Archive for January, 2012

A teacher bound and gagged students and put cockroaches on their faces. And no child ever reported it?

I avoid posting a lot of initial reports about educators gone bad — including the recent spate of local stories about educators  “assaulting” kids — because the charges are often not substantiated.  But I have to offer up this story out of California for discussion for one reason — no student ever reported the alleged abuse, which is shocking once you read the sorts of things this teacher is accused of doing to his students. And photographing the abuse.

I wrote my master’s thesis on child abuse and understand why kids protect their parents but am baffled why no students told their parents about being bound and gagged by their teacher and having cockroaches placed on their faces. When I drive carpool, I hear a litany of so-called teacher transgressions from the kids, along the lines of, “Mrs. X was  mean because she wouldn’t give me enough time to finish my paper”  or “Mr. Y made us run extra laps in PE because some kids were talking.”

I can’t imagine not a single child …

Continue reading A teacher bound and gagged students and put cockroaches on their faces. And no child ever reported it? »

APS redistricting plans face strong resistance from some affected communities

The first citywide redistricting in Atlanta Public Schools in nearly 10 years is meeting with strong resistance from some affected communities.

More than 600 parents and community members attended a hearing on Monday night, many voicing concerns about the travel time to their children’s possible new schools, racial diversity and split neighborhoods, according to the AJC.

As many Kirkwood parents commented on this blog over the weekend, one of the latest proposals divides their neighborhood. A Kirkwood parent at the meeting said, “I don’t see a lot of other neighborhoods that are split up into thirds, and I think that’s because some neighborhoods get more respect.”

The proposed new scenarios reflect changes made after more than 8,200 comments and 800 e-mails to APS. There are more community meetings planned  –  tonight at Young Middle, Wednesday at North Atlanta High and Thursday at Price Middle. All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

I received this statement from the Old …

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Arizona bans teaching courses that breed resentment of a race or class of people or advocate ethnic solidarity

Alyssa Hadley Dunn, a clinical assistant professor of urban teacher education in the College of Education at Georgia State University,  sent me a note about a “teach-in” at GSU to make people aware of the ban on the teaching of ethnic studies in Tucson schools, a decision based on a controversial — and some say overreaching — new Arizona law.

I have spent the morning looking at the law, its origins and the public debate around its passage. I agree that the broad language of the law creates minefields for teachers. And I also suspect that the courts will be busy for several years dealing with the fallout from its four provisions.

The new Arizona law prohibits instruction that: a) promotes the overthrow of the United States Government; b) promotes resentment toward a race or class of people; c) is designed primarily for people of a particular ethnic group and d) advocates ethnic solidarity instead of treatment of pupils as individuals. Schools in violation risk losing state …

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State Sen. Carter: Reinstitute cap on HOPE and base it on available lottery funds each year

State Sen. Jason Carter is sponsoring legislation to restore an income cap for HOPE that would be predicated on available lottery funds. (Special))

State Sen. Jason Carter is sponsoring legislation to restore an income cap for HOPE that would be predicated on available lottery funds.

Jason Carter, D-Atlanta, is the state senator from the 42nd District, representing DeKalb. Carter is sponsoring legislation to restore an income cap on HOPE recipients, although his cap is higher than the one that Gov. Zell Miller put in place when he created HOPE.

In 1993, HOPE was limited to students from families earning less than $66,000 a year. The cap was raised to $100,000 in 1994. A year later, flush with lottery revenues, the state eliminated any cap on HOPE.

However, with the lottery failing to keep pace with the rising costs of HOPE, there is now discussion of restoring an income cap.  I asked Sen. Carter to write an op-ed piece for the Monday AJC about his legislation. Here is a preview for blog readers:

By state Sen. Jason Carter

Last year, Governor Nathan Deal made his reform of the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship programs …

Continue reading State Sen. Carter: Reinstitute cap on HOPE and base it on available lottery funds each year »

APS posts new maps and scenarios for redistricting. Are these any better?

Atlanta Public School has just posted its new redistricting scenarios and maps. Take a look and let us know what you think. Several of the files are long and will take a while to download.

I have dozens of notes from readers and friends unhappy about the first round of options. Are these any better?

If not, what scenarios can you suggest that can both deal with the serious overcrowding at some beloved schools and treat all students fairly?

–From Maureen Downey for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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Is a commencement deferred a commencement denied? A GSU students thinks so.

