News of Kiera Wilmot's arrest has seriously unnerved me. She is the Florida high school student who was experimenting with common household chemicals in science class that resulted in a minor explosion. There were no injuries and no damage to school property; however, she was taken away in handcuffs, formally arrested and expulled from school.
I acknowledge that too little information has been provided on the case. We have NO idea what was happening in the class. Where was the teacher? Were students involved in a laboratory activity at the time? I have spent time in the high school classroom. I know the shenanigans (and havoc) these pre-adults can cause. It is no laughing matter. Even if this were a prank, say something akin to my generation's idea of setting off smoke bombs in the hall during the passing of classes, my gut reaction stands.
I don't like what our public education (and justice) systems do to urban youth (e.g. the discipline gap with Black kids). I worry about urban kids who don't (tend) to have access to social capital that advocates for them and gives them a chance after stupid mistakes. I worry what this will mean to her family financially. What will it mean for her future? Will graduating from an alternative school prevent her from attending college? Will she be marked as a trouble maker? Will she have a criminal record that prevents her from gainful employment and a meaningful life? More immediately, will she get locked away for 20 years? Shit like that happens to kids who look like her.
BOSTON -- The Boston School Committee, once synonymous with fierce resistance to racial integration, took a historic step Wednesday night and threw off the last remnants of a busing system first imposed in 1974 under a federal court desegregation order.
Instead of busing children across town to achieve integration, the plan adopted by the committee is intended to allow more students to attend schools closer to home.
That was the objective sought by Mayor Thomas Menino, who appointed a special advisory group last year to overhaul the system. He said that keeping students closer to home would encourage more parental involvement, develop neighborhood cohesion and ultimately improve the schools.
"Tonight's historic vote marks a new day for every child in the city of Boston," the mayor said in a statement.
But numerous parents and activists complained during a hearing before the committee's deliberations that the new system would leave some children -- mostly black and Hispanic -- in the lowest-performing schools.
"No way we can stand around the playground and say, 'Yeah, we're all getting a fair shake,' " one father testified.
They were angry, too, that the committee had not tackled what many agree is the district's fundamental problem -- the scarcity of good schools.
Amy and Mark Denicore are headed to a full-blown trial to defend themselves against charges that they violated Virginia law by making their kids late to elementary school too often.
The Loudoun County couple was arraigned Monday morning in juvenile and domestic relations court. Judge Pamela L. Brooks set a trial date of March 14.
The Denicores are each charged with three Class 3 misdemeanors, each of which carries a maximum fine of $500. Their three children, ages 6, 7 and 9, have been late to school almost 30 times since September. Most of their tardies were three minutes or less.
A state law that allows school districts to deny enrollment to students expelled by other districts is unconstitutional, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Dane County Circuit Court.
The suit was filed against the Oregon School District, which denied enrollment to a middle school student after the Janesville School District expelled him in November.
The student was expelled after serving suspensions last October for an alleged sexual assault and possession of tobacco on campus, according to the complaint. The student denied both charges, the complaint states.
Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, an attorney with Disability Rights Wisconsin. said his organization disapproves of the expulsion law, which has been on the books since 1997. The state constitution guarantees a free education to all students between the ages of 4 and 20.
An 11-year-old class-action lawsuit that has seen Milwaukee Public Schools battle a disability rights group, the state and the courts over how it finds and serves children with special needs came to a dramatic climax Friday when a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the district.
The decision, outlined in a dense 51-page ruling by a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, upholds all four areas of appeal the state's largest school district had sought - incuding the certification of the class itself.
By throwing out the class-certification order from a lower court, the judges subsequently vacated the liability and remedial orders the school district was under obligation to follow as well.
The quest to harness the power of DNA to develop personalized medicine is on the threshold of a major milestone: the $1,000 genome sequencing.
Life Technologies Corp., a Carlsbad, Calif., genomics company, plans to introduce Tuesday a machine it says will be able to map an individual's entire genetic makeup for $1,000 by the end of this year. Moreover, the machine and accompanying microchip technology, both developed by the company's Ion Torrent unit, will deliver the information in a day, the company says.
Missouri could be the next battleground in a nationwide fight over tougher immigration laws.
State Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee's Summit Republican, is sponsoring a bill that would mandate that all public schools verify the immigration status of enrollees. It also would require law enforcement officers to check immigration status on all stops when they have reasonable cause, and create a state misdemeanor for not carrying proper citizenship documentation.
The U.S. Department of Justice last year sued to block similar laws after they were passed in Alabama and Arizona. Federal judges have blocked implementation of parts of the laws in both states, with the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to hear arguments on Arizona's law sometime this year.
A U.S. appeals court is weighing whether Boston College must turn over to criminal investigators recordings from an oral history project about Northern Ireland that could expose embarrassing secrets of the Irish Republican Army's past.
An Irish paper in 2010 quoted Dolours Price as saying she drove Ms. McConville to her killers.
The case suggests new legal hurdles and costs for universities that gather historical records of conflicts around the world.
At the heart of the legal dispute is the unsolved, nearly 40-year-old killing of Jean McConville, a widowed mother abducted in front of her children and murdered by the IRA as a suspected spy for the British government. The IRA has admitted to the murder though the killers never were identified.
