Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Concerned Teacher And Her Suppressed Poem

Graycie has written a poem that she has titled "The Winner." The concern was that her hall principal had forbidden her from sharing it with any and all of her high school students because, according to him, the vocabulary and its usage has racist overtones:
"The Winner"

“You talkin’ to me?”
“I don’t hafta do anything.”
“Woman, you whack!”
“I ain’t gonna do that.”
“You can’t make me.”
“Sumthin’ wrong wit you.”

Child, you’re right.
You don’t hafta.
You ain’t gonna.
I can’t make you.

You win.

Later, you remember that.
You didn’t hafta.
You weren’t gonna.
They couldn’t make you.
You won.

When you’re flipping burgers,
you remember
that you won.
When you’re lined up for your welfare
or your food stamps,
you remember that.

You won.
Just to make his intentions clear, the principal indicated to Gracie that if she chose to share this with students that it would result in a reprimand.

Gracie asked readers this question:

"I would like to ask your opinions. The people who comment on my feeble attempts at writing are wise and competent and sensitive to their students. Is it out of line to use this poem, "The Winner," with freshmen students?"
I wonder what Graycie's administrator would have thought of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? I wonder if he would forbid the books from being read in the classroom and order their removal from the library shelves? The vocabulary of Twain's works could, if taken as individual words, be thought of by some as racist. But most folks with a thorough grasp of those two novels would agree that Twain's message (especially in Huckleberry Finn) was anything but racist. Quite the contrary.

In the case of Graycie's poem, I think that it may be a case of what I call "defensive administration." The hall principal wants to remove even the possibility that a concerned parent might file a complaint over Graycie's choice of classroom material. For many school administrators, a quiet school is a good school.

Heh. I seem to remember a few years ago when administrators spent quite a bit of time bloviating about the need to "empower" teachers. I guess those times are long gone...

Like Paul Harvey, here Graycie tells us The Rest of the Story.
Entries to this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get details right here; see our latest posts over there.

Science And Technology Tuesday: Darwin Vs. ID

In the ongoing struggle between those who favor the teaching of Intelligent Design in public school science classes versus those who advocate a more Traditional Approach, we have this dispatch from the Ohio Front:
Supporters of intelligent design suffered another setback on Tuesday when the Ohio State Board of Education voted 11-4 to remove language from the state's science curriculum that was critical of the theory of evolution.

The "critical analysis" of evolution was part of the curriculum for 10th-grade biology classes that the board adopted when it set new academic standards in 2002, making Ohio the first state to officially adopt such language. But according to the New York Times, the board's vote to remove the language came in part out of fear of a lawsuit in light of a December ruling by a Pennsylvania judge that teaching intelligent design in public schools was unconstitutional.

"This lesson is bad news, the 'critically analyze' wording is bad news," said Martha W. Wise, the board member behind the emergency motion. "It is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about the nature of science." Wise, a 28-year veteran of the board who led the fight to delete the anti-evolution language from the science standards and accompanying lesson plan, is a creationist who has taken heat from other creationists for her stance, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"How could I dare do something like this if I say I believe in God? I can do that because I believe there are two separate issues here," said Wise. "One is the teaching of good science. The other is the teaching of creationism — and I think that is important, too. But I think that should be taught in any other class or at church or at home, not in science class."

Though the Ohio lesson plan didn't specifically mention intelligent design (ID) — which is based on the premise that life is too complex to be explained by evolution alone — critics said that the critical look at evolution was tantamount to teaching ID. The Ohio lesson plan was voluntary, and it is unclear how many of the state's 613 local school districts were using it.

The Times reported that defenders of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution saw the Ohio decision as proof of a backlash against the advances made by ID advocates last year, but leaders of the ID-boosting Discovery Institute warned that Ohio's move could unleash its own backlash.

"It's an outrageous slap in the face to the citizens of Ohio," said John G. West, associate director of the Institute's Center for Science and Culture, in reference to several polls that show public support for criticism of evolution in science classes. "The effort to try to suppress ideas that you dislike, to use the government to suppress ideas you dislike, has a failed history," West said. "Do they really want to be on the side of the people who didn't want to let John Scopes talk or who tried to censor Galileo?"

The Discovery Institute had touted Ohio as a national model for its "teach the controversy" approach to evolution, which it hoped would focus on questioning Darwin's theory. To date, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and Pennsylvania have adopted similar "critical analysis" standards, and the South Carolina Board of Education is slated to vote next month about whether to add similar wording to its curriculum guidelines, according to the Times. Following last year's federal court ruling banning ID instruction in Pennsylvania, the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, that had approved its teaching was voted out of office

Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, pointed to the Ohio vote as a "significant victory" in the debate and said it should make school districts think twice about considering changes in how evolution is taught.

"This language from Ohio, the critically-analyze-evolution language, is sprouting up all over, at both the local level, as well as with other state standards," Scott said. "The Ohio board has recognized its error, and other school districts should not make that same error."
Backstory here.

I'm sure that this struggle will not end anytime soon. In all likelihood, there will be years of endless litigation before it ends up being settled by the Supreme Court.
Entries to this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get details right here; see our latest posts over there.

The Nightmare School Administrator

I've worked for a few awful school administrators during my years of classroom service, but I've never worked for one as terrible as the one who plagues the teacher who writes over at Life in the Mobile Learning Cottage. Consider taking a look at part I, part II, and part III.

I can certainly sympathize with her. A good school administrator can make classroom teaching a delight. A bad one can turn what should be the most fulfilling job on earth into little more than a

Sadly, the hiring of all too many school administrators is based more upon their political connections rather than their curricular expertise and leadership abilities.
Entries to this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get details right here; see our latest posts over there.

Science And Technology Tuesday: Too Little-Too Little

The State of Idaho is considering giving science and math teachers a whopping 3.75% premium for teaching in these tough-to-recruit subject areas:
A Senate panel has approved a bill that would raise math and science teacher pay in the hope of attracting more of those educators to Idaho.

The measure would cost the state around $2.8 million and would raise pay for those teachers by 3.75 percent.

That's a raise of just over $1,000 for a teacher earning $30,000 a year.

The pay raise wouldn't come until the teacher had been working at least five years, a time lag that some critics say would weaken the measure.

It passed the Senate Education Committee yesterday after a debate.
If all the state of Idaho pays its beginning teachers is thirty grand per year, I'm not suprised that there's a teacher shortage in those critical areas.

Heh. I wonder how many aspiring teachers would be willing to change their majors and head north in order to collect Idaho's $100 per month (less taxes) bonus? And before you begin cashing those checks, better not forget that five-year time lag...
Entries to this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get details right here; see our latest posts over there.

The Triumph Of The Testers?

At Number 2 Pencil, Kimberly comments on a New York Times article that speculates on whether or not the end is near for FairTest, which many believe (rightly or wrongly) is opposed to all standardized tests. According to the Times, funding for the non-profit organization is rapidly drying up.

If FairTest does indeed disappear, could the cause of its demise be listed as "Death by NCLB?"
Entries to this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get details right here; see our latest posts over there.

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 56th edition of The Carnival Of Education are due TONIGHT. We should receive them no later than 9:00 PM. (Pacific). Please send all submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. Include the title of your post, and URL if possible. View last week's edition, right here and the complete Carnival archives over there.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the carnival's midway should open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning.

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: In a tie vote in which The Watcher cast the deciding ballot, RightWing NutHouse took first place with The "Happy Warrior" Is Weeping In His Grave. Done With Mirrors was runner-up with Team of Rivals.