Under a new policy, GSU students who graduate in December will have to wait until May for their commencement ceremony. Here is the May, 2010, GSU commencement at the Dome. (Hyosub Shinyosub Shin/AJC)

Under a new policy, GSU students who graduate in December will have to wait until May for their commencement ceremony. Here is the May, 2010, GSU commencement at the Dome. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

I received this letter from GSU student Kiana Nicholas, a film/video and journalism/public relations double major. Proving that she has learned something about effective PR, Kiana is taking her disagreement with Georgia State University to the public square. (She is president of the Public Relations Student Society of America. )

Her issue: She will graduate in the fall, and Georgia State has decided against a college-wide commencement ceremony for students graduating mid-year. Instead, fall 2012 graduates will have to wait and walk with spring 2013 grads in a joint ceremony. (Students will still graduate; it is the commencement that is delayed.)

A Georgia State spokeswoman told me this morning that the university’s goal was to raise the profile and fanfare of the spring event. …

Continue reading Is a commencement deferred a commencement denied? A GSU students thinks so. »

Are you ready to allow the Legislature access to local education funds in pursuit of greater school choice?

To mark National School Choice Week, the Center for Education Reform has held daily webinars on choice issues. Today, the center’s director Jeanne Allen speculated on the future of choice in states, only mentioning Georgia in passing for its special education voucher and private school scholarships.

Allen said two main factors determine state success in expanding school choice through vouchers and more charter schools: There has to be a “strong actor in the state, someone who wakes up every morning with a fire in the belly bound and determined to get it done.”

Second, Allen said there must be “friends on the ground,” strong grassroots groups to “show the Legislature that there is support and to cover the back of that actor.”

I am not sure if we have that “strong actor” in Georgia, although House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones may be the closest thing.

Rep. Jones, R-Milton, is sponsoring HR 1162, a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to approve charter schools …

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Teach for America: Should Cobb invest heavily in the program? (Apparently not)

UPDATE Friday:
Cobb County Superintendent Michael Hinojosa averted a fight over Teach for America, withdrawing, at least for now, his proposal to hire 50 teachers from the program. Read more here.

The Cobb school board decides tonight whether to staff several chronically under achieving schools with newly minted Teach for America teachers. New Cobb school chief Michael Hinojosa wants to hire 50 TFA teachers. (The costs associated with the program itself would be borne by donations but Cobb would pay the actual salaries.)

The well-regarded alternative teacher training program — which attracts applicants by the thousands and can pick the very brightest and most capable college graduates — has both its fans and detractors, as the Cobb board debate reflects.

According to the AJC:

“They may be elite college grads,” Eagle said last week during a debate over Hinojosa’s proposal. “But knowing the content doesn’t mean you know how to teach.” Eagle said in a later interview that …

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New study out of New York: Smaller high schools graduate more and better prepared students

School and class size are one of those areas in education where the research and common sense can diverge. Parents and  teachers feel at an organic level that fewer students in a class or a school building enable more attention to all students. But the research has been murky at best on the relationship between size and performance.

So, a new study on the positive impact on graduation rates from New York City’s experiment with small high schools is getting a lot of attention, including a gleeful statement this morning from Ed Secretary Arne Duncan:

This new, rigorous study by MDRC of New York City’s ambitious experiment with small public high schools underscores the great potential to replace failing schools for disadvantaged students with schools that instead narrow achievement and attainment gaps. MDRC’s study is important and encouraging on several fronts. It shows that school reform can achieve success at scale, district-wide, and not just in isolated islands …

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Nearly nine out of 10 Zell Miller Scholars attend UGA or Tech

If you want to find a Zell Miller Scholar, go to UGA or Tech.  (AJC file)

If you want to find a Zell Miller Scholar, go to UGA or Tech. (AJC file)

Interesting data out of today’s joint House and Senate hearing on the shrinking HOPE Scholarship.

The only speaker was Timothy A. Connell, president of the Georgia Student Finance Commission, which manages HOPE. The Georgia Lottery funds HOPE and pre-k.

With lottery revenues failing to keep pace with rising tuition and growing demand, Gov. Nathan Deal last year made drastic and controversial changes to HOPE, and those changes were retrofitted to students already in college.

For most recipients, HOPE tuition payments fell 10 to 15 percent. The payments could fluctuate each year based on how much money the lottery raises and how much students must also pay for mandatory fees.

Only one group of college students — those who graduated high school with a 3.7 or higher GPA  and scored at least 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a 26 on the ACT –  earn the assurance of full tuition …

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