Archive for February, 2013

Sen. Jason Carter: We have not tackled any real education issues this legislative session

A frustrated State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Atlanta, took to the Senate well to protest the indifference of the Legislature to the serious education problems facing Georgia, including school funding. Twenty-four days into the legislative session, Carter complained that the first education bill being considered by the Senate was one requiring schools dedicate a week to students learning and reciting the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. While saying he would support “Freedom Week,” Carter said, “We also have to face our problems.” Take a look at his speech.

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Georgia among states with more non-teaching personnel than teachers. But does it matter?

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released a report today on which states have more non-teaching personnel than teachers, and Georgia is among the them. The study was done by Ben Scafidi, a one-time education adviser to Gov. Sonny Perdue and now an economics professor at Georgia College & State University.

I am not sure what to make of the findings as the 21 states cited in the report represent a range of student achievement. So, it’s not clear to me that the ratio of non-teaching personnel to classroom teachers correlates with how well kids do in school.

For example, the list includes both Minnesota, a historically high performing state, and Mississippi, a historically low performing state.  The list includes union and non union states.

The official release has a statement that taxpayers should be outraged, but I don’t see why unless someone can show us that these staffing ratios affect student achievement. I believe most parents would want to see more teachers …

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Cheryl Atkinson takes new post after DeKalb: Success for at least one

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson

Given her long affinity for the program, it is not surprising to read the former DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has gone to work for Success For All.

Several of you are alleging that taking a job with a program she brought to DeKalb Schools represents a conflict of interest. I am not sure if that is true, but there’s no doubt that her endorsement of Success for All and her use of it in her districts helped her get the job. After all, Success for All wouldn’t hire someone who didn’t believe in its program and its approach.

Please keep in mind that members of our Legislature often go to work for industries that they regulated while they held public office. Or they go to work for lobbying firms that lobby the General Assembly to get laws passed. And some prominent Georgia education leaders have gone to education think tanks in Washington, including our former state school chief.

According to the AJC:

The former DeKalb County school superintendent …

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Student who took photo of gun at Grady explains how and when. But he says bigger question is ‘why’ behind incident.

Grady High student Joe Lavine shot this photo of the gun in the accidental shooting at Grady Wednesday. (Joe Lavine, Southerner)

Grady High student Joe Lavine shot this photo of the gun possibly involved in the accidental shooting at Grady High School In Atlanta on Wednesday. (Joe Lavine, The Southerner)

I asked Joe Lavine, the Grady High School student who photographed the gun that may have been used in yesterday’s shooting at the APS school, to tell us how he happened upon it. The photo has appeared in the AJC and on TV.

There was a concern on the blog that a student photographer was “roaming” the Grady campus in the midst of a lockdown after a 17-year-old girl shot herself accidentally in the leg Wednesday morning in a school courtyard.

I had suggestedthat the student photographer may have been crossing the courtyard en route to class.

Morgan Tukes, a 17-year-old senior, left the hospital Wednesday and was taken to the Fulton County jail, where she is charged with a felony — possession of a pistol by a minor — and three misdemeanors: carrying a weapon within a school safety zone, reckless …

Continue reading Student who took photo of gun at Grady explains how and when. But he says bigger question is ‘why’ behind incident. »

New research: Too many college students routed into costly remedial courses when they only need a refresher

Education Week has a fascinating story this week on emerging research showing that many college students testing into remedial classes don’t need to be there.

A challenge in writing about education is the assumption factor. In Georgia, 70,000 students take remedial classes each year at our public colleges at an annual cost of $55 million. Nationally, the price tag is $7 billion.

We all despair that so many students are showing up at college unprepared and conclude that high schools aren’t doing their jobs.

But we never ask: Are these students being correctly identified?

Could it be that all some of them need are short-term refresher courses? Consider that many students are not entering college directly from high school and may have forgotten some of their math. According to Ed Week, close to a third of all entering college students are not coming directly from high school.

One study cited in the Ed Week story found that 20 percent of students in remedial math and 25 percent …

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Do you want to serve on the new DeKalb school board? Here’s how to try.

