Archive for October, 2012

Check out schools that made DOE’s reward school list today for strong performance by low-income students

The state Department of Education has released its long-awaited list of reward schools. There are 45 schools from metro counties on the list. And the AJC has a story up with the local schools listed.

“Reward” schools represents a new category created by the waiver that Georgia won from No Child Left Behind. The list recognizes schools with large numbers of low-income students who are performing well or showing significant progress in their academic achievement.

From DOE:

The Georgia Department of Education today released the list of Reward Schools as part of the state’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act  flexibility waiver. The category is reserved for schools with the highest performance or the biggest academic gains by students in the last three years.

“These schools are shining examples of what we can achieve in public education in Georgia,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “I want to take what’s working at our Reward Schools and …

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“I don’t love teaching because my job is no longer teaching.”

North Carolina teacher Kris Nielsen wrote a provocative and lengthy essay for his blog Middle Grades Mastery.

It begins:  “I love teaching. Or, I did love teaching. I loved teaching when my job was to teach. Now, I don’t love teaching, because my job is no longer teaching.”

Nielsen began teaching in 2006. He taught sixth grade earth science, writing, “I created my own curriculum, based loosely on the New Mexico state standards. My kids loved it! I kept them busy with hands-on, student centered learning that built vocabulary and concepts along the way.”

Nielsen  moved to Oregon and a job he enjoyed, but was let go after two years when his district slashed 350 jobs to cut costs.

Nielsen chronicles a frustrating job search that led him and his family to move cross country to the vaunted Charlotte-Mecklenburg system. He shares his growing disillusionment with the profession.

Here is an excerpt of his blog. Please try to read the full essay before commenting:

What they didn’t …

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Candidate takes fake Twitter account in stride even though it’s designed to miff teachers

GOP House District 81 candidate Chris Boedeker is not losing sleep over a fake Twitter account that someone started last week, even though the spoof tweets about education are clearly designed to provoke educators.

“I looked at it briefly,” he told me on the phone today. “I noticed it over the weekend and I faxed in the identifying stuff to Twitter to get it taken down.”

Boedeker has no idea who created the fake account, but says Twitter has not played a big role in the campaign and that no one had asked him about it until I called.

Among the FAKE tweets:

A lunch lady with a textbook and a photocopier could replace any teacher.

A decent teacher would be able to handle a classroom of 40 children.

Statistics show that most teachers work 2.6 hours a day. Our children deserve better.

Lady @ table next 2 us got free dessert for her bday. Sorry, I’m just not comfortable with handouts.

If nurses were as smart as doctors, they would have gone to medical school.

For the record, here …

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Should a teacher lose job for urging kids to check answers?

As demonstrated with North Atlanta High School, APS chief Erroll Davis is fond of the emphatic gesture. That was also evident when he suspended all the educators implicated in the cheating investigation by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

But some of those educators are fighting to return to their jobs as a tribunal sorts through the evidence against them in a series of hearings.

One of them is M. A. Jones Elementary School teacher Precious Moon. Her case seems among the murkiest, given the lack of clear evidence against her. Take a look at the AJC story on this week’s hearing and let us know what you think.

According to the AJC:

Atlanta Public Schools pressed its case Monday to terminate M. A. Jones Elementary School 5th-grade teacher Precious Moon for her alleged involvement in the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test cheating scandal that has implicated about 180 educators.

APS Superintendent Erroll Davis testified before a three-person tribunal that he had lost confidence in …

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First Paideia, now Pace. Staff member arrested for child porn.

Parents at two of Atlanta’s most prestigious private schools are reeling from the child pornography arrests of school staff.

A few days ago, the AJC reported that a Paideia school janitor was arrested on child porn charges. In a letter, the Paideia headmaster informed parents that the janitor allegedly told federal investigators he placed hidden cameras in the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms at the private Druid Hills academy.

Headmaster Paul Bianchi wrote that Josh Ensley, a janitor for Paideia for 17 years, was arrested after he received illegal materials through the mail. Agents charged him with possession of child porn after a search of his home computer.

A search of the bathrooms at Paideia, which instructs students ages 3 through 18, turned up no recording devices, according to Bianchi.

Now, it is the Pace Academy headmaster sending a shocking letter home this evening to parents at the Buckhead school announcing the arrest of veteran fine arts teacher William …

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Failing charter finally closes and principal collects a cool half million. Is sufficient oversight in place?

