Archive for January, 2013

A student shot to death in Chicago. A student shot in the neck in Atlanta. What is happening and can we stop it?

Hadiya Pendleton (From AP)

Hadiya Pendleton (From AP)

With the terrible news that a Price Middle School student was shot today in Atlanta by a classmate, I thought I would share Chicago Teachers Union President and National Board chemistry teacher Karen GJ Lewis’ statement about a shooting in Chicago Tuesday in which a high school student died.

King College Prep student Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon at 2:20 p.m. while walking through a Chicago park with a dozen classmates. The teens had been dismissed early from their high school classes after finishing their finals. The group had dashed under a canopy in the park when it began to rain. In an apparent case of mistaken identity, a gunman running through the park opened fire on the high school group, killing Hadiya and injuring two other students

A member of her school’s majorette team, Hadiya had just returned from Washington after performing at an inaugural event.

(The official statement from APS on the shooting here Thursday: …

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A double dose of algebra improves math and verbal skills as well as college enrollment

Doubling up on algebra classes in high schools has big payoffs, according to a new study.

Doubling up on algebra classes in high schools has big payoffs, according to a new study.

Interesting study out of Texas A&M on the impact of increased algebra exposure in high school:

When students’ time learning algebra is doubled, both their math and verbal skills improve and their rates of college enrollment increase, reveals a study conducted in part by a Texas A&M University researcher.

Kalena Cortes is an assistant professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, and along with Joshua Goodman, assistant professor of public policy at Harvard University, and Takako Nomi, an assistant professor at Saint Louis University, studied the “double dose algebra” policy at Chicago Public Schools, implemented in 2003. The study, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, “Doubling Up: Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment,” will be published in the winter 2013 edition of the Education Next …

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Do parent trigger laws fire blanks? Is it parents who really take over schools or management companies?

In explaining the impetus for his parent trigger bill,  House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, cited the need to get parents and school boards talking.

“It creates an additional avenue of communication directly from the parents to the school board, which I think is critically important.” Lindsey told a media assemblage earlier this month.

Wouldn’t coffee chats be an easier way to get parents and school boards talking?

House Bill 123 allows a majority of the parents or a majority of the faculty and instructional staff  to petition for a complete overhaul of the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model.

The bill specifies that the parents can:

1) Remove school personnel, including the principal and personnel whose performance has continued not to produce student achievement gains;

(2) Mandate the complete reconstitution of the school.

(3) Mandate that the parents have the option to relocate their student to other public schools in …

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Emory president introduces new provost and explains why it’s wiser to be in the online pack rather than leading it



Emory President Jim Wagner (Emory)
Emory President Jim Wagner (Emory)

Emory President James Wagner visited the AJC on Tuesday to introduce new provost Claire E. Sterk. Among the topics on the table: Emory’s ventures into the online world.

Emory is participating in Coursera, a consortium of universities offering free MOOCs or massive open online course.  But closer to home, it’s launching Semester Online, which Sterk and Wagner described as “the modern-day version of a semester abroad.”

Launching in a year, Semester Online will offer far smaller classes than MOOCs and likely be limited to students from Emory and other top-tier schools, such as Duke, Northwestern and Tufts. Undergrads will earn credits for their courses, which is not the case with the free MOOCs.  Semester Online will cover the same information and be taught by the same faculty at the brick-and-mortar colleges.

And students will pay the same tuition, which surprised me. Isn’t lower costs one of the chief selling …

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Guest column: DeKalb Schools ought to clean house and start fresh

I was planning to post this essay on DeKalb by local writer Janusz Maciuba later today, but events got ahead of it. A DeKalb resident, Maciuba teaches English as a Second Language at an area technical college.

Here is his piece with my note on today’s updates:

By Janusz Maciuba

The most popular teacher in every school is not the one who can control a class of hooligans or inspire students to love Shakespeare or physics. It is the teacher who knows about the retirement plan.

This teacher could explain why DeKalb is paying for two superintendents when there is only need for one.

Ramona Tyson, the previous interim superintendent, now tucked away in a make-work job, is still earning $235,000 a year.

The retirement teacher can explain: A teacher’s pension is based on years served and the average of two highest consecutive years of salary.  If she had reverted back to a $150,000 position at the end of the interim period, she would be entitled to around $100,000.

