Archive for December, 2012

Does a STEM degree guarantee a job? Not always.

math (Medium)Does STEM always spell success for college graduates?

Whenever I write about the efforts to bolster U.S. graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, readers send me notes about their problems finding work despite a STEM degree. And that includes math teachers.

(If you are interested in this topic, take a look at this Duke study on which countries produce more engineers and the job prospects for those graduates. The report concludes: Our research shows that companies are not moving abroad because of a deficiency in U.S. education or the quality of U.S. workers. Rather, they are doing what gives them economic and competitive advantage. It is cheaper for them to move certain engineering jobs overseas and to locate their R&D operations closer to growth markets. There are serious deficiencies in engineering graduates from Indian and Chinese schools. Yet the trend is building momentum despite these weaknesses…The calls to graduate more engineers do not focus on any field …

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Common Core Standards: Sky is not falling, but ground is shifting

Mel Riddile is the associate director for high school services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. His work in turning around schools in Virginia earned him the 2006 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year award. This is his first piece for the AJC Get Schooled blog

By Mel Riddile

To answer a couple of the education questions on the minds of Georgia citizens these days:

Yes, we can expect to see a significant drop in the first year of the new Georgia Performance Standards assessments.

No, the sky is not falling.

But the ground is shifting.

Previous Georgia standards and assessments aimed merely to validate a high school diploma. Nothing more.

The new Georgia Performance Standards, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards, call for a much higher level of student performance as indicators of college-and-career-readiness.

Georgia was one of the first states to adopt the new Common Core standards in English, language arts and …

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Dangerous slogans for education and life

Janusz Maciuba teaches English as a Second Language at a technical college in the Atlanta area. He has written several pieces for the AJC. Here is his latest:

By Janusz Maciuba

In the service of instilling self-esteem in students, teachers and other cheerleaders of scholastic and personal achievement have promoted slogans that are potentially dangerous if taken at face value by students. In fact, some of these motivational mottoes can actually encourage students to drop out of school. I base my observations on teaching 7th and 9th graders and from reading thousands of GED essays, some of which explained why students left school before graduation and what their dreams for the future were.

Here are the top three lies some students believe:

You can be anything you want to be. Yes, you can! With hard work at school or on the practice field or in the orchestra, mixed with talent and luck, the right blend of genes, and teachers and parents who really take an interest in …

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As Legislature gets ready to convene, education leaders offer their wish list. (Yes, money is on it.)

Whenever the General Assembly makes decisions affecting schools, educators complain their views are overlooked.

So, I asked education leaders to tell me what the Legislature should tackle in 2013 and what it should avoid:

Herb Garrett, Georgia School Superintendents Association:

The issue that I wish our returning lawmakers would address is the continued underfunding of our state’s public schools. As you know, we are now about to enter our 12th consecutive year of the infamous “austerity cuts,” and there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. While five other states are mulling the idea of actually adding days to their students’ school years, two-thirds of our school systems are unable to offer even the 180-day school year that used to be considered normal. At some point, we simply must ask if we are doing the right thing by our children.

During this continuing saga, there will be much conversation this session about changes to our “flexibility and accountability” …

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Happy holidays Georgia State University style

A fun and lively holiday greeting from Georgia State University and the Georgia State Rock Band:

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Goals for Southern states: More graduates, better educated

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Making “my child the teacher” as impressive as “my child the doctor”

When it comes to bragging rights, most parents would still prefer to announce, “My child the lawyer,” rather than, “My child the teacher.”

Would such attitudes change if the U.S. teaching corps became more selective?

The American Federation of Teachers is endorsing an entrance exam for new teachers similar to the bar exam that novice lawyers must pass and the medical boards that newly minted doctors must pass.

“It’s time to do away with a common rite of passage into the teaching profession — whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they and their students sink or swim. This is unfair to both students and their teachers, who care so much but who want and need to feel competent and confident to teach from their first day on the job,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

The education debate in Georgia has skirted the question of improving teacher quality, focusing …

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NRA wants armed guards in every school. Will that make schools safer or raise risks?

NOTE: I am moderating all comments to the blog today in response to some of the stuff I was seeing in an earlier post today. Your comment will not appear until I read and approve it.

After its low profile following the Newtown shooting, the NRA today called for armed officers in every school.

“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?” said NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre at a news conference interrupted by a protester holding the sign “NRA is killing our kids.”

He continued: “How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and …

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Newtown shooting: Focusing on young black men in hoodies while ignoring young white men with Glocks

Veteran teacher Bob Fecho, now a reading education professor at the University of Georgia, writes about young men, violence and guns in the wake of the Newtown shooting:

I am a white male. I’ve been in education for nearly 40 years and for 24 of those years I taught in three different secondary schools in Philadelphia. The students in all those schools came from working class and working poor black families.

When I would tell other whites who I’d meet casually—a taxi driver or a sales clerk, for example—where I worked, I’d hear anything from the coded “It must be hard teaching them kids” to the bald “You should get a medal for teaching there.” I suspect they imagined a school running amok, with fights breaking out daily, gangs terrorizing teachers, and mayhem rampant. Such was never the case.

Instead, I would see how the young men I taught were frequently vilified in local media, how black on white crime was plastered across the 11 o’clock news, despite its low occurrence rate …

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Derail the school-to-prison pipeline in Georgia

Rob Rhodes is director of projects with the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. This is his first piece for the AJC Get Schooled blog:

By Rob Rhodes

Along with the fiscal cliff, the United States faces an “education cliff” — the growing problem of unacceptably low graduation rates made worse, at least in part, by the reliance on school disciplinary practices that contribute to the “school to prison pipeline.”

Georgia’s significantly lagging high school graduation rate is the result of many factors. A key cause may be an overuse of exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions and expulsions, and the regular referral of incidents of schoolyard misbehavior to juvenile court.

The Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice has conducted a comprehensive study of student discipline policies, which found sharp differences among the school districts in the use of exclusionary discipline.

In 2011, eight school districts reported overall out-of-school suspension rates of less …

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