Archive for the ‘Fulton’ Category

Annual paid teacher leave: Average is 13.6 days for veterans. Fulton gives teachers 20 days.

Of Georgia's largest systems, Fulton offers the most teacher leave, according to a new study.  (AP Images)

Of Georgia's largest systems, Fulton offers the most teacher leave, according to a new study. (AP Images)

The print AJC offered several provocative education stories over the past few days, including one on the paid leave afforded teachers in large school districts.

The story was based on a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, which noted wide differences nationwide in leave policies and amounts. (Before commenting, please try to read the report as it explains in detail how leave is defined.)

Who provides the least teacher leave? According to the report:

Of the 26 districts which offer 10 or fewer days of general leave, nine are located in Florida. California, Louisiana, and Texas each have four districts with relatively little leave.

The TR3 district with the least amount of general leave is Desoto County, Mississippi, which only gives teachers 9 days.Teachers working for the DeSoto County (Miss.) school system get the fewest days  — nine.

Who gives the …

Continue reading Annual paid teacher leave: Average is 13.6 days for veterans. Fulton gives teachers 20 days. »

Fulton and Cobb school chiefs: Making changes, taking heat

The AJC ran profiles this weekend of the Fulton and Cobb school chiefs. The two men are part of the wave of new school chiefs who arrived in metro Atlanta over the last three years.

Here are excerpts from both AJC profiles:

First, from the profile of Cobb’s Michael Hinojosa, who came from Dallas where he was credited with many improvements.

Dr. Michael Hinojosa

Dr. Michael Hinojosa

Going into his second year, Hinojosa, 55, said he has few regrets. “I wanted to build trust and confidence, but we still have to move quickly, ” he said. “I hate waiting. But I want to take a punch and for it to have staying power.”

Hinojosa has received national recognition for his six-year stint in Dallas for raising at-risk students’ test scores and turning around several schools. During his tour of the district, Hinojosa learned of Cobb’s strengths: Its parents are heavily involved. It has four of the highest performing high schools in the state.

And he learned of its struggles: The school board was fractured over …

Continue reading Fulton and Cobb school chiefs: Making changes, taking heat »

Teachers aren’t martyrs, monks or nuns. But they are dedicated and trying their best for their students.

over (Medium)I am hearing a lot about teachers leaving their schools, even in high performing areas.

One of the Get Schooled blog’s most eloquent and articulate posters, Jordan Kohanim, who gave up her north Fulton teaching job this year, shared this list of ways schools could stem the exodus.

By Jordan Kohanim

There are some obvious solutions to this problem which can be addressed at the grass-roots level.

1.  Acknowledgement: This one of the most important factors. Recognizing that teachers have a difficult job and are doing the best they can (and often successfully so) is an essential and surprisingly easy thing to do. Acknowledgement across all realms of education — not just math and science is essential. All teachers have a role and purpose in a school. This doesn’t mean the principal needs to have a Ra-Ra session every year, but admitting that:

•This is a hard job, with not enough monetary compensation, that most people appreciate silently.

•There is a counter narrative that …

Continue reading Teachers aren’t martyrs, monks or nuns. But they are dedicated and trying their best for their students. »

State school chief explains his endorsement of voucher proponent

Regarding my post a few minutes ago, the state Department of Education has now sent me state School Superintendent John Barge’s explanation for his endorsement of state Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, a leading voucher proponent in the Georgia General Assembly.

Rogers is facing fellow Republican Brandon Beach next week in a primary for his north Fulton/Cherokee seat.

Here is a letter that Barge sent out explaining his decision to back Rogers in this GOP primary race:

Dear Superintendents:

I have been contacted today by several friends expressing some concern over my endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers in his current primary and some statements Senator Rogers attributed to me.

Please allow me to set the record straight.

Chip was one of the first Republican elected officials to endorse my candidacy for Superintendent.  We agree on many conservative issues. One issue we disagree on is vouchers for education.

Unfortunately, it appears that his website erroneously …

Continue reading State school chief explains his endorsement of voucher proponent »

Are school budget cuts leaving teachers “overstressed, overburdened and overwhelmed”?

The AJC has a good story on shrinking school budgets. The question is how these deep cuts will affect the classroom and student learning.

According to the AJC story:

In their budgets for the 2013 fiscal year, which began Sunday, many of the biggest school districts cut their teaching staff, which will drive up the number of students in each classroom. Most also imposed furlough days, meaning teachers will lose time for planning lessons or hold class fewer days.

Among metro Atlanta’s biggest school systems, only Fulton County escaped significant cuts. That’s because Fulton curbed spending in prior years, shaving about $200 million since 2009. The rest of metro Atlanta’s big school districts — Atlanta and the systems in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties — slashed around $150 million collectively, cutting at least 2,000 teaching positions.

