Monthly Archives: June 2011

Another Slap In The FaceTo Inner City Students

26 Philadelphia schools losing full-service kitchens

By Kristen A. Graham

Inquirer Staff Writer

Hot, healthy lunches may be a thing of the past for some children as the Philadelphia School District closes kitchens at 26 elementary and middle schools throughout the city to help bridge a $629 million budget gap.
More than 70 percent of the district’s 315 meal sites – some built a century or more ago – already lack full-service kitchens and have served pre-plated meals for some time.

Closing the 26 full-service kitchens and switching those schools to “satellite” meals will save $2.3 million, but advocates and child nutrition experts say the move is shortsighted – and could hurt poor children, who rely heavily on school meals for nourishment.

“We have a lot of respect for the budget issues the district is dealing with, but this is potentially going to have an impact on children’s health,” said Sandy Sherman, director of nutrition education at the Food Trust, a Philadelphia nonprofit.

District spokeswoman Shana Kemp said that all meals would continue to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania Department of Education nutritional standards and that the district “will provide the opportunity to further increase the availability of fresh fruits and salads within these
school cafeterias.”

But come fall, three-quarters of existing elementary and middle school full-service kitchens will close, leaving just 62 schools offering freshly prepared food. Most of the remaining kitchens are in high schools.

Nine of the district’s 196 elementary and middle schools will have full-service kitchens. The schools switching to pre-plated meals were chosen because their food programs were losing money.

The 26 schools where kitchens will close educate 16,681 children and serve 21,108 meals annually, and many are in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. They will switch from food prepared in the school by cafeteria workers to meals cooked, plated, and frozen several days before consumption and trucked in from a warehouse in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Some satellite meals are served hot; others are not.

In the last few years, the district received kudos for its efforts to incorporate fresher, healthier food into school breakfasts and lunches. But “this is a real step back,” said Jonathan Stein, general counsel at Community Legal Services and a longtime antipoverty activist.

Students find the pre-plated meals less appetizing, cafeteria workers say. In the schools without full-service kitchens, more food is thrown out and fewer students eat.

“We worry about meal participation rates,” said Alyssa Moles of the Food Trust. “While we recognize that the pre-plated meals are nutritionally sound – they meet the USDA guidelines – there’s a stigma attached to them. ”

Two elementary schools whose kitchens will close, Hunter in Kensington and Penn Alexander in West Philadelphia, had participated in the acclaimed Farm to School Program, which brings fresh, local fruits and vegetables into school kitchens.

It’s not clear if the switch means the end of Hunter’s and Penn Alexander’s participation in Farm to School, Sherman said.

Loretta Steffy, a cafeteria manager just laid off by the district as a result of the kitchen closings, said she worried about the effects of the cuts.

“A lot of kids just come to school to eat,” she said, “and they’ll suffer if they go to pre-plated food. That stuff has preservatives in it, color. I don’t think it’s good. Some kids won’t eat it.”

Steffy worked for the last seven years at University City High School, a Farm to School participant that’s not being cut. But she lost her job because her 16 years of seniority allowed a worker displaced from a school that lost its kitchen to take her place.

Despite the perceptions that kids don’t like cafeteria food, most of her students relished what the kitchen staff at her school prepared, Steffy said.

“They were happy to see asparagus, corn on the cob – the real thing. Normally, they wouldn’t touch greens, but they ate them fresh,” she said. “This is a real big letdown for those schools.”

Even in a building without Farm to School, kitchen staff use seasonings, are certified in food safety, and cook food to order just before students eat it, not days in advance, Steffy said.

Cutting the full-service kitchens, she said, is “a shame. We’re on this big nutrition kick, and it seems like the kids are really accepting it. If they care so much about the kids, they need to let them have this good food.”

Advocates also say the move could have unintended financial implications for the district.

“This is a short-term cost-cutting measure. But if the kids stop eating those meals, at the end of the day the district will lose federal revenue, and the kids will lose nutrition,” Moles said.

