Posts Tagged ‘Dimitri Snowden’

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.

Advertisements

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).

Related articles

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

Related articles

Candy is something parents aren’t supposed to be freely dishing out to their kids, right? Surprising new research suggests otherwise. A little candy here and there might be a good thing. Bring on the M&Ms!

Could candy actually be a healthy snack for kids?Shutterstock / gosphotodesign

 

 

Could candy actually be a healthy snack for kids?

Kids who munch on Skittles and Snickers weigh less than those kids who don’t eat candy, a new study finds.

Researchers at Louisiana State University collected data from more than 11,000 kids, age 2 to 18, between 1999 and 2004. They discovered that children who indulged in candy were 22 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than their counterparts who didn’t eat sweets. What about the teenagers? Those who ate goodies were “26 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than their non-candy-eating counterparts,” according to CBS News.

The study published in Food & Nutrition reported on another interesting finding: The blood of the candy-eating kids was found to have a lower level of the C-reaction protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation in the body and a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The study results don’t give kids a hall pass to eat Twizzlers for breakfast.”Children need to eat healthy foods, nutrient-dense foods. They need to have fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy,” O’Neil told the Vancouver Sun. “And foods like candy should be occasional foods, celebratory foods and eaten in moderation.”

The study didn’t look at why kids who eat candy weighed less and so it leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions. “Are overweight kids simply barred from eating candy by parents who want them to diet? Does a little candy every now and then keep kids from binging? Could there be some compound in candy that’s actually good for the heart? Given that the researchers seem to have lumped all candy together, it’s hard to say what that compound would be — my money’s on that stuff inside Pixie Stix,” writes Anna North over at Jezebel.

Posted By: Amy Graff (EmailTwitterFacebook) | June 29 2011 at 04:23 PM

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?entry_id=92020#ixzz1Qn2jNbIM

Billionaire Peter Thiel is paying 24 overachievers to leave school and focus on entrepreneurial pursuits. Will this create the next Mark Zuckerberg… or just waste talent?
POSTED ON MAY 26, 2011, AT 11:50 AM
Mark Zuckerberg, pictured in 2004, dropped out of Harvard after creating Facebook, and billionaire Peter Thiel wants to make sure more Zuckerbergs aren't lost to college.

Mark Zuckerberg, pictured in 2004, dropped out of Harvard after creating Facebook, and billionaire Peter Thiel wants to make sure more Zuckerbergs aren’t lost to college. Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis SEE ALL 18 PHOTOS

Best Opinion:  Atlantic, Discover, Economist…

On Wednesday, Peter Thiel, the libertarian billionaire who founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, announced the first class of his “Thiel Fellows.” The 24 overachievers, all under the age of 20 and in possession of ridiculously impressive resumes (MIT at 14, Stanford Ph.D at 19), will receive $100,000 each to drop out of college for two years and pursue “innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship, and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow.” Given the great expense of a college education — and the fact that tech stars like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates are all dropouts — does it make sense to encourage exceptional young people to forget the ivory tower and head to Silicon Valley?

No, there are a lot of benefits to a college degree: ”College dropout success stories are still a rarity,” says Sean Ludwig at VentureBeat. Sure, a college education comes at a great cost, but it also comes with great benefits. It helps students become more well-rounded, and gets them the credentials many employers require. Plus, school is “an incredible networking hub that connects and rewards people long after the debts are paid off.”
“Peter Thiel pays kids $100K to drop out of college”

And college is worth it financially, too: According to a recent Georgetown University study on the value of college, “Thiel’s assumptions are way off base,” says Adam Clark Estes in The AtlanticThe study showed that earning potential for college grads varies greatly, depending on what they major in, but ultimately a college education “is an investment that, on average, pays off big dividends across the board.”
“Peter Thiel bets $2.4 million against the value of a college degree”

But for a tiny minority, dropping out makes sense: The criticisms of Thiel’s program are “just plain stupid,” says Razib Khan at Discover. There are a few very exceptional people — those who will change civilization — who have nothing substantive to gain from college. Even if these Thiel fellows don’t change the world, Thiel should still be applauded for sending the message “that there is social and cultural value in being an oddball who doesn’t aspire to be a prominent and licensed professional, let alone a banker at Goldman Sachs.”
“Let a thousand Thiel fellows bloom!”

Besides, they can always go back to school: Thiel’s “initiative may be less controversial than the headlines suggest,” says M.B. in The Economist. “With luck, some of the 24 under 20 will follow in the footsteps of other notable stop-outs such as Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg.” But if they don’t, they can always return to school and get a college degree.
“$100,000 drop-outs”

View this article on Theweek.com

The President will honor schools that commit to making environmental literacy a part of students‘ lives.

Next Earth Day, the Obama administration will select 50 schools around the country to be named the Green Ribbon Schools, CNSNews reports. This is part of a new program announced this April that will honor schools that focus on sustainability and teach their students about the environment.

