Join Dr. Steve Perry and Powerhouse Productions as they travel across the country to save one son at a time. Tune in to TV One on Wed, Sept 26th @ 9pm and become part of the movement.
Monthly Archives: September 2012
So-called Parent Trigger Laws, which under certain circumstances allow parents to ‘take over’ a failing public school and determine its new path, are about to get more attention due to the nationwide opening of Won’t Back Down, a story of a parent whose daughter is continuously failed by the school system teaming with a teacher […]
So-called Parent Trigger Laws, which under certain circumstances allow parents to ‘take over’ a failing public school and determine its new path, are about to get more attention due to the nationwide opening of Won’t Back Down, a story of a parent whose daughter is continuously failed by the school system teaming with a teacher to bring change to their public school.
At the moment the story told in the movie is fiction in at least one important way. There hasn’t yet been a successful attempt by parents to take over a public school — but there might be soon. There is an ongoing attempt by a group of parents to make use of California’s parent trigger law to take control of an elementary school, and just like in the movie, the full might of the local education establishment has now arrayed against them.
Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, California, which parents want to convert to a charter in time for the next school year, is playing out scenes in real-time. The school board has repeatedly tried to quash the attempt, and it looks increasingly likely that the courts who will have the final say on this issue.
California is one of seven states with laws that give parents the power to intervene in the running of a public school if it fails to measure up to their standards. According to the U.S News & World Report, as many as twenty other states are considering similar legislation. Although details of the laws differ from state to state, many share several common characteristics:
• The school must be identified by the state as low-performing, often for consecutive years.
• There must be a majority buy-in by parents of students either attending the school, or with students in lower grade levels who would likely attend the school in the future. This is typically in the form of a petition.
• A handful of intervention options are typically available, including charter school conversion, forcing the school to replace the administrators and majority of teachers, or shutting the school down completely.
It’s easy to see why parent trigger laws have found particular favor with many education reformers. After all, it gives parents not just a voice in how their schools are run, but a means do actually affect change. In addition, knowing that parents can step in if the school is failing provides additional incentive for administrators and teachers in ensuring that it succeeds.
Still, the support for those types of laws is by no means unanimous. Criticisms range from implications that there’s a lack of transparency in the takeover process and that parental interference could cause more harm than good.
There’s also a concern that for-profit charter operators could leverage parent trigger laws to bring their own charters into the school district.
“It’s an illusion that sounds good on paper, even if it was created in sincerity,” Caroline Grannan, a public school parent in San Francisco, told USA Today. Grannan is one of the founders of Parents Across America, a nonprofit group backed by teachers unions that works to connect parents and activists across the country.
School Weighs Rule Backing Paddling of Girls by Men
Texas district considering dumping ‘same sex’ limits on meting out corporal punishment
By Mary Papenfuss, Newser Staff
The Texas school where a mom freaked after her teenage daughter was paddled until her butt was red and “blistered” by a male vice principal now wants to reconsider the policy. But get this: Officials are aiming to change the rules to make it officially OK for a male administrator to paddle a girl. The current policy in the district is that “corporal punishment shall be administered only by an employee who is the same sex as the student.” But now Springtown High School is in trouble, not, some administrators believe, because a man paddled 15-year-old Taylor Santos, but because the old “same gender” policy is too limiting, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The superintendent of the district is trying to change the policy, and the first discussion was scheduled for last night. The district, which carries out the most spankings of any in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, last got into trouble when a coach so severely paddled a 12-year-old boy that it left the kid with a large bruise, convincing officials to limit meting about corporal punishment to administrators. Taylor’s mom didn’t object to her daughter being paddled for sharing homework, but was furious it was done by a man. Another mother said it was “creepy.”
U.S. black male graduation rates lag behind whites
(AP) WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half the young black men who graduated from U.S. high schools in 2010 earned their diploma in four years, an improved graduation rate that still lagged behind that of their white counterparts, according to an education group’s report released Wednesday.
The Schott Foundation for Public Education, which has tracked graduation rates of black males from U.S. public schools since 2004, said 52 percent of black males who entered high school in the 2006-07 school year graduated in four years. That compared with 78 percent of white, non-Latino males and 58 percent of Latino males.
The foundation releases its report every two years. In 2008, the black male graduation rate was 47 percent.
The progress among blacks closed the racial divide on graduation rates by 3 percentage points over nine years to a 26 percentage-point gap.
The foundation said improving the graduation rates of black and Latino students has become more urgent now that the majority of babies born in the U.S. are minorities.
