Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Privacy laws shield bullies. Would public shame be a greater deterrent?

grabarart0920Tammy Simpson is an anti-bullying advocate and the founder of the Brandon Bitner Memorial Scholarship Fund. Glen Retief’s memoir about bullying, “The Jack Bank,” won a 2011 Lambda Literary Award.  Retief teaches creative nonfiction at Susquehanna University.

This is their first piece for the AJC:

By Tammy Simpson and Glen Retief

As our kids settle in for the second half of the school year, spare a thought for this number: 160,000. That’s the estimated number of American students who will stay at home every day this semester due to fear of being bullied.

Americans spent much of December transfixed by images of elementary school gun violence. However, the fact is that the average student is infinitely more likely to be bullied than shot by a lunatic. Bullying — which can, of course, include gun violence, especially in rough neighborhoods — is the routine risk that can shake loose the foundations of children’s security.

Once, parents typically reacted to a disclosure …

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No homework for my kids. No school for mine. For whom do such approaches really work?

I read an interesting blog by a parent on her resistance to homework. In “Starlighting Mama,” writer Heather Shumaker explains why her household bans homework. In a nutshell, her kids have better things to do. Things that are more fun and probably more educational.

So, every year, Shumaker sends a letter to the school that is generally accepted by her son’s teacher.

Here is part of her letter:

My son gets home around 4 p.m. He gets into pajamas around 8 p.m. In those short four hours, he:

Has an after-school snack, talks and unwinds from his day, plays/ pursues his own interests, goes outside and climbs in tree forts, giggles with his brother,  does family chores, practices piano, has a family supper, reads his own book and listens to a bedtime story

These are all more important uses of his time, or any young child’s time. My view is homework interrupts home learning. Homework tends to give school /learning a bad name and when given too young, kids learn to resent it …

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Cobb’s great adventure in technology. We all should watch and learn.

Cobb County is about to experiment with integrating the technologies that dominate children’s lives into the classroom through an ambitious pilot project at three middle schools.

This is a growing trend, but one for which effectiveness has yet to be proven.

According to an Education Week story:

While there is much on-going research on new technologies and their effects on teaching and learning, there is little rigorous, large-scale data that makes for solid research, education experts say. The vast majority of the studies available are funded by the very companies and institutions that have created and promoted the technology, raising questions of the research’s validity and objectivity. In addition, the kinds of studies that produce meaningful data often take several years to complete—a timeline that lags far behind the fast pace of emerging and evolving technologies.

For example, it is difficult to pinpoint empirical data to support the case for mobile learning …

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FYI on AYP: Federal law makes it harder for diverse schools

After our recent discussions about the adequate yearly progress or AYP standards established by the federal No Child Left Behind Act  — see yesterday’s media conference call with Arne Duncan on how it might change –  Jordan sent me this note:

I find it fascinating (especially after your most recent article) that very few people are aware how AYP calculations punish heterogeneous schools. The more diverse your school, the more sub groups you have. The more sub groups you have, the more you have to meet. It’s almost as if No Child Left Behind encourages schools to segregate. That hardly seems in line with the spirit of American education.

So too, the SWD (students with disabilities) affect AYP in poorly designed ways.

“Federal law requires states and local districts to improve the performance of students with disabilities on standardized assessments. The current measure typically being used to calculate an achievement gap uses the percentage of nondisabled students performing …

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Here is interesting video on unschooling in the extreme

With all the comments on unschooling from the interview I did with the author of new book on the movement, I decided to post this ABC “Good Morning America” clip on “radical” unschoolers. This interview spurred a lot of comment from unschoolers.

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Value in non students joining public school teams, clubs?

Should Georgia mandate that public schools must open their after-school activities to any child in the community, no matter where they go to school?  AJC photo.

Should Georgia mandate that public schools open their after-school activities to any child in the community, no matter where they go to school? AJC photo.

I exchanged e-mails with Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, one of the co-sponsors of Senate Bill 55, and asked if I could share his explanation of why he sees a need for this legislation.