Non-Council Entries: Dinocrat garnered the most votes with this post titled "How does the modern world look when you have done nothing to help create it, and innovation is a threat to cherished beliefs?"

Monday, February 27, 2006

NCLB Compliance: How Do We Motivate The Unmotivated?

When it comes to students not taking advantage of free tutoring, what's happening in Rockford, Illinois is all too typical:
The tutoring is free, but only about half the eligible Rockford students take advantage of it.

Struggling schools with high numbers of low-income students must offer tutoring from private firms, as mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The services are free to low-income students at 11 Rockford elementary schools and one middle school.

Whether the reason is a lack of transportation or competition from other after-school programs, only 54 percent of the 1,025 spots for the program were filled this year.

Why more students don’t enter the program is a mystery to Huntington Learning Center Director Mark Rydberg. Huntington is one of seven state-approved firms Rockford schools use.

“It befuddles the mind why more parents don’t take advantage of this,” Rydberg said. “We don’t have a good reason for it. I think the district does a fair job of getting the information out to parents.”

Assistant Superintendent Linda Hernandez points out that participation in the private tutoring program has grown considerably.

Just 233 students took advantage of the free tutoring last year, up from 94 the previous year. This year, participation more than doubled to 550 students.

Participation is low nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Tutoring provided by outside firms are a centerpiece of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, but in 2005, just 12 percent of the estimated 1.9 million eligible students were enrolled.

Schools must offer tutoring services if they receive federal grant funding for poor students and fail to make adequate yearly progress on state tests for three years in a row.

Districts contract with private tutoring firms that parents can choose from. Schools must set aside money from federal grants to pick up the tab — an annual allocation of $1,547 per Rockford student for an average of 40 hours of tutoring.

There is no state or federal data on how effective the programs are, but principals locally say the quality is largely dependent on how good the tutor happens to be.

Beyer Elementary Principal William Sadler said he does not offer parents his opinion on which tutoring program might be the best. It is left to parents to sort through the seven options and figure which one might best suit their students.

“I definitely encourage the tutoring. The more help any child gets, the stronger they can be,” Sadler said. “Obviously (how effective it is) depends on getting the right program and the right tutor.”

There is no single reason that officials point to why more students don’t get the tutoring.

While Huntington Learning Center requires students who want tutoring to go to their State Street center, other providers, like Brain Hurricane, supply tutors who run after-school sessions at a few Rockford schools, including Haskell Elementary. Another provider tutors students on the Internet.

During a recent Brain Hurricane tutoring session at Haskell, students ate a snack and watched an educational movie under the supervision of Rockford College students who work for the tutoring company.

The kindergarten, first- and second-graders twisted their arms and bodies into the shape of letters and sounded out the letters.

Federal education officials point to several possible factors for low participation. Only a few appear possibly applicable to Rockford: competition with pre-existing after-school programs, transportation problems, and parents not understanding informational materials.

At Nashold Elementary School, the School District’s more established 21st Century Learning Center after-school program provides some stiff competition for the federally mandated offerings.

There, 120 low-income students participate in the after-school program and 47 are on the waiting list. The after-school programming includes extra help from Nashold teachers. And the after-school program provides transportation to the students that is unavailable for the tutoring.

Only 16 Nashold students take advantage of tutoring programs under the federal law.

Assessments appear to show those students have benefited from the tutoring, Rundall said.

“Thank goodness we have been lucky and our tutors are outstanding,” Rundall said.

Wilson Middle School Principal Thomas Schmidt said that because tutors have relatively few students to work with, they can have a great deal of impact. But because there is no national or state data on how effective the tutoring programs are, it is difficult to say whether tutoring will lead to better scores on state tests.

Charles Gray, the parent of a seventh-grader at Wilson Middle School, said he would recommend the tutoring program to other parents. His son raised his math grade more than one letter grade to a B last year.

“Having the one-on-one attention was really beneficial for him,” Gray said.
In our own junior high here in California's "Imperial" Valley, we encourage those students who are in need to take advantage of our tutoring program. (The tutors are college students who assist kids in our campus library after school.)

Unfortunately, because we do not make the tutoring mandatory, many students and parents fail to grasp the importance of "getting caught up," and so do not take advantage of the services offered.
See our latest education-related posts right here.

Math Monday: Paying More For Those Who Teach Math

Math for America, a program developed by New York City's public school system, is using scholarships and bonus pay on top of their teaching salaries in order to recruit math teachers:
In New York City, nearly 700 math teachers aren't certified in the subject. It's a national problem too, and was even cited in the president's State of the Union message.

Eyewitness News Education Reporter Art McFarland shows us a program to change that, which could become a model across the country.

Giselle George teaches 8th grade pre-algebra at East Side Community High School in the East Village. She's one of only 12 handpicked math teachers in New York City in a new program called "Math For America."

Giselle: "Too often you have people who don't like math and they're just doing it because it's a job, so therefore they don't give kids that extra step to love math. But that's what I had. I had teachers who love math, who had a smile on their face even when solving the most difficult equation. So that made me want to do the same."

"Math For America" selects college grads with strong math qualifications. The first year, they get $28,000 dollars and a scholarship to work full-time for a master's degree in math education.

Over next four years, they get $62,000 dollars on top of their teacher's salary to teach math in New York City public schools.

Rafael Perez, student: "If you don't understand, she'll help you to understand, so she won't go on until you understand."

The program is privately funded with $25 million dollars, to eventually put 180 teachers in city schools -- people who could command higher paying jobs elsewhere.

"Math For America" was created because U.S. students lag far behind the rest of the world in math.

Jonathan Schweig, "Math for America" says: "They're not going to be mathematically equipped to deal with an economy that's increasingly reliant on strong mathematical proficiency."

Among New York City's 8th graders, about 60 percent cannot do grade level work in math. Nearly 700 math teachers in the city are not certified to teach the subject. But here at East Side Community High, Ms. George is a role model.

Marc Federman, the principal at the school, says: "You have this strong woman of color who is just sending a message both in her practice and by her own success -- sending a message to these young men and women that this is something they can do."

Melanie Bonilla, student: "I've seen a dramatic improvement in my grades... It's a huge transition."

A bill was just introduced in Congress to use federal funds to take the program nationwide.
Visit the Math for America web site right here.

I am reasonably sure that the salary differential is apt to be a serious bone of contention in those districts where teaching salaries are negotiated through the collective bargaining process.

Update: (PM) Michele, who is co-publisher of AFT's NCLBlog lets us know in our comments that, "Several of our affiliates offer pay differentials for shortage areas like math and science."

It should be noted that the AFT, (American Federation of Teachers) has shown itself to be much more flexable in these matters than the much larger (and much less democratically-run) National Education Association (NEA).
See our latest education-related posts here.

Math Monday: Is More High School Math The Answer?

Only the states of Arkansas and Texas require four years of high school mathematics. Tennessee is considering becoming the third. The proposal is causing some interesting reactions among students and educators in one town:
Clarksville's middle school students say they're ready for more math in high school, acknowledging the skills they need for everyday life.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission and state Board of Education are considering requiring high school students to earn four credits of math before high school graduation. Tennessee currently mandates three credits of mathematics for graduation, but many students complete four credits as part of the pre-university path of study.

Two states — Arkansas and Texas — require four years of mathematics, according to an Achieve Inc. report based on February 2005 information. Achieve Inc. was created by the nation's governors and business leaders to help states prepare young people for post-secondary education, work and citizenship by raising academic standards and achievement in America's schools, according to the report.

Several students in the Rossview Middle School Math Club said an additional math requirement in high school is "sweet" and would help them equate math with other courses they hope to take in high school.

