Archive for the ‘Gwinnett’ Category

Does AYP tell the whole story of any school, whether North Atlanta or Lilburn Middle?

In his explanation to nearly 900 parents and students at North Atlanta High on why he gutted the school’s leadership team in a blitzkrieg eight days ago, APS school chief Erroll Davis cited the school’s underperformance.

“This should be our premier school in this city,” he told the crowd. “It’s not a sin to be in the middle of the pack. But I don’t want that to be the standard for North Atlanta High School. With the kind of commitment, with the resources that are available in this community, this school should be at the head of the pack.”

Unflappable and polite, Davis faced tough questions from a community angry that the interim principal was dismissed and the beloved leaders of the school’s small learning communities reassigned. That startling action — carried out without any discussion with school board members or the North Atlanta High community — has provoked hundreds of angry emails, a student walkout and the heated meeting where Davis met his …

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Response to charter amendment ruling: Wrong decision. “There is a cost.”

Here is a response from former Atlanta councilman Doug Alexander on the Fulton Superior Court ruling yesterday that it was not illegal for Fulton County Schools to post information on the charter school amendment on its web  site. Nor was it illegal for school board members to answer questions on the Nov. 6 amendment vote when asked by constituents.

Judge Wendy Shoob rejected attorney Glenn Delk’s argument that information about the amendment amounted to advocacy and thus an unlawful use of tax funds.

In Delk’s lawsuit, Fulton County Schools and Gwinnett County Public Schools were named as representatives of all 180 school districts in Georgia. The suit, filed in the Superior Court of Fulton County, alleges they and “the rest of the Education Empire are engaged in a coordinated campaign and conspiracy.”

Shoob did not consider the information on the web site advocacy. “They didn’t say we are for or against it,” she said. “They just posted the Q-and-A. I …

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Court ruling: Fulton can post info on charter amendment

A Fulton County Superior Court judge ruled today that Fulton County Schools can provide information on the charter school amendment on its web site. Attorney and longtime vouchers advocate Glenn Delk maintained that the Fulton County district’s Q&A amounted to lobbying against the amendment.

But Judge Wendy Shoob disagreed, calling the Q&A simply informational.

School districts are bristling at what they consider efforts to silence them on the controversial amendment, which would give the state the power to overrule local districts and approve charter schools that local boards opposed.

“In providing information to the public regarding Amendment 1, I have done nothing wrong or improper,” said Gwinnett school chief  J. Alvin Wilbanks, whose district is facing the same legal challenge.

“These lawsuits are simply another attempt to bully, intimidate, and silence the citizens and public servants who are trying to clarify the amendment in order to counter the misleading language of …

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Another great Georgia teacher: Angela Dean of Gwinnett

University of Georgia professor Peter Smagorinsky has been writing a Great Georgia Teacher series for the blog. Here is another installment.

(His earlier profiles include David Ragsdale of Clarke Central High School in Athens and Travis Ellington of Toombs County)

By Peter Smagorinsky

Angela Dean teaches in Gwinnett County. (Special to the AJC)

Angela Dean teaches in Gwinnett County. (Special to the AJC)

In sports, a well-rounded athlete is often described by having multiple “tools” with which to play the game. The more tools, the more contributions the player is likely to make. In baseball or softball, for instance, a five-tool player excels in hitting for a high batting average, hitting for power, running the bases skillfully and with speed, throwing the ball with authority, and fielding his or her position with range and efficiency. Five-tool players can often be found in All Star Games and eventually in the Hall of Fame.

Although teachers these days are evaluated according to how high their students’ test scores are, the …

Continue reading Another great Georgia teacher: Angela Dean of Gwinnett »

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. »

Another skirmish in charter schools war of words. Gwinnett charter fires back at Wilbanks.

Last week, Gov. Nathan Deal spoke about charter schools at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo & Job Fair in front of an audience that included longtime Gwinnett schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks.

Deal was explaining his support of the constitutional amendment on the the Nov. 6 ballot that will expand the state’s ability to approve charters schools even over the objections of local boards of education.

“In many parts of our state, students are stuck in schools that are failing and … are not making adequate yearly progress, ” the governor said. “We must ensure that those students and their parents have a quality public education system for their future and the future of the state of Georgia.”

Deal cited Ivy Preparatory Academy in Gwinnett as an example of a successful state-approved charter school. He said Ivy Prep outperforms local schools, a claim that Wilbanks later disputed.

The AJC reported:

Wilbanks said after the luncheon that the governor was …

Continue reading Another skirmish in charter schools war of words. Gwinnett charter fires back at Wilbanks. »

Letter to Gwinnett: Look deeper into student sexual harassment

Carolyn Garfein of Alpharetta is national president of the American Association of University Women.

By Carolyn Garfein

From our nation’s top college campuses to small towns in Florida, Texas, Minnesota, and, yes, Georgia, the painful stories of children and teens experiencing bullying and sexual harassment have filled the news, leaving parents, educators, and community leaders with many questions and few answers.

Last year, in an attempt to shed some light on the issue, the American Association of University Women surveyed students in grades 7–12 and published the results in a report confirming many of the headlines we’ve been reading.

“Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School” revealed that nearly half of all surveyed students reported that they had been sexually harassed during the 2010–11 school year. Of that number, an overwhelming majority, 87 percent, said that being harassed had a negative effect on them. About a third of all girls and a quarter of …

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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 …

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Si puedes leer esto, gracias a un profesor de español. (If you can read this, thank a Spanish teacher.)

I received several reader emails asking if we could talk about a story on the front page of today’s AJC about the expansion in foreign language classes in Georgia schools.

(Also, here is a link to a related essay by a Dunwoody High language arts teacher.)

The AJC story reports record-setting demand for language courses. In the past four years, the number of Georgia students studying a world language has increased from 17 percent to more than 23 percent, according to the state Department of Education.

AJC reporter Jaime Sarrio says the growth reflects changes in Georgia’s high school diploma track, which now requires all students to earn a college-ready certificate. While foreign language is not a requirement to graduate, students are advised to take at least two years of it.  (Georgia colleges require two years of foreign language for admission.)

The story focuses on Atlanta, which is one of the only school systems in the state to offer foreign language instruction at …

Continue reading Si puedes leer esto, gracias a un profesor de español. (If you can read this, thank a Spanish teacher.) »

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 …

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