Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

From Canada to Georgia, teachers complain of pressure to change grades to mask high failure rates

testing (Medium)Interesting AJC story on an Atlanta high school principal who resigned after accusations he bullied and intimidated teachers into raising failing grades.

Grade inflation has been in the national news as schools face increased pressure to improve student achievement, an issue Georgia knows well after the CRCT cheating scandals in Atlanta and Dougherty County schools.

Even Canada, held up as a model of effective education reform, has seen complaints from teachers of mounting pressure to alter grades so fewer students fail under a stricter accountability system.

Closer to home, teachers in a Tennessee for-profit virtual school complained of an email that directed them to drop failing grades. In a recent investigation, Nashville’s WTVF/NewsChannel 5 found that a Tennessee Virtual Academy administrator instructed middle school teachers to delete failing grades.

The case has had reverberations nationwide as the parent company of Tennessee Virtual, K12, the nation’s largest online …

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Cheating or collaboration? Do students really not know the difference?

crcted.0920 (Medium)A reader sent me this note about cheating and asked that I put the issue before the Get Schooled blog readership:

I am wondering if you have done much on student cheating? I have read about teacher cheating but don’t remember anything on the student side of the equation.

Now that my child is in high school, I am amazed at what online resources are available at the click of the button. I am aware of an instance where a teacher used an online study guide as a test….most of the students used it (teacher was unaware it was public domain) and received 100 percent on the test.  Smart on the students’ part, I’d say yes. Lazy on the teacher’s part, I’d say yes.

I’ve had some discussions with parents. Teachers don’t change their test, and the students share what’s on the test with their classmates who have not taken yet taken it.

That is cheating. But the parents I’ve spoken to call it “collaboration” and see nothing wrong with it. Teachers are aware it goes on but say it is …

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DeKalb school board drama distilled down to two questions for state Supreme Court, which has six months to answer

The controversy surrounding Gov. Nathan Deal’s removal of six DeKalb Board of Education members has been distilled down to two constitutional questions and presented to the  state Supreme Court.

I hate to think of the chaos if the state’s highest court, which has six months to rule, invalidates the governor’s appointment of six new members.

The court sent out this notice today:

The DeKalb County school board case, in which many media have expressed an interest, has just been docketed in our court. Please see the attached order certifying the questions the federal judge is asking this court to answer.

This case will be handled by the Supreme Court of Georgia like any other. The court has up to two court terms from the time it’s filed here – which is about six months – to make a decision. If the parties request oral argument, this Court will hear the case, as opposed to considering the case based purely on the briefs.

The brief from the “appellant” – the DeKalb County …

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Here’s why students need cellphones in school. To call their lawyers.

Sometimes, a news story can be short and still tell you all you need to know.

That is the case with this story from the Athens Banner-Herald: (Some good comments on the newspaper’s website from readers.)

An Oconee County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to Oconee County High School Thursday for a student possessing alcohol, but the officer arrived to find the student already on the phone with his lawyer.

When the student hung up, he told the deputy another student gave him the bottle of Seagram’s gin, then he declined to take a portable breath test and refused to answer any questions without his lawyer present, the deputy said. The student was charged with underage possession of alcohol and was removed from school grounds.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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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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Grad student says C-plus cost her $1.3 million in lost wages. Takes her case to court but judge is wary.

report cardI have known students to complain bitterly about grades and to disparage their professors on Internet rating sites.

But a grad student in Pennsylvania is taking her outrage to the courtroom. Before you attack the student, read the details. There are some odd elements to this case.

The woman was an otherwise A student who attended the class and participated in class discussions. And Megan Thode had an expert in her own home; her father teaches at the college, Lehigh University, and testified that he was stunned that a professor would give a student a zero for participation when the student showed up and talked.

Today, the judge in the case criticized both sides, according to the Morning Call, which is the local newspaper in the area covering the trial. (Here is a good piece by the Call on today’s proceedings.)

From the story:

“It’s regrettable that this case hasn’t been resolved,” Judge Emil Giordano said in the third day of a civil trial in which Megan Thode is seeking $1.3 …

Continue reading Grad student says C-plus cost her $1.3 million in lost wages. Takes her case to court but judge is wary. »

If testing and measuring makes for better schools, why are the Obama girls in a school that doesn’t agree?

The Obamas opted for a pricey pivate school for their daughters. (AP)

The Obamas opted for a pricey private school for their daughters. (AP Photo)

In a powerful essay in Education Week, retired educator Alan Jones of Illinois shares his experience accompanying his daughter to look at schools for his grandson.

Jones talks about today’s test-driven education classrooms, codified through No Child Left Behind and incentivized through Race to the Top. He compares schools that measure students almost entirely by test scores to the holistic approach of the Sidwell School attended by President Obama’s girls, saying. “When President Obama talks about good schools, he is talking about schools for other people’s children, not his own.”

Jones makes great points, although comparisons between public and private schools are not necessarily instructive in view of the wide gap in costs. The best private schools in metro Atlanta cost $18,000 to $22,000 a year — and that does not count books and fees — while the average per-pupil spending in public schools in …

Continue reading If testing and measuring makes for better schools, why are the Obama girls in a school that doesn’t agree? »

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, back …

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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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Complaint will be filed today about the Georgia private school tax credit that operates in secrecy

The AJC is reporting that the Southern Education Foundation will file a complaint today with the state Department of Revenue alleging widespread abuses in the controversial private school scholarship tax credit program.

The tax credit has received national media attention because of allegations of misuse. Yet, state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, the sponsor of the 2008 law creating the tax credit, is introducing a bill today to expand it.

Critics charge that the abuses — allowing donors to designate the recipients of their donation — have turned the private school scholarships into a back-door voucher. When the General Assembly approved the program, lawmakers said the money would enable poor students in public schools to move to private schools. Instead, the money appears to be going to students already in the private schools.

There have been reports that parents were making donations to schools that were then repackaged as “scholarships” for their own kids. In …

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