Archive for April, 2013

Emory faculty rejects “no confidence” motion against university president

Emory President James Wagner (Emory)

Emory President James Wagner (Emory)

The Emory Wheel is reporting tonight that the college faculty rejected a  “no confidence” motion against President James W. Wagner. Voting began Monday and ended tonight.

Wagner created controversy recently when he cited the infamous 1787  “three-fifths compromise” in an essay as an example on how leaders reach agreement. The compromise counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of distributing funds back to states and determining representation in Congress.

Some students and faculty were already upset with Emory’s decision to close its educational studies division, its physical education department, its visual arts department and its journalism program and suspend admissions to the graduate programs in Spanish, economics and the Institute of Liberal Arts.

Faculty members in the College of Arts and Science decided to vote to determine their level of confidence in Wagner.

According to the Emory Wheel: (This …

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Did Michelle Rhee ignore her own cheating scandal? A new memo suggests clear evidence was discounted.

Michelle Rhee speaking to Georgia lawmakers last year. (AJC Photo)

Michelle Rhee speaking to Georgia lawmakers last year. (AJC Photo)

PBS education reporter John Merrow writes about the erasure analyses, clear evidence of cheating and concealment of that evidence.

No, he is not writing about Atlanta Public Schools and former Superintendent Beverly Hall. He is writing about Washington, D.C., and former Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Merrow questions why the strong evidence of cheating in the District of Columbia Public Schools — revealed now in a confidential memo — was not followed up as it was in Atlanta, and puts the blame on Rhee.

He says an inexperienced and ambitious Rhee arrived in Washington and imposed a  “Produce or Else” reform model. He notes that Rhee met one-on-one with each principal and demanded a signed guarantee of exactly how many points their test scores would increase.

Rhee has become a national leader in education and holds great sway with state Legislatures, including here in Georgia. She is winning converts to the …

Continue reading Did Michelle Rhee ignore her own cheating scandal? A new memo suggests clear evidence was discounted. »

Do weaker math students end up with weaker teachers?

math (Medium)We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing the under performance of Georgia students in math.

We’ve debated the controversial and now abandoned math reforms introduced by former state school chief Kathy Cox, which stumbled in part because teachers were not adequately trained. We’ve talked about whether the problem owes to what’s being taught or who’s teaching it

Here’s some fodder to further our debate. Education Week has an interesting piece on new research on math instruction and teacher assignments. Please read the full piece in Ed Week before commenting.

An excerpt:

In many schools in the United States, students struggling the most in mathematics at the start of high school have the worst odds of getting a qualified teacher in the subject, new research finds. Succeeding in freshman-level mathematics is critical for students to stay on track to high school graduation, with students who make poor grades in math in 8th and 9th grades more likely to leave school …

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How two South Georgia districts ended segregated proms: Lessons from Turner and Montgomery counties

Update Friday: Better Georgia, a self-described progressive advocacy group, asked Gov. Nathan Deal to take a public stand supporting the efforts of four Wilcox County High School seniors to hold an integrated prom in a community where segregated private proms have been the tradition.

The group was disappointed with his response to its request, which addressed who was asking — Better Georgia — rather than the issue of the prom itself.

It sent out this statement today:

According to a report from Macon’s largest television station, 13 WMAZ, the governor’s spokesman, Brian Robinson, said Deal “won’t take sides” because “this is a leftist front group for the state Democratic party and we’re not going to lend a hand to their silly publicity stunt.”

Better Georgia is an independent, non-partisan organization and is not affiliated with any political party. The progressive advocacy group has challenged all Georgia elected officials to publicly support the students of …

Continue reading How two South Georgia districts ended segregated proms: Lessons from Turner and Montgomery counties »

State moves away from using test scores to assess schools but moves closer to using them for teachers

crcted.0920 (Medium)Since we are talking about standardized testing related to the teacher letter in an earlier blog today, I want to share a good AJC piece by my colleague Nancy Badertscher.

I recommended some experts for the story and am glad to see two of them in the piece.

My only caveat to the views expressed by State School Superintendent John Barge about an over reliance on testing: While Georgia may be de-emphasizing test scores in its assessments of schools, it is about to start emphasizing those same scores in its assessment of teachers.

So, I am not sure we have changed the game plan in any meaningful way.