The loudest uproar was in DeKalb, where about 500 teaching positions and 600 support positions were eliminated as part of …

Continue reading Are school budget cuts leaving teachers “overstressed, overburdened and overwhelmed”? »

A teacher explains why she gave up a career she loved

Teacher Jordan Kohanim left her school and her room with a white board that was a focal point for her students.

Teacher Jordan Kohanim left her school and her room with a white board that was a focal point for her students.

Jordan Kohanim is a former Fulton County high school teacher and one of my favorite posters on the blog because of her eloquence, her candor and her willingness to put her name behind her comments.

She quit teaching. Here, she tells us why:

By Jordan Kohanim

I have decided to quit teaching. Maybe not forever, but definitely for a year or two. This is not a decision I came to lightly, and I did not feel triumphant in it at all. To be frank, I had never felt more defeated in my life.

It’s true that I am statistic. More than 50 percent of teachers leave teaching in the first seven years. Most of those are in the first five years. This was year seven for me.

I told a colleague that I planned on leaving the profession and he told me something that really hurt at first. He said, “Your leaving won’t change anything.” Emphasis on the anything. It felt like an arrow through …

Continue reading A teacher explains why she gave up a career she loved »

Equalization grants: Are poor systems driving Pintos while Gwinnett cruises in a Lamborghini?

Catlady, a longtime poster to this blog, has been asking the AJC to look at the strange calculus of Georgia school equalization grants through which Gwinnett out earns many poor Georgia counties.

The equalization grant program forces wealthier school districts to share money with lower wealth districts. While similar grants have been controversial in other parts of the country,  the program has not roused widespread opposition here.

I am happy to report that AJC reporters James Salzer and Nancy Badertscher examined this year’s $436 million grant program and found some odd stuff.

Among their points: Somehow, Cobb and DeKalb don’t qualify for equalization grants, but Gwinnett and Henry do.

As Quitman County’s school chief Allen Fort said about the formula:  “What we have is a Ford Pinto. What Fulton and Cobb have are a Cadillac and Ferrari. What Gwinnett has is a Lamborghini. When their Lamborghini has a flat tire, they get an equalization grant. When our Pinto has a flat, …

Continue reading Equalization grants: Are poor systems driving Pintos while Gwinnett cruises in a Lamborghini? »

Complex charter school saga in Fulton becomes more complicated with loan default

The complexities around the non-renewal of the charter for the Fulton Science Academy Middle School in Alpharetta just grew even more complicated with this report that the school and its sister schools are now in default on a nearly $19 million construction loan.

From AJC. com:

Fulton Science Academy Middle School and its two sister schools have been declared in default on an $18.9 million construction loan for failing to disclose last fall that the academy’s public school charter was in trouble, documents obtained Wednesday show.

In a default notice dated May 15, an official with Wells Fargo Bank said the three schools “omitted material information” last October when they were arranging to obtain the money through bonds issued by the Alpharetta Development Authority.

Bank officials learned after the fact that officials with the Fulton County School System had communicated to leadership at the middle school that they had “significant reservations” about extending the …

Continue reading Complex charter school saga in Fulton becomes more complicated with loan default »

Fulton charter school: Critical county audit is inaccurate and incomplete

A board member of the Fulton Science Academy Middle School came to the school’s defense today after a critical audit released Tuesday by the school district.

According to the AJC:

FSA board member Angela Lassetter said Wednesday the charter school has never misappropriated tax dollars. The audit said the school imports workers from Turkey, but Lassetter said the award-winning charter school hires the best teachers, regardless of their background. Lassetter said the school’s staff is disproportionately Turkish because officials can’t find qualified American math and science teachers who will accept their low salary.

“I don’t care if they are an alien with purple polka dots and red antennas,” she said.  “I would give a visa to any teacher who can produce good results.”

Further, she said, FSA has no ties to a charter school movement that school district officials said inappropriately funnels money to Turkish businesses. About 120 charter schools nationwide are said …

Continue reading Fulton charter school: Critical county audit is inaccurate and incomplete »

Fulton controversy: Shedding light on the Gulen network of charter schools

UPDATE at 1:30 Wednesday: Staff writer Nancy Badertscher would like to hear from parents on their feelings about the Fulton Science Academy Middle School, its two sister schools and the new audit. She would like parents who would speak on the record about the schools.  If you can help, please contact her at nbadertscher@ajc.com.

The AJC has an interesting story today about the surge in Turkish-run public charter schools, such as the three in Fulton County.

Charter schools are public schools that operate under contractual charters. One of the three Fulton charter schools, the Fulton Science Academy Middle School, will cease to be a charter school at the end of this month and try to continue as a private school in which parents pay tuition.

The school is in the news now because of a highly critical audit of its financial operations released yesterday by the Fulton County district, which is trying to figure out what resources in the charter school belong to the county and …

Continue reading Fulton controversy: Shedding light on the Gulen network of charter schools »