Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stripping For Public Education

Things are so bad in Las Vegas' public schools that even strip clubs are doing their part to support public education:
The Clark County School District kicked off the first day of school Wednesday with scant resources. But it got a major donation from the scantily clad.

The same day the nation's fifth largest school district began the year with some 400 teaching vacancies, the nonprofit corporation that supports it, the Public Education Foundation, accepted a $2,500 donation from a strip club, Scores Las Vegas.

"Thank you for your donation of $2,500, received on August 30, 2006," said a letter from foundation president Judi Steele to Scores' marketing director, Shai Cohen. "Thank you again for your willingness to support our community and invest in our children ... our future."

Scores raised the funds at an Aug. 23 back-to-school event called "Detention" that featured strippers dressed as teachers, schoolgirls and librarians.

"It's back to school time and you know what that means. Detention for everyone who has been bad!" one advertisement read.

The performers peeled off clothes and offered lap dances to customers, Cohen said. Patrons also left more than $1,000 donations in a jar that the club said would go to the Clark County School District. Scores matched the donations roughly dollar for dollar, he said.

"In this town, money is money, regardless," Cohen said. "We're a respectable business. We pay taxes like everybody else. We have a business license. It's for a good cause."

"Education is very important," he said.

The foundation's director of development, Deb Hegna, said the donation was gratefully accepted.

"From any licensed, legitimate business, we're certainly happy to accept donations," she said, adding the gentleman's club told them it had raised the funds at a charity event.

The money was earmarked for the foundation's exchange program, which provides new or gently used materials, supplies and computers to Clark County teachers for free or little cost.

The district, a sprawling area covering 8,000 square miles in southern Nevada with more than 300,000 students expected this year, is the fastest growing in the nation, said school district spokesman Steve Lombard.

The district has had difficulty hiring teachers to keep pace with growth, especially with the high cost of housing in southern Nevada, he said. The state ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil spending, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report.

The district's associate superintendent, Karlene Lee, said the district was not informed about and did not condone the flier used to promote the strip event.

Lee had no comment on the fundraising activities of the foundation, a separate entity which raises about $5 million a year.

"The donation was made to the foundation and for the inner workings of how that functions, you can contact the foundation again."
When it comes to donations of cash, I guess beggers can't be choosers.

On the other hand, these developments put a whole new spin on possible offerings for "adult night school."

Related: For those who feel the need, the "Scores Las Vegas" website may be accessed from the WaPo article, (bottom of page 2) but it may not be (obviously) "work safe."
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Homework: The Mystery Behind The Myth

Joanne Jacobs:
"Homework Hooey" is the apt headline on Martin Davis' New York Post column critiquing two books -- Alfie Kohn's The Homework Myth and The Case against Homework by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish-- that argue American students are overworked, leading to depression, obesity, family tension, and, no doubt, acne. Homework doesn't help students learn, they argue. It just eats up time that could be devoted to emotional development, family conversations and fat-burning sports. (Or to playing computer games.)

In truth, a small minority of students are working quite hard -- in addition to a heavy load of extracurriculars -- while most spend little time on homework.
Read the Whole Thing.

Agree or disagree, a good read that's well worth your time.
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Ohio's School Of Mess

Students are jumping through the windows, the teachers are on strike, and the security guards have been fired for failing their background checks. Looks like a mess-in-progress:
PERKINS TOWNSHIP -- Teachers voted for no confidence in the administration, four students climbed out of high school windows and eight security guards were fired for failing background checks.

Yet the administration said schools were running as smoothly as possible in the second day of the Perkins Schools teachers' strike.

No new negotiation meetings as of last night were set for the teachers, administration and board members.

However, chants, signs and a lock-down greeted sophomores, juniors and seniors as they attended their first day of the school year at Perkins High School yesterday.

Operations ran smoothly, said Superintendent Sherry Buccieri, but students offered a different assessment.

The scene inside the high school was ''crazy,'' as ''chaos'' reigned while students watched television, talked on cellular telephones and played the card game Uno, according to several students.

About 19 students who had parental excuses left their high school classes around 12:15 p.m., prompting a lockdown at the school to ensure safety of students and staff, Buccieri said. While there were no immediate reports of threats or violence, the school followed the protocol so teachers could take attendance and account for students, she said.

Once the lockdown ended, police were posted at the high school doors, students said. About 2 p.m., at least four girls climbed out the first-floor window of an English classroom facing Campbell Street, where dozens of teachers marched next to the road.

''That was basically the only way out without being stopped,'' said Jessica Evans, who started her senior year in school and ended the day by climbing out the window.

''There was not other way to get out because they locked all the doors,'' said Beth Dahlmann, another senior who climbed out.

The students stood as a group with fellow seniors Laura Speer, Brittany Keegan, Keith Martinez and Melissa Frisch in the public right-of-way outside Perkins High School. Keegan, Speer and Martinez had parental excuses to leave school part-way through the day, while Frisch said she climbed out a window rather than stay inside.

Last year's first day of school was better organized, the group said.

''It's just not something you picture on the first day of school your senior year, or any year,'' Speer said.

It was unclear how many students who walked out also were children of striking teachers. Buccieri reported 10 students were, but the high school seniors said the number was five.

During the high school dismissal, teachers chanted: ''One, two, three, four, show Sherry to the door. Five, six, seven, eight, why won't she negotiate?'' Hand-written signs read ''Negotiate Now!'' ''Safe?'' and ''Support Perkins Teachers.''

In the parking lot, a red sport-utility vehicle blasted the '80s metal anthem ''We're Not Gonna Take It'' by Twisted Sister.

Perkins police guided traffic as cars and school buses backed up in a line at least a quarter-mile long in both lanes of Campbell Street. At least some of the cars honked their horns repeatedly as they passed by the school.

''It's nice to hear people beeping,'' Speer said.

''It's reassuring to hear people supporting,'' Martinez said.

Speaking about the activities in the high school, Buccieri said she would ''highly doubt'' that Principal Chris Gasteier and Assistant Principal Mark Dahlmann would tolerate students being unruly.

She said any student disciplinary actions, including those for students who leave without parental notes, would be left to building principals. Gasteier yesterday declined to speak to reporters, deferring instead to Buccieri and the school board.

The students leaving school was not considered a walkout because they had parents' permission to leave, Buccieri said.

''They were dismissed, and perhaps this was staged,'' she said.

Despite the tumult, over two days the high school's initial reports showed 10 of 570 students were absent from their respective first days of school. Freshmen started Monday, grades 10 to 12 yesterday and the four classes will be together today.

''I find this gratifying and a testament to the community's interest in their children receiving an education in challenging circumstances,'' Buccieri said.

Among the other schools, Buccieri reported yesterday's attendance as:

-- 59 absences of 527 enrolled at Briar Middle School, which has grades seven and eight.

-- 53 absences of 269 enrolled at Furry Elementary Schools, with grades kindergarten to two.