This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the NY Board of Regents approved the state's sharing of student and teacher information with a new national database, to be funded by the Gates Foundation, and designed by News Corp's Wireless Generation. Other states that have already agreed to share this data, according to the NY State Education Department, include Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana and Massachusetts.
All this confidential student and teacher data will be held by a private limited corporation, called the Shared Learning Collaborative LLC, with even less accountability, which in July was awarded $76.5 million by the Gates Foundation, to be spent over 7 months. According to an earlier NYT story, $44 million of this funding will go straight into the pockets of Wireless Generation, owned by Murdoch's News Corp and run by Joel Klein.
More than 100 students attended Minnesota's first-ever conference for undocumented high school students seeking a college education Saturday at the University of Minnesota.
The event, organized by the group Navigate, included workshops on the legal and financial steps to college.
Navigate Executive Director Juventino Meza said the group had a lot of support for the event, but he says there was some criticism over calling it a conference for, quote, "undocumented students."
"And we decided, you know what, there is a negative rhetoric already in our communities and there is fear, and we want to make sure students have a space where they can be undocumented -- where they can talk about it and ask questions," he said.
There is something truly disturbing about a society that seeks to control the behavior of schoolchildren through fear and violence, a tactic that harkens back to an era of paddle-bruised behinds and ruler-slapped wrists. Yet, some American school districts are pushing the boundaries of corporal punishment even further with the use of Tasers against unruly schoolchildren.
The deployment of Tasers against "problem" students coincides with the introduction of police officers on school campuses, also known as School Resource Officers (SROs). According to the Los Angeles Times, as of 2009, the number of SROs carrying Tasers was well over 4,000.
As far back as 1988, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Congress of Parents and Teachers, American Medical Association, National Education Association, American Bar Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics recognized that inflicting pain and fear upon disobedient children is far more harmful than helpful. Yet, we continue to do it with disturbing results, despite mountains of evidence of more effective methods of discipline.
December 11, 2011Related: Who Runs the Madison Schools?
Mr. Ed Hughes
Board of Education
Madison Metropolitan School District 545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53713
Dear Mr. Hughes:
This letter is intended to respond to your December 4, 2011 blog post regarding the Madison Preparatory Academy initiative. Specifically, this letter is intended to address what you referred as "a fairly half-hearted argument [advanced by the Urban League] that the state statute authorizing school districts to enter into contracts for non-instrumentality charter schools trumps or pre-empts any language in collective bargaining agreements that restricts school districts along these lines." Continuing on, you wrote the following:I say the argument is half-hearted because no authority is cited in support and itjust isn't much ofan argument. School districts aren't required to authorize non-instrumentality charter schools, and so there is no conflict with state statutesfor a school district to, in effect, agree that it would not do so. Without that kind of a direct conflict, there is no basis for arguing that the CBA language is somehow pre-empted.We respectfully disagree with your assessment. The intent of this letter is to provide you with the authority for this position and to more fully explain the nature of our concern regarding a contract provision that appears to be illegal in this situation and in direct conflict with public policy.
As you are aware, the collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA") between MMSD and MTI Iprovides "that instructional duties where the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires that such be performed by a certificated teacher, shall be performed only by 'teachers."' See Article I, Section B.3.a. In addition, "the term 'teacher' refers to anyone in the collective bargaining unit." See Article I, Section B.2. You have previously suggested that "all teachers in MMSD schools-- including non-instrumentality charter schools- must be members of the MTI bargaining unit." As we indicated in our December 3, 2011 correspondence to you, under a non-instrumentality charter, the school board may not be the employer of the charter school's staff. See§ 118.40(7)(a).
Under Wisconsin's charter school law, the MMSD School Board (the "Board") has the exclusive authority to determine whether a school is an instrumentality or not an instrumentality of the school district. See§ 118.40(7)(a). That decisio n is an important decision reserved to the Board alone. The effect of that decision drives whether teachers and staff must be, or cannot be, employees of the Board. The language of the CBA deprives the Board ofthe decision reserved to it under the statute and that language cannot be harmonized to give effect to both the statute and the CBA. Alternatively, the CBA language creates a situation whereby the Board may exercise its statutory authority to approve a non- instrumentality charter, but it must staff the school with school district employees, a result clearly prohibited under the statute. For reasons that will be explained below, in our view, the law trumps the CBA in either of these situations.
Under Wisconsin law, "[a]labor contract may not violate the law." Glendale Professional Policeman's Ass'n v. City ofGlendale, 83 Wis. 2d 90, 102 (Wis. 1978). City ofGlendale addressed the tension that can arise between bargained for provisions in a collective bargaining agreement and statutory language. In City of Glendale, the City argued that a provision dealing with job promotions was unenforceable because it could not be harmonized with statutory language. Specifically, the agreement in question set forth parameters for promoting employees and stated in part that openings "shall be filled by the applicant with the greatest department seniority..." City of Glendale, 83 Wis. 2d at 94. Wisconsin law provided the following:The chiefs shall appoint subordinates subject to approval by the board. Such appointments shall be made by promotion when this can be done with advantage, otherwise from an eligible list provided by examination and approval by the board and kept on file with the clerk.Wis. Stat.§ 62.13(4)(a).
