Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Worst Years of Our Lives

Everyone hates middle school. But this crucial, oft-ignored part of your children’s education is getting a makeover.

By Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen|

Every morning, the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders at Paul Cuffee Middle School in Providence, R.I. join together in what’s called a Circle of Power and Respect. In this “CPR,” they discuss anything from an upcoming science project to how to get boys to stop purposefully clogging the toilets. Last spring, when a beloved teacher left the school, one classroom used their CPR time to process the change. “He said he’s leaving because this is good for his family,” a seventh-grade boy reassured his classmates. “It doesn’t have anything to do with us.”

If this kind of frank, organized discussion of feelings sounds odd for middle schoolers, it is. But, experts say, if middle schools can give as much attention to emotions and values as they give to academics, the double focus pays off in surprising ways.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our national conversation about what makes great schools, middle schools (which can serve any configuration of grades five through nine) and junior highs (usually grades seven, eight, and nine) are often like the overlooked middle child. Elementary school is crucial, the reasoning goes, because its students learn basic skills and are introduced to the rigors and challenges of a school environment. As the gateway to either college or dropping out, high school is obviously high-stakes.


But there’s another reason we don’t look very closely at how we educate our tweens and young teens. “Adults don’t like to look back on those years,” says Deborah Kasak, the executive director of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. We know what she means. Elizabeth is mortified to remember that she became a mean girl who egged on a friend to put glue in an unpopular classmate’s hair. Josh was a prime target for bullies; he has sent his own sons to K-six and seven-12 schools, thus avoiding the middle school experience as much as possible.

Our reluctance to put serious thought into middle school can also be a reflection of our changing relationship with our own young teenagers. “We’re sad that they’re not cute anymore,” says Robert Balfanz of the School of Education at Johns Hopkins. A friend of Elizabeth’s put it more succinctly when he bemusedly referred to his eighth-grade son—whom, it should be noted, he loves dearly— as “a complete asshole.”

Whatever the reason, Balfanz says that giving the middle grades short shrift is a serious mistake. “Middle School is when kids make a decision if school is for them or is something to be endured,” he says. In fact, his research of high-poverty schools shows that a sixth-grader who either chronically skips school, fails math or English, or receives a poor final behavior grade has a 75 percent chance of dropping out of high school unless the school steps in to help. On the flip side, ninth-graders who don’t get in trouble, have strong attendance, and at least a B average make up the ranks of our state university systems.

What makes a great middle school? The National Forum’s Schools to Watch Initiative identifies four key traits: academic excellence; an awareness of and sensitivity toward the unique developmental needs of early adolescents; a shared vision; and they capitalize on early adolescents’ obsession with fairness by being a trustworthy and democratic community where every student feels a connection to at least one adult in the building.

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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in Education News


Bullied Young Lady Gone Forever

A page dedicated to the beautiful Felicia Garcia, a life lost too soon to bullying. Felicia Garcia, a 15-year old teenage girl from Staten Island, New York, recently jumped in front of an oncoming train as classmates looked on from the platform in shock. Her classmates say she was a victim of relentless bullying from many students at her school. Just a few days before her suicide, she wrote in her last message on Twitter, “I can’t, I’m done, I give up.” A RIP Facebook page has been made on her behalf!/RipFeliciaGarciaStopBullying/info

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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Education News


DC Sniper Allegedly Molested Malvo

In a Dec. 30, 2002, file photo, Lee Boyd Malvo is escorted out of Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court after a hearing in Fairfax, Va. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh/file)

DC Sniper: My Shooting Partner Sexually Abused Me

Lee Boyd Malvo says he’s coming forward now because he ‘can handle it’

By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff

It’s been a decade since Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad terrorized the nation’s capital, randomly shooting 13 people in a bloody three-week rampage that killed 10. The Washington Post sits down with Malvo, the surviving half of the so-called DC Sniper, and finds a pensive 27-year-old no longer under Muhammad’s spell, deeply regretful of his actions and the lives he ruined—including his own. Highlights from the lengthy interviews, conducted at a Supermax prison in rural Virginia and via telephone:
• What he remembers most from the spree: The eyes of Ted Franklin, husband of victim Linda Franklin, who was killed at a Home Depot. “It is the worst sort of pain I have ever seen in my life. Words do not possess the depth in which to fully convey that emotion and what I felt when I saw it. . . . You feel like the worst piece of scum on the planet.”

• On his 17-year-old self: “I was a monster. If you look up the definition, that’s what a monster is. I was a ghoul. I was a thief. I stole people’s lives. I did someone else’s bidding just because they said so.”

• On his relationship with Muhammad: “I leaned on him, I trusted him. I was unable to distinguish between Muhammad the father I had wanted and Muhammad the nervous wreck that was falling to pieces. He understood how to motivate me by giving approval or denying approval. It’s very subtle. It wasn’t violent at all. It’s like what a pimp does to a woman.”

