Monthly Archives: November 2012

School grades: Department of Education data show less than a third of New York City high school students are college-ready

City Education Department releases A’s to F’s for city high schools; numbers are up to 29% from 25% last year

Just 29% of public high school students in the city are prepared for college-level work, new statistics released Monday show.

That’s barely an improvement from last year, when 28% of students qualified, the Department of Education announced as part of its A-to-F report cards for schools.

The grades reveal that many schools are struggling more than the data show, experts said. “Kids in a handful of schools are well prepared — and tens of thousands of kids in hundreds of schools are not,” said former City University of New York dean John Garvey.

“We should be far more concerned with the deep inequities across the whole high school system.”

Indeed, at 225 of the city’s 500-plus high schools, fewer than one in five students was college-ready by the end of four years, the statistics show. At just 25 schools, more than 70% of kids were college-ready.

To pass this measure, students must qualify for CUNY freshmen classes by doing well on the SAT, the math and English Regents, the ACT or the CUNY assessment test.

City officials attributed the one-point gain this year in part to more students taking and doing well on the Regents exams as part of tougher graduation requirements.

“Three years ago, before we started this effort, none of us were talking about college readiness,” said the city’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky. “Now it’s one of the biggest goals we’ve set for our schools.”

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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Education News


Changes In Education

LANSING — A draft bill prepared for Gov. Rick Snyder would fundamentally change K-12 education in Michigan, allowing students to choose school districts, make greater use of online learning and earn financial incentives of $2,500 per semester for completing high school early.

The proposed Michigan Public Education Finance Act would replace the School Aid Act of 1979, the law that governs education funding, and provide for learning at “any time, any place, any way and at any pace,” said Richard McLellan, the Lansing attorney Snyder tapped to lead a rewrite of the law on how Michigan pays for education.

Snyder’s advisers said the primary objective for overhauling the education funding law is to create “career-ready citizens,” but educators who have waited for months to see the draft bill fear the worst: that the bill would destroy local control of schools, create a voucher system to benefit for-profit companies and worsen academic achievement.

The draft bill, expected to be introduced as part of Snyder’s budget presentation in February, was made available to the Free Press on Friday. It would:

• Remove district ownership of students, who would be permitted to get all or part of their education from any public district in the state that accepts them. Districts would retain the right to decide whether to participate in open enrollment.

• Allow students to access online learning from across the state, with the cost paid by the state. Districts that provide online courses would receive public funding based on performance.

• Provide for per-pupil funding to follow students to whichever districts they use to learn, with one student’s funding potentially split among multiple districts. To comply with the Michigan Constitution, public money would not follow students to private schools.

• Provide a framework for funding based on performance, once the proper assessment and testing mechanisms are in place.

• Give scholarships of $2,500 per semester, to a maximum of $10,000, to students who finish high school early.

• Encourage year-round schooling by having a 180-day school year spread over 12 months instead of nine, with a break of no more than two weeks.

A groundswell of opposition is rising from educators and school officials who have met with the drafters and seen summaries of the 302-page bill. The current funding law needs revision to address inadequacies and inequities in state aid and achievement, but the proposed changes lack quality controls, some school leaders said.

For instance, allowing parents to shop around and get different parts of their child’s education from different districts or online providers is troublesome, said John Austin, president of the State Board of Education.

“This is a voucher system,” he said. “It’s absolutely destructive. It has nothing to do with improving quality. It’s loaded with the ideology of creating a new for-profit system for learning that will dismantle the schools we have.”

Don Wotruba, deputy director for the Michigan Association of School Boards, said that much of what the bill seeks to do — such as having online classes and school choice — is already under way.

“But it’s monitored,” he said. “The answer is not to say, ‘Here’s the money. Make your own choices.’ ”

McLellan, who was an adviser to former Republican Gov. John Engler, said the bill would not create a voucher system, by which public money could be used to pay for private education.

He said the bill is designed to help implement what Snyder called for when he delivered a message on education in April 2011.

McLellan said he expects that the changes could take five years to implement. They would result in shifts in education money but wouldn’t require additional funds, he said.

The fact that so many students graduate without being ready for college shows that the present system is not working, he said.

Despite expanded opportunities for online learning, McLellan said he expects that 95% of students will continue to attend brick-and-mortar schools, which have social and educational benefits besides learning, such as athletic and other extracurricular activities.

The changes might result in school districts choosing to specialize in certain areas, such as science, he said.

“Right now, we require every school to do everything,” said McLellan.