“These outcomes are not evidence of flaws of young men, but evidence of willful neglect by federal, state, local elected policymakers and leaders,” said John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the foundation, who is participating in this week’s Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference, which includes education access on its agenda.
With the release of the report, his organization is calling for a moratorium on school suspensions, which have been shown to be used disproportionately on minority children and children with disabilities.
Magic Johnson education program comes to Georgia
The Associated Press
ATLANTA — An education program named after NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson has arrived in Georgia.
The Magic Johnson Bridgescape center is now open and accepting students in Atlanta. The program is meant to help high school-age students who’ve left school or are at risk of leaving to earn a standard high school diploma.
The program is part of the Provost Academy Georiga, a statewide virtual charter high school. The program is free and is open to students aged 14 to 20.
The center is staffed by education teams that include teachers, counselors and other professionals and offers a mix of one-on-one and small group instruction.
Magic Johnson Bridgescape centers are already operating in Ohio, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. More Georgia locations are planned for Augusta, Macon and Savannah.
Student Covers Most of Tuition With Mail-In Rebates
Auburn doctoral student has it down to a science
By Matt Cantor, Newser Staff
Here’s a new strategy for covering tuition fees: Use mail-in rebates. That’s what PhD student Jonathan Hood has done to pay for most of this semester at Auburn—some $3,500, or more than 200 debit cards’ worth, Business Insider reports. That leaves just $1,000 to pay out-of-pocket. Hood uses rebates to pay for his cell phone bill, too, at $95 per month. “I haven’t made a payment on my T-Mobile bill without using a rebate debit card for probably two years now,” he says.
Hood has been “hooked” on rebates since he was 15 and his father took him to a Black Friday sale, he says. He buys everything online and trolls the message boards at Fatwallet.com—other sites are out there, including Newegg.com—to find rebates. It can take months for a rebate to arrive, but “on a weekday, I usually have about two or three debit cards or rebate checks coming in,” he says. He’s even made a computer program to help him organize the rebates. For extra money, he uses a credit card that offers 2% back—and he often sells items he’s just bought on eBay. Keeps the rebate, though.
Teen boy, Pa. Hershey school settle AIDS bias case
— A 14-year-old boy and his mother will receive $700,000 from the settlement of an AIDS discrimination lawsuit against a private boarding school that refused to enroll him because he’s HIV-positive.
The settlement was announced Wednesday by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and the Milton Hershey School, which is financed by a trust that holds the controlling interest in The Hershey Co. candy manufacturer. The settlement is subject to court approval.
The school, for poor and socially disadvantaged students, also must pay $15,000 in civil penalties and provide HIV training for students and staff members.
The Philadelphia-based AIDS Law Project sued the school in federal court last year after it refused to enroll the boy, an honor roll student from the Philadelphia area, on the grounds that he would be a threat to other students’ health and safety.
The school initially defended its decision, saying it was difficult but appropriate under the circumstances.
“In order to protect our children in this unique environment,” the school said in December after the lawsuit was filed, “we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others.”
The boy’s attorney countered that he required no special accommodations and controlled his HIV with medication that wouldn’t affect his school schedule.
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“This young man is a motivated, intelligent kid who poses no health risk to other students but is being denied an educational opportunity because of ignorance and fear about HIV and AIDS,” attorney Ronda Goldfein said then.
In August, the school reversed its policy and announced it would treat applicants with HIV the same as others.
The school, which has about 1,850 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, also offered to admit the boy, identified in the lawsuit by the pseudonym Abraham Smith, but he and his mother decided he would seek other educational opportunities instead.
The school was founded in 1909 by chocolate maker Milton Hershey, whose company’s products include Hershey’s Kisses and Kit Kat. It’s financed by the Milton Hershey School Trust and educates poor and socially disadvantaged students for free.
The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which says it provides medical care to people with HIV and AIDS all over the world and contributed money to the boy’s cause, welcomed news of the settlement.
“No doubt, advocacy aided this young man’s quest for justice,” foundation president Michael Weinstein said in a statement.
Around Easter, the foundation staged protests in San Francisco, New York City and Hershey, calling for a boycott of Hershey’s candy and asking the public to send the company a message: “No Kisses for Hershey.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
N.J. Sen. Rice calls for feds to look into state control of Newark, Jersey City and Paterson schools
Published: Thursday, September 06, 2012, 8:02 PM Updated: Thursday, September 06, 2012, 8:02 PM
By Richard Khavkine/The Star-Ledger
As Newark students returned to school Thursday morning, state Sen. Ronald Rice said state officials are playing loose with performance assessments, denying the city its right to run its school district.