The City contended that "the contract term governing promotions is void and unenforceable because it is contrary to sec. 62.13(4)(a), Stats." City ofGlendale, 83 Wis. 2d at 98. Ultimately, the court ruled against the City based on the following rationale:Although sec. 62.13(4)(a), Stats., requires all subordinates to be appointed by the chief with the approval of the board, it does not, at least expressly, prohibit the chief or the board from exercising the power of promotion of a qualified person according to a set of rules for selecting one among several qualified applicants.The factual scenario in City ofGlendale differs significantly from the present situation. In City of Glendale, the terms of the agreement did not remove the ability of the chief, with the approval of the board, to make promotions. They could still carry out their statutory duties. The agreement language simply set forth parameters that had to be followed when making promotions. Accordingly, the discretion of the chief was limited, but not eliminated. In the present scenario, the discretion of the Board to decide whether a charter school should be an instrumentality or a non-instrumentality has been effectively eliminated by the CBA language.
There is nothing in the CBA that explicitly prohibits the Board from voting for a non-instrumentality charter school. This discretion clearly lies with the Board. Pursuant to state law, instrumentality charter schools are staffed by District teachers. However, non-instrumentality charter schools cannot be staffed by District teachers. See Wis. Stat.§ 118.40. Based on your recent comments, you have taken the position that the Board cannot vote for a non-instrumentality charter school because this would conflict with the work preservation clause of the CBA. Specifically, you wrote that "given the CBA complications, I don't see how the school board can authorize a non-instrumentality Madison Prep to open its doors next fall, and I say that as one who has come to be sympathetic to the proposal." While we appreciate your sympathy, what we would like is your support. Additionally, this position creates at least two direct conflicts with the law.
First, under Wisconsin law, "the school board of the school district in which a charter school is located shall determine whether or not the charter school is an instrumentality of the school district." Wis. Stat. § 118.40(7)(a) (emphasis added.) The Board is required to make this determination. If the Board is precluded from making this decision on December 19"' based on an agreement previously reached with MTI, the Board will be unable to comply with the law. Effectively, the instrumentality/non- instrumentality decision will have been made by the Board and MTI pursuant to the terms and conditions of the CBA. However, MTI has no authority to make this determination, which creates a direct conflict with the law. Furthermore, the Board will be unable to comply with its statutory obligation due to the CBA. Based on your stated concerns regarding the alleged inability to vote for a non-instrumentality charter school, it appears highly unlikely that the Board ever intentionally ceded this level ofauthority to MTI.
Second, if the Board chose to exercise its statutorily granted authority on December 19th and voted for a non-instrumentality charter school, this would not be a violation of the CBA. Nothing in the CBA explicitly prohibits the Board from voting for a non-instrumentality charter school. At that point, to the extent that MTI chose to challenge that decision, and remember that MTI would have to choose to grieve or litigate this issue, MTI would have to try to attack the law, not the decision made by the Board. Pursuant to the law, "[i] f the school board determines that the charter school is not an instrumentality of the school district, the school board may not employ any personnel for the charter school." Wis. Stat.§ 118.40(7)(a) (emphasis added). While it has been suggested that the Board could choose to avoid the legal impasse by voting down the non-instrumentality proposal, doing so would not cure this conflict. This is particularly true if some Board members were to vote against a non-instrumentality option solely based on the CBA. In such a case, the particular Board Member's obligation to make this decision is essentially blocked. Making a decision consistent with an illegal contract provision for the purposes of minimizing the conflict does not make the provision any less illegal. "A labor contract term whereby parties agree to violate the law is void." WERC v. Teamsters Local No. 563, 75 Wis. 2d 602, 612 (Wis. 1977) (citation omitted).
In Wisconsin, "a labor contract term that violates public policy or a statute is void as a matter of law." Board of Education v. WERC, 52 Wis. 2d 625, 635 (Wis. 1971). Wisconsin law demonstrates that there is a public policy that promotes the creation of charter schools. Within that public policy, there is an additional public policy that promotes case-by-case decision making by a school board regarding whether a charter school will be an instrumentality or a non-instrumentality. The work preservation clause in the CBA cannot be harmonized with these underlying public policies and should not stop the creation of Madison Preparatory Academy.
The Madison Prep initiative has put between a rock and a hard place. Instrumentality status lost support because of the costs associated with employing members of MTI. Yet, we are being told that non-instrumentality status will be in conflict with the CBA and therefore cannot be approved. As discussed above, the work preservation clause is irreconcilable with Wisconsin law, and would likely be found void by acourt of law.
Accordingly, I call on you, and the rest of the Board to vote for non- instrumentality status on December 19th. In the words of Langston Hughes, "a dream deferred is a dream denied." Too many children in this district have been denied for far too long. On behalf of Madison children, families and the Boards of the Urban League and Madison Prep, I respectfully request your support.
President & CEO
cc: Dan Nerad, Superintendent
Dylan Pauly, Legal Counsel
MMSD Board ofEducation Members
ULGMand Madison Prep Board Members and Staff
Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
As schools across California bemoan increasing class sizes, the Alliance Technology and Math Science High School has boosted class size -- on purpose -- to an astonishing 48. The students work at computers most of the school day.
Next door in an identical building containing a different school, digital imaging -- in the form of animation, short films and graphics -- is used for class projects in English, math and science.
At a third school on the same Glassell Park campus, long known as Taylor Yards, high-schoolers get hands-on experience with a working solar panel.
