Archive for the ‘Discipline’ Category

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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Privacy laws shield bullies. Would public shame be a greater deterrent?

grabarart0920Tammy Simpson is an anti-bullying advocate and the founder of the Brandon Bitner Memorial Scholarship Fund. Glen Retief’s memoir about bullying, “The Jack Bank,” won a 2011 Lambda Literary Award.  Retief teaches creative nonfiction at Susquehanna University.

This is their first piece for the AJC:

By Tammy Simpson and Glen Retief

As our kids settle in for the second half of the school year, spare a thought for this number: 160,000. That’s the estimated number of American students who will stay at home every day this semester due to fear of being bullied.

Americans spent much of December transfixed by images of elementary school gun violence. However, the fact is that the average student is infinitely more likely to be bullied than shot by a lunatic. Bullying — which can, of course, include gun violence, especially in rough neighborhoods — is the routine risk that can shake loose the foundations of children’s security.

Once, parents typically reacted to a disclosure …

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Analysis: Charter schools kick out far more problem students, but what is the alternative?

Many educators on this blog complain that charter schools enjoy a critical edge over their non-charter counterparts: They have far more freedom to kick out problem students.

The Washington Post decided to test that claim and found that the District of Columbia’s public charter schools expel students at a far higher rate than the city’s traditional public schools. Those problem kids often return to the traditional public school down the street, which has far greater pressure to keep all students.

I am not sure what the answer is here — should charter schools face more hurdles before they expel students or should traditional public schools face fewer? Should we hold public schools to a higher bar for the expulsion of younger students?  And where should be put those students once they are expelled? Are alternative programs effective?

The Post investigation is lengthy, and I would recommend that you read the entire piece before commenting here.

According to the Post:

D.C. …

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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 …

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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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College Board: Rise in students in AP classes accompanied by rise in performance

Earlier this month, I linked to a controversial essay in the Atlantic by a former college professor and high school teacher criticizing Advanced Placement courses.

I introduced the issue by noting that there’s a push under way in Georgia to get more high schools students into AP classes. There is also a debate over whether students fare better taking AP classes at their high schools or taking intro classes at local colleges through dual enrollment

Among the 126 respondents to the entry was Trevor Packer, senior vice president, Advanced Placement and SpringBoard Programs, the College Board.

Because Packer’s comments came late in our discussion, I am pulling them out here for those of you who might have missed them:

By Trevor Packer

The Advanced Placement Program® invites AP® teachers and students to examine multiple sides of an issue — thinking critically, examining evidence, and then arguing with precision and accuracy — and this invitation extends to their views of …

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A new high stakes test: Woodward Academy will screen its students for drugs. Good idea for all schools?

Several Woodward Academy parents sent me notes a few weeks ago about a surprising letter that came home from the College Park private school announcing that students will be subjected to random drug tests starting in fall of 2013.

Those parents were not happy about the plan to test randomly selected students. Many private schools around the country   test their students for drugs, although there is debate over the efficacy of such policies.

One Woodward parent wrote: “I’m completely opposed to the  school’s decision…It’s interesting to note that all studies conducted in regards to student drug testing indicate that these programs are ineffective at reducing drug use.”  Another told me: “I am considering other schools for my son next year.”

I went to the National Institute on Drug Abuse web site for background on student drug testing and found this question and answer:

What has research determined about the utility of random drug tests in schools?

There is not very much …

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Texas school district changes policy to allow male employees to paddle female students.

There is so much wrong with this story out of Texas, including parents granting permission for their teenage daughters to be paddled in high school, that I am not sure where to begin.

So, I will let you read this Fort Worth Star-Telegram article and judge for yourselves.

As I say whenever these stories appear — and they appear with disquieting frequency — corporal punishment ought to be banned from every school. Today.

Here is an excerpt of the story by Bill Miller of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

SPRINGTOWN, Texas — School board members voted Monday night to change school district policy to allow opposite gender employees to administer corporal punishment to students, but only with written permission from parents.

Also during the meeting, which included emotional addresses from some parents, the board made it policy that a same-gender school official must be on hand to witness, and parents can only request one paddling per semester.

The vote came after two female …

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Another test in schools: Cobb wants polygraphs for employees

Does it make sense for a school district to use polygraph tests to get to the truth in employee disputes and conflicts?

Cobb plans to do so.  The school board amended its discipline policy to say employees who refuse to take the exam could be fired. The district, the state’s second largest, is the only major school district in metro Atlanta that uses polygraph tests to try to determine whether a person is lying.

There is a great deal of controversy around the reliability of polygraph tests, which is contributing to concerns about Cobb’s policy.

According to the AJC:

Although administrators insist they rarely use polygraph tests, teacher advocates say that could change at any time and that they object to the test being used at all. “I don’t think [polygraph tests] are reliable, dependable or accurate,” said Connie Jackson, the president of Cobb County Association of Educators. “I think [their use is] horrible and unconscionable.”

Administrators say the tests …

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Are we pushing kids into the school-to-prison pipeline with suspensions?

Many schools maintain a push and pull approach to attendance. One one hand, school administrators make extensive efforts to push parents to get their children to class.

Yet, schools adhere to suspension policies that pull students out of their seats for minor infractions. In 2010, U.S. schools suspended more than 3 million students in kindergarten through 12th grade. And many of those students were minorities and children with disabilities, according to a new analysis of data from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

The review by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, found one in six African-American students was suspended from school, more than three times the rate of their white counterparts. Those findings are creating significant concern as school suspensions are linked to retention, lower graduation rates and funneling kids into what is known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

The analysis also found that more …

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