Rice also fervently argued for the state to return local control to the Jersey City and Paterson school districts. The state took over Jersey City’s schools in 1989, Paterson’s in 1991 and Newark’s in 1995.
Speaking at Newark City Hall, Rice said he and a coalition of elected officials, school board members and clergy would enlist New Jersey’s congressional delegation, particularly its two U.S. senators, to call for a federal inquiry into the state Department of Education. He was joined by school board members and officials from the state NAACP.
“There’s something wrong with the process and there’s something inherently wrong with the representation that we can’t get an objective review of what is taking place at the local level as well as the state level,” Rice said.
Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, chairwoman of the Newark School Advisory Board, and James Harris, president of the New Jersey State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called the state’s continued oversight of the districts a civil rights issue.
“This is a racist policy imposed on cities” with predominantly black and Latino populations, he said.
Baskerville-Richardson said a united front of all three cities’ school board members would give each a better opportunity to win back control.
“We should have been together long ago,” she said.
Rice said the state’s criteria for returning schools to local control is inconsistently and unjustly applied. Loopholes, he said, allow the state to retain control, despite what he called documented and significant progress in five key performance areas — instruction, finances, governance, personnel and operations.
The state senator, who helped sponsor and pass the law that set the benchmarks, said that although Newark’s schools had surpassed those targets in four of five categories by June 2001, the state capriciously downgraded the city schools’ scores to well below failing to retain control.
In July, a letter to district Superintendent Cami Anderson concluded that although the district’s fiscal management score dipped just 5 percent, to 88 percent, it reflected serious shortcomings, such as improper implementation of purchase orders and failure to fully comply with public contracts law.
The letter otherwise referred to an electronic file that in cursory fashion documents shortcomings in the four other benchmark areas.
But the state Education Department said the district is moving in the right direction.
“Superintendent Anderson has laid out an ambitious agenda for ensuring all of Newark’s students have access to a high-quality education, and a number of those reforms are just beginning to take hold and thus might not be reflected in this review,” a department spokeswoman said in a statement.
Still, Newark’s Central Ward councilman, Darrin Sharif, said a locally elected and empowered board is better placed than the state to make the best decisions for schools and students.
“Give us the responsibility,” he said. “We will deliver the results.”
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Discovery Education and Intel Expand ‘Curiosity in the Classroom’ to Bring Critical STEM Resources to Teachers and Students
September 5, 2012 9:00 AM ET
Partnership Also Includes “Catch Me Being Curious” National Sweepstakes Offering the Chance to Win Vacation of a Lifetime —
SILVER SPRING, Md., Sept. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Discovery Education and Intel Corporation today announced the expansion of Curiosity in the Classroom, a partnership designed to extend learning opportunities found in Discovery Channel’s groundbreaking television series CURIOSITY to teachers and students. With a critical need for free resources to ignite students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM 0.00%, news), the expanded website will feature new lesson plans and activities that create STEM connections across various subjects.
CuriosityintheClassroom.com, an interactive, educational tool, contains cutting-edge curriculum examining topics such as artificial intelligence, communications, computers, nanotechnology and robotics. The site provides resources that encourage insightful conversation between educators, students and families.
Building on the website’s robust collection of resources aligned to national education standards for students in grades 6-12, Discovery Education and Intel are adding an increased selection of interactive lesson plans to help boost engagement among today’s digital learners. The updated site now features new topics, integrated into multidisciplinary lesson plans and activities for English/Language Arts and World History to make real world connections to STEM topics, and help students gain essential problem-solving skills.
“Discovery Education is committed to providing educators, students and their families with resources and opportunities to explore the world around them and ignite their natural curiosity,” said Mary Rollins, Discovery Education vice president. “We are pleased to expand the Curiosity in the Classroom program to include a wider variety of resources to get students excited about STEM and encourage them to pursue STEM-related careers in the future.”
The partnership also features “Catch Me Being Curious,” a national sweepstakes that will award a dream vacation of exploration and discovery. One grand prize winner, to be selected in December 2012, will receive a vacation for four to an exciting U.S. destination, including the Grand Canyon National Park; Boston, MA; San Antonio, TX; or Philadelphia, PA. Entrants also have the chance to win a trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, AZ, an Intel Ultrabook laptop computer and Curiosity prize packs.
For more information and to enter the sweepstakes, visit CuriosityintheClassroom.com.