Here is an excerpt: (Please note that this story is part of the AJC’s new premium site, MyAJC.com, which is free through mid May. Take a look at the full story and the nifty new site.)

John Barge was working in Bartow County Schools when a high school student had a panic attack trying to pass the graduation test and a fourth-grader became so stressed taking the CRCT he drew blood …

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Teacher’s parting letter strikes a nerve with equally frustrated peers around the country

A letter penned by a retiring Syracuse, N.Y., social studies teacher is getting a lot of reaction since it hit the web this week.

Westhill High School teacher Jerry Conti sent this letter to the Board of Education. (He also posted it on his Facebook page, which is why so many people have read it and sent it around.)

Here it is:

It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than 27 years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.

As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I …

Continue reading Teacher’s parting letter strikes a nerve with equally frustrated peers around the country »

Wilcox school chief applauds student effort to integrate proms, but stresses that these aren’t school events

downeyart (Medium)Wilcox County Schools finds itself in the unflattering eye of a social media storm after reports of its segregated proms — a vestige of 1970s integration when many high schools stopped sponsoring proms and it fell to parents to organize the dances  –  hit the newspapers, TV stations and Facebook.

The south Georgia school system is now addressing the surge in media attention, correcting a few misconceptions. Namely, that it sponsors these black and white proms.

In a general statement, Wilcox Superintendent Steven Smith said:

A recent article stated that Wilcox County High School is hosting its first integrated prom. Unfortunately, the article failed to provide all of the relevant facts related to proms in Wilcox County. Wilcox County High School has never hosted a school-sponsored prom.

In recent history, there have been two private parties that have been referred to as their  “proms” by two different groups of students. When the ladies mentioned in the article …

Continue reading Wilcox school chief applauds student effort to integrate proms, but stresses that these aren’t school events »

Emory faculty vote on Jim Wagner starting today. Can he still lead Emory or has he been compromised?

Emory President Jim Wagner (Emory)

Emory President Jim Wagner (Emory)

Faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory University begin voting today on whether they still trust in the ability of embattled President James Wagner to lead the university. The online voting will continue through Friday.

I have been getting a lot of emails both for and against Wagner, who sparked a firestorm with a recent essay in which he cited the infamous  1787  “three-fifths compromise” as an example on how leaders reach agreements.

Established in the give-and-take of shaping the U.S. Constitution, the compromise counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of distributing funds back to states and determining representation in Congress.

Writing  in Emory Magazine, Wagner used the compromise as an example of how people with conflicting views can find common ground.

He wrote:

One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of …

Continue reading Emory faculty vote on Jim Wagner starting today. Can he still lead Emory or has he been compromised? »

US DOE awards Georgia $17.2 million for low performing schools

From US Department of Education:

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Georgia will receive $17.2 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the Education Department’s School Improvement Grant  program. Georgia is one of 13 states that will receive SIG funding.

Six of the states, including Georgia, will receive awards to run a new competition for previously unfunded schools, and six states will receive continuation funds for the third year of implementing a SIG model.

Along with Georgia, the states receiving new awards are: Illinois—$22.2 million; Kansas—$4 million; Massachusetts—$7.2 million; Nevada—$3.8 million and North Carolina—$14.3 million. The seven states receiving continuation awards are: Arkansas—$5.3 million; Delaware—$1.4 million; Florida—$26.8 million; Montana—$1.5 million; New Jersey—$10.4 million; Oregon—$5.4 million; and Washington—$7.8 million.

“When schools fail, our children …

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Turning Premier DeKalb into a reality: What the school board needs to consider

Jennifer Hatfield is a longtime DeKalb resident, a graduate of DeKalb schools, a former DeKalb teacher and the parent of two DeKalb students. She is a vocal community advocate in the area of education.

These are comments she made at a public meeting to the new school board edited a bit for publication. While she focused on DeKalb, her advice could apply to any school district:

By Jennifer Hatfield

An open letter to the new DeKalb County Board of Education:

I was very vocal in my support of the suspension of the former board members. I am very impressed by your resumes and what I believe is your genuine desire to help the children of DeKalb County.

Welcome aboard. I and other parents want to help you. Please allow us to. Engage us. Draw upon our knowledge and experience and use it to your advantage.

The district adopted the Premier DeKalb moniker seven years ago. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines premier as first in position, rank, or importance. I think we can all agree …

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