The district is reimbursed for a portion of its meal costs by the federal government, based on the number of meals served.

Kemp, the district spokeswoman, said that federal funding did not reflect the actual meal costs, and that recent federal legislation had reauthorized the funding but with no increase in per-meal reimbursement.
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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in Education News


Bad Principal

Parents and students accused Clinton School for Writers and Artists’ Principal Joseph Anderson of plagiarizing David Foster Wallace in his graduation speech to 8th graders.

Principal at school for writers rips off David Foster Wallace grad speech

BY Rachel Monahan

Reading, writing and ripoffs were the lessons of one city graduation speech.

The principal of a middle school geared toward writers tried to pass off much of a well-known graduation speech as his work, parents and students told the Daily News.

They say Joseph Anderson, who heads the Clinton School for Writers and Artists in Manhattan, recited – without attribution – portions of an address penned by the late writer David Foster Wallace at Friday’s eighth-grade commencement.

The original speech, an edgy and existential look at adult life, was given at Kenyon College in 2005. It hit Time magazine’s Top 10 Commencement Speeches list and wasturned into a best-selling book, “This Is Water.”

The pomp and plagiarism earned scorn from some students leaving the school yesterday to start the summer break.

“We’re a school for writers and artists. It’s kind of ironic that he can’t write it,” said eighth-grader Marcus Cook, 14. “If you do that in college and high school, you can get kicked out.”

The topflight small school accepts star students with talent in art or writing, many of whom go on to the best city high schools.

“I think a lot of us could have written amazing speeches,” said eighth-grader Caroline Wallis, 14, who’ll attend LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts next fall. “It’s kind of rude to us. It’s like saying, ‘You’re not important enough to write a speech about.'”

Anderson said it was an “oversight” notto identify Wallace as the author of the “anecdote.”

“I thought I had stated in my commencement speech that I was sharing a story I had read. … It was not my intention to mislead my school community,” he said.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he referred the matter for investigation.

“We do not tolerate plagiarism in our schools,” Walcott said in a statement. “Weteach our students the importance of integrity in their work, so to have this allegation about one of our principals is very concerning.”

Some parents said critics were being too hard on Anderson, who isn’t expected to return to the school next year.

Jake Daehler, father of an eighth-grader, said only one parent at graduation recognized the original address.

“Do you imagine it’s fun being Joe even when angry mobs aren’t queuing up to tar and feather him? I don’t,” Daehler wrote.

Jaimie Cloud, mom of eighth-grader Griffin, 14, called it an “unfortunate event.”

“Kids are looking to us to set the example. If a school’s principal can’t set the example …, it reminds all of us it’s all our responsibility.”

CaseClosed2: Why ddn’t the prncipal quote the original writer? smh

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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Education News


Charter Schools Rally Targets Suburbs

Codey calls fight over charter schools a ‘watershed moment.’

By Laura Griffin and Marilyn Joyce Lehren

Sen. Richard Codey told a crowd of about 120 at the Save Our Schools rally in Millburn on Tuesday night that the fight over charter schools is a “watershed moment” in education.

Codey said if so-called “boutiques” like the Hua Mei Mandarin-immersion charter school proposed for South Orange-Maplewood and neighboring districts are approved, the “the domino effect would be mind boggling.”

“No one ever talked about charter schools for the best school systems in the state of New Jersey,” Codey said. “So this is a watershed moment. If this is allowed to happen there is a domino effect, it’s as simple as that. You might as well almost forget about the public school system. You can imagine the kind of ‘boutique’ charter schools that would come about. Maybe the Children of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I mean it can get that stupid.”

The rally was one of three statewide intended to demonstrate support for charter school reform bills pending in the state legislature. Jill Kimelman of Millburn and Alle Ries of Maplewood organized the local Save our Schools rally held inside the Bauer Center in Taylor Park. Many of the demonstrators brought their children and carried signs supporting the bill that would give voters a voice on whether charter schools could open in their school district.