Although the selection criteria hasn’t been finalized, according to the spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education Jo Ann Webb, the program seeks to recognize schools that make the environment part of kids’ classroom experience:

“[E]ngaging students on environmental issues and producing environmentally literate students; increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy technologies; and creating healthy learning environments by addressing environmental issues in the schools.”

Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said that the Green Ribbon School program, and others like it, are part of the administration’s environmental policy.

The program will give students another way to apply what they learn in science classes to the world around them, and will teach them the basics of green living.

The DOE is not the only agency developing programs that aim to make young people more environmentally literate. In its 2011 Strategic Plan, the U.S. Department of Energy discusses its own environmental initiative which is part of the administration’s national energy goals:

“Because today’s young generation are tomorrow’s world leaders, we will champion outreach through competitions, project-based learning, interactive gaming, and social media,”

Find original post here.

In the world we live in today- the one where oil spills and landfills are commonplace, and fast-food dominates- it’s a breath of fresh air to know a person who is concerned and determined to make schools (and the people who populate them) responsible for improving our environment.  Mr.Dimitri Snowden and his Green360 curriculum has conjured up a way to instill environmental respect and appreciation at an early age, which I strongly believe can only prove beneficial for all stakeholders, but perhaps more importantly, for future generations.

Green360 boasts a promising curriculum for all students, regardless of age.  It teaches them the importance of taking care of our planet, with a hands-on, and practical approach.  Thinking back to my own days in grade school, I remember how far-fetched and threatening it seemed for me as a child to simply recycle.   There weren’t accessible recycling bins, and to care for our earth seemed like more of a hassle than a remedy.  After all, where would I get the tools to live a green lifestyle if nothing around me supported the movement?  Green360 has taken the intimidation out of protecting the earth, and gives the students the tools they need to make a difference. From compost bins and a paper-recycling program to rechargeable batteries,Green360 turns the students into knowledgeable teachers!

With Green360, the mystery of our role in environmental sustainability is removed.  It makes it so that students can learn easy and meaningful ways to be “green”, regardless of what is happening around them.  Paramount School of Excellence (PSoE) is a prime example of Green360 in action.  When you first arrive on location, you are swept off your feet by five 40-foot tall wind turbines!  In a city like Indianapolis, wind turbines stand out on their own, making passersby curious as to what goes on inside this school building.  The 2500-watt turbines push electricity back to the city’s electric company (IPL)!  Now of course, in this case students don’t have to do anything directly to claim environmental responsibility, but they are able to witness first-hand the benefits of wind power, and how it all works!

Additionally, PSoE has a garden (Give Forward Garden), a pond (Paramount Pond) and green room (Green360 Room). Each entity has been created to give students a chance to learn about, manage, and appreciate the life cycles of plants and animals, regardless of their city or neighborhood’s typical landscape.  The Give Forward Garden will influence nutritional well-being, and even core values such as patience!  How does this work one might ask?  Simple.  Each grade level will have their own plot of land to cultivate fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs.  The students will be responsible for caring (and waiting) for the produce to grow!

The Green360 Room is a unique part of the building that is home to three species of butterflies, lizards, tree frogs, insects, and a tortoise just to name a few, as well as live plants and trees.  An interesting aspect of the room is the fact that the animals and insects (except the free flying butterflies) will be housed in cleverly stocked terrariums!  What is a terrarium?   A terrarium is a sealed but transparent container that allows the insects and animals to be seen but not touched!  Very clever!  The Green360 room itself has at 30×15 glass wall that lets in an abundant amount of filtered sunlight, and probably the most impressive in terms of respecting the environment is the 4,000 lbs of recycled rubber on the floor made to resemble grass, dirt, and mulch.  What most of us visitors wouldn’t know (but any PSoE student can tell you) is that the use of this recycled rubber has actually kept 200 tires from ending up in a landfill!

Mr. Snowden teaches the difference between various types of robots to a group of second grade students.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I think about the condition our world is in at this very moment, I cringe.  It scares me to think what we as humans have done to contaminate the waters, mutilate the land, and scar the planet forever.  But I firmly believe there is hope.  Even if we can’t reverse the damage already done, we can definitely work to make sure we leave this place better than we found it.  And that is what Green360 is doing; providing the much needed hope to inspire compassion for the world we live in, and to cultivate the next generation of responsible, environmental stewards!  I find it comforting to know that the students that benefit from Green360 will be the leaders of tomorrow.  They are learning so much about the environment, which can only mean that they have much to teach us.  Parents, community members, and other school communities across this nation can learn a thing or two from the students at PSoE.  My hope is that Mr.Snowden continues to spread the power and inspiration of the Green360curriculum, and that one day, it serves as a model for the reformation of our public school systems, here and abroad!

GOOD, Infographic, School lunch, Prison lunch, Column Five Media, transparency, Spending
Hopefully you haven’t gotten the chance to taste jailhouse cuisine, but if you’re a product of the American school system, you probably have childhood memories of standing in line for grey mashed potatoes, half-thawed mystery meat, and slimy canned peaches. How do the trays measure up?

