Archive for April, 2012

Could DeKalb schools survive without 129 assistant principals? Could any metro system?

More dramatic school budget news, this time out of DeKalb where a hired consultant has recommended the financially battered system cut 129 assistant principal jobs and scores of other positions in order to save money.

Like every other metro system, DeKalb is staring down a gaping deficit. School board member Paul Womack, who is chair of the board’s budget committee, estimates it may be a $77 million deficit.

But it sounds unlikely that the school chief will fully adopt the consultant’s advice and slash that many APs.

According to AJC reporter Ty Tagami:

The report by Virginia-based Management Advisory Group says the school system has too many employees when compared with peers, and the system could save more than $15 million in payroll and benefits by cutting the assistant principals, plus 40 school secretaries and 11 media specialists. The consultants also recommended looking for savings in other positions, including art, music and physical education teachers, mail …

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Fewer teachers, school days in Cobb. When do cuts threaten quality?

There seems to be little good news on the school budget front in Cobb where parents are looking at fewer days and teachers as the system grapples with fallen real estate taxes and reduced state funding.

Here would be my concerns if I were a Cobb parent: When do these cuts erode quality? Cobb has had a jewel of a school system. Its public schools have long been a enticement for middle-class families to settle in the county. I know friends who accepted an hour commute in exchange for Cobb County schools.

Can quality survive this level of cuts?

According to the AJC:

The board voted 6-1 for an $842 million general fund budget for the 2012-13 school year. That’s down $10 million from the current year’s spending, but officials still didn’t cut enough to match revenues. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa proposed plugging a $21 million deficit with reserves.

If the tentative budget becomes final, there will be about 400 fewer instructional personnel, 350 of them teachers, …

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Could a modified Dream Act pass GOP muster in an election year?

Many students around the country have marched for the Dream Act, which remains in limbo. (AP Photo)

Many students around the country have marched for the Dream Act, which remains in limbo. (AP Photo)

A modified version of the Dream Act is being pushed by a Republican senator from Florida who’s been mentioned as a possible candidate for vice president. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants to break the logjam around the controversial legislation that would give children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

The bill faces resistance from the GOP, but it is an election year and the Hispanic vote may be critical.

According to The New York Times:

The compromise would grant students who are the children of illegal immigrants a new kind of nonimmigrant visa that would let them live in this country legally for a period of time. They could work, drive and pay taxes. He would also grant nonimmigrant visas to the graduates of colleges and trade schools, enabling them to stay here and work.

The proposal would not grant them green cards, giving them permanent residency, which sets it …

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Another call for more college graduates in Georgia

Interesting study by the Center for Law and Social Policy and the Center for Higher Education Management Systems warning that Georgia will leave $1.913 billion on the table in revenues if we don’t produce more college grads by 2025.

New analysis of US Census, National Center for Education Statistics, and Department of Education data by CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and the Center for Higher Education Management Systems  shows to remain globally competitive, the United States will need to produce 24 million additional degrees by 2025 to achieve a 60 percent degree attainment rate among adults ages 25 to 64.

In Georgia, the current rate is 36.1 percent. At current attainment rates, the U.S. is on track to produce just 278,500 additional degrees and Georgia is on track to produce just 79,000 additional degrees by 2025– a significant shortfall.

This low credential production – relative to need – results in relatively small increases in average personal …

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Savannah-Chatham loses valued and respected young leader

Sad news out of Savannah:

Otis Brock III, the Savannah-Chatham school system’s chief operations officer, has died. He was found unresponsive in his office at 208 Bull St. earlier today. The 41-year-old Brock was the only African American member of Superintendent Thomas Lockamy’s cabinet and also its youngest. He worked at the school system for 14 years.

The school system has released this statement: “On Tuesday, April 24, 2012 the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System and this community lost a great individual who dedicated his life to education and the betterment of Savannah-Chatham schools.  We are deeply saddened to report the loss of Mr. Otis Brock, chief operations officer, who passed away suddenly …  SCCPSS would like to express our deepest condolences to Mr. Brock’s family in this very difficult time”

And here is part of a tribute written by Tom Barton, editorial page editor of the Savannah Morning News.:

I saw Otis Brock downtown last Thursday, …

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With budgets shrinking, should middle schools cast off sports?

