Archive for April, 2012

Teaching the Holocaust or slavery: Is role playing effective or fraught with problems?

Updated Tuesday with statement from Anti-Defamation League:

This is one of those explosive stories that will get a lot of national attention before it is clear what went on and why.

First the news story from AJC.com:

A middle school teacher in South Carolina has been accused of dragging a student under a table during class, telling the boy “this is what the Nazis do to Jews,” police said Monday.

The 12-year-old student said he got up to sharpen a pencil at Bluffton Middle School on Wednesday when Patricia Mulholland grabbed him by his collar and said, “come here, Jew,” police said. The teacher then dragged him 10 feet under a table and made the comment about Nazis, according to police.

The seventh-grade teacher claims she was trying to teach the students a lesson about the Holocaust. The social studies teacher had a lesson on the Holocaust the day before. “What was a demonstrative attempt to teach about World War II and the Holocaust has been taken to mean an …

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Contracts delivered today to DeKalb teachers

I am hearing today from DeKalb teachers about contracts and letters, which appear to the source of confusion to some folks.

One teacher wrote:

We were informed today that we are receiving a 6.25 percent pay cut for the next academic year. Today, teachers were presented with contracts that are due on May 9th. The explanation for the pay cut was explained as an effect of a $70 million dollar budget shortfall. Teachers were given no other explanation or choice. This comes after we received a confusing email from the district explaining a “calendar change.”  In this message, it appeared that teachers would be receiving pay increases of $1,000-$1,200 per month. This was later explained as an error.

But DeKalb spokesman Walter Woods said: “All contracts of employment for the 2012-2013 school year have been delivered to schools. Employees will either receive a contract or a delay letter. Teachers also received a letter today explaining that all contracts are printed with a …

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New Common Core Standards: No more meaningless questions. More “why” and “how.”

Today’s AJC.com has a long piece on the new Common Core Standards and what they will mean to Georgia classrooms.

We began this discussion lat week on the blog with a piece by a high school English teacher on the amount of writing expected under the new standards.

Here is the view of another English teacher on the new standards and their implications for the classroom:

I am an English teacher and department chair at one of the better suburban high schools, and I think I am ahead of the teacher who wrote you in response to the English/Language Arts Common Core Performance Standards. I have watched, on my personal time, the four long hours of “webinars” from the state DOE on how the Common Core will change our English curriculum, and, other than the structure of my units and the quantity and quality of reading assignments my students will now have to master, the work load I will manage under the Common Core is not much different from the workload I already …

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Tomorrow is D-day for seniors: Deciding which college to attend

Most metro Atlanta seniors must make their college choices tomorrow. (AP Images.)

Most metro Atlanta seniors must make their college choices tomorrow. (AP Images.)

My niece from New Jersey is on a plane now flying south for a one day visit to a college that accepted her into its prestigious pharmacy program. She had been planning on attending a college closer to home but had last-minute doubts and decided to make this trip since she had not seen this one last school.

The reason for her rushed visit: Like thousands of students in metro Atlanta, she has to commit tomorrow to the college of her choice.

I would love to see her come South, although I have no idea whether the college is a match for her.

I feel for my brother who was scurrying yesterday to find low-cost flights to Charlotte, but I think it’s important to see a college at least once. Two years ago, my oldest son spent the last weekend of April ricocheting from a college in New York to one in Ohio, neither of which he had visited before applying but both of which had a lot of the elements he wanted …

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“Why don’t teachers just teach what is going to be on the test?”

brownart0629 (Medium)Here is a guest column by Jonathan R. Herman, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Georgia State University.

By Jonathan R. Herman

The astonishing reach of the CRCT cheating scandal may be opening lots of eyes, but many of us in the academia have already been noticing a fundamental, and unhealthy, change in how many people understand the purpose of education and what is meant by “learning.”

A case in point. Last semester, I taught a seminar on the infamous Scopes “monkey trial,” which addressed the question of whether public school curricula should follow the consensus of the community or the expertise of instructors. I asked my students to think about who should determine what is taught in the classroom and how exactly that determination should be made.

