov. 19 death and the severe beating of another band member during a hazing ritual three weeks earlier have brought new scrutiny to a culture of hazing within the Tallahassee school’s famed Marching 100.

State and local authorities are investigating Champion’s death. Any death involving hazing is a third-degree felony in Florida, but so far no charges have been filed. Three male band members were arrested in a separate probe into the recent …

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In race for early childhood millions, Georgia was not at the top of fed’s list this time around

Georgia is not one of the states awarded a Race to the Top grant for early childhood education, despite its role as a pioneer in the field. The state had been hoping for a $70 million grant. The U.S. DOE will announce the winners later today, but states have already been notified.

 Georgia did not win a new Race to the Top program for early learning. (AJC file)

Georgia did not win a new Race to the Top program for early learning. (AJC file)

In a meeting in October here at the AJC, Bobby Cagle, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, said, “We are kind of an underdog. People don’t know what we have done here.”

One of those things, he said, was pioneer early learning standards. That apparently was not enough.

According to the AJC:

Georgia isn’t coming out a winner in the latest federal Race to the Top grant competition.

The White House is scheduled to announce today the winners of the latest Race to the Top grant competition aimed at early childhood education. And Georgia won’t be among them, said Bobby Cagle, commissioner …

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It only takes an educated girl to change a family, a nation

Love this video. Here is a link to the person who created it.

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Stupid fraternity tricks: Asking members, “Who would you like to rape?”

A University of Vermont fraternity is garnering national condemnation for a survey that included this question: “If you could rape someone, who would it be?”

Among those commenting on the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter survey is Brian Warren, the frat’s national executive director, who told the Burlington, Vt., Free Press: “I was shocked — praying the allegations were not true. We will not tolerate this behavior. This is not a theme throughout the country. This is very unique in my two years.”

According to the Burlington Free Press:

A survey that asked fraternity members at the University of Vermont about their preferred rape victim, allegedly circulated by members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, has resulted in the fraternity’s suspension and a visit from its national headquarters, according to university officials.

The Sigma Phi Epsilon survey question was: “If you could rape someone, who would it be?” according to an email from the organization FedUp Vermont and …

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New report: Half of nation’s schools failed to make AYP

The Center on Education Policy released a new report on the number of schools that have failed to make adequate yearly progress  under No Child Left Behind in school year 2010-11. The report –  AYP Results for 2010-11  –  also presents six years of AYP trends in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

According to the report:

–About half (48 percent) of the nation’s schools did not make AYP in 2011. This marked an increase from 39 percent in 2010, and is the highest percentage since NCLB took effect.

–In almost half the states, 50 percent or more of the public schools did not make AYP; in five states and D.C., at least three quarters of schools failed to make AYP.

–The percentage of public schools not making AYP in 2011 varied greatly by state, from about 11 percent in Wisconsin to about 89 percent in Florida. (In Georgia, 27 percent of schools did not meet targets.)

The AJC has a good explainer on the study. Among the points in the story: The findings are far below the 82 …

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Reading education news, a reader asks, “Is all hope lost?”

A reader sent me a note, to which I sent a long reply. Concerned after reading in the AJC about all the problems in education lately, she asked a perfectly sane question: Is all hope lost?

I am sharing both her note and my reply as I thought this was a topic that could lead to some fruitful discussion.

Her note first:

I have been following the AJC’s articles about the APS scandal, then the FAMU tragedy, and there are always reports about charter schools in the news. I do not have children yet, but I clearly remember my elementary public school days (I transferred to a private school in sixth grade and graduated from there as well). While I’m quite sure I was unaware of the politics of education back then, I fail to understand now why public school education is so complicated to figure out.

My question, Maureen, is why is educating our children so difficult?

I’m the first to admit that my grasp of politics is tenuous at best. But I fail to understand why dozens and …

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