Archive for June, 2012

DeKalb budget tonight: A sideshow that left everyone dissatisfied

DeKalb County residents will see taxes and class size rise in a difficult school board budget vote tonight that will likely  irk a lot of folks in the county.

There was no way the board could not aggravate someone with an $84 million deficit to overcome and very hard choices to make.

DeKalb’s protracted and painful budget process highlights the inability of this school board to coalesce, even when faced with a grave crisis. Rather than coming together to resolve what may be the state’s worst school situation, board members sniped at one another, putting on what amounted to a sideshow. (New school chief Cheryl Atkinson might be pining for Ohio about now.)

I am not sure if school board members just don’t like one another or if they believe the public bickering wins them point with their camps.

According to the AJC:

The board voted to raise taxes. It also increased class sizes, even for special education students, while adding two furlough days for teachers and cutting the number …

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APS reinstates a dozen teachers caught up in cheating scandal

The AJC learned today that Atlanta Public Schools is reinstating 12 teachers, who were “cleared” on charges they cheated on state exams.

The language in the APS letters to the teachers is not a resounding proclamation of  their innocence — “APS has now concluded that investigation and has determined that there is insufficient evidence to establish that you engaged in, or failed to report, any wrong-doing.”

But the teachers are being offered jobs for next year.

According to the AJC:

The educators, whose names have not yet been released, were put on paid leave in July after being named in a 400-plus page cheating investigation. Since reviewing the cases, the district concluded there was not enough evidence to prove the educators cheated or knew about cheating.

“APS has now concluded that investigation and has determined that there is insufficient evidence to establish that you engaged in, or failed to report, any wrong-doing with respect to the administration …

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A senior’s music video plea gets him off University of Michigan wait list and into college and our hearts

Another one of those YouTube videos that lights up your day. And, yes, Lawrence Yong, a high school senior at Granada Hills Charter High School in Los Angeles, is now going to the University of Michigan. (This might fuel a whole new genre of music video college applications.)

Continue reading A senior’s music video plea gets him off University of Michigan wait list and into college and our hearts »

Si puedes leer esto, gracias a un profesor de español. (If you can read this, thank a Spanish teacher.)

I received several reader emails asking if we could talk about a story on the front page of today’s AJC about the expansion in foreign language classes in Georgia schools.

(Also, here is a link to a related essay by a Dunwoody High language arts teacher.)

The AJC story reports record-setting demand for language courses. In the past four years, the number of Georgia students studying a world language has increased from 17 percent to more than 23 percent, according to the state Department of Education.

AJC reporter Jaime Sarrio says the growth reflects changes in Georgia’s high school diploma track, which now requires all students to earn a college-ready certificate. While foreign language is not a requirement to graduate, students are advised to take at least two years of it.  (Georgia colleges require two years of foreign language for admission.)

The story focuses on Atlanta, which is one of the only school systems in the state to offer foreign language instruction at …

Continue reading Si puedes leer esto, gracias a un profesor de español. (If you can read this, thank a Spanish teacher.) »

Teacher of the Year in Sacramento is victim of layoffs

The “last hired, first fired” policy in some states has claimed the Teacher of the Year of the Sacramento City Unified School District in California.

The termination of Michelle Apperson for budget reasons is getting a lot of media attention, although I assume there are other Sacramento teachers with impressive credentials and awards among the 400 losing their jobs. The nine-year veteran is garnering headlines because she was recently named Teacher of the Year for the system.

According to News10/KXTV, where you can see an interview with Apperson:

Michelle Apperson just found out she was named “Teacher of the Year” for the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Despite that and the fact that she has taught at Sutterville Elementary School for the past nine years, she’s still losing her job due to budget cuts. She received her final notice in May.

“It hurts on a personal level because I really love what I do,” said Apperson. “But professionally, politically, I get why it …

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A vile school bus video goes viral and victim may get a well deserved vacation

The video of Greece, N.Y., middle schoolers verbally attacking an elderly bus monitor is disturbing and the language is abhorrent but condemnation of the kids has been instant and universal.  An Internet effort is under way to collect money to send monitor Karen Klein on vacation.