Charter schools have been a contentious issue in the local towns. In recent weeks, the local school districts have sent strongly worded letters opposing the applications to the state Department of Education, and several township councils — including the Maplewood Township Committee — passed resolutions opposing charter schools in their communities.

“Charter schools are not the enemy per se,” said Assemblywoman Jasey. “They have a role, but we need to define that role and have a say in where they are located and make sure that where they are located they have the support of the community.”

Codey and Jasey, Democrats running for re-election in the new 27th District, said they fully support the reforms winding their way slowly in Trenton. It is doubtful, however, if they will have a chance for a vote before the session ends June 30.

One of the bills (A3845 and S2243) requires local approval before a new charter can open. This bill has passed the Assembly Education Committee. A second bill, (A3356) requires charter schools to have financial and educational transparency and accountability.

Millburn and the other rally locations, South Brunswick and Highland Park, were chosen because proposed language-immersion schools have created a groundswell of community support for the reforms.

Codey said while they are designated as public schools, charter schools act essentially as private schools that take district money. “Your tax dollars will follow the children to the ‘private school.’ You cannot make up (the cost) with savings because you’re not going to be able to close a school. You’re not going to be able to close a classroom,” he said. “There are just not enough kids.”

In a statement in response to the rallies, Carlos Perez, the president and CEO of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association, took umbrage with the notion that charter schools are essentially private schools paid for with public money.

“Charters are public schools open to all and they are funded with taxes – the taxes paid by the parents of kids sitting at desks in a charter school. State education policy calls for the funding to follow the student, not the district,” he said.

Opposition to the charter schools has spurred many local residents who have not previoulsy been part of the political process to act by writing letters to state lawmakers and also by organizing petitions that now have hundreds of names.

Matt Stewart of Millburn Parents Against Charter Schools and Jerry Meng of Save Our Public Schools over Charters, for instance, both attended Tuesday’s rally for the groups they represent.

”I’m here for 319 people and Jerry’s here for about 600,” Stewart said. “Having the legislators here is the most critical. They need to do their jobs so we don’t have to keep doing this.”

The Livingston Township Council passed a resolution opposing any charter school from opening in Livingston. Mayor Rudy Fernandez said, “It’s not a question whether it’s a Mandarin immersion school or a science school. What’s really important … is that this is going to be an incredible burden on the local taxpayers at a time when the state aid is being cut to the school boards and towns have incredible pressures on their budgets.”

Perez, in his statement released earlier on Tuesday, addressed the bill that would require community approval.

“Requiring a referendum on charter schools is not only bad public policy, it undermines the entire premise of a charter school. It’s a reaction to a challenge of the status quo by the entrenched education establishment to stop the thriving charter school movement in New Jersey in its tracks,” he said in the statement.

He went on to say that charter schools are unique public schools intended to provide parents and children options.

“Charter schools are created to fill a void in the traditional public school curriculum,” he said. “If a significant number of parents don’t think a void exists, the local effort to form a school would go nowhere. Charters are a perfect example of supply and demand. No demand — no supply.”

Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, who also attended the Milburn rally, said “Public education in New Jersey is in pretty good shape. However in our urban areas we have a crisis. Therefore we need to focus our fixes in those areas that aren’t working. Charter schools can be part of the answer, and they should be part of the answer in our urban areas.”

“But let’s hold them accountable,” Coutinho said. “Let’s not have them disrupt where things are working.”

Jon Blinderman of Livingston – who delivered a petition that now has more than 800 names to hisschool board members last month – on Tuesday night was invited by Save Our Schools to speak at the Millburn rally.

“They say (the opposition to the Chinese charter schools) is dividing the community in Livingston, but this is not anti-Mandarin or anti-Asian. It’s not about that,” Blinderman said. “I would stand up against it if it were Hebrew-immersion or Spanish immersion or NFL-immersion.”

He referred to the Acting Commission of Education Christopher Cerf’s quote that charter schools might not be necessary in districts that are “humming along.”

“Millburn and Livingston are a freaking symphony orchestra; they are not just humming along,” he said. “I challenge you to find districts more excellent than Livingston and Millburn.”