-- 84 absences of 509 enrolled at Meadowlawn Intermediate School, which has grades three, four and five.

Students at the high school received their handbooks, had their photos taken and reviewed homeroom procedures, Buccieri said. She added she toured Meadowlawn and Furry schools in the morning.

''There were lots of good, solid educational assessments being done,'' Buccieri said.

The district also reported 122 administrators, qualified substitute teachers and highly qualified educational aides were in the classrooms for the schools. That number was up from at least 75 Monday, and by the end of the week, Perkins could have a full slate of about 130 substitute teachers in its schools, Buccieri said.

As of yesterday, two teachers had crossed the line and returned to work at Briar Middle School and the high school, Buccieri said. She did not give a reason why they crossed the picket lines.

''We don't ask,'' Buccieri said. ''That's a personal decision and I respect their privacy.''

Before heading out for the picket lines, members of the Perkins Education Association voted unanimously for a vote of no confidence in Buccieri's ''ability to effectively lead the school district,'' according to a union statement.

''During the last several contract negotiations the PEA and the BOE were able to come to terms which benefited Perkins students, employees and the entire Perkins community,'' the PEA statement said. ''With Sherri Buccieri as the superintendent in Perkins chaos has been the order of the day. Our students and our community deserve better. Take back Perkins schools!''

At the schools, teachers also distributed handouts with ''Latest reports from parents and students entering Perkins Schools.''

Among the reports: ''Chaos and confusion,'' the flyer read. ''Up to 100 students in one room. Lack of communication to parents coming to school. Students assigned to rooms without desks or chairs. Students watching TV, some napping, some throwing spitballs.''

As for the lockdown, PEA Action Team spokesman Bob Myer deferred comment to the administration and board of education.

However, he questioned whether substitute teachers would be as familiar with school protocols as the PEA members.

''Are they trained on how to handle our crisis procedures?'' Myer said. ''That would be my concern, because what if it was a real crisis?''

About 6:36 p.m., the board of education and Buccieri sent out a statement vowing to continue the strike operations despite the dismissal of eight private security guards with ''unacceptable background checks.'' The announcement did not specify details about the guards' identities or why the background checks were unacceptable.

Perkins schools will keep 10 guards provided by Huffmaster and who have acceptable checks, for protection of school grounds at night and for transporting substitute teachers.

Perkins police, who already are providing daytime security, also will provide background checks on future guards employed by the schools through Huffmaster.

Buccieri emphasized she and the board hope to settle the strike as soon as possible.

Several students agreed.

''I think it's going to be really short or really long,'' said Katie Collins, a sophomore. ''I hope it's short.''

She stood outside after school with friends and fellow sophomores Natalie Sabo and Jill Bahnsen. The group said they would like to be on the picket lines with teachers but were attending school to participate in volleyball and cheerleading.

''If we didn't have sports, we'd be out here for sure,'' Sabo said.

''I just think the board and the teachers should agree on something,'' Bahnsen said. ''It can't be that hard to negotiate.''
I guess rather this is a mess or not depends on one's perspective.

Sadly, it'll be the students who pay the price because the grown-ups can't seem to act like adults
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Teaching Tips From The Trenches

With schools starting-up all over America, now might be a good time to take a look at some helpful tips from teachers "who've been in the trenches."

NYC Educator has
some sound common sense advice for both the novice and experienced educator.

Like him, I wish that someone had of told me...
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'Tis The Season For Student Walkouts?

The Washington Post is telling us that more protests on behalf of illegal immigrants are in the works:
After four months of relative quiet, immigration reform advocates are mobilizing a new round of protests in Washington and other cities to put pressure on a returning Congress and reinvigorate a Latino movement that awakened in massive demonstrations this spring.

The events will begin tomorrow in Chicago, where demonstrators plan to set out on a four-day march to the district offices of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R) in Batavia, Ill., and will continue with one-day rallies throughout next week in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles.

In the Washington region, activists are distributing leaflets, and Spanish-language radio is buzzing about a Sept. 7 rally that organizers hope will be the biggest yet. Organizers say their goal is 1 million protesters from up and down the East Coast for a rally on the Mall and a march to the White House.

"We want to make sure that Congress and this administration get a very clear message that the immigrant community is still paying attention to what's happening in the immigration debate and that we know that it's election time," said Jaime Contreras, chairman of the National Capital Immigration Coalition, the rally's organizer.

Local organizers said they are improving on spring rallies that were hastily planned amid a spontaneous groundswell of activism. To avoid a backlash against foreign flags, they are directing all protesters to carry U.S. flags. They are starting the rally at 4 p.m. so student demonstrators, who frustrated school administrators by walking out earlier this year, can participate. And organizers have nearly tripled their budget for portable toilets.

In media interviews and on fliers, they have simplified their focus to key demands: legalization for the unauthorized and an end to stepped-up arrests of illegal immigrants.

"We are learning," said Juan Carlos Ruiz, general coordinator of the regional coalition.

The return to street protest, a tactic that galvanized millions this spring, comes after public discord among activists over a May 1 work boycott and a summer when their focus turned to immigrant voter registration drives. At the same time, new immigration legislation grew even more elusive in Congress, which is deadlocked on the issue.

Some believe it could be risky. The spring protests roused supporters but also stirred fierce hostility, said Steven A. Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors lower levels of immigration. That kind of intensity might make members of Congress, which is approaching midterm elections, even less likely to touch the immigration issue.

"They want to energize the community . . . to put the issue on the agenda and make it clear that look, it's not going away," Camarota said. "By doing all that, they may also hurt the prospect of the legislation passing."

The immigrant movement is still developing. Regional coalitions are trying to figure out how to work together nationally, and no clear leader has emerged. Locally, the National Capital Immigration Coalition -- a network of about 60 organizations that has existed for four years -- is just now defining the qualifications for formal membership.

As for immigrant voter registration, national figures are not yet compiled, said Germonique R. Jones of the Center for Community Change in the District, but anecdotal evidence points to success in some areas. She said Phoenix organizers, for example, are en route to meeting a summer goal of registering 20,000 voters.

Local results have been tepid. Northern Virginia immigrant organizations had no drives. Groups in the District registered 200 voters, said Kim Propeack, advocacy director for CASA of Maryland. In Maryland, Korean organizations registered 350, while CASA of Maryland registered 425 and quadrupled enrollment in its citizenship workshops, Propeack said.

But organizers say the movement has not lost steam. Immigrants, they said, are enthusiastic about the coming protests, believing the demonstrations empower them and weaken support for an enforcement-only House proposal.

"If that's what we accomplished with marches, then let's keep marching," said Jorge Mujica, a rally organizer in Chicago.

Other observers are uncertain. Carlos Aragon, general manager of Radio Fiesta (1480 AM), a Woodbridge station that has been broadcasting information about the Sept. 7 rally, said the event is a hot topic among listeners -- but they now sound more cautious.

"Nothing happened in regard to immigration in Congress," Aragon said. "People are just not sure if it will help."