Many countries, including Finland, do not offer sports at schools. Sports are community-based rather than school based.

I wonder if that could eventually become the U.S. model as schools struggle to decide which programs to jettison to cope with diminished budgets. I don’t see high school sports disappearing, but I am hearing about middle schools cutting back on their sports offerings or shifting more costs to parents.

Here is a recent AJC story on the dilemma:

Clayton County Public schools is negotiating with the county’s parks and recreation system to assume operation of its middle school sports teams in hopes that the district won’t have to terminate its sports programs to balance next year’s school budget.

As it stands now, Clayton’s school system needs to cut $16 million from next year’s budget. Scrapping the middle school sports program would save the district nearly $900,000 a year, superintendent Edmond Heatley told the school board recently. The issue is likely to be …

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An English teacher looks at the new student writing expectations and shrieks in horror. I would, too.

Still waiting for DOE to respond to this note a high school English teacher sent me last week:

I was just given a copy of the GaDOE’s Curriculum Maps for ELA 9-12th grades. I need some help from you before I quit my job and lead the charge for every other high school English teacher to do the same. I have taught for many years, am am good at my job, am an asset to the school at which I teach, and love teaching.

I have rolled with the punches of increased class size, decreased paycheck size and all the other gripe-worthy problems in education. I am not a whiner, a crier (literally or figuratively) or a complainer, but after today, having seen a document that reduced me to tears, I am inspired to leave teaching in the state of Georgia.

Today I saw the CCGPS Curriculum Map. I have provided the link for the 9th Grade ELA CCGPS Map for you.

If I am reading this document correctly, I have four nine- week sections. Fair enough. In each nine-week section I have to tackle one …

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Emmett and Trayvon: Common core stories that must be told

Stephanie Jones, a former Atlanta Public School teacher, is a graduate student in education at the University of Georgia. This is her first essay for the Get Schooled blog

By Stephanie P. Jones

I never learned anything about the Emmett Till case when I was in school. I don’t blame my teacher for not telling me this story.

Teachers, under pressure to perform, may have had to push historical moments like these into corners for us to find out about later. That later came one afternoon.

When my mother’s Jet magazines came in the mail, I often flipped through them without much regard, only stopping at the album sales for the week or the announcements of black marriages and anniversaries.  I first saw Emmett Till’s face within the pages of that magazine.

There was no picture of Emmett as he looked as a boy, but rather a mangled and swollen pair of lips and two irregular spaces where the eyes should be.  I quickly turned the page and I never saw the picture again.  The …

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Former APS chief Beverly Hall. Still in Atlanta but keeping a low profile

Former APS school chief Beverly Hall remains in Atlanta. (AJC Photo)

Former APS school chief Beverly Hall remains in Atlanta. (AJC Photo)

The Sunday AJC has an update today on the status of former APS superintendent Beverly Hall.

While APS is moving ahead in its efforts to dismiss educators accused of cheating, there are no charges pending against Hall and the Fulton DA will only say that his probe is ongoing.

Although the state’s own investigation into CRCT cheating in Atlanta concluded that Hall “knew or should have known about cheating,” Hall denies any role. She says that while she expected educators to raise student achievement, she never pressured them to cheat or sanctioned cheating.

The decision to bring charges will likely hinge on the resolution of this issue: Whether Hall created a success-at-any-cost culture that led to widespread cheating or whether she actively condoned cheating by ignoring glaring disparities in performance and by shrugging off whistle-blower reports of test tampering.

According to the AJC:

The former …

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DeKalb schools completes employee verifications. Found overpayment of $47,500.

DeKalb schools released a statement this weekend about its call for all employees to show identification in person and sign a form to confirm:

The DeKalb County School District has completed an extensive Employee Verification process to ensure the accuracy and integrity of all School District personnel and payroll records.

Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson ordered the Employee Verification process in February in conjunction with an independent audit of Central Office and school-based personnel.

Through the process, approximately 15,000 employees at the Central Office, in all auxiliary departments and at the school level were directed to verify their employment with the School District. The School District halted payments to non-verified employees beginning with the April 13 pay period.

The Employee Verification process to date has identified 148 non-verified employees, most of them substitute teachers or part-time coaches.

The process also discovered seven discrepancies in …

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