Codey in his remarks agreed. “It’s unbelievable that we’re here tonight having this discussion.”

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Posted by on June 28, 2011 in Education News


White Babies Now The Minority

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White Babies Now a Minority in US

Minority infants now the majority: preliminary census data

By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff

Newser) – Minority babies now outnumber white infants in the US, preliminary Census estimates show, a finding that indicates racial and ethnic minorities will become the nation’s majority by the middle of the century. Just under half of all children under 3 are non-Hispanic whites, down from more than 60% in 1990, the AP reports. Meanwhile, 80% of seniors in America are white, as are 73% of those aged 45-64.

“It’s clear the younger generation is very demographically different from the elderly, something to keep in mind as politics plays out on how programs for the elderly get supported,” says one activist. A demographer adds that the findings also show the US must “integrate and educate a new diverse child population.” In twelve states and the District of Columbia, less than 50% of children under five are white; seven more states could flip in the next 10 years.

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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Education News


4,000 New York City Teachers Won’t Be Laid Off

Remember Those 4,100 Teachers Who Were Going to Be Laid Off?
6/25/11 at 5:36 PM

For months, Mayor Bloomberg tried to explain the severity of the city’s budget deficit by saying it would force him to lay off 4,100 teachers. The talking point was one part truth and 99 parts political posturing, an attempt to get the upper hand on a teacher’s union Bloomberg thinks stands in the way of innovation and fiscal stability. But this kind of thing happens every year during a recession, and people who have watched their share of budget battles knew all along that the teachers wouldn’t be laid off. And right on cue, yesterday we found out the teachers wouldn’t be laid off. Bloomberg, the City Council, and the teacher’s union all came to an agreement last night that will save the city tens of millions of dollars, if not more, and cost the union a little bit of ground. Your teacher friends may now lie on the beach without worry, but academic-year PTSD, all summer long. [NYDN]

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Posted by on June 26, 2011 in Education News


Spending On Education Pays Off
Other countries have it right: Spending on education pays off
8:00 AM EDT, June 25, 2011

Amen to Marc Tucker and Jerry Weast for their article “Why U.S. students lag in test scores” (June 20), which clearly and accurately depicted the problems with education in America. The countries whose students outperformed U.S. students “get it.” They have their priorities straight. They understand that the best investment in their countries’ future is in the education of their youth. Our so-called leaders pay lip-service to this idea, but their actions speak louder than words. It has always amazed me that in most states and municipalities education is not a top item on budgets but is the first thing targeted when it comes to budget cuts.

And why is it in a lot of states (Maryland included), the funding of education is tied to gimmicky sources like lotteries and slots. Is medical or scientific research funded this way? The reason is, as the gentlemen pointed out in the article, that education and the teaching profession are not held in high esteem as in other countries. The result: crowded classrooms, lack of essential programs, low pay for teachers, and I could go on. For the important role teachers play, they should be on par with doctors, scientists and other professions we hold in high esteem. If politicians put as much effort in our education system as they do in funding and protecting their pet projects, we would see an improved education system throughout this great nation. As long as our priorities remain backward, U.S. students will continue to fall behind those students in other countries which truly value education and are committed to doing whatever is necessary to maintain its excellence.

Jean Williams, Columbia

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Posted by on June 25, 2011 in Education News


Who Said Black Students Can’t Learn?

13-Year-Old Bronx Poet Will Attend University Of Connecticut

A 13-year-old New York girl is not on her way to high school like many of her peers, but the University of Connecticut.

Autum Ashante, who was home-schooled by her father Ben Ashante, is planning on moving to Connecticut with her.

“What she’s doing is groundbreaking but this is not about vanity,” he said. “It’s about setting the tone for other black and Latino children who will come behind her. They’re always being told they are underachievers. We want to show this can be done.”

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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Education News


Shakira Promotes Education in Jerusalem

Singer Shakira Highlights Power of Education on Visit to Jerusalem

The international singing sensation and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Shakira today highlighted the power of education as she met with Jewish and Palestinian students who study together at a school in Jerusalem.