This week's Chicago march will be followed by protests Sept. 4 in Phoenix and Sept. 9 in Los Angeles.

Unlike previous rallies that drew people from the Washington region, the Sept. 7 event will include participants from along the East Coast. Organizers said at least 100 busloads of marchers will roll in.

To encourage local turnout, organizers are intensifying the strategies they used in the spring. They are playing radio promotional spots each hour on some Spanish-language stations. Volunteers are distributing fliers at churches, soccer fields, Metro stations and construction sites.

With the responsibility of having a demonstration for out-of-towners upon them, local leaders are striving to plan a smoother -- and savvier -- event.

On a recent night, organizer Edgar Rivera led a planning meeting at the Alexandria offices of Tenants and Workers United. He listed all that will be different about this march: After rallying, demonstrators will proceed to the White House for the first time, he said.

Organizers will dispatch Spanish-speaking volunteers to Metro stations to direct demonstrators, Rivera told those gathered. And more high-profile speakers will be included -- maybe Jesse L. Jackson and a Catholic cardinal, he said -- but fewer politicians.

"It's the community that should be out there," Rivera said.
For some reason, my "gut" instinct says that this time around there won't be the same type of massive student walkouts that occured last spring.

But I could be wrong.
See our latest EduPosts right here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is Year-Round Schooling Coming To The Deep South?

Anyone who's spent a summer in the deep south develops a healthy dislike for humidity and an abiding respect for that technological marvel known as air conditioning.

And now a combination of explosive population growth and reluctance to raise taxes if forcing some districts in North Carolina to take
a hard look at year round schooling:
Wake County parents sounded off for the last time Monday on a plan to convert elementary schools to a year-round schedule.

At least 100 people crowded a public hearing at Southeast Raleigh High School to give the Board of Education their opinion.

“My name is Cindy Cincos. I represent a contingent of parents from Highcroft Drive Elementary opposed to mandatory year-round schools.”

One by one, Wake County parents made one last plea to the Board of Education.

“We ask that you please not convert A.B. Combs to a year-round calendar,” another parent said.

“Over 89 percent of our staff at Baucom has total opposition to forced conversion,” added another parent.

Supporters stood behind them in a show of solidarity. Those not at the podium let signs speak for them, all hoping the public hearing would make a difference in the school system's plan to convert nearly two dozen elementary schools to a year-round calendar.

"We've been to a lot of the meetings before and they listened to us so we want them to listen this time on the year-round issue,” said parent Carol Gehringer.

Administrators say they need to make room for 3000 students next school year and they believe year-round conversion is one of the best ways to do that.

But these parents don't buy it.

"Moving a current year-round student to another year-round school would only shuffle them from one school to another, not create additional seats,” said parent Matt Long.

Parents are clinging to the hope that their comments will convince the school board to change their plans.

Gehringer added, “We're just praying that they'll use some good sense and not look for the short-term answer."

Now the school board must decide exactly which schools will convert to a year-round calendar. They're scheduled to vote on the issue next week.
Our local high school district down here in California's "Imperial" Valley switched over to a year-round schedule, only to abandon it a few years later due to excessive absenteeism (we're in the desert) and the publicizing of the unpleasant fact that those with influence were able to get their children enrolled into a "traditional" track (There were 4 different "tracks," or schedules, called, "A," "B," "C," and "D.") that preserved the "traditional" summer vacation for them (It was track "C.") while the other three tracks attended year-round.
See today's edition of The Carnival of Education, hosted by Thespis Journal, here and our latest EduPosts there.

Declining SAT Scores: What Happened?

The New York Times has the awful news that SAT scores have had their biggest decline in decades:
The average score on the reading and math portions of the newly expanded SAT showed the largest decline in 31 years, according to a report released yesterday by the College Board on the performance of the high school class of 2006.

The drop confirmed earlier reports from puzzled college officials that they were seeing lower scores from applicants. The average score on the critical reading portion of the SAT, formerly known as the verbal test, fell 5 points, to 503, out of a maximum possible score of 800. The average math score fell 2 points, to 518. Together they amounted to the lowest combined score since 2002.

Officials of the College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers the SAT, dismissed suggestions by numerous high school guidance counselors that students were getting tired out by the new three-part test which now runs three and three-quarters hours, rather than three.

“Fatigue is not a factor,” Wayne Camara, vice president for research and analysis at the College Board said at a news conference. “We are not trying to say that students are not tired. But it is not affecting, on the whole, student performance.”

Instead, the officials attributed the drop to a decline in the number of students who took the exam more than once. The board said 47 percent of this year’s students took the test only once, up from 44 percent last year. The number taking the test three times fell to less than 13 percent from nearly 15 percent.

Students typically gain 14 points a section when they take the test a second time, and another 10 or 11 points a section on the third try.

The SAT writing test includes a 25-minute essay, which counts for about 30 percent of the writing score, and 49 multiple-choice questions on grammar and usage, which count for the rest. The average score on the writing section was 497 out of a possible 800, the board said.

Girls performed better than boys on this section of the exam, averaging 502 versus 491 for boys. That partly offset girls’ lower scores on math and reading, but did not close the longstanding score gap between boy and girls.

Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, pointed out that the decline in scores represented less than one-half of a test question in reading and one-fifth of one test question in math. Still it was the largest year to year decline since 1975, and officials expressed concerns about the overall performance of American students.

“The data does suggest that as a nation, critical reading and writing are lagging behind the progress we are making in math,” Mr. Camara said.

The SAT score decline contrasted with the increase in scores on the ACT exam, the other primary college admissions test. This month, ACT reported its biggest score increase in 20 years. The ACT also has a writing section, but it is optional.

Seppy Basili, senior vice president at Kaplan Inc., the education and test preparation company, said the new SAT test undoubtedly affected scores because students were less familiar with it and because fewer students repeated it. But Mr. Basili said he thought the length played a greater role than the College Board acknowledged.

“It is not just that the test is 3 hours and 45 minutes,” he said. “It is that the whole experience is five hours or more,” he said, factoring in things like breaks.

Most states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, saw scores decline in reading and math. In New York, average reading scores fell 4 points to 493 and math scores 1 point to 510. In Connecticut, reading was down 5 points to 512 and math 1 point to 516. In New Jersey, reading fell 7 points to 496 and math 2 points to 515.

In New York City, Joel I. Klein, the chancellor of the education department, said, “My only reaction is, it shows that we have to continue to work harder.”

The number of students taking the SAT nationally fell slightly, by about 10,000 students, to just under 1.5 million, or about 48 percent of more than 3 million students who graduated from high school this year.

At a time when many elite colleges have expressed interest in recruiting more low-income students, the number of students from families earning $30,000 or less who took the SAT fell by more than 13 percent, to 183,317, while the number from families earning $100,000 or more rose 8 percent, to 225,869.

Mr. Camara said that of the information collected about students, the income data was the least reliable. He said he did not know what accounted for the decrease in low-income students taking the test.