These schools and two others coexist at the Sotomayor Learning Academies, which opened this fall under a Los Angeles school district policy called Public School Choice. The 2009 initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, has allowed groups from inside and outside the Los Angeles Unified School District to compete for the right to run dozens of new or low-performing schools.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
When the end finally came, it came fast. Spotting Steve's red BMW convertible parked in the driveway, Culver City police in tactical vests and armed with assault weapons quickly deployed, swarming the front and rear entrances. Wearing a green nylon jacket with RAID splashed across the shoulders, Sergeant Jason Sims knocked on the front door, then ordered his men to break it down with a battering ram. Inside, kids screamed, cried, or just stood there trying to wrap their heads around what they were witnessing--and what their parents were witnessing. Because this was a Thursday, this was Family Night. Expecting to endure an evening of candor with impunity--Guess what, Mother? The world doesn't revolve around you!--parents had their bean dip and decaf upended by an armed raid. Tilling the big wayward ship of their children's adolescence had left them chronically alert to trouble, but not like this.
The Obama administration issued new guidance Friday advising schools and colleges on how they can make race-based enrollment decisions to promote campus diversity, shortly before the Supreme Court is set to consider whether to re-examine a 2003 case holding that universities could sometimes use race in admissions decisions.
"Diverse learning environments promote development of analytical skills, dismantle stereotypes and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a joint release by the Justice and Education departments.
The departments withdrew prior guidance from the Bush administration, which officials said was too vague to assist school administrators seeking to promote diverse student enrollment. The new guidance parses the Supreme Court's most recent rulings on student diversity to suggest policies the administration believes would not violate the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
Like the former Bush administration guidance, the new documents advise schools to use race-neutral policies if possible. If those prove insufficient, however, the new guidance states that a school "may consider a student's race as a 'plus factor' (among other, nonracial considerations) to achieve its compelling interests" in diversity.
Among the extended family I saw over the holiday was a young relative who is working as a substitute teacher in the Northeast since he can't find a full-time teaching post. He shared a story that surprised me, and I wanted to run it by folks here.
He was subbing at a low-performing high school that recently had a well-publicized stabbing. A student in his class pulled what he thought was a real gun on him, and they had a standoff for several minutes until the teen put the "gun" away and the teacher tackled him to the floor. It turned out the gun was a toy, and the student received a three-day suspension for the incident.
The substitute teacher was disappointed with the punishment, but said the school wanted to prevent another round of negative press.
Would such an incident be kept quiet in Georgia? Could it go so easily unreported under zero tolerance policies in which students can get suspended for Tweety Bird key chains?
A Dane County judge on Monday ordered the Madison School District to turn over more than 1,000 sick notes submitted by teachers who didn't come to work in February during mass protests over collective bargaining.
Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas said the district violated the state's Open Records Law by issuing a blanket denial to a request for the notes from the Wisconsin State Journal rather than reviewing each note individually.
Under the records law, government agencies must make public the records they maintain in most circumstances.
State Journal editor John Smalley said the court ruling was a victory for open records and government accountability. He said the newspaper was not planning to publish individual teacher names but rather report on the general nature of the sick notes the district received from employees.
Does FERPA ban schools from allowing students to post their schoolwork on the open Web?
Of the trio of laws that address children's and students' privacy and safety online, FERPA is often the one least cited outside of educational circles. The other two, COPPA and CIPA, tend to be in the news more often; the former as it relates to some of the ongoing discussions about privacy and social networking, the latter as it relates to BYOD and filtering programs. But in all cases, there seems to be a growing gulf between the laws and their practical application or interpretation, particularly since these pieces of legislation are quite old: COPPA was enacted in 1998, and CIPA in 2000. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, dates all the way back to 1974.
FERPA is meant to give students control over access to and disclosure of their educational records. This prevents schools from divulging information about a student's grades, behavior or school work to anyone other than the student without that student's consent (with some exceptions, such as to parties involved with student aid or to schools to which students are transferring). The classic example used to explain how FERPA works: you can't post a list of students' names and grades on a bulletin board in the hallway.
On Sept. 28, 2011, a PDC complaint was filed with the Public Disclosure Commission because of concerns noted in multiple public records from Spokane Public Schools. This PDC complaint is about Washington State's RCW 42.17.130.
Sept. 26 (filed Sept. 28), 2011: PDC complaint
Among the many new program integrity rules the U.S. Education Department issued a little over a year ago was one that went relatively unnoticed at the time: a rule that defines the "last date of attendance" for students who withdraw from online programs more stringently than in the past, and differently than for students in a traditional classroom.
At the time, the rule was lost in the hubbub over state authorization rules, the definition of a "credit hour," and other, more controversial, regulations, some of which colleges challenged in Congress or in court. But before the program integrity rules took effect in July 2011 -- and even before they were published publicly, in October 2010 -- the Education Department was already using the new definition of "last date of attendance," which varied considerably from the previous version, to begin investigations and, in some cases, collect financial aid refunds for students who dropped out.
When the Education Department began using the "last day of attendance" rule to evaluate colleges in audits, it had never been publicly announced. In effect, a group of higher education associations has argued, the department was expecting institutions to play a game without knowing the rules.
The parents of three 15-year-olds who were strip-searched and jailed for three days after a trespassing charge expressed outrage Thursday during a press conference and called for the removal of Tate County Youth Court referee Leigh Ann Darby.
