Archive for the ‘parents’ Category

Guest column: Fix, don’t expand, Georgia’s troubled private school tax credit program.

Hillel Y. Levin is an associate professor of law at the University of Georgia Law School. He teaches courses on administrative law, civil procedure, constitutional law and legislation.

In this essay, Levin discusses the tax credit for private school scholarships, which has been the subject of several AJC investigations. Here is one. Here is a blog on abuses in the program.

By Hillel Y. Levin

Five years ago, Georgia’s legislature enacted a program that gives taxpayers a tax credit for donating to student scholarship organizations (SSOs) affiliated with private schools.

The stated purpose of the program—to provide scholarships for underprivileged children to attend expensive private schools—is a worthy one. But this goal has been undermined by a lack of transparency and by aggressive efforts by some private schools to funnel SSO funds to middle- and even upper-class students. Indeed, there is scant evidence that any disadvantaged children have escaped poor public schools …

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House passes parent trigger bill. It now goes to the state Senate.

Georgia’s version of a parent trigger bill passed the House last night. It must now win Senate approval.

House Bill 123, the Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act, allows for petitions by parents or teachers to convert their school to a charter school or adopt another turnaround model. The bill requires the local school board approve the petition and calls on the state Board of Education to act as a referee when there are disputes between petitioners and local boards.

A petition may be submitted by a majority of the parents or a majority of the faculty and instructional staff members. The bill allows parents at any school — even a high performing one — to petition for their school to become a charter school,  stating  “…a petition may be submitted to convert any local school to a charter school.”

But the bill largely speaks to low performing schools. Parents at schools designated low performing can petition to:

(1) Remove school personnel, including the principal and personnel …

Continue reading House passes parent trigger bill. It now goes to the state Senate. »

Remember those pledges DeKalb board members made to resign? Why haven’t any of them done so yet?

The Concerned Citizens for a Unified DeKalb, a coalition of parent leaders from schools across the county, is calling for the six suspended DeKalb board members to throw in the towel and resign.

(For a good place to find an aggregation of all the news about the DeKalb school drama, go to the Parents for DeKalb Schools Facebook page.

The statement calls for the six to resign and drop the legal challenges. They lost a key legal battle yesterday in front of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story, which ought to give them more impetus to get this drama over with and step down.

But they may be waiting for the state Supreme Court to take up their plight.

As the AJC reported:  The judge’s decision does not end the litigation. Story indicated he was dubious about the likelihood that DeKalb would win under their U.S. Constitution argument, but he signaled that the Georgia Supreme Court could soon consider questions in the case. He asked the two sides to agree on which …

Continue reading Remember those pledges DeKalb board members made to resign? Why haven’t any of them done so yet? »

Parent trigger and charters: As we offer more school choice, what happens to children left behind?

grabarart0920Shanna Miles is an educator and a parent working in the metro Atlanta area. An avid literacy advocate, she lobbies to ensure that every child has access to a free and public library in a community.

She wrote this piece for the Monday print AJC education op-ed page.

By Shanna Miles

In the 1840s, Irish Catholic parents lobbied for local control of schools so that their children wouldn’t be indoctrinated by a Protestant curriculum.

In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower had to call in the National Guard to lead nine African-American children past a picket line of angry white parents who were outraged that their school was to be integrated.

Fast-forward a half-century or so, and the war between government and parents still rages with the passage of Amendment 1 and the introduction of the “Parent Trigger” charter bill. Now winding its way through the Legislature, House Bill 123 would allow parents and teachers to force a local school board to consider their petition to change their …

Continue reading Parent trigger and charters: As we offer more school choice, what happens to children left behind? »

Why is the image of public education distorted by media?

grabarart0920Here is an interesting essay by University of Georgia professor Peter Smagorinsky, a regular contributor to this blog.

He writes about the distance between the reality of public education and the images portrayed in the media.

By Peter Smagorinsky

A few years ago, Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly was invited to dinner in a Harlem restaurant by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Each has served as a foil for the other’s constituencies. To O’Reilly, Sharpton represents Black Wilding, the phenomenon that many in the Fox News audience assume is a daily urban occurrence: when a band of poor, black youths roam the streets engaging in social mayhem from assault to robbery to rape to vandalism to murder.

To Sharpton, O’Reilly represents those aspects of White society that believes that all Black people are Wild, based on media reports that emphasize crime and rely on fear to construct images that serve to characterize whole groups of people according to stereotypes based on the behavior of the …

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Obama cites Georgia as proof that pre-k works. Calls for College Scorecard and redesigned high schools. Real goals or rhetoric?

President Obama praised Georgia for its pre-k program in his speech. (AJC)

President Obama praised Georgia for its pre-k program in his speech. (AJC)

In his fifth State of the Union address, a buoyed President Obama called for making “high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.”

Citing Georgia as an example, the President said states that have treated early childhood as a priority have children who “grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own.  So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”

He called proposed cuts to education and job training a terrible idea, saying, “Most Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents, understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.” While saying that …

Continue reading Obama cites Georgia as proof that pre-k works. Calls for College Scorecard and redesigned high schools. Real goals or rhetoric? »

Good advice from educator: Let your kids choose own path, in college and life

downeyart (Medium)Here is a thoughtful guest column by Stan Beiner, head of the Epstein School:

By Stan Beiner

At The Epstein School, a private K-8 program, we prepare students to excel in high school and beyond.  If we do not maintain standards of academic excellence, we would not have the opportunity to fulfill our other mission which is creating well-balanced individuals who will continue in the traditions of our people.

With a deep sigh, we turn our innocent, middle school graduates over to high schools who will prepare them for colleges that don’t exist.  You can translate that as heavy homework loads, AP courses, honors classes, multiple extra-curricular activities, and the stretch for the highest GPA possible.

I have listened to countless teens talk about holding down jobs, staying up endless hours, falling asleep at their desks, padding their resumes, and trying to figure out HOW to get into their preferred STATE school.

Flash forward to the “perils” of university life …

Continue reading Good advice from educator: Let your kids choose own path, in college and life »

Parent trigger: Can parent takeovers improve schools?

Are parents the solution to failing schools?

That’s the theory behind parent trigger laws, which allow a majority of parents in a failing school to petition and win control of the school and impose their own reform blueprint. Originating in California in 2010, the laws allow parents to take over a systematically failing school if they collect signatures from the majority of families.

But do the trigger laws really fire blanks?

A increasing criticism of parent trigger laws is that, while they involve parents at the start in organizing the petition drives to pull the trigger, the most realistic outcome is the hiring of an outside management firm to run the reconstituted school.

In fact, the possible ascendancy of for-profit education management companies contributed to the defeat of a parent trigger bill in Florida last year because parent groups argued that the law would lead to corporate interests exploiting the schools.

The Georgia General Assembly is now considering the …

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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 the …

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

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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