Counselors in high schools where the SAT has long dominated, said more of their students were taking the ACT. Some have said that in the wake of the College Board’s disclosure this spring that it had mis-scored more than 5,000 exams, they have urged their students to consider the ACT.
To me, it's particularly troubling that fewer students from economically disadvantaged homes are taking the examination.

I want to see more of these kids graduating from top-tier schools. I think that it's healthier for our society.
See today's edition of The Carnival of Education, hosted by Thespis Journal, here and our latest EduPosts there.

Ivy League Menace

This guy not only needed to lose his professorship, but needs a severe beating to be locked up forever: (emphasis ours)
An Ivy League professor has been arrested for the third time in 11 years on child sex charges, in this case over video that allegedly shows him engaging in sex acts with boys.

Because of the charges, L. Scott Ward, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, was being stripped of his teaching assignments, spokeswoman Lori N. Doyle said Tuesday.

"We have made arrangements to ensure that he will not be teaching at the Wharton School or elsewhere at the University this semester and he will not teach at Penn in the future," Doyle said of the retired professor.

Ward, 63, was arrested Sunday after arriving at Washington's Dulles airport on a flight from Brazil, federal authorities said. He drew the attention of federal agents because of his unusual number of trips to Thailand, a destination for people seeking sex with minors, according to an affidavit released Monday.

Agents examined his laptop computer and found a video showing two children who looked to be as young as 8 engaged in sexual activity, authorities alleged in the affidavit. Agents also found video recordings of Ward involved in sex acts with boys who look to be about 14 to 16, the affidavit said.

Ward appeared in federal court Monday in Alexandria, Va., and was being held pending charges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Dean Boyd said.

Ward's attorney, federal public defender Meghan Skelton, declined to comment Tuesday.

In 1995, a jury acquitted Ward of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and deadlocked on other charges after his lawyer showed a videotape of the main witness appearing to try to extort a bribe from the defendant.

In 1999, Ward was accused of soliciting sex from a 23-year-old undercover state trooper posing as a 15-year-old boy. He entered an Alford plea, which means he pleaded guilty while not admitting he committed the crimes of attempting to promote prostitution and corrupt minors.

He said he was innocent but made the plea to avoid another trial. He was fined $2,500 and given five years of probation.
What really gets to me is that these preditors are usually guilty of numerous criminal acts for which they are never charged, convicted, or punished.
See today's edition of The Carnival of Education, hosted by Thespis Journal, here and our latest EduPosts there.


The 82nd midway of The Carnival of Education is open for your educational pleasure over at Thespis Journal. The theme this week is theatre and things theatrical. Don't miss the performance!
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Number 2 Becomes Number 1

Just when I think that I've seen it all in the EduWorld, I see Something Else.

Darren is giving us
the low-down about unisex bathrooms at an elementary school in Oakland, California.

I'm not even going to speculate on what such shenanigans would entail at the high school level.
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Striking In MoTown

Detroit's teachers went out on strike yesterday:
With teachers on the picket lines and Detroit Public Schools administrators asking Wayne County Circuit Court to force them back to the classrooms, a judge took a middle line Monday, ordering negotiators into a marathon, 24-hour session in hopes of breaking the impasse over a new contract.

And if that doesn't work by the time the session is scheduled to end at 6 tonight, both sides are to take an 8-hour break and then launch another full day of negotiations.

Whether Judge Susan Borman would then order the teachers back to school in time for next Tuesday's beginning of classes in the state's largest school district remains to be seen. But administrators say they have the law on their side: It's against the law for public employees to strike in Michigan.

Monday was supposed to be Detroit teachers' first day back at work, giving them a week to prepare for classes, but they voted Sunday to strike until a contract agreement is reached. They complained that the district wants them to take a mix of cuts in pay and benefits to make up $88 million of a projected $105-million budget deficit.

Only about 600 of the Detroit Federation of Teachers' 10,000 members reported to work Monday, according to the school district. Others picketed in front of schools.

Teachers carried signs bearing words such as "Stop Wasting the Money" and "Hands Off My Benefits," saying they refuse to go back to work until they see a contract that keeps their pay intact. The union has asked for a 3-year contract that would give teachers a 5% pay raise each year.

"I want fairness in the contract and a slight pay raise," said William Gardner, a fifth-grade teacher who picketed outside Malcolm X Academy's new site on West Chicago. "And I don't want to lose my benefits."

The order sending both sides back to the table came as Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and school board members appealed to them to hunker down for around-the-clock bargaining to ensure classes start on time.

In Detroit, teachers with master's degrees who are at the top of the scale earn $70,046 a year, placing the district 68th out of 83 in the metro area, according to the union.

Meeting with the Free Press' editorial board Monday, union President Janna Garrison complained that the district has not sent negotiators to the table who can make decisions to curtail the budget in other ways to get the contract hammered out.

"We are basically sitting up there with attorneys," Garrison said, "not decision makers."

The judge ordered Superintendent William F. Coleman III to take part in the marathon talks.

Michigan law prohibits strikes by public employees, and teachers can be fined a day's pay for each day of the strike. But the union struck without being fined seven years ago, learning that the process to fine strikers is too cumbersome when 10,000 workers are involved.

About 7,000 union members are teachers and the rest are other school employees.
Read the whole thing.

My guess is that some sort of agreement will be hammered out in time for classes to begin next week.

But who knows for sure?
Entries for this week's Carnival of Education are due tonight. Get details here and see our latest EduPosts there.


Last evening, I went for a little walk just before bed time.

At about 10:15 PM, I came across three street punks teenaged boys who were "tagging vandalizing a homeowner's property by spray painting their idiotic (and senseless) "gang" symbols on the streetside privacy fence. (Which faces a major thoroughfare here in our town.)

Before I could get too close, the little thugs saw me approaching and ran to Parts Unknown. (If only I had brought a cell phone!)

While it is true that these teenaged hooligans were committing a crime against some innocent homeowners' property, (The vandals have repeatedly struck this fence, which runs about 1/2 mile. Gamely, the property owners have been trying to cover the damage a quickly as they can.) I think that the greater crime was committed by the parents of these little delinquents.

For crime is what it is when "parents" allow their children to run amok go "out" so late on a school night.

Curiously, the school (and the school alone) is
held accountable even for those children's academic progress, even when they're out committing property crimes instead of doing their homework and getting a good night's sleep so that they'll be rested for school.
Entries for this week's Carnival of Education are due tonight. Get details here and see our latest EduPosts there.

Carnival Of Education Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 82nd midway of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by Thespis Journal) are due TODAY. Please email them to: thespis148 [at] gmail [dot] com . (Or use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 8:00 PM (Eastern), 5:00 PM (Pacific). Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible. View last week's edition, here and the Carnival's archives over there.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest among posts from the Conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and cast their ballots for last week's submitted posts.

Council Member Entries: Right Wing Nut House took first place honors with Iraq: Quit or Commit.