"If we don't stand up for our rights, no one else will," Dexter Burton of Senatobia, father of Lakiya Burton, told reporters at the Church of Christ at 401 W. Gilmore.
The three youths, who had not previously been identified because of their ages, were at the gathering with their parents and the families' attorney, J. Cliff Johnson II of Jackson. They are Larandra Wright of Southaven, and Lakiya Burton and Kevonta Mack, both of Senatobia.
Burton and Mack are 10th-graders at Senatobia High School; Wright is a 10th-grader at Southaven High. None had prior brushes with the law before they crossed a renter's yard at a duplex that faces Morgan Drive in Senatobia this summer.
Earlier this year, Dropout Nation argued that one way that school reformers -- including school choice activists and Parent Power groups -- could advance reform and expand school choice was to file lawsuits similar to school funding torts filed for the past four decades by school funding advocates. But now, it looks like Parent Power activists may be filing a lawsuit in Los Angeles on a different front: Overhauling teacher evaluations. And the Los Angeles Unified School District may be the place where the first suit is filed.
In a letter sent on behalf of some families Wednesday to L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy and the school board -- and just before the district begins negotiations with the American Federation of Teachers' City of Angels unit over a new contract -- Barnes & Thornburg's Kyle Kirwan demanded that the district "implement a comprehensive system" of evaluating teachers that ties "pupil progress" data to teacher evaluations. Kirwan and the group he represents are also asking for the district to begin evaluating all teachers "regardless of tenure status" and to reject any contract with the American Federation of Teachers local that allows for any veteran teacher with more than a decade on the job to go longer than two years without an evaluation if they haven't had one in the first place.
We represent minor-students currently residing within the boundaries of the Los Angeles Unified School District (the "District" or "LAUSD"), the parents of these students, and other adults who have paid taxes for a school system that has chronically failed to comply with California law.
Our clients seek to have the District immediately meet its obligations under the Stull Act, a forty year old law that is codified at California Education Code section 44660 et seq. (the "Stull Act").
In relevant part, the Stull Act requires that "[t]he governing board of each school district establish standards of expected pupil achievement at each grade level in each area of study."
Cal. Educ. Code § 44662(a). The Stull Act requires further that "[t]he governing board of each school district ... evaluate and assess certificated employee performance as it reasonably relates to ... [t]he progress of pupils toward the standards established pursuant to subdivision (a) and, if applicable, the state adopted academic content standards as measured by state adopted criterion referenced assessments ...." Cal. Educ. Code§ 44662(b)(l).
In the forty years since the California Legislature passed the Stull Act, the District has never evaluated its certificated personnel based upon the progress of pupils towards the standards established pursuant to Education Code section 44662(a) and, if applicable, the state adopted academic content standards as measured by the state adopted criterion referenced assessments; never reduced such evaluations to writing or added the evaluations to part of the permanent records of its certificated personnel; never reviewed with its certificated personnel the results of pupil progress as they relate to Stull Act evaluations; and never made specific recommendations on how certificated personnel with unsatisfactory ratings could improve their performance in order to achieve a higher level of pupil progress toward meeting established standards of expected pupil achievement.
A Minnesota school district must report to the federal government any future allegations of harassment against Somali students as part of a tentative agreement to end a civil rights investigation, the district's superintendent said Monday.
St. Cloud Superintendent Bruce Watkins said all but the final details of the agreement had been reached with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The deal up for board approval Thursday night requires that the district make its schools more welcoming to Somalis; it finds that the district broke no federal rules in handling previous incidents, Watkins said.
An Oklahoma school district is facing a lawsuit for allegedly forbidding organizers of a Christian club from promoting events on campus.
"This is a simple matter of a school district targeting a Christian organization," said Matt Sharp, an attorney representing the "Kids for Christ," a community-led Christian group suing the Owasso Public Schools.
Roll call is a thing of the past in Washington County Schools. Students now check in with finger scanning devices.Wow....
School Superintendent Sandra Cook said the old method just wasn't cutting it.
"We got to talking about attendance in our district and how it was inconsistent," said Cook.
The systems have been up and running for two months inside the schools, but since the majority of students ride the bus every day, district officials decided to move the devices there.
But the transition hasn't been easy. One of the biggest challenges they've faced is where to put the devices on the buses. State safety codes require the isles to be kept completely clear, so one of the ideas they've discussed is to put a laptop on one side of the steering wheel and the finger scan system on the other.
Imagine a world, in which when you teach something to someone the knowledge is considered your "intellectual property". Your students are not permitted to teach the things they have learned from you to anyone else, neither for money, nor even for free.
To become a teacher, one must buy into the guild for a lot of money, inherit rights from someone who was a teacher, or teach something that hasn't been learned from anyone, i.e. something newly invented.
Being a teacher was a very powerful position. Having a monopoly to teach and usually even your own districts to educate exclusively, a teacher could charge any price. Furthermore, teachers even had the right to dictate the purpose and conditions on which the knowledge they taught was allowed to be used.
At the time, Julie Fitzgerald didn't know much about standardized testing or the laws in place that promote it. She just saw her young child crying.
"He was trying to do his math homework, which is a subject he usually enjoyed," she recalled. "He was really struggling, and he put his head down on the counter and started to cry. He said, 'I'm stupid.'"