Meanwhile, …

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DeKalb school official resigns in wake of plagiarism report by AJC. Symptom of district in deep disarray?

I ran into AJC education reporter Ty Tagami at the elevator this morning and told him how surprised I was that DeKalb school administrator Ralph Taylor had yet to resign after it was revealed that Taylor plagiarized parts of a report for which DeKalb Schools paid him $10,000. (Following up on a tip, Tagami broke the story in the AJC earlier this month.)

To me, Taylor represented a serious liability for DeKalb school chief Cheryl Atkinson, who is already on shaky ground with her school board. (And, of course, the board itself is on shaky ground, which is why DeKalb is teetering on the brink of collapse.)

Now, a few hours later, Tagami is reporting that Taylor has resigned his $117,461-a-year associate superintendent job.

Tagami writes, “… district spokeswoman Lillian Govus said Taylor had resigned. She said Taylor received no severance package. She also said she understood that Taylor was to repay the $10,000 immediately, though she couldn’t confirm that he had, indeed, …

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Do we put students first when we promote them when they aren’t ready?

A retired APS teacher sent me this note in response to my entry a few ago on Michelle Rhee’s state report cards. I thought it was worth sharing as it addresses a problem that I hear about all the time — the promotion of kids who are not ready or prepared for the next grade:

I am a retired teacher from an APS middle school. I have tried to get someone to listen to what I consider a big problem in APS schools.

The article “Students first? really touched me. So many students in APS will never graduate from high school because they can’t read, write, or pass the CRT. It’s not their fault or their parents’ fault.

In the last 10 years of my teaching career, I saw so many students struggle because they were always put up to the next grade level even when they could not pass the grade they were in.

My last two years of teaching were in the sixth grade, and I had students who read on the third, fourth and fifth grade level but were “passed on.”

What does that mean? They did not pass …

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One finalist for UGA president: Jere Morehead

Jere Morehead will be the new president of UGA pending Regents approval. He already works for UGA.

Jere Morehead will be the new president of UGA pending Regents approval. He already works for UGA.

Sounds like the University of Georgia has a new president:

From the Board of Regents:

Board of Regents Chair “Dink” Nesmith and University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby have announced the name of the finalist for the University of Georgia presidency, Jere Morehead.

Morehead is currently the senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost at UGA. He previously served as UGA’s vice president for Instruction, vice provost for Academic Affairs, director of the Honors Program, and acting executive director of Legal Affairs.

In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Morehead is the Meigs Professor of Legal Studies in the Terry College of Business where he has had a faculty appointment since 1986.

In his current position, the deans of the various schools and colleges report to Morehead, as well as several vice presidents. Several other campus units …

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As Georgia bleeds high-paying jobs, can education provide a salve?

georgia-road-map-300x334Are the architects of Georgia’s education policies paying close enough attention to the vicissitudes of the state’s job market?

Should they be? Should education policy track job market shifts?

I was disappointed to read that Georgia is losing a startling share of  “premium” jobs, according to a new brief by the Fiscal Research Center of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Can education reverse the loss of the state’s highest paying jobs? Can we continue to under invest in education given the job trends?

As a state, Georgia came late to the realization that it had to educate its citizens to higher standards. It was content to send kids without a high school diplomas off to mills and farms, but those jobs have dramatically shrunk, and, in some cases, disappeared.

It is interesting to note where the jobs are in Georgia.

Fulton County holds the largest share of jobs. While Fulton represented  17.71 percent of state jobs in 2000, it fell to …

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To test or not to test: Should parents be able to decide whether kids take state exams?

testing (Medium)Should parents in Georgia decide whether their children take annual state exams?

A reader told me that her daughter was showing signs of test anxiety because her elementary school was already in the midst of prepping for the April CRCT.

So, the parent asked, “Can we legally opt-out?”

No, says the state Department of Education, which sent me this response:  “Given both state and federal law require all students test, we encourage parents to discuss their concerns with their local districts. Some districts have policies above and beyond state policies.”

When I last wrote about testing concerns, a parent posted that Georgia students can get around taking the CRCT, although the subterfuge seemed extreme to me and likely to cause the child even more stress.

The parent wrote, “All that is required is that you withdraw them from school and home school them through the two-week window of testing. As long as the student had done well in all core subjects the entire year, there is …

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