Non-Council Entries: 3AM Magazine garnered the most votes with Bad Faith.

Get instructions for submitting a post (from your own site) to this week's competition right here.
See our latest EduPosts.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fun With Statistics: Mysterious Money

The National Center for Education Statistics is telling us that the total current expenditures in public and secondary were $8310.00 per student. (As of 2003-2004)

If we take a hypothetical class of 25 fourth-graders and multiply by $8310.00 each, we get a figure of.... $207,750.

Where does all that money go?

I know that the lion's share certainly isn't going into your local classroom teacher's pocket...

Consider going over to the NCES website and reading
the whole thing.
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To The Inferno!

Over at Ms. Cornelius' place, they are offering a special tour of the "nine circles of high school hell."

Even though I think that I'm perpetually imprisioned (with the other doomed staff heretics) on Circle VI, it's the administrative types who lurk in Circle VIII that are the most frightening to me.

This tour of The Inferno shouldn't be missed. Visit by clicking here.
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Students Swearing In Class: Tolerating The Intolerable?

During a professional development workshop in Victorville, California, the presenter urged teachers to not get upset when their students use foul language in the classroom: (emphasis ours)
Victor Valley Union High School District teachers have been coached on a new approach to disciplining students that has some teachers shaking their heads in disbelief.

One teacher has stepped forward to air her concerns publicly, although she said she is concerned about how doing so could affect her job security.

“There is a cultural war going on and evidently it is going on right at this school site,” said Julie Behrse, an art teacher at Maverick High School. “It really is a movement, and now it has a name,” she added, referring to what Speaker Ray Culberson called the “new professionalism.”

At issue is whether teachers need to adjust how they interact with and discipline students who misbehave, particularly students from difficult backgrounds.

Culberson, director of youth services for the San Bernardino City Unified School District, said at a back-to-school inservice meeting that students today have less respect for authority than they did when many teachers were in school and consequently, some teachers have unrealistic expectations of their students.

According to Culberson, many teenagers come to school with baggage from problems at home or other areas of their lives. Culberson described these students, who are prone to disruptive behavior, as “kids in chaos.”

The district superintendent, Julian Weaver, said Culberson’s message does not represent a change in district disciplinary policy, but Victor Valley has many students from chaotic backgrounds such as Culberson described, and teachers need to learn to interpret their students’ body language. When a student is visibly agitated, the teacher might not want to push any buttons by asking if he or she brought in homework that day.

“We need to see ourselves as teachers and adults in the classroom,” Weaver said, “but we shouldn’t see ourselves as dictators, where students see themselves as far less than the teacher.”

A teacher at Silverado High School, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her job, said she understood Culberson’s message to be that teachers need to do everything possible to reach students and keep them in school.

When Culberson asked the audience how many times they could tolerate hearing “f-— you” from a student and said he could personally handle more than 100 instances a day, the teacher said she felt the presentation became a bit “off the wall.” A teacher next to her told her that she would not tolerate one case of swearing.

Teachers should never take anything a student says personally, Culberson said. He referred to a teacher’s personal “f-— youmeter, meaning the number of times a teenager swears at them before they would discipline the student. If teachers have a low tolerance for bad behavior and frequently send a student out of the classroom, the students will drive them crazy whereas teachers with a high tolerance will be able to calmly follow school procedure and still discipline the student, Culberson said in an interview. Maverick High School principal Beth Crane declined to comment on Culberson’s speech, but principal Tracy Marsh of Silverado High School said state law prohibits vulgarity and swearing in the classroom and allows discipline ranging from suspension to being expelled, no matter what background a student comes from.

“Nothing a person from San Bernardino says can change state law,” Marsh said. “We do want to make sure that the example is set and the tone it set,” he said, referring to student behavior.

He added that although he did not attend the inservice, he spoke to four teachers at Silverado High School who heard the presentation and described it as a positive experience.

According to Weaver, Culberson received a standing ovation.

“Everything that I do is designed for the mental health of the teacher,” Culberson said, and added that he gives presentations free of charge.
I'm curious to know if teachers can be disciplined for swearing in the presence of an in-service speaker who has wasted several hours of time that could've been better spent preparing their classrooms for the first day of school?

I'm not sure that there's a "f--- you meter" big enough to measure the intensity...
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When Teachers Strike: Thoughts And Ideas Welcomed

Last Saturday, we linked to a couple of current stories about teachers who are either about to, or already on, strike. We also asked our readers' opinions concerning this question:
When teachers and their employers are at loggerheads over salaries and working conditions, should they be able to strike, thereby closing the schools?
We've been enjoying the dialogues among the commenters and hope that you will consider sharing your thoughts there. (scroll down)
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Bumper Crop

In terms of both numbers and diversity, more kids than ever before are enrolled in America's public schools writes Sam Dillon of The New York Times:
Some 55 million youngsters are enrolling for classes in the nation’s schools this fall, making this the largest group of students in America’s history and, in ethnic terms, the most dazzlingly diverse since waves of European immigrants washed through the public schools a century ago.

Millions of baby boomers and foreign-born parents are enrolling their children, sending a demographic bulge through the schools that is driving a surge in classroom construction.

It is also causing thousands of districts to hire additional qualified teachers at a time when the Bush administration is trying to increase teacher qualifications across the board. Many school systems have begun recruiting overseas for instructors in hard-to-staff subjects like special education and advanced math.

The rising enrollments are most obvious in districts like this one west of Washington, in Loudoun County, one of the nation’s fastest-growing school systems.

Thousands of government, technology and construction workers, many of them Hispanic, Asian and African-American, are streaming into new subdivisions within commuting distance of the Pentagon and the headquarters of America Online. They are transforming a school system that was once small and overwhelmingly white into one that is sprawling and increasingly cosmopolitan.

The Loudoun County Public Schools, where annual pay for starting teachers is $40,986, has hired almost all the 650 new teachers it needs to fill its classrooms when school begins on Sept. 5, scores of them through agencies that recruit teachers in foreign countries, the superintendent, Edgar B. Hatrick, said.

But some rapidly growing districts across the nation are having trouble. The Clark County School District in Las Vegas, for instance, where teachers’ starting salary is $33,000, has hired 2,000 teachers. But with classes scheduled to start Wednesday, the district was still looking for 400 others, mostly to teach special education and math, said Pat Nelson, a spokeswoman.

Most districts eventually find the teachers they need, but in extreme cases, some increase class sizes or call on substitutes until they hire a permanent teacher.

In projections published last year, the federal Department of Education said the nation’s elementary and secondary enrollments would grow, on average, by about 200,000 students annually, reaching 56.7 million in 2014. Demographers say the current bulge moving through the nation’s school systems owes to the children of the baby boom generation, which lasted from about 1946 to 1964, as well as to the children of immigrants. The enrollment trends would be uneven, regionally, with schools in the Northeast and Midwest losing students, on average, and those in the South and West growing, the department said.
There's much more to read in the whole thing.

