Archive for July, 2011

By Sherrina Navani

 

3:50 PM on 07/15/2011


District cuts hundreds of 'ineffective' teachers

(Photo NBC Washington)

From NBC Washington

D.C. Public Schools let go of hundreds of teachers today, as part of the policy introduced by former education chancellor Michelle Rhee to let go of low-performing educators.

The District on Friday fired some 227 teachers and gave raises and bonuses to more than 600 teachers, based on numbers generated by its controversial teacher evaluation system. The system — known as IMPACT — put D.C. and its then Chancellor at the center of a national debate over teacher performance and accountability when it debuted in 2009.

The dismissal and bonus aspects of the system were revised last year with a collective bargaining act signed by the Washington Teacher’s Union. IMPACT is one of the first teacher-evaluation systems in the nation to grade teachers using a combination of classroom observations and student test scores.

Check out this story from NBC Washington: UPS Truck Nearly Plunges Off Md. Bridge

According to officials, 663 teachers were rated the top level — “highly effective” — and are eligible for performance bonuses of up to $25,000. Of those teachers, 290 will also receive base-salary increases.

Of the 227 fired, 65 teachers received “ineffective” ratings and 141 did not improve their performance enough over the past year. Another 94 teachers were let go for not maintaining a valid license and 21 teachers who lost their placements and were unable to find new ones will not be coming back next year.

“Great teachers are critical to our success,” said current DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson in a press release. “We are delighted to be able to shine a spotlight on our top performers, and we are thrilled by the improvements that so many of our educators made this year”.

“We also remain committed to moving out our lowest performers in an effort to ensure that every child has access to an outstanding education.”

This isn’t the first year that IMPACT has resulted in large-scale dismissals: 224 teachers were fired under the system during the 2009-2010 school year.

The Washington Teacher’s Union has been a vocal critic of IMPACT since the system’s inception, citing its school-wide student-achievement component–which bases a portion of each teacher’s score on the performance of the school as a whole–as one of the most problematic aspects of the evaluation system.

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said that it was necessary for the city to “move out those who are ineffective.”

“Reaching our goal of providing a high quality education to every child in our city depends on getting an effective teacher in every classroom,” Brown said in a statement. He noted that many teachers who rated “minimally effective” last year had received professional training and improved their performance this year.

July 15, 2011

Matthew Lynch says that we need to expose girls to great women in history as we support them in the complex modern world.

matthew_lynch
Matthew Lynch

 

In a responsive model of instruction, teachers seek out and include examples of achievements from both genders. While women and women’s classroom parity has come a long way since the days of Dr. Edward Clarke, it is still difficult to find curriculum texts that reflect an equitable picture of female accomplishments. Progress has been slow to incorporate gender-fair terminology into textbooks. Girls need to read about role models in science and mathematics—not just see pictures of women in lab coats with occasional references to females in the text.

The accomplishments of minority women, women with disabilities, local women from the community, and working class women all are important to help present a complete, realistic and equitable picture of female role models in society. It is valuable for young women to see the variety of ways in which females can impact their communities and their society, regardless of race, ethnic background or financial status. Teachers help overcome the gender inequities and change present perceptions by presenting accomplishments, experiences, and hard work of both men and women.

A balance of the particularistic and the inclusive is required. It is not healthy or productive to promote the historical female experience as completely negative—or to emphasize the struggles and minimize the triumphs—such an approach presents an unrealistic picture and may produce bitterness. Nor is it positive to emphasize men as the “oppressors”—this fosters resentment. Balance promotes equitable, respectful, and cooperative relationships with men in society.

There are many important reasons to emphasize women’s achievements. One of the most important is to build girls’ self-esteem. Blame the magazines, the movies, the models—blame Barbie—pin it on the pin-up girls, but the fact remains: girls struggle with the mixed messages about body image. Particularly impressionable adolescent girls struggle with bulimia, anorexia and the obsession with weight, and sometimes self-inflict injuries and other damage to their bodies.

Many girls who are bulimics and/or cutters have indicated that these actions are the only aspects of their lives over which they have control. Teachers lack the ubiquitous influence of the media to manipulate girls’ self-image. Advertising often pitches to the fundamental needs of the subconscious mind. Sex sells, to be frank—and while we cannot deny it, we do have some means to counter it.

Girls must be guided to see their potential in areas other than the physical. One helpful strategy is to acquaint young girls with the accomplishments of great women, including: Phyllis Wheatley, Marian Wright Edelman, Rosa Parks, Clara Barton, Mary Shelley, Jane Addams, Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Blackwell, Sacagawea,Wilma Mankiller, Isabel Allende, Deborah Sampson GannettDolores HuertaFrida KahloMaya AngelouSonia Sotomayor, Margaret Sanger, Unity Dow, Sally Ride and other women who overcame great odds to be strong and successful.

Each of these women is a standout figure in history or in society because of her hard work, her inner strength and her determination. In a society where supermodels and sex appeal are overvalued, adolescent girls must be reminded of their important inner qualities.

Dr. Lynch is an Assistant Professor of Education at Widener University. Dr. Lynch’s scholarship is intended to make a redoubtable, theoretically and empirically based argument that genuine school reform and the closing of the well-chronicled achievement gap are possible. Dr. Lynch is the author of three forthcoming books; Its Time for Change: School Reform for the Next Decade (Rowman & Littlefield 2012), A Guide to Effective School Leadership Theories (Routledge 2012), and The Call to Teach: An Introduction to Teaching and Learning (Pearson 2013). He is also the editor of the forthcoming 2-volume set, Before Obama: A Reappraisal of Black Reconstruction Era Politicians(Praeger 2012).

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Children, especially from low-income families, can lose reading and math skills during vacation so schools are offering summer camp-style programs.
In North Hills, CA, at a place called Camp Akela, kindergartners are keeping their young minds fresh for the upcoming school year at Noble Avenue Elementary Schools.  Other students will be studying volcanoes, creating travel journals, learning to dance the hula and even playing in a portable pool.  But the students, most of them low-income English learners, are also learning literacy, math facts and science and are honing writing skills with “coaches” dressed in tropical shirts and grass skirts.

From The Los Angeles Times:

Melding education with typical summer fun, the program is part of a statewide campaign aimed at combating a growing problem known as the “summer slide,” the loss of academic skills during the vacation months. Decades of research, including a new study by the Rand Corp., has documented that children lose two to three months of reading and math skills while on break and that the problem is particularly acute for lower-income children with limited access to travel, museums, libraries and other enriching experiences.

Studies have found that the cumulative effect of summer learning loss during the elementary school years accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower-income students and their more affluent counterparts by ninth grade.

“There is a real disparity in summer learning opportunities for children in disadvantaged communities,” said Steven Wirt of the Partnership for Children and Youth, an Oakland-based nonprofit promoting the Californiasummer learning campaign.

“We want to be sure these kids are not subjected to this devastating summer learning loss. It becomes exponentially detrimental as students move through their academic careers and later on in life,” he said.

A survey conducted by an education advocacy group for after-school programs, found that 1.8 million California children participated in summer learning programs last year.  They also learned that an additional 3.2 million wanted to enroll.  In addition, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has launched a $20-million, eight-year summer learning initiative aimed at reaching 100,000 children in 10 regions throughout the state. Foundation spokesman Jeff Sunshine said the grants are aimed at providing

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