"More math would give us an advantage in the future with jobs," said David Clark, a Rossview Middle School eighth-grader.

Rossview eighth-grader Jonathan Nicholson hopes to become a police officer.

He said math helps students prepare for higher education and with many real-life problems. A four-credit math requirement would help balance his math courses with others, such as the criminal justice course he hopes to take in high school.

Rossview Middle seventh-grader Sharhonda Childress isn't looking forward to another math requirement, but she says she'd have to take four years of math because she wants to be a lawyer.

"Mathematics is fun," she said.

Jonathan thinks those who are taking three years of math in high school likely will later regret the choice.

"They'd see it's important for real life. They'll figure it out the hard way, when they need it later," Jonathan said.

All students will benefit from a fourth year of mathematics — whether they're planning to attend college right away or enter the work force, said Harriett McQueen, Austin Peay State University dean of enrollment management and academic support, in an e-mail to The Leaf-Chronicle.

"Indeed it would help. Students who are strong in mathematics will take the four years. The students who do not do so lose whatever mathematics skills they have developed, and thus are unprepared to do university level mathematics," she wrote. "Students who meet university admissions requirements, but who have a deficiency in mathematics, would enhance their chances for university success by addressing the deficiency with a fourth year of mathematics in high school."

APSU professor of mathematics Mary Witherspoon worries a fourth year of math will pose difficulty for school systems seeking to fill additional teaching positions.

"I think a better first step is to address the issues of pre-high school mathematics preparation and the critical shortage of high school mathematics teachers. Then, try to ramp up the offerings for all students," she said in a prepared statement.
It's nice to see that some kids are so progressive and forward-thinking when it comes to needing math. Now if we could just convince some of the parents...
See our latest posts right here.

Why I Don't Teach Kindergarten

I always had the feeling that I wouldn't make an effective kindergarten teacher. After reading this entry, (please scroll down just a bit) I'm now certain of it.

Startling Statistic: Spaceship Earth Is Overbooked!

Ms. Cornelius has the news that there are now some 6.5 billion of us. I guess that it could be said that the world-wide classroom is more than a bit overcrowded.

Does this mean that a certain Disney ride featuring an annoying a delightful little song will now have to change its name?
See our latest education-related posts right here.

Looking For A Monday Morning Conversation-Starter?

Aspiring history Professor Gustavo Arellano, age 27, writes a weekly column in California's Orange County Weekly called, "Ask A Mexican." Learn all about it here and read his latest column over there.

Should be good for starting an argument a conversation at a water-cooler or teachers' lounge near you.
See our latest education-related posts right here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Snow Job: Students Suspended For Snowball Fight

Commenter Kaui Mark brings to our attention this episode from the Weird Little EduWorld that is Southern California:
Two Ramona High School students were suspended for bringing dangerous objects to school — snowballs.

Seniors Michael Sepulveda and Daniel Zavala, the snowball co-conspirators, made a pre-dawn run to the San Bernardino Mountains to fill their pickup trucks with snow and bring it to school for what they hoped would turn into an annual "bring Big Bear to Riverside" ritual.

They were suspended after a school parking lot snowball fight before the start of classes Thursday.

Principal Mike Neece said one of his most important responsibilities is maintaining a safe, orderly learning environment.

"Anything that disturbs that or disrupts that is inappropriate on a school campus," Neece said. "Anything that could cause injury, or could cause a student to get upset and instigate a fight, or damage students' personal property is just inappropriate behavior."

Zavala and Sepulveda were stunned.

"The school overdid it. In the handbook it does not say, 'Do not bring snow to school,'" Zavala said Thursday afternoon.

"It's snow," Sepulveda said.

Savala's mother Martha Valdez called the boys' actions "harmless" but said she supported the decision by school officials.

"They're still there to mandate the rules, and they have to draw the line somewhere."
As I grew-up in central Florida, my childhood experience with snow was very limited. We used unripened oranges instead of snowballs and sheltered ourselves from attack in "forts" that were constructed with wooden packing crates.
See our latest education-related posts right here.

Arts And Music Sunday: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Look at the type of EduCratic nonsense that an elementary school Art teacher in Wisconsin is having to contend with:
Longtime Madison art teacher Laurie Werth is seeing budget cuts up close.

The school is eliminating folded paper towels at all schools, in favor of towels that are dispensed off a roller. The district savings, according to a business services department memo, may amount to about $27,000 districtwide.

The problem is that little kids can't use a dispenser properly, Werth explained.

"They need help, or they get too much or too little. It means the teachers are spending time dispensing paper towels, instead of teaching. Believe me, in elementary art class, you need paper towels," she said.

Werth, who has taught art for over 30 years, is a teacher at Muir Elementary on the far west side.

Providing paper towels that work well for small children now becomes the responsibility of the individual schools, and teachers, she said.

"This seems like a pathetic way to try to save money," she said.
Here's a way that the Madison school system could save even more money: Instead of seeking to reduce costs by eliminating folded paper towels in primary schools, the Madison school district should consider trimming one EduCrat from the district's Office of Business Services. The annual savings to taxpayers by getting rid of the deadwood could easily be over $100,000.

But that would run counter to a decades-long practice that is found all too often in our nation's public school systems: When budget cuts are made, they almost always affect people in the classroom while insulating those Who Work in Offices from any belt-tightening whatsoever.

For example, here in our 5000 student district, dozens of teachers have been permanently laid-off over the past few years in spite of steady enrollements. Yet in over 14 years, not one single administrator has ever been laid-off, fired, or reassigned to the classroom.

It's time for systemic change.
See our latest education-related posts right here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Apostrophe Catastrophe!

Would you believe that there is a new blog that has a passion for, and is dedicated to, the misuse of the poor little apostrophe?

Believe it!

This labor-saving punctuation mark really doesn't get any respect. The abuse of apostrophes should be punishable by law.

Legalized Discrimination?

In Hawaii, admissions to one of the richest private school systems on the planet is based upon race. As the organization behind the school has billions of dollars at its disposal, watch for this to go all the way to the United States Supreme Court:
The Kamehameha Schools admissions policy is being given another chance before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, with the federal court announcing on Wednesday the full court will allow an “en banc” review by all 15 judges.

The court’s announcement invalidates a ruling issued by a three-judge panel on Aug. 2 last year that found the Kamehameha admissions policy giving preference to students of Hawaiian ancestry violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

The 2-1 decision of an appeal on behalf of a non-Hawaiian student who was denied admission in 2003 set off a round of public protests in the islands from Kamehameha Schools alumni and supporters.

Officials defend the admissions requirement as a tool to address social and economic disadvantages Hawaiians have endured since the 1893 U.S.-backed overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.
There is much more in the whole piece. Darren has additional commentary over there.
See our latest education-related posts.

Sports Saturday: The Science Of Injury Prevention

With all of the physical activities that many children are participating in nowadays, there are so many ways in which kids can be hurt. I thought that it would be a good idea to take a look at how the effects of these injuries can be prevented or at least minimized:
During the preteen years (8 to 12), children become more independent and they start to wander away from their homes to explore their neighborhoods. Children become more adventurous and the number of recreational-related injuries increases during this time. The motor skills in this age group can vary widely and may range from a child who is still learning to ride a two-wheel bicycle to a child who has mastered not only bicycle riding, but who is also adept at using rollerblades, scooters, and/or skateboards.

