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April 29, 2010

In search of laid off teachers looking for jobs

Maryland school districts, for the most part, are lucky not to have to reduce their teaching force this year. Other states, though, are letting teachers go by the thousands. I am looking for teachers to interview who have been laid off in another state and are hoping to land employment here. Anyone have some leads?
Posted by Liz Bowie at 11:57 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Around the Nation

April 26, 2010

What reauthorization of NCLB might look like

The Baltimore City public school system held a panel discussion today that looked at what the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act will mean for the school district. A panel of national education experts said that despite the fact that nearly everyone agrees the law is deeply flawed, its premise is likely to remain. So we will still have accountability, meaning testing of children, and the emphasis on ensuring that all children must succeed will continue.

But proposals on the table now call for the law to be rewritten, giving local districts more say in how they deal with failing schools and what they do to fix them. In addition, it looks as though many believe we should stop identifying so many schools as troubled and focus on the bottom 5 percent across the nation.

Formulas could put more emphasis on whether students and schools are improving rather than whether they have hit static targets. There's likely to be more emphasis as well on teacher and principal effectiveness because research is showing that students who have good teachers two years in a row can make great progress.

Many educators agree on the need for national standards, but some disagreed about whether the new common core standards should become part of the reauthorization. This is just the beginning of the discussion and no one was predicting when a new bill might get through Congress.

Posted by Liz Bowie at 5:48 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Around the Region

April 22, 2010

Green schools celebrated on Earth Day

This Earth Day, my colleague Tim Wheeler, writes about green schools on his environment blog. Maryland Public Television is airing a documentary, "Growing Greener Schools," at 4:30 p.m. today (with a rebroadcast for early risers at 4 a.m. Friday).  The show looks at how environmentally oriented curriculums and green buildings are changing students, families and communities.  In addition, Pinewood Elementary in Baltimore County is being honored by the National Education Association for its Earth friendly efforts.

Posted by Liz Bowie at 2:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Around the Region

April 21, 2010

Air conditioning for Baltimore County schools

Ten Baltimore County schools are going to get air-conditioning next school year, unless the County Council decides to eliminate the item from the budget. After many years of battling by parents, County Executive Jim Smith has agreed to put the funding in the county budget.

Last night at the county board meeting, parent Laurie Taylor-Mitchell thanked the board for including the item in the budget, but she also suggested the county has only begun to scratch the surface in trying to get all of its schools air conditioned. She said there are about 70 schools that still need to be air conditioned in the county and it would take about a decade to get through the list, even if the district did seven every year. "What are the priorities here?" she said, calling for the county to do an analysis of what schools need it the most.


Posted by Liz Bowie at 5:34 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Baltimore County

April 19, 2010

Will school districts sign on to Race to the Top?

Maryland's school superintendent, Nancy S. Grasmick, has given local districts until Friday to decide whether they want to sign on to the Race to the Top application. If districts sign, they stand to gain some federal money, but signing also commits them to reforms. Today, Montgomery County's superintendent Jerry Weast makes a case that his school district is far head of others in Maryland in enacting its own strategies. Although Weast said no decision has been made, his op ed piece makes it sound as though the county has made up its mind.  Baltimore City and Prince George's County will likely sign because they have the most to gain financially, but the discussion should be lively in some areas of the state.


Posted by Liz Bowie at 12:32 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Around the Region

April 14, 2010

N.Y. high school holds prom on school night to thwart partying

One suburban New York high school plans to prevent excessive after-prom partying by requiring students to attend class the day after prom.

Students at Pearl River High who miss class the next day will be unable to make up academic work or to participate in athletics activities.

Needless to say, the new policy has caused friction. Some students have threatened to boycott the prom if it is not moved to Friday night. The school does not appear to be going to change its stance.

What do you think? Is this the right move to thwart after-prom partying? What do you do at your school? Does it work?



Posted by John-John Williams IV at 8:13 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Around the Nation

April 13, 2010

Race to the Top application available

Maryland has just posted its Race to the Top application on its website. Here's the link. I have just started reading, but the emphasis seems to be on steps the state will take to close the achievement gap.  The application says Maryland will rewrite its standards, curriculum and assessments to adhere to the new national standards, that it will try to turnaround more low performing schools through a turnaround center it has been setting up, and better train and prepare its teachers. The application also says it will strengthen teacher evaluation systems (as it has to under a bill passed last night) and create a powerful new data tracking system.