I wonder where they are going to get the thousands of "highly qualified" teachers that they're going to need in order to serve all those kids?
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

School Daze

Around our campus, we've had a week of "professional" development and classroom preparation time.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes at our junior high school here in California's "Imperial" Valley.

This evening, on the last day before le deluge, I feel much the same way a major-league baseball fan must feel at the end of spring training and before the first pitch is thrown on opening day.

When All Things are possible.

I'm looking forward to meeting my students!
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The Good 'Ole Days Necessarily Weren't So Good

And to think that Blackboard Jungle was released way back in 1955! (Whenever I have a really looong day in the classroom, I just remember that I can't have it as bad as the movie's main character, Mr. Dadier.)

The media's interest obsession with the concept of the out-of-control public school has been around for a very long time.

Trivia: Do you know the name of this movie's very famous theme song? Not only did it catapult the singers to number 1, but it launched (and gave its name to) an era.

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Flag Flapped In Colorado

Seventh grade history teacher Eric Hamlin put up some foreign flags in his classroom and ran right into a buzz saw:
Carmody Middle School geography teacher Eric Hamlin will be reassigned to another school, at his request, following a dispute over foreign flags in his classroom, Jefferson County school officials said Friday.

Hamlin has decided that his presence at Carmody would be divisive, the district said.

Hamlin, who taught seventh grade at the Lakewood school, was suspended with pay Wednesday after he refused to take down three foreign flags that he had hung in his room. The principal believed that Hamlin was in violation of a Colorado law barring the display of foreign flags in state buildings.

School district officials concluded that Hamlin's display fell under an educational exception to the state foreign flag law. But Hamlin had hinted Thursday that he might not feel welcome at Carmody because some workers there resented the media attention he brought to the school.

Hamlin had been with the district for nine years, but was on his first day of a new assignment at Carmody when the flag issue arose. Hamlin could not be reached for comment Friday.

A statement by the district quoted him as saying, "I want to do what's in the best interest of the Carmody family which includes the students and my fellow teachers. It is my hope that Carmody will move forward towards a successful school year, and put this incident behind them."

The district will seek another assignment for Hamlin. Meanwhile, he remains on paid leave.

Jefferson County school district spokeswoman Lynn Setzer said a new assignment for Hamlin could open within a few days as administrators determine where more teachers are needed for the new semester.

The flap started when Carmody Principal John Schalk determined that Hamlin was violating the law. Schalk is not being reprimanded, Setzer said.
Call me old fashioned, but when the boss directs an employee to do something that is not illegal, shouldn't the employee comply?

Here in our part of California, a teacher may be suspended immediately (pending termination of employment) for insubordination for "refusing" to comply with his or her principal's legal directives.

As for the flags themselves, (Hamlin has displayed some 60 over the years.) I don't have a problem with their display. After all, Hamlin is a history teacher, and colorful flags displayed tastefully in the classroom are good attention-grabbers and classroom discussion starters.

Still... I have to ask some questions: Was teacher Eric Hamlin insubordinate? And if he was, did he "get away" with it? And if he did "get away" with it, why? (See related story below.)

Related: See the Denver Post's columnist Jim Spencer's
take on this story (Spencer infers that Hamlin played the "race" card as one of the flags was that of Mexico.) and the Rocky Mountain News' follow-up.

Update:(PM) Check out the lively discussion in our commenting thread. We also give our opinion about what Hamlin should have done.
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Book'em Polski!

California history teacher Polski3 just threw away an Ebay's worth of slightly used history books!

Now why didn't I think of that last time we threw ours away?

Update: Spunkyhomeschool has the low-down on selling used textbooks on Ebay. It seems as though it's a little more complicated than one might think.
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Spellings Report: Giving Credit Where It's Due

Globe-trotting U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has taken yet another trip, (our coverage of her earlier junkets travels here) this time to the opening of the Davidson Academy for gifted students. (The campus is located on the grounds of The University of Nevada in Reno. See their website here.) In her speech, she uttered the usual platitudes about NCLB and the need for educators to be held accountable for student progress.

But this time around, I came across something unexpected. Something that made us smile.

For the first time that I'm aware of, (and we monitor the Secretary's comings and goings regularly) The Queen of All Testing directed
some of her remarks at students and the need for them to take school more seriously:
This year I've traveled to India, Egypt and Russia, and I can tell you there is a hunger for education in those places that is often lacking in American students. Students work harder and longer, and they don't make or accept excuses—and neither do their cultures. These are the kids our kids are going to be competing against—and if we don't challenge them now—then we aren't doing our job to prepare them for the future.

Today, 90 percent of the fastest-growing jobs require postsecondary education. But a report released just last week showed almost 4 out of 5 high school graduates were unprepared for college-level work.

That's unacceptable.

All over our country, parents, students, policymakers, and educators are demanding more rigorous coursework. A recent survey showed a vast majority of adults believe our schools aren't adequately preparing students to compete in the global economy.

And the students agree—3 out of 4 high school students said they don't feel challenged.

A Gates Foundation study showed the lack of challenging coursework is one of the top reasons students drop out of high school. Many left school because their classes were boring and not relevant to their lives—not because they weren't passing, and certainly not because they didn't have the ability to succeed. In fact, it's estimated that 1 out of every 5 dropouts could qualify as gifted.

By denying children access to rigorous classes, we waste their potential, and we deny them the opportunity to improve their lives as well as ours.

We must challenge our students and create a system that demands they step up to the plate—and to do so, we must challenge ourselves.

We know the solution: raised expectations, higher standards, and rigorous coursework for every student, not just a few. Taking just one AP class can increase a child's ability to succeed—but unfortunately, nearly half our high schools currently offer no AP classes at all.

That's an opportunity gap we can't afford to tolerate, and I know Senator Ensign agrees. I appreciate everything he's doing to promote Congressional action around these issues.
I realize that it wasn't much, and she did talk mostly about students in other countries, but it is a start.

I agree with the Secretary's remarks that we need, "Rigorous coursework for every student, not just a few." But unless students step-up and give their best effort to learn the material, (and in the real world all-too-many students are focused on everything but academics) achieving the goals and objectives of The No Child Left Behind Act will remain an unfulfilled dream.

Now if only Margaret Spellings would finally say something about the need for America's parents to see that their kids had completed their homework, got a good night's rest, and arrived at school on time prepared to learn, I would do handsprings in front of my history class.
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Is More P.E. NOT A Go-Go For Fitter Kids?

For all of us who thought that more physical education would help make our kids slimmer and fitter, Joanne Jacobs has some bad news.

Here in California's "Imperial" Valley, many elementary school students get little, if any, physical education instruction. (Which is in direct violation of the state's education code.)

I wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that none of the elementary school campuses has a gymnasium even though outside temperatures in the spring and fall often exceed 110 degrees.
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The Question Of The Day: When Teachers Strike

It looks as though teachers in the Detroit public school system may soon be going out on strike and have already struck and closed the schools in Gary, Indiana.