Parents are often intrigued with their child's development and wonder how well they are maturing during their pre-adolescent years. During this period, parents encourage their child to acquire new motor skills and often compliment them for their physical abilities. Parents may allow adventurous behavior, not fully realizing the potential for serious injury. Parents may also have a false sense of security regarding their child's safety in the home, school, or with recreational activities. On the other end of the spectrum, parents can be overly protective and may restrict their child's activities. After interviewing a mother with two boys in this age group, her solution to injury prevention was to lock her two boys in a padded room. However tempting it is to overprotect our children, it is unrealistic to think we can be at our children's side at all time. Therefore, we need to think of different ways to keep them safe.

Some parents often neglect to go over safety rules with their children, thinking that their child will logically think things through and know the consequences of not following the rules. However, nothing can be further from the truth; children in this age group can often reiterate the safety rules, but they may truly not know how to follow those rules. It is the parent's responsibility to help their children understand how to best prevent injuries and secure their child's safety in the home, school, and recreational activities.

Haddon Matrix

The modern science of injury prevention was established in the 1940s and injuries became viewed as a public health problem largely by the efforts of Dr. William Haddon, Jr., a clinician and epidemiologist. Dr. Haddon emphasized that injuries are not the result of a single cause, but instead result from a chain of circumstances and therefore present with multiple opportunities to establish prevention countermeasures. Dr. Haddon shifted the injury prevention focus away from changing the behavior of the individual to examining the importance of the object (e.g., trampoline) or vehicle (e.g., bicycle) causing the injury and the physical and social environment surrounding the injury. Dr. Haddon developed a matrix that examines the host, agent, and environmental circumstances before, during, and after the injury.

Let's take, for example, rollerscooter injuries, and apply Haddon's matrix for prevention. Rollerscooter injuries are very common in school-age children and constitute an increasing number of emergency department visits each day. The "host" is the child who is inquisitive, somewhat daring, and wanting the thrill of rolling down a hill on a scooter. The "agent" is the scooter, which by design, makes it easy to tip over or lose control. The "environment" is the hill that may present with various bumps and holes in the path of the scooter.

Interventions before the injury for the:

Host: Make sure the child knows how to balance himself on a scooter.
Agent: Make sure the scooter is well built and the brakes work.
Environment: Clear the path of any branches or debris that may cause the scooter to tip over.

Interventions during the injury for the:

Host: Make sure the child wears a helmet and protective padding.
Agent: Make sure the child applies the brake periodically and does not speed out of control.
Environment: Make sure the child is supervised or has a "buddy" with him during the activity.

Interventions after the injury for the:

Host: Administer first aid, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if needed
Agent: Dispose of the scooter.
Environment: Ensure access to a certified trauma hospital or medical specialist to treat the injury. In addition, be aware of rehabilitation services needed to treat serious injuries.

Primary topics for this article include scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, and sports safety.

Recreational Activities

Inline skating and skateboarding activities have become two of the most attractive sports for children today. These sports not only provide a means of recreation, but also provide means of transportation and exercise. Children often view them as competitive sports that can be done in many environments, with kids trying to master tricks that pose a great risk for injury. These sports contribute to an increasing number of childhood injuries that are seen in emergency departments each year. Inline skating injuries most commonly occur in the wrist area, including the lower arm (40 percent), followed by the knee, face, and elbow. As can be expected, the most common area for skateboarding injuries includes the ankle (16 percent), followed by the face, wrist, and elbow. Approximately 23 percent sustain an ankle sprain and 21 percent sustain a fracture.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and International Inline Skating Association recommend that all participants in these sports wear full protective gear, including helmets, wrist-guards, and knee and elbow pads. The wrist-guard alone will protect the wrist from lacerations, sprains, and reduce overall odds by sixfold of sustaining a wrist injury.

When to begin

Often parents ask how old their children should be before they can rollerblade or skateboard. Generally, your young elementary school child can start skating, assuming he or she has normal strength, coordination, and judgment. It is recommended that your child start off with roller skating (four-wheel skates) because these afford better control. If possible, the best place to skate is an indoor rink where there is good lighting, the surface is flat, and the speed is monitored and controlled. Depending on how well the child does with roller skating, he or she may then attempt inline skating, preferably in an indoor rink. Skateboarding may follow once the child has acquired sufficient skill, strength, and coordination to steer the board.

Sport Injuries

The following was obtained from the Injury Prevention and Control for Children and Youth manual published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

As parents, we know that sports injuries are very common, but statistics on sports injuries are hard to obtain for this age group. The best studies on sports-related injuries use data collected from athletic trainers, school nurses, and team physicians covering the practice and the games. Most of the data collected are centered on high school sports. We can classify a sports-related injury as an acute, one-time event, or as a chronic injury, generally classified as an overuse injury. Some children become injured because they participate in too many sports during one season. Many injuries may be prevented if children have guidance during participation, take sport-specific training, and they are physically prepared.

Parents often want to know about their child's risk of injury in a particular sport, such as ice hockey. In general, injury rates are low for all sports at this age group, mainly because preteens are not physically big enough to generate enough force to cause substantial injuries, even in contact sports. Injury rates climb significantly in the adolescent age group and in high school sports. Again, looking at high school data, we know that the sports with the highest number of injuries are football, gymnastics, wrestling, and ice hockey. Chronic-type injuries are commonly seen in soccer and track and field.

Severe injury

When we think of sports injuries, we are most concerned about a catastrophic event causing a permanent and/or severe neurologic disability (spinal cord injury). There is no reporting system to collect data on catastrophic injuries in children below the high school level. From data collected at the college and high school level we know that gymnastics, ice hockey, and football are the sports most closely associated with a risk for catastrophic injury.

Injury control efforts have targeted these most severe injuries and have resulted in improvements in equipment and changing the rules of the game to prevent serious injuries. In football, a dramatic reduction of cervical spine injuries was seen after they stopped the practice of "spearing," which is driving one's helmet into the body of another player.

Additional information on the prevention of sport injuries is available in the Sport Medicine: Health Care for Young Athletes manual published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I will list the sports with the highest levels of youth participation and provide some of the more important injury prevention tips.

Football: A properly fitted helmet will significantly reduce the degree and frequency of head and neck injuries. Most helmets on the market today are produced under strict guidelines written by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. Face masks and mouth guards will greatly reduce dental and facial injuries. Well-constructed thick shoulder padding will reduce the risk of shoulder sprains.

Baseball: Wearing helmets in the batting box and on the bases will reduce head injuries. Wearing safety goggles, or a polycarbonate shield connected to the helmet, will prevent eye and facial injuries by a pitched ball. Breakaway bases will prevent lower leg injuries when the child slides into base

Soccer: Shin guards can help prevent lower leg injuries. Properly fitted soccer shoes can help prevent chronic lower leg injuries as well, like shin splint syndrome or a painful heel caused by a bony spur on the calcaneous (heel).

Gymnastics: This sport is associated with a high number of injuries both acute and chronic. The most important method of preventing injury is to have a person supervising and spotting the child during difficult maneuvers.


Recreation activities are a big part of a child's life and enjoyment. Participation in these activities pose potential risks for injury. These injuries result in substantial number of emergency room visits each year. Parents can often play an active role in preventing these injuries by making sure the child follows the rules of the game as well as uses the proper safety equipment. A child should understand that many of the rules in sports and recreation activities are specifically made to reduce serious injuries. In addition, proper guidance and training can greatly reduce sports-related injuries.
I was lucky. After a very active childhood of football, baseball, and tree-climbing, my first real injury was the result of a motorcycle crash while in my 20s.
See our latest education-related posts right here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I've Learned To Expect This

In the latest round of education-related budget cuts, the federal government is now going after Upward Bound:
Upward Bound is a federally financed program to get more low-income students through high school and into college. If they make it, most of them will be the first in their immediate family to go to college.