• On vomiting after killing his first victim: “That was the beginning of the end. I knew I was going to die one way or the other, that going down this path ended with my death.”

• His message to his victims: “We can never change what happened. Don’t allow me and my actions to continue to victimize you for the rest of your life. It may sound cold, but it’s not. It’s the only sound thing I can offer. You and you alone have the power to control that. And, you take the power away from this other person, this monster, and you take control.”

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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Education News


Vote, It’s Your Civic Duty

Democracy Prep Citizen-Scholars: Vote for Somebody!

Please Watch The Whole Video: Democracy Prep’s amazing fourth grade citizen-scholars want you to VOTE this November 6th! The Harlem Prep Hawks sing their civic message loud and proud to the tune of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” We hope they inspire YOU to “Vote for Somebody!”

Democracy Prep is a “Straight A” network, with 2,000 students across seven campuses in Harlem, NY and Camden, NJ, proving what is possible in urban education. We are preparing our responsible citizen-scholars to succeed in the college of their choice and a life of active citizenship.

Work Hard. Go To College. Change the World!

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Education News


Students Earn Perfect Scores

Students receive plaques from OUSD as parents look on.

For the third consecutive year, the Oakland Unified School District’s Department of African American Male Achievement honored students who earned perfect scores on their STAR exams, but this year’s ceremony honored both young men and women. To celebrate these students’ achievements, a boisterous crowd of parents, educators and other students attended an evening event at Frick Middle School in East Oakland on October 11.

Officials had decided that any student who answered every question correctly on any portion of the exam would be awarded with a plaque and a free desktop computer. OTX West, a computer refurbishing company located in West Oakland, provided the computers for all of the African American students who achieved perfect scores.

“It feels good to have a plaque,” said Rahsan Armstrong, Jr., a 4th grade student at Sobrante Park Elementary, after being awarded for his perfect score in the math portion of his STAR exam. He said his favorite subject is math, and although he finds fractions to be hard, that doesn’t deter him from studying the subject.

Read the rest of the story by Pendarvis Harshaw at Oakland North.

Connect with Oakland North on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Education News


Kids Go To Sleep So You Can Cope Better

Kids with more sleep cope better

By Leslie Wade, CNN

CNN) — Sleepy school children make crabby classmates, while students who get plenty of sleep are better behaved, according to a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

“Extending sleep opens the door to an effective, feasible way to improve children’s health and performance,” says study author Reut Gruber, director of the Attention Behavior and Sleep Lab at the Douglas Research Center in Quebec, Canada.

The study

Gruber and his colleagues wanted to find out if the behavior of elementary school children was affected by how much sleep they got. The researchers, with the permission of parents, enrolled 34 students ages 7 to 11 in the study. These were healthy kids who didn’t have sleep problems or behavior or academic issues.

During one week of school, half the students were put to bed earlier than normal, averaging about 27 minutes more sleep a night. The other half stayed up later than their routine bedtime, losing about 54 minutes of shut-eye each evening.

The results

Teachers – who didn’t know the sleep status of the students – reported significant differences in how the children behaved and coped with everyday challenges. Students who were sleep-deprived not only seemed overly tired, but were more impulsive and irritable than their well-rested classmates. They were quick to cry, lose their tempers or get frustrated.

The children who got plenty of sleep had a better handle on their emotions and were more alert in class.

Sleep experts say these results make sense and provide more evidence about the importance of sleep.

“We know that sleep deprivation can affect memory, creativity, verbal creativity and even things like judgment and motivation and being (engaged) in the classroom,” explains Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington. “When you’re sleepy, (being engaged) isn’t going to happen.”

And when children have trouble coping with day-to-day situations, Owens adds, this can affect a child’s relationship with teachers, as well as their success in school, social skills and the ability to get along with peers.

Tips for parents

So how do you know if your child is getting enough sleep? Children in elementary school generally need between 10 to 11 hours each evening, but no two children are alike. Parents should look for clues, experts say.

“Kids in this age range should not be sleepy during the day,” Owens says. “If the are falling asleep in the car or watching TV, that’s a red flag.”

Another way to gauge your child’s sleep need is to pay attention to how much they sleep during school vacations, when they’re sleeping without a time schedule. If they consistently sleep longer than on school nights, your child probably isn’t getting enough sleep.

Take action

Parents can take steps to get their children off to bed at a reasonable hour.

— About a half hour before bedtime, have your kids start winding down – put down the electronic devices, turn off the TV and shut down the computer

— Have a consistent bedtime and wake time and try to make this apply to the weekends as well

— Be good role models for your children. Go to bed at a reasonable time and talk to them about the importance of sleep

“Consider that (sleep) is one of the building blocks of your child’s health, well-being and academic success,” Owens says. “It’s equivalent to good nutrition, exercise and all the other things we try to foster and provide for our children. You’ve got to put sleep right up there at the top of the list.”

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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Education News


Nun BreaksThou Shall Not Steal Commandment

What would God say about this????

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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Education News