Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

Nearly one in five high school boys diagnosed with ADHD. Is it big problem or Big Pharm?

grabarart0920Mining CDC data, The New York Times is reporting today nearly one in five high school age boys and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Are we over-diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity, especially in boys, because we have less tolerance of what were once understood and accepted as normal kid behaviors?

Have we become a nation that spots a fidgety 5-year-old and thinks a pill is the answer?

Are these behaviors more troubling in an era where even kindergarten has an academic focus and where children are measured by test scores? Are parents buying the pharmaceutical industry’s promise that it can turn a restless student into a focused scholar?

A child with ADHD is easily distracted, hyperactive and impulsive. More than overactive, these children often can’t sit still long enough to respond to a question or listen to a story. Some can’t slow down between idea and action, leaving them …

Continue reading Nearly one in five high school boys diagnosed with ADHD. Is it big problem or Big Pharm? »

Do or die: Last chance for bills in the Legislature, including the controversial guns on campus effort

tb1605If you have time today, tune in to watch the last gasp of the 2013 legislative session where guns on campus will be one of the top stories.

Today marks the final day when bills either pass or die.

The state’s universities are battling hard against a push to allow college students to carry guns on campus, and seem to have the state Senate on their side. But the Georgia General Assembly is among the nation’s most gun friendly, and most lawmakers do not want to alienate the gun lobby. So this will be a close battle and one that is getting national attention.

To watch from your computer, go here and click on the links on the left side. Updates also will be posted frequently on ajc.com.

According to the AJC summary of where the gun bill and the budget stand:

Efforts to expand access to guns across Georgia in places such as schools and college campuses are going right down to the wire. The crux of the issue: The House wants to allow guns on college campuses; the Senate, so far, …

Continue reading Do or die: Last chance for bills in the Legislature, including the controversial guns on campus effort »

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 …

Continue reading Indiana Supreme Court upholds voucher program »

No Child Left Behind neglected gifted students. That is about to change in Georgia.

Dori Kleber

Dori Kleber

Dori Kleber owns and operates GiftedAtlanta.com, a non-commercial online resource for parents of gifted children. She is a parent advocate for gifted education and the mother of two gifted children.

In this piece, she explains why education policy must not just consider under performing students, but those who are high performing, too.

By Dori Kleber

One of the great tragedies of our American public schools in the past decade has been the neglect of our brightest children. While struggling students have made gains, high-achieving students have stagnated.

During the reign of No Child Left Behind, our schools have been so intent on lifting low-performing students to a level of minimum aptitude that they have ignored the needs of those who already exceed basic proficiency and are ready for greater challenges. The result: Top students are languishing.

This imbalance in academic growth was confirmed in a 2008 study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, “High-Achieving …

Continue reading No Child Left Behind neglected gifted students. That is about to change in Georgia. »

Shorter summers short teen’s chances to earn money

Do shorter summers hurt the ability of teens to earn college money from such jobs as lifeguarding and camp counselors? (AP Images)

Do shorter summers hurt the ability of teens to earn college money from such jobs as lifeguards and camp counselors? (AP Images)

As a parent in a metro district that returns to school Aug. 1 under a “balanced calendar,” I read this Sunday AJC essay by Roswell parent Vicki Griffin with a personal interest.

While Griffin wrote the column to address the issue of lobbyist fees, she mentions her son’s experience in protesting his school district’s dwindling summer breaks.

That is a growing issue as more systems move to modified year-round or balanced calendars in which students have shorter summers and more breaks throughout the school year. Some states have essentially blocked short summers by legislating that school cannot start earlier than late August.

In fact, North Carolina passed a law that specifies school start dates: Start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather related calendar …

Continue reading Shorter summers short teen’s chances to earn money »

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? »

Georgia kids can’t touch their toes. Can schools fix that?

Schools are being asked to get students moving more. (Vino Wong/AJC)

Schools are being asked to get students moving more. (Vino Wong/AJC)

Before I began writing about education, I never thought much about all that we ask of schools, from teaching kids calculus to civics to character to cardiovascular health. As an editorial writer, I would attend meetings where one group after another would tout some critical new skill that kids ought to have or some societal problem that schools ought to fix.

But I began to realize schools can’t be ground zero for every societal change; they simply don’t have the time or resources to tackle every challenge facing America today, including childhood obesity.

Can schools help? Sure, but I doubt schools can solve a problem that begins in the home with poor nutritional habits and lack of regular physical activity.

With that backdrop, here is an AJC story on just how out of shape Georgia kids are.

According to the AJC:

Only 16 percent of a million Georgia schoolchildren were able to pass five basic tests of …

Continue reading Georgia kids can’t touch their toes. Can schools fix that? »

Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit

Adam Emerson is the director of the program on parental choice at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank that recently released “School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring?”

Adam Emerson

Adam Emerson

In this piece, Emerson urges more transparency in how Georgia’s controversial private school scholarship tax credit program works. In what he calls a “grand bargain,” Emerson proposes, “More transparency in exchange for more (or more generous) scholarships.”

By Adam Emerson

The Georgia Senate recently took an incremental step toward responsible and accountable private school choice by unanimously passing a bill that shines more sunlight upon the Peach State’s embattled tax credit scholarship program. If the House concurs, then parents and taxpayers will have more information about the students and the scholarship groups that participate.

But Senate Bill 243 doesn’t go far enough. Yes, it requires the nonprofit groups that administer the scholarships to …

Continue reading Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit »

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 …

Continue reading Cheating or collaboration? Do students really not know the difference? »

State monies to help struggling districts going to Gwinnett, Clayton and Paulding. Many small-town systems get nothing. Why?

As many of you often point out on the blog, state equalization grants are not going to the presumed targets, poor rural districts, but to the mighty Gwinnett County Schools

And you always wonder why.

The AJC looked at the grants that are supposed to help struggling districts with weak tax bases in a Sunday story by AJC reporter James Salzer. The story explains how the grants are awarded, detailing a formula that benefits districts with booming enrollments and eroding property values. In other words: Gwinnett.

But an expert suggests that the calculus of the equalization grants needs to look beyond the property wealth-to-student ratio to personal wealth in a county, which would send more money to struggling south Georgia districts that may have stagnant enrollments but also have persistent poverty and historic school under funding.

Here is an excerpt of the news story: (See list of where grants are going.)

By James Salzer

Gov. Nathan Deal won praise in January when he announced …

Continue reading State monies to help struggling districts going to Gwinnett, Clayton and Paulding. Many small-town systems get nothing. Why? »