Archive for the ‘School financing’ Category

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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In black and white: Segregated proms continue but students at Georgia school trying to make history with first integrated prom

The concept of segregated proms in the South shocked people when the AJC and other newspapers wrote about it a few years back. The first question from readers was how this could still be happening.

It happens because the proms are not officially school events, although a great deal of promoting and planning by students occurs within schools.  Since the proms are private parties held off campus without any school funds, schools disavow any control over the events, which are organized by parents and students and reflect historic and lingering racial divides.

In the news this week is an effort by students in Wilcox County High School to finally end the tradition there of segregated proms. Homecoming dances are also segregated there.

The teens are trying to raise money for an “Integrated Prom,” which would be the first ever in the rural Georgia county. They began a Facebook page yesterday to garner support. When I began this blog this morning, they had 300 “Likes.” They now have …

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Beverly Hall worried about asking too little of inner city students. But is there also a danger of asking too much?

downeyart (Medium)Despite all the cheering on the blog that APS administrators are now facing justice for their roles in the CRCT cheating scandal, an unresolved issue remains: Why was there so much cheating in APS?  (And elsewhere in the country, as uncovered by a later AJC investigation?)

The Georgia CRCTs are not difficult tests. Why was it so difficult to get APS students to score in acceptable ranges?

The indictments in the APS cheating scandal bring us back to the national quandary of how to raise the achievement level of students who historically were never expected to do well, were accorded fewer resources with which to do well, had the most inexperienced teachers and came from homes that lacked the social capital to assist them in school.

The cheating at APS occurred in the schools with the least advantaged populations.

When she came to Atlanta, Beverly Hall said she wanted teachers who believed poor children could do well. (Interesting side point here is that Hall wanted to fire …

Continue reading Beverly Hall worried about asking too little of inner city students. But is there also a danger of asking too much? »

Can parents trust the state with control of their schools?

charterartMany people in DeKalb and other counties are losing faith in the ability of local education leaders to responsibly manage their schools.

Can they trust state leaders to govern more responsibly?

That’s a question more Georgia parents may be asking if Gov. Nathan Deal wins greater control over local schools systems. And that, reports the AJC’s Greg Bluestein and Ty Tagami, is Deal’s intent.

In 1989, New Jersey became the first state to take over a school district. Now, the majority of states have some legal mechanism to seize control of a troubled district. But research suggests that state intervention does not always solve problems.

That’s because a state bureaucracy can be even more sluggish and unyielding than a local one. And states don’t always have the money or the staffing to turn around struggling systems.

So, while states may come in and rearrange things, they don’t necessarily dramatically improve them as recent takeovers in Philadelphia and Roosevelt, N.Y., …

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Indiana Supreme Court upholds voucher program

Breaking news out of Indiana where the state Supreme Court has upheld the state’s voucher program.

While Indiana’s Choice Scholarship imposes income caps, they are broader than most voucher programs. The amount of the voucher depends on family income and size. For example, a family of five can qualify for half the $4,500 voucher with an annual income of up to $76,5007.

According to the Indianapolis Star:

The ruling, on a teachers union-supported lawsuit from 2011, ends the legal challenge to the program at the state level. The case could be made again in federal court. But in 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar program in Ohio, making any further appeal a long shot.

The Indiana case began shortly after the program was created in 2011 when a group of teachers, school officials and parents who oppose vouchers sued the state, arguing the program was unconstitutional.

Vouchers allow low income families to redirect tax dollars from their local public school …

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Cherokee school board: Shades of DeKalb in silly exchange between new board member and school chief

I was beseeched by several readers to look at the video of Thursday’s Cherokee County Board of Education meeting. The readers contended that new board member Kelly Marlow tangled with Cherokee Superintendent Frank Petruzielo over a minor issue and wasted a lot of time.

After watching the video, I have to agree that time was frittered away on what seemed a minor point on the dues being spent by the district — approved in the budget last year — for the Georgia School Boards Association.

And the audience seemed to concur, applauding in the video when an exasperated Petruzielo finally said, “I can’t imagine we are spending really this much time on something this inconsequential, particularly with the kinds of issues we just talked about in the work session that are so consequential to the future of this system.”

Marlow ran for the office as a watchdog and a reformer, and that is the role she clearly intends to fulfill even at the cost of creating discomfort.

I happen to like …

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The top HOPE Scholarships: Are the best and the brightest in Fulton and Gwinnett? Is rural Georgia shortchanged?

artchangeThe Georgia Senate debated the qualifications to become a Zell Miller scholar this afternoon while discussing House Bill 131, which accords high school students who take dual enrollment college classes the same .5 boost in their final grade that Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate students now earn.

Ultimately, the Senate approved the grade boost for dual enrollment, but voted 33-15 against against an amendment  to change how the Zell Miller Scholarship is calculated so that more rural Georgia students would qualify.

Only one group of Georgia college students — those who graduated high school with a 3.7 or higher GPA  and scored at least 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a 26 on the ACT –   now earn full tuition under the changes made to the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship. These students are known as Zell Miller Scholars. Zell Miller is also extended to all high school valedictorians and salutatorians.

State Sen. Jason …

Continue reading The top HOPE Scholarships: Are the best and the brightest in Fulton and Gwinnett? Is rural Georgia shortchanged? »

Cobb faces drastic actions to cope with school budget crisis. Considers some online high school classes.

computer (Medium)Georgians can grasp just how grave the underfunding of education has become when they read about what’s happening in Cobb County, long considered one of the state’s top school districts and among its most stable.

Tonight, the school chief proposed shifting many high school classes into online courses, cutting five days from the school year, eliminating transportation to several thousand students and giving district staff five furlough days to address an $86.4 million deficit.

This is occurring in one of more affluent counties in the state, a county that lured new residents on the reputation of its schools.

How are the rest of Georgia districts — few with the financial resources and educated middle-class populace of Cobb — coping with drastic funding cuts to their schools? Never mind bake sales. Are they holding blood drives?

I’m not sure how happy Cobb parents are going to be when word of these proposed economies reach them. Many parents will have questions about the online …

Continue reading Cobb faces drastic actions to cope with school budget crisis. Considers some online high school classes. »

Parent trigger on agenda today. Is the bill fatally flawed?

A Senate committee takes up the parent trigger bill today.

Originally, House Bill 123 allowed a majority of the parents or teachers in a failing school to petition the school board for a complete overhaul of a the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model. The bill specifies that the parents can remove school personnel, including the principal, or mandate the complete reconstitution of the school. In a feature unique to the Georgia bill, even parents of high performing schools can apply for their schools to convert to a charter school.

But House Bill 123 underwent dramatic change in its move from House passage to Senate consideration. The Senate eliminated any mention of teachers in failing schools being able to petition for a management overhaul. The Senate version limits that power to parents.

I asked the bill’s sponsor, House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, for a comment.

“We’ll see what the Senate committee does with my bill.  …

Continue reading Parent trigger on agenda today. Is the bill fatally flawed? »