So please post your comments here after you have had time to read the report. My sources say to skim section A and give a close read to sections D and E.

More on this subject later.

Posted by Liz Bowie at 10:43 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Around the Region

April 12, 2010

Schools tackle teacher bullying

I found this interesting article in USA Today about efforts in California and Iowa to address bullying among teachers.

I'm no stranger to bullying among students or even helicopter parents. But this one is a first for me.

I just wanted to know if you have experienced this in your school. If so, how did you deal with it? And, do you think that some type of policy is needed to curb this behavior?

Posted by John-John Williams IV at 11:26 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Around the Nation

April 9, 2010

Outsourcing Grading

My jaw dropped when I saw this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about how some college professors have begun to outsource the grading of papers.

According to the article: "the goal of the service is to relieve professors and teaching assistants of a traditional and sometimes tiresome task—and even, the company says, to do it better than TA's can."

One professor quoted in the story said that she outsources grading to allow her to provide expert feedback. (The company would not provide The Chronicle Of Higher Education with the names and degress of its employee.) 

I have to admit that I was kind of shocked when I started reading the article. My knee jerk reaction was that the professors who use this are lazy. I'm not sure I've changed my mind about that initial thought. 


Posted by John-John Williams IV at 10:27 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Teaching

April 8, 2010

The Death of Public School?

The Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z Jackson has some interesting thoughts on the possible death of public school education. At the end of the day it essentially boils down to money, he argues.

Jackson looks at per-pupil costs, the amount of money spent to incarcerate people compared to educating children, and salaries for teachers.

Read the column and let me know what you think. In addition, I want to know your solutions to the problem. It can't be as simple as devoting more money to education. I think the issue goes deeper than that.

Posted by John-John Williams IV at 1:40 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Around the Nation

April 7, 2010

Montgomery County finalist for the Broad prize

Last week, Montgomery County's public school system was named a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which is a prestigious award given each year to a school system that makes significant gains in its overall performance as well as reducing acheivement gaps.

The finalists are chosen from a committee that looks at about 100 school systems nationwide. Montgomery is the first school system in the region to be named a finalist.

The award comes at a somewhat awkward time for education leaders around the state who are trying to persuade the county to come around and support Maryland's application for Race to the Top.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that only Delaware and Tennesee were the winners in the first round of the biggest reform giveway in education in the U.S. The two states apparently won, in part, because they had gotten all their school districts to sign on to the application. Maryland can hardly maintain that it will have unity among its school systems to carry out progressive, sometimes contentious reforms, if its biggest school district doesn't agree to sign on. Right now Montgomery isn't in the game.


Posted by Liz Bowie at 11:38 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Around the Region

April 6, 2010

Harford Delegate Wants All LGBT Sites Blocked In Schools

I stumbled across this article the other day and wanted to get your thoughts.

Apparently,  Harford Del. Rick Impallaria wrote a letter to the Harford County school superintendent and board of education members stating he does not approve of the decision to unblock LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Web sites for any reason.

 "I am shocked to read that someone has decided to allow 'alternative sexual lifestyle' Web sites to be unblocked, giving County public school students access to them," he wrote in the letter.

The sites were unblocked after the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland made the request on behalf of teachers and students.

Some of the web sites that had been blocked include: Equality Maryland; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN; Human Rights Campaign, or HRC; the Interfaith Working Group; Dignity USA; and Jewish Mosaic.

"Our schools should be putting their emphasis on teaching our children the three R's and preparing them to earn a living, which is the basis for a successful life," Impallaria wrote. "All these other issues should be dealt with by the parents, on their own time and on their own dime."

Posted by John-John Williams IV at 1:54 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Around the Region

April 5, 2010

Philadelphia charter school mismanagement

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today that a soon to be released report says charter school mismanagement appears to be widespread in 13 Philadelphia schools investigated.  In one case, a charter school building was doubling as a nightclub on weekends, but the story details many other areas of mismanagement, including high salaries for charter operators and principals that appear unrelated to the size of the school or the salaries of teachers, incomplete or missing records and conflicts of interest.

The story highlights the need for more accountability and perhaps better oversight by the school district.


Posted by Liz Bowie at 3:47 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Around the Nation
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