Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Does a parent have a choice when the school tolerates bullying? Was this protective mama bear out of line?

ART-Bully020207I’ve been watching a subtitled Swedish mystery series, “Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter,” in which the feisty protagonist is a crime reporter for a major newspaper. In the episode I watched last night, Annika is upset because her sweet 8-year-old son is being bullied and the school refuses to act even after the bully pushes her son off the monkey bars and seriously injures him.

So,  Annika strides onto the school playground, confronts the bully as he terrorizes another child and warns him that she will kill him if he touches her son again. The threat sounds even more ominous in Swedish.

I have to admit rooting for Annika, who takes heat for making the threat. But she’s not arrested.

A Clayton woman who did the same thing to protect her child was not so lucky. Marvis Renae Henry was charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting school operations and released today on $5,000 bond.

You cannot help but feel for the 59-year-old Sunday schoolteacher who believed that her …

Continue reading Does a parent have a choice when the school tolerates bullying? Was this protective mama bear out of line? »

New study: Boon in Algebra I in middle school doesn’t lead to higher math performance



A new study suggests pushing more kids into Algebra I in middle school may not pay off. (AJC photo)
A new study suggests pushing more kids into Algebra I in middle school may not pay off. (AJC photo)

A new Brookings study that is part of the annual Brown Center Report on American Education suggests that states have not seen the academic boost they expected from introducing Algebra 1 to a broader range of students in middle school.

This practice has been widely embraced in Georgia under the assumption that Algebra 1 in middle school better readies students for the more rigorous math now being taught in high school.

The study by researcher Tom Loveless seems to end up in the place that much education research does: The concept may haven been good in theory, but the execution stumbled because the Algebra I  was watered down to accommodate weaker students who normally would not have qualified for advanced math in middle school.

According to Education Week: (This is an excerpt. Please read full piece before commenting.)

A new analysis, however, suggests that increased …

Continue reading New study: Boon in Algebra I in middle school doesn’t lead to higher math performance »

APS parents and watchers: AJC wants to talk to you about CRCT cheating indictments coming this week

As developments unfold in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating investigation, the AJC would like to get reactions from readers who have/had children in APS or have closely followed the story and have some thoughts.

Please contact my colleague Nancy Badertscher if you are willing to be quoted when appropriate to any developments. She wants to compile a list of possible interviews prior to the handing down of the indictments, which the AJC is now reporting may be Friday.

Thanks, Maureen

Continue reading APS parents and watchers: AJC wants to talk to you about CRCT cheating indictments coming this week »

New Race to the Top teacher evaluations with strong reliance on test scores begin in 2014-2015

downeyart0726 (Medium)As expected, House Bill 244 passed both the House and the Senate, incorporating the educator evaluation system piloted by Georgia’s Race to the Top districts into state law. With the Senate vote this week, the bill now moves to the governor, who will sign it into law.

As you can tell from reading the bill, there are some vague references to yet-to-be-finalized evaluation details.

The teacher evaluations will now give great weight to student academic growth as measured by testing. Measures of student growth count for at least half an educator’s rating.

The passage won praise from former Washington, D.C., chancellor Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst. “The overwhelming bipartisan support of House Bill 244 provides a clear example of leaders putting politics aside and doing what’s best for students. By passing this legislation, the Georgia Legislature has sent a strong message to the rest of the country – our kids deserve to have great teachers in public school …

Continue reading New Race to the Top teacher evaluations with strong reliance on test scores begin in 2014-2015 »

After 45 days in the DeKalb school chief post, Michael Thurmond still optimistic if not specific

Michael Thurmond (AJC Photo)

Michael Thurmond (AJC Photo)

Interim DeKalb superintendent Michael Thurmond marked his 45th day on the job by speaking this morning to a packed gathering of Leadership DeKalb and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. Along with business leaders, the audience included the newly reconstituted school board and DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

I have now heard Thurmond speak six times, and he continues to deliver the same broad message of optimism: DeKalb schools will get on track, but it won’t be overnight and it won’t be easy.

Thurmond avoids specifics, artfully dodging questions about whether he intends to fire any of the central office holdovers from previous administrations. He responded today that new leaders err when they fire everyone on their first day. Then, the leaders devote the next six months to coping with the fallout. He intends to find out who he needs and who he doesn’t need over time.

Asked how he will stem the exodus of unhappy teachers from the system, Thurmond said he …

Continue reading After 45 days in the DeKalb school chief post, Michael Thurmond still optimistic if not specific »

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 …

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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. »

If you thought criminal indictments would never come in APS cheating scandal, think again. Indictments coming.

I had my doubts that any APS officials would ever be criminally indicted for the cheating scandal given how long it has taken,  but I may be proven wrong.

According to the AJC:

Fulton County prosecutors are close to seeking indictments in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal, lawyers familiar with the probe said.

Defense attorneys representing some educators are being told criminal charges could be filed soon and that more than two dozen people could be indicted. That would answer questions that have hung over the inquiry since its start: Would the cheating be treated as a crime, and who would be prosecuted?

The Fulton District Attorney’s Office has spent more than 18 months investigating cheating on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

In July 2011, three special investigators found cheating on standardized tests occurred at 44 Atlanta schools and involved 178 educators, including 38 principals. That probe, initiated by Gov. Sonny Perdue, …

Continue reading If you thought criminal indictments would never come in APS cheating scandal, think again. Indictments coming. »

Cherokee school board: Shades of DeKalb in silly exchange between new board member and school chief

I was beseeched by several readers to look at the video of Thursday’s Cherokee County Board of Education meeting. The readers contended that new board member Kelly Marlow tangled with Cherokee Superintendent Frank Petruzielo over a minor issue and wasted a lot of time.

After watching the video, I have to agree that time was frittered away on what seemed a minor point on the dues being spent by the district — approved in the budget last year — for the Georgia School Boards Association.

And the audience seemed to concur, applauding in the video when an exasperated Petruzielo finally said, “I can’t imagine we are spending really this much time on something this inconsequential, particularly with the kinds of issues we just talked about in the work session that are so consequential to the future of this system.”

Marlow ran for the office as a watchdog and a reformer, and that is the role she clearly intends to fulfill even at the cost of creating discomfort.

I happen to like …

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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? »