SB 55 is one of two bills — SB 34 is the other – that open public school after-school extracurriculars to children who don’t attend the school. However, I wasn’t clear which kids each of these similar bills was representing. (See earlier blogs for background. This one is about 55. This one is about 34.)

Were the bills designed to let any children, whether enrolled in private, charter, magnet or homeschooled, to join after-school clubs and teams at the local public school?

As far as SB 55,  Sen. Shafer said that he signed on because the bill “would allow home and private school kids to participate in public school extracurricular activities. …

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Should non students be able to join school clubs, teams?

The state Senate wants non students to be able to participate in clubs at their local public schools, even though many are not funded with tax dollars.

Many school clubs depend on fund raising rather than taxes. (AJC file)

Take a look at Senate Bill 55 and Senate Bill 34, both of which require public schools to allow children who are not enrolled to participate in extracurricular activities.

I understand the impetus and the impulse, but at some point, don’t schools have the right to ask: How much more can we do?

Schools can barely meet the needs of their own students, and now Sen. Chip Rogers and the Georgia Senate want them to open their doors to non students?

These bills would mandate access to all after-school clubs, sports and programs to students outside of the school. (Neither bill speaks to private school students yet, but that is probably soon to come.)

Consider that many after-school activities are financed by parent fund-raising and staffed by the parents themselves. Some after-school clubs depend on teacher volunteers. There is little taxpayer money going into most after-school activities.

How can the Senate …

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APS whistle blowers: Their credibility came under attack

The Sunday AJC is full of good education stories, but the one that will get people talking is an investigation into the fallout to APS teachers who report cheating on state high-stakes tests.

(If you don’t get the AJC on Sunday, this would be the day to pick up a newspaper as there is a lot to read, long story on how SACS works, a news piece on APS accreditation, an editorial on APS and two columns on education issues.)

As is often the case with whistle blowers,  APS teachers told the AJC that they experienced push back and recriminations for coming forward, although many still work for the Atlanta schools.

One of the common tactics in discrediting whistle blowers is to turn the focus on them and their job performance. It’s also an effective means to intimidate other employees from ever coming forward.

Teachers in the story allege that is what happened to them in Atlanta.

According to the investigative piece by AJC reporter Alan Judd and Heather Vogell: (Please read the full …

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More virtual schools likely for Georgia. Good news?

As expected, the Georgia Charter Schools Commission approved the four charter schools recommended by its interviewing panels. It also raised the per pupil funding for online schools, a move that is likely to lure more virtual enterprises to Georgia.

I have read a lot about virtual education, but still think we are in the discovery phase of whether online learning is effective, especially for younger students. To me, the models depend in great part on the willingness of the parents to essentially co-teach.

In its 2009 meta-analysis of studies on online learning, the U.S. Department of Education noted that online learning was effective, but cautioned: An unexpected finding was the small number of rigorous published studies contrasting online and face-to-face learning conditions for K–12 students. In light of this small corpus, caution is required in generalizing to the K–12 population because the results are derived for the most part from studies in other settings (e.g., …

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Sex, death and videotapes: College student’s suicide exposes the ugly side of our show-all society

As a New Jersey native, this story about the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate filmed him in a sex act and posted it online caught my attention last night. It is a depressing story that raises questions about both morality and the invasive nature of today’s electronic toys.

Police believe Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge last week after two students filmed him in a private sex act and posted it.

Police believe Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge last week after two students filmed him in a private sex act and posted it.

I am not sure what to say except people can be cruel and that cruelty has a price. How we are raising our kids today that they would think it was funny to videotape another teen in a sexual encounter and post it for the world to see?

But, we have become a nature of voyeurs, whether it’s gawking at the poor woman caught picking her nose on camera this week or a TMZ-surprise attack on some celebrity eating an ice cream cone with his kids.

A friend of mine who threw herself a birthday bash was stunned when a guest posted photos from the party …

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