I just spoke at the Atlanta Rotary Club meeting about the charter school amendment on next week’s  ballot.

One point that came up was whether the state had sufficient monitors/regulators in place to keep tabs on the charter schools it will approve if the charter school amendment is passed next week. (I noted that whether we are discussing bridges, day care centers or nursing homes, the state never seems to have enough compliance officers or resources to keep up with the recommended number of inspections, reviews and follow-ups.)

Most charter schools in Georgia are approved by local school boards where the distribution of funding is uniform and tightly controlled.  Tax dollars come already allocated with little latitude in setting spending priorities.

But neither local school boards nor standard funding procedures apply to state-approved or independent charters, which have greater freedom in how they spend their tax dollars and operate outside of the direct control of the …

Continue reading Failing charter finally closes and principal collects a cool half million. Is sufficient oversight in place? »

Graduating to a pay gap: Female college grads still earn less than male counterparts

Women face an earning gap once they graduate college, according to a new study. (AJC/file photo)

Women face an earning gap once they graduate college, according to a new study. (AJC/file photo)

The American Association of University Women released a report last week on lingering gender inequities in salary.

According to “Graduating to a Pay Gap,” women one year out of college who were working full time earned, on average, just 82 percent of what their male peers earned.

“After we control for hours, occupation, college major, and other factors associated with pay, the pay gap shrinks but does not disappear. About one-third of the gap cannot be explained by any of the factors commonly understood to affect earnings, indicating that other factors that are more difficult to identify — and likely more difficult to measure—contribute to the pay gap,” the report states.

The report acknowledges the role of college major in determining income. Men are over represented in the higher-paying fields of engineering and computer science, while women continue to dominate in the …

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Most pro charter amendment money coming from outside Georgia. Most against from state educators. Does either worry you?

The AJC has been following the money in the high-powered, high-profile campaign for the charter school amendment, which would give the state the power to overrule local school boards and approve and fund charter schools. Presumably, that would lead to more charter schools in Georgia. Voters will decide the question on Nov. 6.

The AJC reports:

Groups backing the charter schools constitutional amendment have again pulled in far more money than amendment opponents, the most recent campaign filing statements show.  Families for Better Public Schools, which supports the amendment, raised $1.28 million during the filing period that ends 15 days before the election. Families’ haul was 70 times more than the $18,164 the main opposition group, Vote Smart! No to State-Controlled Schools, raised during the same period.

A second amendment supporter, Georgia Public School Families for Amendment One, raised $55,000. Despite the group’s name, all of its money came from a single donation …

Continue reading Most pro charter amendment money coming from outside Georgia. Most against from state educators. Does either worry you? »

Another great Georgia teacher: Justin Sealy of Pelham City Schools

Justin Sealy of Pelham City Schools

Justin Sealy of Pelham City Schools

University of Georgia professor Peter Smagorinsky has been writing a Great Georgia Teacher series for the blog. Here is another installment, Justin Sealy of Pelham City Schools.

(His earlier profiles include David Ragsdale of Clarke Central High School in AthensTravis Ellington of Toombs County and Angela Dean of Gwinnett.)

(I am out of state at a funeral of a high school classmate and without computer access.  If you are stuck in the filter, I won’t be able to free you until Saturday when I get back to the land of the wired.)

By Peter Smagorinsky

Georgia, like many states, has a large rural population where farming remains a central part of community life. The family farm has lost a lot of ground to Mega-Ag, Inc. over the years, but providing a sound and fundamental hands-on experience with the earth and the food that people produce from its soil is a noble and important contribution to the quality of life in areas far removed …

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Ann Coulter crosses line with parents of special needs students with her “retard” tweet during presidential debate

Bad girl pundit Ann Coulter has turned offensive and cutting remarks into her signature brand and, based on how often I see her on TV, it seems to be paying off for her.

But one of her tweets this week set off a group of parents who already have it hard enough in my book: Parents of children with special needs who must navigate a dizzying array of state and federal mazes to get their children vital services. And never mind their battle to get their children respect.

In response to the presidential debate Monday between President Obama and Gov. Romney, Coulter tweeted: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

The outrage was immediate. Much of the response to Coulter cannot be printed here, but one person writes: “Again, making fun of people w mental disabilities=not funny. BTW, I am both practicing Catholic AND conservative.”

I have read dozens of commentaries from parents of children with special needs about how hurtful comments like …

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