As the conversation developed, one young woman seemed especially impatient, punctuating her irregular eye-rolls with exasperated sighs. “Why don’t teachers just teach what …

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AJC cheating series: National Blue Ribbon Schools that may be red-faced at these revelations

testing (Medium)The AJC has published the second installment in its major series on test score disparities nationwide. Today’s stories look at the improbable score patterns in some of the nation’s most highly decorated schools, National Blue Ribbon Schools.

AJC reporters included a winning school that even merited a visit from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Highland Elementary in Maryland.

“This school, just four or five years ago, wasn’t a Blue Ribbon school,” Duncan said that morning in September 2009, according to video of thew award event. “It had the same type of children, same type of families, same type of community — but dramatically different results.” Now, he said, “this school has more students at the advanced level than any other school like it in the state. It’s absolutely remarkable.”

And remarkably unlikely, according to the AJC analysis. It is essential to verify the achievement at these heralded school as they are held up as role models.

According to …

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Rewards of mentoring: Smiles, handmade awards and deep bonds

If you can't save all the starfish washed on the shore, should you give up on saving any? (AP Image)

If you can't save all the starfish washed on the shore, should you give up on saving any? (AP Image)

Here is a lovely essay from Bill Fokes, whose name may be familiar to regular AJC readers as he is a prolific letter writer. Today, he writes about the joy he has found in mentoring students:

By William B. Fokes

About five years ago, I attended a Christmas party in my new neighborhood. As I met my new neighbors, we asked each other about our interests and activities. One of my neighbors was very enthusiastic about a volunteer mentoring program in which he was active. This was the start of my path to great rewards. The program he described involves students in elementary school, middle school and high school in Jackson County, Georgia. The focus of the program is students living in single parent households. The name of the program is Lindsay’s Legacy. Similar programs are active in other counties, but not in my home county of Gwinnett.

My neighbor explained that each mentor …

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A great teacher diary: “hey do we hv skool 2day?”

over (Medium)If you have time this weekend, read this daily diary of an inner city high school teacher from the Parenting web site. It is an anonymous account of a single day at a big city high school but well worth your time.

After reading about the writer’s abrasive students, indifferent parents and ill-equipped building, I have to ask: Would any of us encourage our children to take her job?

The teacher’s diary opens with a 6:45 a.m. text from a student, “hey do we hv skool 2day?” and ends with a late-night text from another student, “Wassup miss can I get my code thingy so I can chek my grades?”

Here are two short entries from what went on in between those texts:

9:30am
My second class begins to arrive and immediately lets me know I’ll be working hard for the next 50 minutes. They make their entrance pushing and shoving each other, taking each other’s bags, running around the room, ignoring me. They used to be one of the best groups in this grade, but now we commonly …

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Handcuffing children: A teacher shares his child’s scary experience with a classmate

I received this note from a Georgia teacher and am sharing it with the author’s permission as it provides an example of why a school might resort to bringing in police to respond to even elementary schoolchildren:

This note outlines a frightening experience the teacher’s own child had this week because of an out-of-control classmate who was clearly a danger to himself and others:

As a public school teacher since 1990, I have seen my share of unruly students. I do not doubt that incidences sometimes require police intervention and even warrant the use of handcuffs. Below is an account of an incident that occurred yesterday while my fifth grade daughter was taking her math CRCT. This is her written statement:

“Today at CRCT this boy got stuck on a question and started kicking the table. The teacher told him to stop.

He ran to the curtains and wrapped himself up in it and started humming. He found this sliding door and went in and found a wooden board and started beating the wall …

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Obama at Fort Stewart: Many for-profit colleges “are trying to swindle and hoodwink you.”

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are now speaking at Fort Stewart, Ga., about abuses in the for-profit college sector, which is getting an increasing share of veteran education dollars, often through deceptive marketing.

Obama described one for-profit college recruiter who visited brain-injured Marines at Camp Lejeune and enrolled them in courses.

“They are trying to swindle and hoodwink you,” said Obama. “Here at Fort Stewart, we are putting an end to it.”

He then outlined the content of an executive order that will require more disclosure from the colleges

Here is a good AP story on the issue from AJC.com:

The Obama administration wants to trademark the term “GI Bill” in an effort to shield veterans and military families being swindled or misled by schools that target their federal education benefits.

President Barack Obama is signing a wide-ranging order on Friday that partially addresses growing complaints about fraudulent marketing and recruiting practices …

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