Critics say that the program fails to show that it works and that most of these students would be headed toward college regardless.

Supporters swear by it. They point to the college tours that Upward Bound students go on, the financial-aid workshops, the SAT preparation, the afternoon tutoring sessions and the summer programs. All these activities, they say, help students from families in which there is little history of getting into and succeeding in college.

This isn't the first year that supporters -have had to make their case.

Everyone seems tired of the debate.

"I think the way for them to save the programs is for them to prove their effectiveness," said U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th. "So they don't keep going through battle every year and we don't."

Foxx and other federal legislators say that Upward Bound and other education programs geared to push high-school students into college will probably live another year.

Foxx says she wants to see every program undergo evaluations that prove that students are going on to college and graduating.

That position is reflected in an amendment that she made to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act last year, she said. The act is still stalled in Congress, but Foxx said that the evaluation requirement could be tagged onto the budget.

"I think the programs need to pay attention to the fact that the president is suggesting that they be cut because they cannot prove their effect," she said. "I think they need to come to grips with the fact that every federal program that gets money need to prove their worth. That's just the way it should be."

Foxx oversaw Appalachian State University's Upward Bound program in the early 1970s "and I know that it was very effective," she said. "I believe that some of these programs are effective. However, they can't prove it."

Upward Bound supporters say they can.

Ninety-one percent of students who complete Upward Bound go on to college, compared with 41 percent of high-school graduates from all low-income families, said Susan Trebach, a spokeswoman for the Council for Opportunity in Education, a national lobbying organization that supports such federal higher-education programs as Upward Bound.

The U.S. Department of Education collects annual reports on Upward Bound but "for the most part does not publish the results," Trebach said.

"So we have a lot of information, but not all of it, especially the positive parts, ever sees the light of day," she said.

Upward Bound is just one of many education initiatives on the chopping block in the Bush administration's proposed 2007 budget.

GEAR-UP and Talent Search, programs which also attempt to help middle- and high-school students graduate and go on to college, are also supposed to be cut.

But Upward Bound is also one of the biggest - the program stands to lose about $311 million. About 61,000 students are enrolled in more than 800 Upward Bound programs across the county.

The program is also one of the oldest focused on low-income students.

Students in Upward Bound must be in high school. Most of them come from poor families. For a family of four, the education department defines low income as having a taxable income of $30,000 a year or less.

Upward Bound was started in 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.

In recent years, it has weathered presidents who thought that its money could be used elsewhere.

Upward Bound was scheduled for cutting last year. People who have worked with the program say that federal funding was eliminated in budget drafts through the 1980s and '90s, too.

There are 20 Upward Bound programs in North Carolina, most of them housed at public universities or community colleges. About 100 high-school students in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are enrolled in Winston-Salem State University's program, said Josephine Reid, the program's director.

"If it wasn't for the program, I wouldn't know a lot about college," said Brittney Clinton, a freshman at WSSU who was enrolled in Upward Bound when she was a student at Glenn High School.

She always intended to go to college, but she says that Upward Bound taught her to manage her time and how to balance work and class.

"So when I went in as a freshman, it wasn't hard for me to adjust to it," she said.

The education department says that Upward Bound has been rated "ineffective" in evaluations of government programs. It says that the money would be better used to help reform high school and keep high-risk students on track to graduate.

About 90 percent of the students in the ASU program who graduated from high school between 1995 and 1999 went on to get a bachelor's or an associate's degree, said Chuck Bowling, the director of ASU's program.

At WSSU, about 90 percent of students go on to college, Reid said. She said that about 60 percent of them graduate.

According to Bowling, "We look for a student who has to stay home for the summer and watch her younger brother because that's expected and so she doesn't have any enrichment opportunity.

"These are kids that go home to parents who love but have no idea what to do to support them going to college,"he said. "They don't have that experience. They don't have the street smarts about college."
Isn't it strange that the federal government appears to be eager to cut those programs primarily aimed at helping the children of poor and working parents obtain educational opportunities while continuing to throw away the taxpayers' money on runaway pork barrel spending?

Strange, but not unexpected, given the fact that the poor don't have any high-powered lobbyists in Washington to bribe legislators advocate on their behalf.
See our latest education-related posts right here.

The Spellings Report: Big NCLB News From The Secretary

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is announcing the formation of a committee that will take a close look at a number of states that are attempting to alter the formulas used to measure progress under The No Child Left Behind Act:
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced the names of the 11 new outside peer reviewers chosen to evaluate the growth-based accountability models submitted by 20 states. While continuing to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind, states participating in this pilot program are able to receive credit for student improvement over time by tracking individual student achievement from year to year.

"We continue to work closely with states to provide flexibility in implementing No Child Left Behind while maintaining focus on accountability and proficiency for all by 2014," Secretary Spellings said. "This pilot program allows us to test the idea that growth models show promise as fair, reliable and innovative methods of giving states credit for student improvement over time."

Growth models for Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah must be based on the following seven principles of No Child Left Behind:

Ensure that all students are proficient by 2014 and set annual state goals to ensure that the achievement gap is closing for all groups of students;

Set expectations for annual achievement based upon meeting grade-level proficiency and not upon student background or school characteristics;

Hold schools accountable for student achievement in reading/language arts and mathematics;

Ensure that all students in tested grades are included in the assessment and accountability system, hold schools and districts accountable for the performance of each student subgroup, and include all schools and districts;

Include assessments, in each of grades 3 through 8 and high school, in both reading/language arts and mathematics that have been operational for more than one year and have received approval through the NCLB standards and assessment review process for the 2005-06 school year. The assessment system must also produce comparable results from grade to grade and year to year;

Track student progress as part of the state data system; and

Include student participation rates and student achievement as separate academic indicators in the state accountability system.

The peer reviewers, who represent academia, private organizations and state and local education agencies, will review each proposal based on the Peer Review Guidance (http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/growthmodelguidance.doc) issued by the U.S. Department of Education as a road map for developing the models.
The Queen of All Testing then goes on to name her committee members.

Significantly, as is the case with nearly all of her committees, not a single member of this group is a practicing classroom teacher, principal, or Anyone Else who actually works with children.

Shame on the secretary for not including at least one representative from an actual public school campus.

But then again, people like Spellings really don't have much empathy for those of us who are, as she puts it, "held accountable" for student progress even when those students engage in violent behaviors, don't attend class regularly, and refuse to even attempt school work. Neither Spellings nor any of her Washington minions ever mention of the need for parents and the students themselves to also be responsible for their own academic success.

Spellings places full responsibility for insufficient pupil academic progress on, as she calls it, "failing schools." By this she means individual campuses in general and classroom teachers in particular.

People such as Spellings and her ilk do not view classroom teachers as dedicated and hard-working professional educators but as little more than the "service providers in the classroom." In their view, classroom teachers are not worthy of having a place at the table of education-policy formulation, but are only servi-motors who receive orders and are tasked (and then "held accountable") with doing the actual work.

Spellings and company would do very well to read
this post from Eduwonk.com's guest blogger Alice in Eduland. It might just help arrogant educrats well-intentioned-folks-who-wouldn't-work-in-an-actual-classroom-with-real-children-on-a-bet have some appreciation for what it's really like out on the front lines of education reform. That is to say, in the classroom.