Vickie Markavitch, superintendent of Oakland Schools, that county’s intermediate school district, said she is vehemently opposed to the proposal because it doesn’t address education for all students, such as those who are poor or require special education.

“Transportation won’t be mandated, so there are going to be a lot of kids who are not going to have a choice,” Markavitch said. “This is so un-American.”

Florida, Oregon, Minnesota and Utah are at the forefront of similar changes, but if this bill is implemented, along with other changes to education Snyder has championed, Michigan “would have the best framework for the kind of change we’re going to need for the 21st Century to have globally competitive schools in the information age,” McLellan said.

David Hecker, president of American Federation of Teachers-Michigan, said he feared the proposal would weaken local control of schools if students can come from all over and erode the teaching ranks if districts lose enrollment to one another and online services.

The Oxford Foundation has funded the research and development of the draft bill. The foundation focuses on projects that “lessen the burdens of government,” according to its website.

Staton Berry, president of the Michigan Parent Teacher Association, said she hopes the governor and his advisers hold meetings “in every district in every city” to explain the proposed changes.

The draft bill is to be posted online Monday for public comment at , after which it will be revised and again presented to Snyder in mid-December, McLellan said.

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said that “the governor is looking forward to reviewing the report and recommendations about how we can move Michigan into the ‘any time, any place, any way, any pace’ model that the new economy demands.”

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or

More Details: More about the Michigan Public Education Finance Act

The Michigan Public Education Finance Act is one of three proposals that, when considered together, could significantly change education in Michigan by allowing parents to shop around and use their child’s per-pupil state aid at more and new kinds of public schools.

A bill introduced in the state House in September would create nine new kinds of public schools, such as residential public schools and corporation-run and municipality-run schools.

Another House bill — and its companion in the Senate — establish a statute to govern the statewide Education Achievement Authority


Where to read the proposal

The proposed Michigan Public Education Finance Act would replace the School Aid Act of 1979, the law that governs public education funding.

The draft bill is expected to be introduced as part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget presentation in February. Starting Monday, the bill will be online for public comment at http://oxford foundationmi .com .

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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Education News


Angry Mom Wants Answers After Son Is Racially Attacked

OXFORD, MS – (WMC-TV) – A mother is desperate for answers after her son was racially attacked on the Ole Miss campus. She wants a reward to bring her family justice.

Her 19-year-old son, in ROTC and just a freshman planned to graduate and then serve his country. Now everything has changed and she is not backing down.

“I am so angry. I am so angry, you know, and like I said, this just affects everything,” Jamal’s mother Mary Woods said.

Mary Woods is angry over racial attacks against her son, Jamal Woods, a freshman at Ole Miss.

It started at the end of August when someone wrote racial slurs on his dorm room door. It read: “blacks are known to steal,” that was followed with profanity. And lotion was smeared on the door along with two playing cards.

“I’m upset about it. He’s upset about it,” she said.

Mary Woods said her son, who played football at Olive Branch High feared for his life and asked to be moved to another dorm.

“He’s already scared so he packs everything up and comes home every weekend and goes back on Sunday,” said Woods.

Everything seemed fine until November 5th. A campus police report shows police woke up Jamal to let him know about his truck.

“I got it for his graduation present,” Mary Woods said.

Photos show the tires slashed, the letters KKK scratched into the hood and the words “Go Home” carved into the side of the truck and a racial slur on the tailgate. His stereo and speakers were removed from the truck.

Mary Woods has had enough. She contacted Reverend Dwight Montgomery with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. SCLC and Rainbow Push are offering a one thousand dollar reward.

“We want to know the persons involved in this travesty,” Rev. Montgomery said.

“No, I’m not going to let it drop,” Woods said.

Mary Woods says her son will finish the semester at Ole Miss and then leave the school. She is not sure where he will end up. Action News 5 was unable to contact anyone at Ole Miss for a comment.

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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Education News


Kudos To Keisha Knight Pulliam

DO GOODER: Keshia Knight Pulliam Raises $1 MILL BUCKS For Alma Mater Spelman College!

She’s a fab chick who’s always doing big things for a cause. After stumping around Georgia and other states for President Obama, actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Rudy on the Cosby Show, hosted a big fundraiser at SAKS in Atlanta for a certain HBCU…and it raised over $1 million.

The fab chick was all about raising money for her alma mater Spelman College recently. Keshia, graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and a concentration in film back in ’01, joined forces with Spelman College Board Members to host a Fall Fashion Presentation and fundraiser at SAKS in Atlanta, GA. And she helped usher in a whopping million dollars for the all-women’s college. Nice!

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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Education News