Posts Tagged ‘Education Reform’

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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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,”

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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!

Our public education system is not working, clearly.  But what are some solutions to improvement?  What is best for our youth, and will sending them to school year-round really pick up the slack?  LZ Granderson, CNN Opinion Columnist, shares his ideas in this 2-part video series.

View here <—

What are your thoughts?

Our public education system is not working, clearly.  But what are some solutions to improvement?  What is best for our youth, and will sending them to school year-round really pick up the slack?  LZ Granderson, CNN Opinion Columnist, shares his ideas in this 2-part video series.

View here <—

What are your thoughts?

Do you agree that parents should be jailed for trying to give their child(ren) a better education?

CNN’s Kiran Chetry speaks with CNN’s Steve Perry about a mother facing charges for sending her son to a better school.
View video here <—

INDIANAPOLIS – An east side charter school stands out from the rest with an emphasis on going green while guiding students into a future driven by technology.

You know just by looking at the building, the Paramount School of Excellence is something special. Once inside the main office, there is no doubt.

It took $4.5 million to convert what was once an old Mason Lodge to a state-of-the art charter school on the city’s near east side. Surrounded by a wind farm spread out over nine acres, the Paramount School offersinteractive white boards, Apple computers and an eco-room for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Two of the main focuses here are on conservation and technology. The five wind turbines on the grounds here produce enough electricity to power all of the technology in the building,” said Tommy Reddicks, Paramount School director.

That includes AWESOME the robot.

AWESOME stands for Autonomous Working Smart Machine. All of the students get to see robots on a regular basis, they see them in the classroom and there’s a curriculum built around them,” said Reddicks.

In the eco-room its all about respecting the environment.

“I learn to not litter and recycle,” said Zenia Palmer, student.

Classroom work has become more comfortable.

“This is the fourth grade classroom. We’ve tried to bring the concept of home to school, so we have easy chairsinstead of desks,” said Reddicks.

School leaders and teachers believe the breakthrough approach here goes well beyond the basics of elementary school education, putting students on the right track to pursuing their future while protecting the environment.

By Bruce Kopp – bio

Today marks the beginning of Teacher Appreciation week!  So to all the classroom leaders, and to the first teachers a child has (the parents/guardians), thank you!  Thank you for preparing our future leaders!

Please read In Honor of Teacher Appreciation Week: A Open Letter  from Arne Duncan to America’s Teachers.

-The Summary