The high-born EduCracy that inhabits the well-appointed Washington palaces belonging to The Royal House of Spellings would do very well to remember that they can generate all the paperwork, reports, and mandates that they wish. But if the EduCracy can't get good peasants people who'll actually roll-up their sleeves and do the "hard work" of teaching children in our public school classrooms, their high-falutin "reforms" will exist only on paper, at
the conferences they attend at five-star resorts around the world, and in their collective imaginations.
See our latest education-related posts right here.

History Friday: A Different View Of Black History Month

Writing in the Detroit News, African-American Aubry Kaplan expresses an opinion of Black History Month that is somewhat unconventional:
I hate Black History Month. I don't hate black history, just the month: the marketing tool it has become, the reductive and self-congratulatory tone of the "Honoring African Americans" public-service ads it sets off, the rush toward penance it inspires, as America overcompensates for the rest of the year in which we actively diminish or ignore the concept of black history, much in the way people rush to church or temple on major holidays to revive a faith they don't otherwise keep.

Anybody who knows me knows that I wring my hands over this every February. But because the present course of American history feels so ominous, so freighted with bigger transgressions against democracy and equality that are fast obliterating old-fashioned concerns with black people and their history, this year deserves a special wringing. So here goes.

I hate the separation of stories that has become synonymous with Black History Month, the assumption that black people exist on a different, almost otherworldly plane than everybody else in this country. Certainly in many ways, they have.

But Black History Month should be about connecting the dots of American history, not arranging them into neat, monochromatic piles that reinforce a false notion that Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. were admirable creations only of black culture (and not of white oppression or, more broadly, American culture) who resonate just in black circles.

Of course, America is obsessed with cultural niches of all kinds, and Black History Month is no exception. But there's something deeper at work, some stake that whites (and some blacks) have always had in keeping their narrative apart from that of black people.

Public-service ads notwithstanding, white people don't want the taint of all the negativity that blacks have come to represent in the popular but unarticulated imagination, from slavery to street gangs. Whites, and many blacks, resent the pall that the black struggle has always cast over the shining American myth of equality and individualism.

One hypocrisy is that Black History Month routinely ennobles the fight against slavery, when most of the time, Americans practically laugh any debate of it out of any room. What, that old saw?

We sneer at the notion of black reparations, not because it's so outrageous but because it dares to invoke the possibility that some 250 years of slavery, 100 years of legal segregation and 50 years of something we still can't quite categorize just might have some bearing on the unqualified mess blacks are in today.

As everyone surely knows, blacks are entrenched on the wrong side of just about any troubling statistic you can think of -- high school graduation, incarceration, unemployment. That such conditions continue to exist, unchanged, is one question we should be raising during Black History Month. But we never do. The problem is that black history is ongoing and unresolved. Although it's had bright spots of relative success, it's not pretty.

It still demands accountability at a time when accountability is almost permanently out of fashion and blackness itself is being subsumed by the rise of other ethnic groups and new paradigms such as multiculturalism and multiracialism.

A good friend of mine says that blacks are on the wrong side of U.S. history and always have been. As a black person, I'm resolved to that fact, but as an American, I'm equally resolved to change it.
It's amazing that here in the 21st century, questions of race and racism continue to be a part of our national dialogue. It's even more amazing that there continues to be a need to have that dialogue.

The promise of an equal opportunity for all children to obtain an excellent public education continues to be a promise that remains unfulfilled. The discussion must continue.
See our latest education-related posts right here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Now It's Official: Middle-Class Salaries Are Losing Ground

If you think that your paycheck isn't going as far as it used to, you're right:
Average U.S. family income fell for the first time in 12 years and net worth barely budged between 2001 and 2004, the Federal Reserve said on Thursday in a surprisingly bleak report on household balance sheets.

While soaring home values added to family wealth in the three years to 2004, Americans also took on far more debt and shed stock market holdings, leaving the average household just 6.3 percent richer than in 2001 after adjusting for inflation, the report showed.

The growth in net worth was the smallest three-year gain since 1992 and suggests the 28.1 percent rise in the average home value since 2001 was largely eaten away by a drop in the value of other assets and a 33.9 percent surge in family debt.

Net household worth averaged $448,200 in 2004, up from $421,500 three years earlier. The number looks high because it is skewed by very wealthy households. Median net worth -- the point at which half of the nation's households are richer and half poorer -- rose just 1.5 percent to $93,100.

Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, said American families have seen no advance in their finances in the last three years.

"And if their homes had not appreciated significantly in value, they would have moved backwards," Brobeck said.
Classroom teachers in our California district haven't received any sort of pay increase in over four years and due to rising health insurance costs have had a net decrease in take-home pay.

All administrators, on the other hand, continue to receive their yearly pay increases as well as fully-paid health, dental, and vision insurance.
District-level administrators even receive automatic cost-of-living adjustments in addition to their annual pay increases.

One administratrix tried to justify this special treatment because, and I quote here, "They work so hard."

Is it any surprise that teacher morale in our district is at an all-time low?
See this week's Carnival Of Education right here and our latest education-related posts over there.

Reading Thursday: The Accelerated Reader Experience

In many areas of the country, (including ours) districts have implemented a self-paced reading program called "Accelerated Reader," in which students read books (usually of their choice) and then take computerized tests for points. Oklahoma's Muskogee Phoenix writes:
Sixth-grader Lukas Hill says he had no problem at all tallying up enough points to reach his Accelerated Reader goal. “I already read 50 books and I have 220 points,” he said. “I made my goal, 160 points, in the first month of school.”

Hill may well be the most voracious of hundreds of area school students who earn reading points through the Accelerated Reader program. A product of Wisconsin-based Renaissance Learning, Inc., Accelerated Reader is marking its 20th anniversary this year and is considered the nation’s leading reading management program.

Schools across the Muskogee area use Accelerated Reader for at least part of their reading program. One aspect of the program has students taking a computer quiz on a book they read and earning points for successfully answering questions. Many schools offer such incentives as pizza parties, prizes and opportunities to do crazy things to their principals for reaching goals.

Some reading specialists, including Muskogee Public Library’s youth services coordinator Liz Hanley, question using points and prizes as a reading incentive.

“Every day, if it’s not a parent, it’s a child coming in looking for books with point values,” she said. “I prefer a child come into the library and look for a book that’s really something they want to read.”

Officials at Okay Elementary and Muskogee schools say the program helps instill a love of reading that goes beyond getting points.

“What it does is provide incentive for kids to want to read,” Okay Elementary School Principal Pam Littlefield said. “When we do our Drop Everything And Read time, students will pick up a book they have not picked up in the past.”

“I like it because you learn more,” said Okay third-grader Destry Lawrence. “If you get a book and you don’t know the words you can ask the teacher.”

Lukas Hill’s mother, Jazzlyn Hill said Accelerated Reader is just part of what motivates her son to read.

“Luke always has been a voracious reader,” she said. “The thicker the book the better. He was reading before he even knew what an accelerated reader point was.”

Sally Daniels, mother of a sixth-grader at Grant Foreman Elementary School, said she has loved the program since her son was in kindergarten.

She said her son is motivated by both the love of reading and the desire to score points.

“He loves to challenge himself by making 100 on the quiz,” she said.
Daniels, vice president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, said that while the school offers prizes, the program also is part of a child’s reading grade.

“It may make the difference between getting a B-plus instead of a B,” she said.

Hanley said the library has different schools’ Accelerated Reader lists detailing what books are on the quizzes and their point values.

“And just because a book is on the list, it doesn’t mean the book is an award-winner,” she said. “Some child comes in and says “oh, I’ve got to get some points. To me, that’s not digesting the book or learning to love the book.”