Fitzgerald learned that her son, then in the second grade, had taken an assessment test that day in school and had become overwhelmed by it. A year later, she has informed Portland school officials in writing that she's opting both of her kids, students at Hall Elementary School, out of standardized testing.
She's one of few parents in Portland to take that step, but represents a local tie to a growing nationwide movement of parents dissatisfied with assessment tests mandated by state and federal education laws.
Since January 2007, I've attempted repeatedly and in myriad ways to persuade Spokane Public Schools' leadership to provide teachers with good math materials so that our children will gain sufficient basic math skills. It's an effort you'd think would be welcome, respected, and relatively painless. Alas.
In 2008, after repeated failed efforts to get a conversation going with the district or with the daily newspaper, I decided to take that conversation public. Thus was born my blog, Betrayed. Shortly after that, I began writing my book, Betrayed: How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What You Can Do about it. The book was published in January 2011, and shortly thereafter, I worked with two professionals to hold public forums in Spokane and talk directly with the people. The district leadership does not appear to appreciate my efforts to inform the people and try to get the children the mathematics they need.
A school district's activities should be an open book to the community that pays for them. My blog, book and advocacy all required thorough and accurate information. Therefore, over these nearly five years of effort, I've had to file public records requests with the district in order to obtain pertinent information that wasn't available in any other venue. For records other than internal district communications, my searches usually went like this:
A face-off on the UC Berkeley campus Tuesday pitted Democrats vs. Republicans, pro-affirmative-action students vs. those favoring race-blind policies, and, ultimately, cupcakes vs. brownies.
None other than former UC Regent and affirmative-action opponent Ward Connerly showed up on Sproul Plaza to help campus Republicans sell frosted cupcakes priced according to the race of the buyer - a stunt intended to mock legislation before the governor that would allow universities to consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions.
Ten Wisconsin senators, from both parties, have joined forces to propose legislation that would require any further expansion of voucher schools to receive a full public debate.
The state's voucher program provides taxpayer funds for families to send their children to private schools. It has served low-income students in Milwaukee for about 20 years, but was expanded by Gov. Scott Walker in the state budget passed in June without public debate or other legislative action.
Also included was language allowing automatic expansion of the voucher program in the future to any school district in Wisconsin that meets certain financial and demographic criteria.
That mechanism isn't sitting well with some senators, including Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah. He introduced SB 174, which ensures that any further expansion of the voucher program would include full public debate and legislative action.
"Sen. Ellis is not an enthusiastic advocate nor is he an opponent of voucher programs. But he's long argued that policy issues should not be added into the budget process and this legislation addresses concerns about automatic expansion without proper debate," says Michael Boerger, an aide to Ellis.
Texas children are fat -- and getting fatter.
It is something state policy makers have known and have struggled to address for years. In the last decade, the Legislature has passed laws that set nutritional standards for school meals, required body mass index screenings for children and adolescents, and instituted physical activity requirements.
The latest effort came during this year's legislative session with a bill passed by Senator Jane Nelson, Republican of Flower Mound, that allows a deeper study of schools' fitness data.
Under the new law, researchers can access unidentified individual student data, which they say will help bolster aggregate analyses that already show correlations between physical fitness and academic performance, gang activity and absenteeism.
A Michigan-based legal group said Monday that it would petition the full U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a three-judge panel's ruling that a San Diego-area teacher does not have the right to display banners that mention God in his classroom.
A three-judge panel of the court ruled last week that Bradley Johnson's right to free speech was not violated when the school district told him to remove the banners from his classroom.
Johnson, a high school mathematics teacher in the Poway Unified School District, had hung banners in his classroom for more than two decades with phrases such as "In God We Trust," "One Nation Under God," and "God Bless America."
But in 2007 the principal of Westview High School in Rancho Penasquitos said the banners' size made them into a "promotion of a particular viewpoint." Johnson took down the banners and filed a federal lawsuit.
High-school teachers in the Spanish capital started a two-day strike Tuesday, disrupting the school days of hundreds of thousands of youths as opposition to sweeping austerity measures starts to harden ahead of general elections this November in the euro zone's fourth-largest economy.
The Madrid protests were echoed by demonstrations across the country against spending cuts on education. Teachers in Galicia, in northwest Spain, have called a strike for later this month. The protests follow close on the heels of a series of rallies called by unions against new constitutional budget controls they say will undermine the social welfare state.
The cuts in education are part of a new round of austerity from regional governments as Spain aims to narrow its budget deficit to 6% of gross domestic product this year, from just over 9% in 2010. Most of the country's 17 regions are now in the hands of the conservative Popular Party. Currently in the opposition at the national level, the Popular Party is widely tipped by opinion polls to win the Nov. 20 elections and oust the incumbent Socialists. If he becomes prime minister, party leader Mariano Rajoy has pledged to follow the example of austerity set by the regions, regardless of any public backlash.
The state wants to end its long-running payments for desegregation programs, but three school districts that receive the money say they need it to continue key programs. And a federal judge has accused the schools of delaying desegregation so they can keep receiving an annual infusion of $70 million.
A federal appeals court will hear arguments Monday from both sides. The judges are expected to decide eventually whether Arkansas still has to make the payments and whether two of the districts should remain under court supervision.