From the governor’s office:

The nominating panel that Gov. Nathan Deal assembled will begin immediately accepting applications for candidates to fill the seats of suspended members of the DeKalb County school board.

Applicants should email the following information to the search team:

1. Legal name, contact information and home address

2. District seat for which one is applying

3. Resume, CV and/or brief biography

4. Statement of interest

The panel will accept applications until March 6 at 5 p.m.

I asked the governor’s spokesman if the applicants must live in the specific school board district for which they are applying. His answer: “Yes, the law says that replacement board members must be otherwise qualified to serve, which means, in part, that they must live in the district.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

Continue reading Do you want to serve on the new DeKalb school board? Here’s how to try. »

Grady shooting shows the power of social media

Here is the power and reach of social media. My daughter in New York called to alert me to a shooting at Grady High School in Atlanta as a friend of hers in North Carolina posted a Facebook note about it after getting a text from his sister, a Grady student.

It turned out that a female student accidentally shot herself in the leg in the school parking lot this morning. Police have the gun, and the wounded student is at the hospital. Everyone at the school is safe. Grady is on lockdown, but classes will resume in a few minutes, according to student Facebook postings.

APS has been sending out alerts to worried Grady parents, but it appears that students inside the school were never in danger. (Why a Grady student showed up at school with a gun or why she was handling a gun in the parking lot is not clear.)

If you want to see an amazing photo and read a minute-by-minute accounting of the APS Twitter reports, go to the Southerner, Grady’s award-winning student newspaper. (Evidence …

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Should constitution be amended to allow Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs to create own school districts?

Could we someday have the city of Dunwoody or city of Brookhaven school district? Or city schools of Sandy Springs or Milton?

A resolution in the House would allow voters to decide whether to undo the constitutional prohibition on creating any new school districts in Georgia. .

House Resolution 486 adds this qualifier to the state constitution:

No independent school system shall hereafter be established; provided, however, that any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, may establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system.

The resolution proposes that this question be put before voters:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created …

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Suspended DeKalb school board member Eugene Walker: ‘I will not quit or step aside.’

Suspended DeKalb school board member Eugene Walker says his removal by Gov. Deal violates the constitution.

Suspended DeKalb school board member Eugene Walker says his removal by Gov. Deal violates the constitution.

In a pro/con today, suspended DeKalb Board of Education member Eugene Walker explains why the governor was wrong to suspend him and five other board members Monday. Taking the other side is state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta. Please read her piece here.

Here is Dr. Walker’s piece. Please focus on his arguments, which are the same ones that the lawyer for the deposed school board will put forth in court later this week. It is important to understand that under challenge is not just the removal of the DeKalb board, but the constitutionality of the state law that permits the governor to step in and yank school board members.

By Dr. Eugene Walker

The governor is wrong in his decision to suspend members of the DeKalb County Board of Education.

The DeKalb School District has been placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a …

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House Minority Leader: Gov. Deal was right to suspend DeKalb board members for sake of children.

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams on why she supported Gov. Deal in his removal of DeKalb school board members.

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams on why she supported Gov. Deal in his removal of DeKalb school board members.

In a pro/con today, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, explains why she stood behind Gov. Nathan Deal Monday as he suspended six members of the DeKalb Board of Education. Taking the opposite position is suspended DeKalb Board of Education member Eugene Walker  Please read his piece as well.

Here is Rep. Abrams’ view.

By Stacey Abrams

On Monday, Gov.  Nathan Deal suspended six members of the DeKalb County School Board, in accordance with the unanimous recommendation of the State School Board. I stood with Governor Deal and a number of colleagues in the General Assembly, supporting his action.

In 2010, I also supported SB 84, which provided the mechanism for suspension and removal that Gov. Deal used. Ceding the authority to suspend elected officials is a grave and dramatic step, one that should not be taken lightly. However, when the consequences …

Continue reading House Minority Leader: Gov. Deal was right to suspend DeKalb board members for sake of children. »