The multiple-choice quizzes also focus on specifics of a book, rather than a child’s impression of a book.

Grant Foreman Principal Denise Curtis said that while educators want to believe kids will read on their own, many need extra motivation.

Grant Forman has used Accelerated Reader for 15 years and uses Reading Renaissance as a main educational focus.

The school’s Web site says: “Reading is crucial to everything we do as active members of society. Our goal is to develop lifelong learners who love to read and have an appreciation for quality literature.”

Grant Foreman reading specialist Sheila Rolland, said Accelerated Reader is geared to different students’ reading levels.

“They get to choose library books that fit their level,” she said. “Just because a child is in fifth grade, that doesn’t mean he reads fifth grade. Some read at third-grade level, some read at 12th.”

She said the school library has more than 6,600 books on which students can take quizzes. She said students often want to check out more challenging books.

The school has all sorts of other incentives to get kids to love reading, especially classics such as “Little Women” and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” Rolland said.

“Our teachers do novel studies,” she said, adding that students do book reports and share what meaning they gleaned from the books.

The school also promotes love of reading through such programs as Book Buddies, in which older kids help younger students read, and Lunch Bunch, in which students can read in the library during lunch recess.

Curtis said her school and the district use other programs as well as Accelerated Reader. They include Four Blocks, a program that incorporates writing, working with words, self-selected reading and guided reading.

Okay also supplements Accelerated Reader with such programs as a basal reader, a reading textbook, Littlefield said.

Littlefield and Curtis say Accelerated Reader has helped their schools improve reading test scores.

Roller reported more personal results.

“When I was teaching sixth grade, there was a student who was reading on probably first-grade, second-grade level, but the more books she read, the more it became a spark to her, and she ended up reading on her grade level,” she said. “She worked really, really hard. It was just beautiful.”
In our junior high school here in California's "Imperial" Valley, we've been using Accelerated Reader for some eight years. The reviews have been mixed.

When we initially purchased the program, each child received a two-hour block of language arts instruction. There was sufficient time built into the schedule for children to read silently in class a few minutes (about 15-20) each day, which is what the folks at A.R. recommend. (Actually, they advocate longer periods of in-class silent reading, but that's not possible.)

The students read a phenomenal amount of books and passed a huge number of tests. They earned a great number of points which were redeemed for small prizes. AR scores were also factored into their language arts grade.

One of our teachers (who has since moved on) performed a study that showed students were reading at measurably higher levels.

But due to district-mandated downsizing, our school has lost a large percentage of its teachers over the years with a proportional increase in class sizes. The result is that each child now has one period of language arts, and so in-class silent reading is no longer possible due to time constraints and administrative directives.

This is the vulnerability of the Accelerated Reader approach. The company that promotes the program strongly emphasizes the need to have structured in-class reading time, which is simply not possible on many campuses.

But in our school's case, AR has now become an "enrichment" activity, with testing done in homeroom with no grade given.

Because Accelerated Reader is no longer "tied" to an academic class (with grading) the number of books and points earned has taken a dive. The prize budget was reduced substantially, so that the only prizes of note are sodas and ice cream sandwiches.

Generally, I feel that it's a good program which we are unable to fully take advantage of due to the realities of scheduling and budget.

Still, our school's motivated kids do take advantage of what Accelerated Reader has to offer. And for that reason, it's a good thing.
See this week's Carnival Of Education right here and our latest education-related posts over there.

The Incredible Seven Decade Teaching Career

This nearly 90-year-old Florida lady has been a classroom teacher for seven decades:
Hazel Haley is retiring after a remarkable teaching career of 69 years. Haley didn't set out to become Florida's oldest and longest-serving teacher. She's probably the nation's oldest, too, but the federal Department of Education doesn't keep track of that record.

"I know it's unusual to still be teaching at age 89," she said.

Her official retirement date is June 30, but the school year ends May 23.

She didn't retire after 25, 30 or even 50 or 60 years because she loves her job. She still does.

But Haley, who earns a salary of $50,300, entered the state's deferred retirement program in 1999. The governor signed legislation in 2003 to prolong the careers of teachers who, like Haley, were supposed to retire that year. The legislation allowed DROP teachers to serve for another three years.

Now, the three years are up.

Haley said she's going to leave her classroom as is on her last day, taking only her umbrella, the British Union Jack flag and a bright pink teddy bear.

"The next person who has this room can deal with this stuff," she said.

As a retiree, Haley said she'll concentrate on volunteering and, perhaps, travel a bit.

She won't dwell on her former students or come back to the school, because that's a door that will close, she said.

Hazel Haley has been teaching in the same room, No. 106, since 1952. That year, Lakeland High moved to what Haley still calls "the new campus" on Hollingsworth Road. Some years back, the district painted her room pale pink, Haley's favorite color. Most teachers don't get to choose their room color, but Hazel Haley is not just another teacher.

In recognition of her remarkable career, the School District in 1984 named the wing where her room is located the Hazel H. Haley Building. By that time, Haley already had taught at Lakeland High for 44 years -- just the beginning, as it turned out.
There much great reading to be had in the whole piece.

I think that it is highly likely that Ms. Haley is the last working teacher known to have been teaching in pre-World War II America. As such, her retirement will mark the end of an era.

We wish her a happy retirement and hope that she gets to do some of that traveling of which she spoke.

In tribute to her nearly 70 years of service to her students and parents, we humbly offer Ms. Haley our Red Apple Salute.
See this week's Carnival Of Education right here and our latest education-related posts over there.

Reading Thursday: PLOWing Literacy In Tennessee

The State of Tennessee has planted the seeds of a new program designed to encourage more students to read:
A new state program will reward students who devote 30 hours or more to extracurricular reading and student chapters that host literacy events, such as book drives or book fairs.

The Passing Literacy Onward, or PLOW program, was created to promote enthusiasm for reading. This program is sponsored through a partnership with the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom and the Tennessee Association FFA.

“Helping students find the joy in reading is one of the most valuable legacies we can hope to instill in students,” said Lana Seivers, commissioner of the state Department of Education. “Initiatives like PLOW aim to help students discover that joy for themselves.”

The Tennessee Association FFA got involved to help encourage the development of higher literacy skills and expose students to the variety of reading materials. Students in agricultural education classes and FFA chapters earn points for reading to elementary children or mentoring slow or non-readers.

“The PLOW program has allowed students to use their talents and time to make a positive difference in the lives of other people,” said Steven Gass, the state’s agriculture education consultant. “It motivates students to live up to the FFA motto, Living to Serve.”

Other activities eligible for points include reading print or online materials related to agriculture, leadership development, self-improvement, career development or personal growth; taking a reading course or collecting donations for libraries or educational agencies.

PLOW chapters may compete for state recognition for outstanding activism in reading literacy at the annual Tennessee FFA convention in April.
In many rural areas, the high school dropout rates remain stubbornly high. I think that it's great to see a state trying to implement a program that seems designed to primarily appeal to students who live outside the larger metropolitan areas, which have been getting the lion's share of the attention when it comes to increasing students' reading abilities.
See this week's Carnival Of Education right here and our latest education-related posts over there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Carnival Of Education: Week 55

Welcome to the midway of this week's Carnival Of Education. All entries were submitted by the writers except those labeled "Editor's Choice," and are grouped into several categories. As always, one can find a very wide selection of posts from a variety of educational and political viewpoints.

If you have a web site and are interested in guest hosting an edition of The Carnival Of Education, please let us know via the email address given below.

Please consider helping spread the word about the midway. Links are appreciated, trackbacks are adored. As always, your comments and constructive criticism are always most welcome.