The schools, which serve about 50,000 students, have come a long way since 1957, when the governor and hundreds of protesters famously tried to stop the Little Rock Nine from entering Central High School. But thousands of white and black children still have to be bused to different neighborhoods every day under one of the nation's largest remaining court-ordered desegregation systems.
Now parents are worried about the schools' future, and some are considering enrolling their children elsewhere.
Ohio Governor John Kasich said on Wednesday that an Akron-area mother convicted of felony charges for lying about where she lived to enroll her children in a suburban school district deserves a second chance.
Kelley Williams-Bolar, 41, attracted national attention and drew the support of school-choice advocates after she was convicted and jailed for using her father's address to enroll her two daughters in the higher performing Copley Fairlawn School District instead of the Akron Public Schools.
Kasich, a Republican, reduced Williams-Bolar's two felony convictions to misdemeanors, overruling the state's parole board, which last week rejected a pardon in the case.
At first glance, the ongoing lawsuit between the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and Gannett Newspapers might seem like the Iran-Iraq War, or a Bears-Vikings game -- fans of neither side might wonder if both could lose.
The WIAA, the sanctioning body for Wisconsin high school athletics, sued Gannett after The Post~Crescent live-streamed several football playoff games in 2008. If a media organization wants to broadcast or stream postseason games, it must get the WIAA's permission, pay a fee, and adhere to various other rules:Internet blogs, forums, tweets and other text depictions or references are permitted and are not subject to rights fees unless they qualify as play-by-play (see definition below) or are not in compliance with the media policies of the WIAA. Play-by-play accounts of WIAA Tournament Series events via text are subject to text transmission rights fees.
I just checked the definition of syllabus in the Oxford English Dictionary. It states what I used to assume it meant: "a statement of the subjects covered by a course of instruction or by an examination, in a school, college, etc.; a programme of study." The oldest quotation using the word is from 1656, when it meant something more along the lines of a table of contents or concordance. The best quote, though, is from 1939 and is taken from W. H. Auden's "Commentary" in Journey to War:
"... the young emerging from the closed parental circle, to whose uncertainty the certain years present their syllabus of limitless anxiety and labour."
But I think we may be a little too fond of limiting and certainty. These days syllabi are looking more and more like those Terms of Service that pop up when we use software. You know, the long documents in fine print with a scrollbar that we click through so we can move on. I thought nobody read them, but it turns out the excellent people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation actually track changes to them for us. (The EFF points out that these documents have a sinister side. They are contracts that we can't negotiate, and they contain provisions we might not agree to, if we understood what they actually meant.) But the most striking thing about TOS is that they are full of rules - and very few people read them. So maybe they're not the best model for the syllabus.
Most parents can safely assume that if their kids are at large, they're also online. What they're doing in cyberspace is another matter. With sexting and cyber-bullying in the headlines, a new set of programs is promising to help parents keep track.
Already some 50% of parents have installed software or another monitoring program to keep tabs on their kids' online activities, more than double the parents who had three years ago, according to software company Symantec. But unlike the old offerings, which typically monitor only the home computer, the new programs are specifically aimed at today's hyper-mobile, socially-networked teens. For up to $100 per month, they promise to keep track of online posts and communiqu s that show up on your kid's social networking accounts from wherever a teen sends them -- via a laptop, smartphone or even a friend's iPad. "Parents feel overwhelmed and out-gunned with the level of social media their kids are using," says Caroline Knorr, a spokeswoman for advocacy group Common Sense Media. "These programs can offer a measure of control and supervision."
Textbook pirates have struck again. Nearly three years after publishers shut down a large Web site devoted to illegally trading e-textbooks, a copycat site has sprung up--with its leaders arguing that it is operating overseas in a way that will be more difficult to stop.
The new site, LibraryPirate, quietly started operating last year, but it began a public-relations blitz last week, sending letters to the editor to several news sites, including The Chronicle, in which it called on students to make digital scans of their printed textbooks and post them to the site for free online.
Such online trading violates copyright law, but some people have apparently been adding pirated versions of e-textbooks to the site's directory. The site now boasts 1,700 textbooks, organized and searchable. Downloading the textbooks requires a peer-to-peer system called BitTorrent, and the LibraryPirate site hosts a step-by-step guide to using it.
By putting RFIDs on children and monitoring their interactions over a single day, researchers have produced one of the most detailed analyses ever of the roiling, boiling social free-for-all that is school.
The findings, published August 16 in Public Library of Science One, document the minute-by-minute interactions and locations of 232 children aged 6 to 12 and 10 teachers.
Reconfigured as pulsing network maps and flows of color are the universal experiences of middle school: the between-class rush, playground cliques, snatched hallway conversation and the fifth-graders who are too cool for everyone else.
"We can compare different types of assumptions or modeling with a model that takes into account all interactions," said Alain Barrat, who studies complex networks at the Institute of Scientific Interchange in Turin, Italy.
In the field of Internet policy, 2011 has been the year of privacy. Congress has introduced six bills related to online privacy, and the Obama administration released two major reports recommending greater federal oversight of online markets. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appears poised to step up regulatory activity on this front. State-level activity is also percolating, led by California, which floated two major bills recently.