These kids in the video are oafs. I hope their parents aren’t and will make these kids own up to their repulsive behaviors. Do not listen to this video with kids in the room. It is disgusting.

Here is the video:

According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

Greece police and school officials have questioned some students believed to have taunted and harassed a Greece Central School District bus monitor. A video of an incident, which happened Monday, is making the rounds online. It has gone viral with more than 100,000 hits by Wednesday afternoon.

Greece Police Capt. Steve Chatterton said Greece Central School District officials contacted police Wednesday morning regarding the …

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Rather than slash 10 days, could DeKalb schools shut down for month of July?

I watched the DeKalb school board meeting long enough today to hear the school chief announce that the state DOE said DeKalb could cut its school year by additional days.

With an $85 million deficit and no reserves, a proposal is on the table for DeKalb to slash 10 more days.

According to the AJC:

Paul Womack wants to cut an additional 10 days from the school calendar.In approving a tentative general fund budget, the board had already voted to reduce the school calendar for students by two days. Four furlough days approved for teachers in prior years would also remain, but they would not affect students.

Officials said it costs the system $3 million a day to operate, so the proposal could save $30 million — enough to balance the budget without a tax increase. But they needed time to check on the details, so the budget deliberations were postponed until 6 p.m. Thursday.

But Lisa Morgan, a teacher and representative of the advocacy group Organization of DeKalb Educators, …

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A Georgia Southern prof pours out his heart on school’s problems and hits send — to everyone on campus

I value people who are willing to speak out. And this Georgia Southern University professor certainly did that in an email he sent campus wide. The candid opus from veteran professor David Dudley is drawing national attention, at least among the ranks of academia.

His frank letter led to a meeting last week with the Georgia Southern president, according to Inside Higher Ed, which has a good piece on the letter and its reception at the Statesboro campus

Here is Dr. Dudley’s open letter to the entire Georgia Southern community:

I write this letter because I will no longer sit by silently as a crisis of leadership engulfs the university I love. No one has helped me compose it, nor have I sought permission from anyone to write and send it. I speak for no one but myself. No one will have seen it before it is sent.

My purpose is to invite dialog among the various parties who must begin working together if Georgia Southern is to move forward to attain goals upon which there is broad …

Continue reading A Georgia Southern prof pours out his heart on school’s problems and hits send — to everyone on campus »

UGA professor: Giving voice and hope to undocumented students. (Panel on issue at UGA today.)

Many immigrants in Atlanta joined the push to allow children to attend college legally. (AJC photo)

Many immigrants in Atlanta pushed to allow children to attend college legally. (AJC photo)

JoBeth Allen is a professor in the University of Georgia Department of Language and Literacy Education. She sent me an essay about the plight of undocumented students and the role that educators ought to play.

Here is Dr. Allen’s essay:

By JoBeth Allen

Gabrielle is a National Honors Society student whose goal is to be a translator at the United Nations. She speaks three languages, passed seven Advanced Placement courses, and leads her section in the youth symphony. Her parents work long hours and depend on her to take care of her younger siblings after school.

While her family came to the U.S. legally on work visas when Gabrielle was a baby, they have not been able to become citizens.

Gabrielle is undocumented.

Like thousands of students throughout Georgia, Gabrielle will be affected by the Barack Obama administration’s announcement that ends  deporting undocumented immigrants ages …

Continue reading UGA professor: Giving voice and hope to undocumented students. (Panel on issue at UGA today.) »

Grading teachers: In the news and in dispute. Will Georgia follow suit?

over (Medium)A critical study of the LA Times teacher ranking project was released today by the National Education Policy Center.

The question of teacher rankings has particular relevance to Georgia, which, under its Race to the Top grant, will begin assigning teachers effectiveness grades based in part on student test scores. There is no indication yet whether those grades will be made public, a decision likely to fall to the state Legislature.

In explaining its controversial teacher ranking system, the LA Times said:

About 6,000 Los Angeles elementary school teachers and 470 elementary schools are included in The Times’ database of “value-added” ratings. Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers who taught at least 60 students from the 2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years were evaluated in the Times analysis. Most of Los Angeles Unified School District’s elementary schools are included. Test scores for charter schools that do not report directly to the district were not …

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