“I’m convinced, as many people are, that investing in education is the best strategy for peace and global stability, and the earlier, the better.” – Shakira

The groundbreaking institution uses bilingual education as a tool to help build peace, co-existence and equality, according to a news release issued by UNICEF. Every class there is taught by two teachers (one Jewish, one Palestinian) and in two languages (Arabic and Hebrew).

“My visit to Max Rayne school today here in Jerusalem – an inspirational school where students learn together, across all divides, speaking both Arabic and Hebrew, learning and playing together without difference – only reminded me, once again, that the most crucial decisions we can make for a better tomorrow concern how to raise and educate our children.”
– Shakira

Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, who signed documents with Shakira, said the goal is to try to create a virtuous cycle, with individual opportunity and thereby create a more dynamic society.

Shakira, a Colombian, said “I have seen first hand how education has a tremendous transformative power, how it changes the lives of not only the children who receive the opportunity to educate themselves, but also the parents.”

Since being appointed to the roster of celebrity advocates for UNICEF in 2003, Shakira has focused her efforts on the agency’s programme to get all children into school for a basic education.

Although progress has been made with an additional 52 million children enrolled in primary school since 1999, there are still 67 million primary-school age children out of school globally today, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Shakira’s visit to Israel is part of her work to call for the expansion and improvement of comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

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Posted by on June 23, 2011 in Education News


Ten People Honored For Work With At Risk Students

Education commissioner honors 10 for work with at-risk youth

Posted June 21, 2011, at 9:54 p.m.

AUGUSTA — Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen honored 10 people in a Blaine House ceremony June 3 for their contributions to meeting the needs of children and youth at risk in their schools and-or communities.

Recognized were William Braun, superintendent of RSU 19/MSAD 48 (Newport); Travis Collins, alternative education teacher at Mount View High School in Thorndike (RSU 3/MSAD 3); Martha Kempe, program director at the Community School in Bangor; Tom Morrill, superintendent of Auburn Schools; Page Nichols, a teacher and volunteer at the REAL School in RSU 14 (Windham); Valerie Peacock and Ander Thebaud, who direct the Summer Pathways Program at Sumner High School in RSU 24; Anna Perkins, director of the Glenn Stratton day treatment program at Good Will-Hinckley School; and Willo and Tom Wright of the Seeds of Independence Program in Freeport.

Martha Kempe, program director at the Community School in Bangor, has served as director of the Passages program for the past seven years. The Passages Program was established to help dropout parents earn their high school diploma while continuing to care for their children at home. Kempe’s work has focused on meeting the needs of Maine’s youngest parents, providing a cutting-edge curriculum leading to a state approved high school diploma. Kempe is a fierce advocate for the students and staff. Her belief that teen parents deserve our respect, our support and our encouragement to become self-directed
learners informs everything she does.

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Education News


Black Men Lag In College Admissions

College Board Finds Black Men Continue To Lag Academically

The crisis facing young Black men isn’t just an unemployment one.

A new report titled, “The Educational Experience of Young Men: A Review of Research, Pathways, and Progress,” released by The College Board shows that only 28 percent of Black men had received an associate’s degree or higher as of 2008, while the rate for white men was 44 percent and for Asian men, 70 percent.

One African-American student currently enrolled as a freshman in a public university seems jaded about the process. The authors write: “He remembers that all through school people told him to get good grades so he could succeed and go to college, but senior year he realized it was all about money and affordability.” Money is cited as one of the biggest roadblocks to gaining an education, along with social stigma and lowered aspirations.

Read more at NY Times

CaseClosed2: Unless you were born wealthy, have a popular invention, hit the lottery, become an athlete, or become a famous actor, there’s no shortcut to success. You have to put the work in in obtaining a higher education degree and even then, nothing is guaranteed. Set high goals for yourselve inspite of the odds. An education is something that can’t be taken away and will build your self esteem if nothing else. You’ll be broke with a smile on your face.

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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Education News