So here's the question:
When teachers and their employers are at loggerheads over salaries and working conditions, should they be able to strike, thereby closing the schools?
Here in California, teachers may legally strike if they first go through several steps in the collective bargaining process.
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Friday, August 25, 2006

The Long And The Pluto Of It...

Science teachers need not fear the expulsion of Pluto from the exclusive Celestial Planets Club. To the contrary, reports CNN:
Science teachers consider Pluto's flunking out of planet status a plus rather than a minus.

"It's exciting. It's a chance to teach kids that this is the nature of science. Things are always changing," said Rich Hogen, who taught fourth grade for 32 years in the Arizona school system.

At the beginning of the week, it looked as if Pluto would be spared the subtraction as the International Astronomical Union considered increasing the number of planets to 12.

But Thursday's vote reversed course, categorizing Pluto and two of the planet hopefuls, Ceres and Xena, as dwarf planets.

"I think it would have been more difficult had they added more," Hogen said. "There's a lot of research out there on the nine planets. They just dropped one."

Instructors who taught for years that our solar system has nine planets will have to spend some time brushing up on the new categories.

"I spent a half-hour poking around in books to get a sense of what definition of a planet has been used in the past and how the proposed changes are taking place," said John Whitsett, who has taught chemistry and physics for more than 30 years.

"It's a chance to start looking at more than just the nine planets," Whitsett said. "What do we mean by a comet? What do we mean by a dwarf planet?"

Whitsett believes the change will focus attention back on science, which he thinks has been relegated to a supporting role in recent years.

"Ever since No Child Left Behind was passed, there's been a tremendous emphasis on reading and math, and as a result, especially in elementary schools, science has taken a back seat," he said.

"What we have is something that's been making a lot of press. Students are going to be asking questions, and I've always found that the best time to teach is when kids are asking questions, " Whitsett said. "Anything that gets kids engaged and thinking about science has got to be a good thing."

Susan Wagner, vice president for exhibits and programs at Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois, said her team has some work to do.

"We will definitely be adjusting our exhibits to reflect this vote," she said. "When our building was created, we originally had eight planets that were placed in the outside façade, because Pluto was not discovered. So it's ironic that we're going back to the eight planets."

Becky Peltonen, an elementary school teacher in Panama City, Florida, had mixed feelings.

"On one hand, I like for the eight to have exclusivity, because you need to have certain characteristics to be a planet. It shows kids that some things do have to change. We need to teach modern science and use the new definitions," Peltonen said.

"But on the other hand, I'd like to stick with tradition," she said. "Let Pluto be grandfathered in."

Peltonen was disappointed about the astronomical union's about-face on numbers. "I wanted them to add the planets, because I think that would inspire the next generation of explorers that there are things out there to be discovered."

Peltonen, who teaches science to all grades at Oscar Patterson Elementary School, had her fifth-graders sing their mnenomic "planets song" after the news of Pluto's downgrade.

"I'm going to have to write a new song!" she said when they finished.

A top science teacher pointed out another change. "Teachers will have to redo their murals," Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, said.

But, he said, "The opportunity far outweighs the inconveniences of renaming a planet."

Whitsett, who is the president-elect of the NSTA, emphasized that the refigured solar system can energize teaching the true meaning of science.

"It's not a collection of facts. It's a process. It's a way of solving problems. As our understanding of these facts changes, then the science changes a little bit," he said.

Science and understanding change, but this change is not so earth-shattering, he said.

"The solar system right now is exactly like it was 24 hours ago," Whitsett pointed out. "Nothing's changed in that time period -- just the name by which we define each of these things."
It may not be a planet, but a Pluto by any other name is just as far from the sun and just as cold.
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New Orleans' Public Schools: One Year After Katrina

Schools are reopening all over the country. And that includes those in New Orleans one year after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina:
As survivors go, Julia Felix may be small, but those third-grade pigtails are as long as the tales she has to tell.

Like so many displaced students, Julia spent a year as one of Katrina's vagabonds, CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan reports. "I've been first to Mississippi, then Atlanta, then Mississippi again, then here," Julia says.

And it hasn't been easy. "I have to keep switching friends," she says, "and then you never see them again, and then you maybe see them again. But you never know."

But this week, that all changed.

It's back-to-school in the Big Easy, and any reunion is a good one.

More than 50 schools — some in the hardest-hit areas — are scheduled to re-open by the end of the month. That's only half the number of schools that existed before the storm, but it's more than many thought possible just a year ago.

Floodwaters ravaged nearly a third of all the classrooms in New Orleans beyond repair. Some haven't changed much since the day the levees broke. But given that New Orleans had one of the worst public school systems in the country, Katrina may actually do some good.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild the school system the way it should be," says Scott Cowan, president of Tulane University.

Cowan helped lead the charge for change, encouraging the state to take control away from the failing New Orleans school district and hand over an unprecedented 60 percent of the public schools to private companies.

They will be managed as charter schools — publicly funded but independently run.

"We can make faster decisions, we can make decisions that are more consistent with the needs of our kids than we ever were before," Cowan says.

Still, the challenges are daunting. Registration has been chaotic and confusing. Some schools are nowhere near ready. Teachers still have to be hired, and critics worry that many charter companies may not have the experience to handle the task alone.

But Julia, whose charter school opened on schedule, says Katrina taught her something that all of New Orleans should take to heart.

"I learned that sometimes you have to take a hard road, but you know that it is going to get all right," Julia says. "You never know when it's going to get all right, but it is." Watch video

She says she is now on the medium road, but the hard road will be OK eventually. Given where her road started, medium isn't too bad.
In pre-Katrina New Orleans, few of the affluent or upper middle-class sent their children to public schools, which were notorious for their crime, violence, and underachievement.

After speaking with relatives of ours who live in the New Orleans area, I don't think that's likely to change in the foreseeable future as those who have the financial means continue to re-enroll their offspring in private and parochial institutions.

And as long those folks with plenty of cash continue to "opt-out" of their own school system, I'm not optimistic that positive systemic change will occur in New Orleans' public schools.
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Parental Wisdom Makes The Local Paper!

We live in California's "Imperial" Valley. This is a rather backward agricultural area in which the economic scene is dominated by a number of large "farms" of several thousand acres that are owned by a few very wealthy absentee owners, who (mostly) live "over the hill" in the much more temperate coastal areas in and around San Diego.

However, the actual farm work is done by immigrants, both legal and illegal.

Local governmental corruption is rampant, (and obvious to all) with nepotism and cronyism being factors in many hiring decisions at all governmental levels, including public education.

"Imperial" County is the poorest county in California and has the highest unemployment.

Not surprisingly, a large majority of "Imperial" County's students are from economically disadvantaged households where there are few parents with high school diplomas or college degrees.

Nevertheless, most parents in the "Imperial" Valley generally support public education and want (naturally) the best for their children but are rarely, if ever, actively involved in their children's schools or the local political scene.