A collaboration between GOOD and Column Five Media

Jodee Blanco says parents and other adults need to be alert to signs a child is being bullied.
Jodee Blanco says parents and other adults need to be alert to signs a child is being bullied.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jodee Blanco: Child can be overtly bullied or just completely invisible to other kids
  • Behaviors to watch for: rage, overreactions, faking illness to avoid school, she says
  • Blanco: Extreme change in “look” or weight; depression, grade change, moodiness, distraction
  • Child is in great pain, she says. Activities outside school can be a life saver

Editor’s note: Jodee Blanco is an activist against and authority on school bullying. She conducts anti-bullying programs and wrote “Please Stop Laughing at Me …” and its sequel, “Please Stop Laughing at Us …”

(CNN) — As a former victim of bullying who speaks at schools across the country, I meet many distraught parents who want advice on how to help their bullied child. I ache for them because I remember what my own mom and dad went through, never knowing the shape I’d be in when I came home from school.

When two Minnesota eighth-graders, Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz, took their own lives in a bullying-related suicide pact last month, my heart not only went out to their parents, but also to the parents of every bullied student.

Many might have been asking themselves, “These girls weren’t alone, they had each other, why would they do this?” and wondering, “Could this happen to my child?” We can’t bring Haylee and Paige back, but we can honor their lives by saving other kids from similar desperation.

There are two types of bullied students. First, “the overt victim,” who is bullied in obvious ways, such as teasing, taunting, verbal and physical assault, intentional and aggressive exclusion, being laughed at and put down constantly, gossiped about, or cyberbullied.

Jodee Blanco
Jodee Blanco

Then, there’s “the invisible student,” the kid who is treated as if he or she doesn’t exist, who isn’t necessarily intentionally excluded, but whom no one thinks to include. This is the child who goes through school feeling like a ghost. Being an invisible student is sometimes more damaging in the long-term. If you’re overtly bullied, you can say to yourself, “There’s something wrong with them.” But if you feel like you don’t exist, you may falsely conclude, “There’s something wrong with me.”

Even if two best friends have each other for support, it might not be enough to stave off these negative feelings, as may have been the case with Haylee and Paige.

Know the danger signs of a bullied child in crisis. Some are obvious and exactly what you’d expect. Others are subtle, and surprising. Look for these behaviors:

— Inexplicable fits of rage: Does your child blow up at the least provocation?

— Overreaction to normal, daily frustrations: Does your child overreact to people and situations that never would have bothered him or her before?

— Faking illness to avoid going to school, or even making themselves sick.

— Impaired immune system and frequent illness: The constant stress and sadness associated with severe bullying can weaken your child’s immune system. This, coupled with a child’s wishing he or she were sick to get out of school can be a powerful combination.

— Extreme makeover attempts: Has your child suddenly gone from preppie attire to all Gothic or punk?

— Sudden change in weight: Has your child started gaining or losing weight at an alarming rate?

— Despondency or depression: Is your child sad, lonely and unmotivated?

— Change in grades: Have your child’s grades gone down, or way up? Bullied kids sometimes immerse themselves in academics as an escape. But when they realize that even with straight A’s, they’re still lonely, they can spiral into a dark place.

— Desperate attempts to win friends: Has your child started to give in to peer pressure, perhaps engaging in questionable or self-destructive behaviors that she or he would never have considered doing before?

— Moodiness: Is your child sullen one moment, obstinate the next?

— Distractedness: Is your child unfocused and preoccupied?

Parents must keep in mind, to prevent any bully-related suicide attempt, that the bullied child is bleeding emotionally and spiritually from loneliness and isolation. If you don’t deal with that first, it could render whatever else you do tragically irrelevant.

Parents often get so caught up in mitigating the problem — contacting the school, confronting the parents of the bullies, pushing for punishment of the bullies, talking to the police, retaining legal counsel — that they forget to tend to their bleeding child first.

Your priority is to find a new social outlet for your child, someplace where he or she can engage in an organized activity with other kids the same age and forge meaningful friendships completely outside of school.

It will buy you the time you need to deal with the larger issues. It will give your child something to look forward to and boost confidence. The more confident children are, the less they are targeted.

Additionally, bullied students often emit a subtle desperation for friendship that makes their peers uncomfortable. Once your son or daughter begins building new relationships, it can diminish some of that desperation. Park districts, dance studios, community theater programs, public libraries and chambers of commerce are good places to start — but make sure they’re located a few towns away from your school district to ensure your child will make new friends.

And keep in mind what we’ve learned from the recent tragedy with Haylee and Paige — just because your child has a best friend doesn’t make her immune from desperation. If you suspect your child and her closest buddy are both struggling to fit in at school, enroll them in an activity together. You could end up saving two lives.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Jodee Blanco.