Next Week's Carnival midway will be hosted by us here at The Education Wonks. Please send contributions to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. We should receive them no later than 9:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, February 28th. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway of the 56th edition of the Carnival should open next Wednesday morning.

Last week's Carnival, guest hosted by The EdWahoo, is here. See the complete set of archives
there. For our latest posts, please visit our home page.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin...

Education Policy:

I think that it's great when high school-age students give some serious thought to what's going-on in education today. A recent Washington Post article by columnist Richard Cohen downplaying the importance of algebra has caused quite a stir in the EduSphere. But it's this teenaged girl who very capably rebuts Mr. Cohen's arguments and may just have a future career as a writer or mathematician.

Editor's Choices: Professor PZ Myers of Pharyngula also has a some choice words about Richard Cohen's assertion that students don't need to study algebra, as does Joanne Jacobs and Learning Sector's Eduwonk.com.

The importance of learning mathematics is also on the mind of Ms. Cornelius over at A Shrewdness of Apes who notes that many of her AP high school students have difficulty figuring out how many points each question was worth on a 20 item quiz. She also has a strong opinon of Mr. Cohen's notions regarding algebra.

What's the real reason why the federal government has gotten so involved in public education during the past few years? Why the reasons are subject to conjecture and debate, The Common Room
proposes some ideas that are definitely thought-provoking.

"Teaching to the test," continues to be hotly debated in the EduSphere with Rhymes With Right taking the position that "
Teaching To The Test" Is "Teaching To The Standards."

Last week's Carnival host EdWahoo has been reading a large variety of posts from around the EduSphere and notes the importance of
seeing the big picture.

At The Art of Getting By, first grade teacher Janet has been taking a multi-post look at some of the many problems confronting today's classroom teacher.
This week's installment examines the issues that are encountered when younger children realize that the school's administration has placed them into groups based upon academic ability. Here's a peek:
At the end of second grade, however, the teachers have to sit down and make recommendations for children in their class who would be best suited for the G&T program. Most of the time this includes kids who get concepts a little more quickly than the rest, but sometimes it's just the kids who are trying their hardest that fill out the rest. Yes in my school, G&T doesn't necessarily mean Gifted & Talented. Sometimes it just means Good & Tame.
Once upon a time, the problem of students who were dressing provocatively was mostly limited to our high schools. This is no longer true; it's now spread to the middle school level. But Spunkyhomeschool tells us where the problem really begins.

Humbly submitted for your consideration is our post illustrating the problems that many districts have in obtaining well-qualified substitute teachers and the
shockingly low requirements that some jurisdictions have when it comes to who "fills-in" when the children's regular teacher is away.

The debate over retention vs. social promotion continues with Why Homeschool
taking a strong position.

It was
fascinating to learn that in Canada's Quebec Province, public school teachers are experiencing many of the same problems that we're having down here in the "The States!"

Editor's Choice: At Edwize, they offer some interesting thoughts about what makes for successful school.

Teaching And Learning:

English teachers take note: What are the risks of teaching a work of literature that you really love? How will you react when you see that students may not necessarily share your enthusiasm? Is there a way to at least give a literary work a chance? Dana Huff
shares one strategy that worked for her.

Minnesota math teacher has a roundup of
unbelievable real quotes from real high school students who were applying for the International Baccalaureate Program. That one about "curiosity killing the cat" really got to me...

Cheating has been a problem in American schools for generations. Mamacita has now caught a student engaging in plagiarism. Check out
the very unexpected response. Bravo!

As a classroom teacher, I sometimes forget that children learn through meaningful conversation as well as through the written word. The Median Sib gives us
a highly readable reminder.

Is it possible to effectively communicate science concepts to non-scientists in a blog? Science and Politics gives us a
step-by-step on how to effectively write that post. (And with a new template, too.)

Polski3 is looking for some help from readers. Even though he's a history teacher, he corrects his students' spelling and punctuation on their assignments. He wants to know: is this a waste of time?

Here's something for those who are interested in Math and Things Mathematical: Sophistpundit offers a
multi-post refresher course in Set Theory.

The Secret Lives Of Teachers:

News Alert! Higher pay isn't enough to keep good teachers in the classroom. Here is
what is also needed.

If you've ever been in that part of a tunnel where you can't see either the entrance or the exit, then you'll appreciate this post titled "
Deep School." This one really hits home with just about any educator in any place at any level.

At the high school where math teacher Darren works, a student was urging folks to eat Chipotle at a local fast-food place in order to "help the people of Darfur." When Darren expressed his concerns over this effort's effectiveness, the student proceeded to lecture him all about Bush, oil, Iraq, Iran, and just about
everything else under the sun. Of course it didn't stop there; somebody complained to a parent. (I think that Oscar Wilde had something to say about kids knowing everything...)

If one stays in teaching long enough, someone is going to ask you to make a presentation to other teachers. At least when it happened to Mike in Texas, he was
able to give his audience an "uplifting" experience.

Smart school administrators and classroom teachers should give serious consideration to becoming proficient in the legal issues and processes that pertain to special education. A Passion for Teaching and Ideas offers
an overview and some practical advice for dealing with those legal requirements and processes.

With 14 years service in a California public school, I thought that I had seen and heard just about everything. But I was not prepared to see Dean Martin as
the subject [seriously] of one student's "hero essay." (I'd be willing to bet that Dino, Sammy, Frank, and Peter are smiling from above over this one!)

Survival Guide For Students And Parents:

Did you have trouble with math? If so, then why? Matthew didn't do so well in high school math and takes
a look at what happened:
While my teachers are not to blame for my failures, a part of the blame has to rest with the system they find themselves in. The entire high school educational system in North America is geared towards producing either basic high school graduates or college entrants. The requirements for both are basically arbitrary, at this point. The courses you take are either completelunnecessaryry for the unskilled, low wage jobs at the bottom of the barrel, or they are inadequate for the high-skilled jobs, which will require either technical or academic training at another institution.
How to Double Your Child's Grades in School is the intriguing title of a book that may be of interest to many parents out there. Kitchen Table Math closely examines the strategies and methods that the book proposes.

Reporter Scott Elliott over at Get On the Bus
shows us parents that teachable moments can come in the most unexpected time and places with the most unexpected people.

When I was a young KidWonk, I was taught the importance of self-control and consideration for others; what we call "good manners." Sadly, this is often missing among our young people. Lennie speculates why this is the case
and proposes some remedies.

Over at The Charlotte Capitalist,
they clarify the differences between tax credits and vouchers.

Testing And Technology:

Writing over at The Thomas Institute, ex-teacher Karen
has some advice for a homeschooler who wanted to know where to obtain standardized tests for her kids.

Inside The EduBlogs:

The 8th edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling is
up and running over at HE&OS.

a neat little poem that should delight a teacher near you: "Seven Books," by Sara Goudarzi. The same source has asked us to announce their writing contest. Consider it done!

Education Matters
explains the differences between taxes and charity. (I've always wondered why after I pay my taxes that I feel as though I'm in need of a little charity...)

If you're interested in learning the ins-and-outs of the financial end of school construction, then
this is the post for you!

Editor's Choice: At This Week In Education, Alexander Russo
takes a look at (and offers constructive criticism of) The Carnival of Education.

And finally: As always, this journey around the EduSphere has been both enjoyable and informative. Thanks to all the contributors whose submissions make the midway's continuing success possible and all the readers who make it rewarding.

This midway is registered at TTLB's carnival roundup. See our latest posts here, and the complete Carnival archives over there.