Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

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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Can we simultaneously fix and flee public schools?

artchangeCan we simultaneously fix and flee public schools?

I wondered about that question after meetings with Georgia’s last Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, and House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta. The men sat down with the AJC recently to discuss education issues in the state.

In many areas, the two leaders — both noted for their interest in education — see eye to eye.

“Just because a child is born in Schley County and not Forsyth County, you cannot constitutionally justify that child is going to receive an inferior education just because of an accident of birth,” said Barnes.

Speaking to AJC reporters a week later, Lindsey said much the same thing. “The fact of where a child is born should not determine whether they are going to have a future or not. Wherever a child is born, we have to concentrate on how to get them the education they need.”

Where the two leaders disagree is over the fundamental definition of public education: Is schooling a collective concern funded and …

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Cellphones in Atlanta schools: Call me maybe. But only in emergencies.

I remain amazed how often I see groups of kids sitting around on their cellphones. Even when they have actual human beings sitting across from them at the Dairy Queen or the Starbucks, they are engrossed in their phones. And the worse offenders are the kids with iPhones, who apparently have no reason to ever look up from their screens.

So, I have mixed reactions to Atlanta’s decision to allow all students to bring cellphones to school.

There is nothing mixed about the position of the Atlanta Federation of Teachers, which issued this formal statement:

Whereas, we understand that the superintendent may be charged with constructing a regulation in regards to APS’ existing cell phone policy, the AFT is requesting that the Atlanta School Board disallow cell phones on school grounds and within school buildings by students.  (Change the existing policy.)

As we continue to hear from and interface with APS instructional staff, we have gained a greater comprehension and …

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Anybody out there want to rethink middle schools?

grabarart0920Regular Get Schooled readers know that I have doubts about the efficacy of the middle school model.

Despite decades of experimentation and refinement, middle school still doesn’t work in most places, leading me to conclude that the problem is not with the execution of the concept but with the concept itself.

In 2011, a Harvard study found that students moving from fifth grade to a middle school setting suffer a sharp drop in academic performance in reading and math, compared to peers who attend k-8 schools. The findings of the Harvard study confirmed an earlier Columbia University study.

Writing in Education Next, Harvard researchers Martin West and Guido Schwerdt explained:

Our results cast serious doubt on the wisdom of the middle-school experiment that has become such a prominent feature of American education. We find that moving to a middle school causes a substantial drop in student test scores (relative to that of students who remain in K–8 schools) the first year …

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Shouldn’t public school calendars take needs of working parents into consideration?

Atlanta is among the districts reconsidering year-round schools where summers are only five weeks long. (AJC photo)

Atlanta is among the districts reconsidering year-round schools where summers are only five weeks long. (AJC photo)

The AJC has an interesting story today on the reconsideration of  year-round school schedules where students have a shortened summer — around five weeks  — and more breaks sprinkled throughout the year.

The story says there’s no strong evidence that the year-round calendar improves student performance. As a result, AJC education writer Mark Niesse says Atlanta may end its experiment with year-around schooling.

While this story focused on “year-round” schools, there are systems, including my own, that have adopted “modified year-around” calendars where students return to classes as early as Aug. 1. Under that schedule, students have seven to eight weeks off in the summer and week-long breaks in the fall and winter, in addition to the standard April spring break.

While both year-round and modified calendars accommodate families with the flexibility and finances to …

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Gun incident at Grady High highlights socio-economic divide. Can students overcome differences?

Grady High student Joe Lavine shot this photo of the gun in the accidental shooting at Grady Wednesday. (Joe Lavine, Southerner)

Grady High student Joe Lavine shot this photo of the gun in the accidental shooting at Grady on Feb. 27. (Joe Lavine, The Southerner)

One of the strongest images to emerge from the accidental shooting 10 days ago at Grady High School was a photo taken by a student photographer who was in-between classes when a classmate accidentally shot herself in the leg in a school courtyard. Grady senior Joe Lavine is on the staff of  high school’s nationally acclaimed student newspaper, The Southerner.

Lavine has written a guest column about the shooting. (Lavine is interviewing today for a college scholarship. Good luck to him.)

By Joe Lavine

Yes, I took the picture of  the gun a Grady High classmate accidentally discharged  last week in the school courtyard. Yes, I threaded my way through the monkey grass and snapped a photo of that abominable, life-ruining object seconds after the student accidentally shot herself in the leg and rushed off to the school clinic, leaving the gun in …

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The real crime in APS school shootings: No one did anything to stop these kids earlier.

Former civil rights and criminal defense attorney Tom Dunn is a high school teacher in Atlanta and the father of three Atlanta Public School students. He wrote this piece in response to the shootings at Grady High School and Price Middle School. He teaches classes in law and justice.

By Tom Dunn

After the Feb. 27 shooting at Grady High School, my students at another Atlanta high school and I continued our discussion about guns in schools and how to make schools safer.

The students in my Introduction to Law and Justice class agreed that allegedly bringing a gun to school was wrong, no matter what the rationale may have been of accused senior Morgan Tukes. Their proposed solutions were to tighten security and gun control, or enforce the laws we have and lock up the alleged offender for a long time.

My teaching point was that the best solution was social responsibility — what we once called community.

First, someone allegedly gave Ms. Tukes that gun. Allowing a gun to get into …

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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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Chancellor: Keep guns off Georgia’s college campuses

Should Georgia allow guns on its college campuses? (AJC file photo)

Should Georgia allow guns on its college campuses? (AJC file photo)

Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby spoke in opposition today to House Bill 512, which would comprehensively sweep away most restrictions on carrying firearms in Georgia, including on college campuses, on public school grounds and in churches.

Contrary to other states where the debate has shifted to restricting guns in the wake of the Newtown school massacre, many of two dozen gun bills filed in the Georgia Legislature aim to expand firearms access and reach.

Many educational leaders are concerned with bills allowing guns in schools and on campuses.

Here is Huckaby’s official statement from today’s hearing on HB 512:

I appear before you today as the chancellor of the University System of Georgia – a system of 31 institutions with 314,000 students and over 40,000 faculty and staff members. But I am also a father, and grandfather. I am a gun owner with many lifelong friends who are gun owners and hunters. Like …

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Are education reforms hurting the students who need the most help, poor and minority kids?

downeyart (Medium)In his blog “becoming radical,” Paul Thomas, a Furman University associate professor of education, contends that the education reform movement perpetuates inequity and increases segregation. Thomas draws on the findings of the Civil Rights Project, which has done extensive research on the resegregation of schools.

While the South once led the nation in integrating its schools, it’s now become a leader in the resegregation of America’s classrooms, largely as a result of housing trends.

In 1960, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Only 7.8 percent of the Negro students in the South are attending integrated schools this year, a hundred years after our emancipation from slavery. At this pace it will take 92 more years to integrate the public schools of the South.”

King would likely revise his prediction dramatically upward if he observed his namesake schools in the Atlanta region, most of which are now attended by all black students. That’s because schools mirror the …

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