So it came as a pleasant surprise when this letter written by a parent
appeared Monday in The Imperial Valley Press, (also absentee owned) which is what-passes-for-the-local-newspaper:
The school doors will soon be open, and your child will get inside. But the real question is, “Will they get out? Will they be left behind? Will this year again end in some form of disappointment?” The High School Exit Exam is in full force, and many parents and students are waking up to the alarm clock of accountability. Unfortunately, many will once again push the snooze button.

Just a couple of hints: If your child didn’t meet up to your expectations at the end of last year, or they had less than 2.0 with at least one F, please consider yourself warned. The red lights on your educational dash are blinking, but will anyone make it to the garage before something else goes awry? Young people who do not experience school success are more at risk for substance abuse or heading down a variety of other wrong paths.

Future concerned parents are proactive. When school starts, they are taking away TV, cell phones, freedom with friends and sports, in order to jump start the hearts of the academically comatose. If you take away distractions, you are likely to get more focus, which translates to work. If you give your child a very clear statement that the past was unacceptable, and they are now to experience consequences, you will be a better parent, and at risk for making them a better person.

The reality is that many students need help. There are many after school tutoring programs, and excellent teachers willing to invest time and extra attention before school, during lunch and after school for your child’s benefit. Take advantage of the grace that is offered. For families, less fiscally challenged, there are programs like Sylvan and private educational centers, who have committed staff with realistic solutions to your children’s learning woes.

There are many folks willing to help students, but the parent is the most powerful person in the equation. Parent power can get your child moving in the right direction and with the necessary support, success is achievable. Please act today. No educator really enjoys it when a child flunks or doesn’t graduate, unless maybe that is exactly what the student and the parent deserve.


El Centro
With the new school year just getting started in most areas of the country, I think that Mr. Shinn has put into written form what is on the minds of a great number of public school educators about now.

A successful public education system depends on teamwork involving educators, students, and parents.
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Knucklehead Of The Day: Bus Driver Delores Davis

Today's Knucklehead must surely be the Coushatta, Louisiana school bus driver who made black students sit in the back of the bus while reserving front seats for whites:
Nine black children attending Red River Elementary School were directed last week to the back of the school bus by a white driver who designated the front seats for white children.

The situation has outraged relatives of the black children who have filed a complaint with school officials.

Superintendent Kay Easley will meet with the family members in her office this morning.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also is considering filing a formal charge with the U.S. Department of Justice. NAACP District Vice President James Panell, of Shreveport, said he would apprise Justice attorneys of the situation this week. He's considering asking for an investigation into the bus incident and other aspects of the school system's operations, including pupil-teacher ratio as it relates to the numbers of white and black children, along with a breakdown of the numbers of black and white teachers employed.

"If the smoke is there, then there's probably fire somewhere else," Panell said in a phone interview from New Orleans. "At this point, it is extremely alarming. We fought that battle 50 years ago, and we won. Why is this happening again?"

Easley would not comment much on the allegations Wednesday, saying it is a personnel issue. She acknowledged that she has investigated the claim. And she confirmed that the bus driver did not run her route Wednesday, nor would she today.

Asked if the driver would work for the rest of the year, Easley said, "I'm not going to answer the questions. "» You're getting all that you're going to get from me. I'm sorry."

Red River Elementary School Principal Jamie Lawrence tried to rectify the seating situation when it was brought to her attention. But it was ultimately handled at the Central Office, Patricia Sessoms said.

Sessoms aunt, Iva Richmond, is the mother of two of the children, ages 14 and 15, and foster parent to three others, ages 5, 6 and 10. Janice Williams, who is the mother of the other four children, is Richmond's neighbor. All nine children catch the bus at a stop on Ashland Road.

Sessoms will join Richmond and Williams in their meeting with Easley today. Sessoms said they would ask for bus driver Delores Davis' immediate termination. Davis, who originates her bus route in Martin, has called Richmond to apologize, Sessoms said. A message left on Davis' answering machine late Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

After Richmond and Williams filed complaints with the School Board, Transportation Supervisor Jerry Carlisle asked Davis to make seat assignments for her passengers, Sessoms said.

"But she still assigned the black children to the back of the bus," she added.

And the nine children had to share only two seats, meaning the older children had to hold the younger ones in their laps.

A new solution reached Monday by School Board officials has a black bus driver driving across town to pick up the nine black children.

"I think the whole school system needs to be reviewed in Red River Parish," Sessoms said.

Sessoms, who has two children at Red River Elementary, said she has no problems with her bus driver. "I have a wonderful bus driver," she added. Sessoms' request to have her young children sit near the front because of their ages was granted.

School Board member Gene Longino said Wednesday evening that he had not heard about the situation involving the nine children.

"I don't know anything about that. "» Until something formally comes to the School Board members through the superintendent, we don't know the details," Longino said.

School Board President Ricky Cannon was at work Wednesday evening and unavailable for comment. Board member J.B. McElwee also was not at home. Calls to the homes of Cleve Miller, Kassandria Wells White, Karen Womack and Jessie Webber were not answered.
I think that this woman will almost certainly be on the receiving end of our Darwin Award in Education.

In the meantime, somebody get Delores Davis a copy of white journalist John Howard Griffin's 1959 book, Black Like Me. (Should be required reading for all high school students.)
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The Parent Trap

What kind of sick "parent" has sex and alcohol parties for high school students in her home?

This is the sort of thing that would make many people seriously consider requiring that parents be licensed, bonded, and insured before they begin having children.
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Wonkitorial: The New Model School Administrator

In New York City, those who can.... teach.

Those who can't teach because they can't get a teaching license...
become principals.

It seems as though there are more and more young people who teach for a minimal number of years and then get the hell out of Dodge obtain (often through political patronage) an administrative position that pays more to "start" than a classroom teacher earns with 20 years experience, a Master's degree, and a desk-drawer full of letters from grateful students and parents.

So... what sort of boss can often be found in the offices of many public school systems around the country?

What we frequently have is an (often very young) individual who is tasked with supervising teachers (at site or district level) but often has little or no track record of proven teaching success, an individual who is expected to evaluate and implement curricula but rarely has a thorough grasp of curricular issues, an individual who is responsible for seeing that applicable state and federal statutes (as well as board policies) are enforced in the school(s) but often has little background in EduLaw, and an individual who is charged with disciplining and counseling students but has little or no successful experience working with children or parents.

Sounds like the New Model School Administrator to me.

It seems to me that often the sole qualification that these young and inexperienced New Model Administrators possess is some sort of personal and/or political loyalty to the superintendent who appoints them and the (often) superintendent's rubber-stamp governing board that confirms them.

It also seems to me that in all-too-many public school districts, a "check" or "balance" is missing somewhere...

Is successful teaching experience a prerequisite for being a successful school administrator? Perhaps not. But if we accept as a given that past performance is more often than not a reliable indicator of future success, then having a proven record of success before becoming a Boss can't hurt.
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