These efforts would expand regulatory oversight of online activities in various ways. Some measures would institute "Fair Information Practice Principles" (FIPPS), governing the collection and use of personal information online. Others would limit some types data collection, ban certain data or advertising practices, or create new mechanisms to help consumers block online ad-targeting techniques. Another measure would mandate websites adopt a so-called Internet "Eraser Button," which would allow users to purge unwanted personal information from online sites and services.
Questions about what social networks mean for personal privacy and security have been brought to a head by research at Carnegie Mellon University that shows that Facebook has essentially become a worldwide photo identification database. Paired with related research, we're looking at the prospect where good, bad and ugly actors will be able identify a face in a crowd and know sensitive personal information about that person.
These developments mean that we no longer have to worry just about what Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and other social sites do with our data; we have to worry about what they enable others to do, too. And it now seems that others will be able to do a lot.
According to a new study which will be presented August 4 at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, technology has made it possible to identify and gain the personal information of strangers by using facial recognition and social media profiles like Facebook.
The study, led by Alessandro Acquisti from Carnegie Mellon University, combined the use of three different technologies - cloud computing, facial recognition and public information that can be found on various social networking sites.
They used these technologies in three different experiments. In the first experiment, Acquisti and his team were able to identify members of an online dating site where members do not use their real names for identification. The second experiment allowed the research team to identify college students in real life walking on campus based solely on their face and information gathered online.
The head of the USA's second-largest teachers union on Monday said local affiliates will defend the rights of teachers caught up in cheating scandals, including the one now unfolding in Atlanta. But she said cheating "under any circumstances is unacceptable."
Speaking to reporters during the American Federation of Teachers' biannual training conference, Randi Weingarten said the union would "obviously" represent teachers accused of cheating "to make sure that people have some kind of fairness -- and that it's not some kind of witch hunt."
A long-awaited report released last week by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, found teacher- or principal-led cheating in 44 of 56 Atlanta schools investigated. Investigators determined that 178 educators cheated. Of those, 82 confessed.
I was recently contacted by AAA California inviting us to participate in their ACE Teen Program.
This voluntary program provides a GPS tracking device with cellphone uplink that can be placed in your teenager's car. The device is provided by a third party, who also supports a website for convenient access to tracking information.
The alleged goal of the program is to allow parents to provide feedback on their teen's driving habits, esp. when the parents are not in the car. An additional "feature" is an On-Star-like capability that, in the event your teen's car needs AAA assistance, the parent can allow AAA to determine the vehicle's exact location.
I'll ignore the issue of parent/child privacy, since the program doesn't focus on whether the device is in the car with or without the teen's knowledge. Let's assume the latter.
I had a long discussion with AAA about how this program was badly conceived. The risks include:
As Internet giants Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. race to expand their facial-recognition abilities, new research shows how powerful, and potentially detrimental to privacy, these tools have become.
Armed with nothing but a snapshot, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh successfully identified about one-third of the people they tested, using a powerful facial-recognition technology recently acquired by Google.
Only two years ago, Atlanta Public Schools were the toast of the educational establishment. Scores on standardized tests had been rising--skyrocketing, in some cases--for a decade. In February 2009, schools chief Beverly Hall was feted as national superintendent of the year.
Two months later, dozens of Ms. Hall's teachers and principals engaged in the annual ritual required to produce such success: They cheated on the state standardized test.
The difference between 2009 and previous years of cheating (dating back at least as far as 2006, and perhaps 2001) was that reporters at my newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, questioned the schools' remarkable scores on Georgia's Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. Those articles prompted an investigation by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, and this month the devastating final report arrived. It uncovered cheating by adults in 44 schools, covering 1,508 classes--almost all of them serving low-income, minority students.
The head of the USA's second-largest teachers union on Monday said local affiliates will defend the rights of teachers caught up in cheating scandals, including the one now unfolding in Atlanta. But she said cheating "under any circumstances is unacceptable."
Speaking to reporters during the American Federation of Teachers' biannual training conference, Randi Weingarten said the union would "obviously" represent teachers accused of cheating "to make sure that people have some kind of fairness -- and that it's not some kind of witch hunt."
A long-awaited report released last week by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, found teacher- or principal-led cheating in 44 of 56 Atlanta schools investigated. Investigators determined that 178 educators cheated. Of those, 82 confessed.
Montclair High School students will have to get their parents to re-register them and prove they live in Montclair or they won't be allowed back in the classroom when school starts in September.
According to an advisory issued late Thursday afternoon by the Montclair School District, the re-registration is part of an effort to "verify, update and document the residency of all students currently enrolled in the Montclair Public Schools."
The statement, issued by Assistant Schools Superintendent Felice Harrison, said the parents or guardians of all MHS students will be required to fill out registration forms and "submit residency verification documents."
The registration will take place at both the Montclair High School main building at 100 Chestnut St., and the George Inness Annex at 141 Park Street, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. There are no Friday hours.
In 2006, Harvard sociologists struck a mother lode of social-science data, offering a new way to answer big questions about how race and cultural tastes affect relationships.
The source: some 1,700 Facebook profiles, downloaded from an entire class of students at an "anonymous" university, that could reveal how friendships and interests evolve over time.
It was the kind of collection that hundreds of scholars would find interesting. And in 2008, the Harvard team began to realize that potential by publicly releasing part of its archive.
But today the data-sharing venture has collapsed. The Facebook archive is more like plutonium than gold--its contents yanked offline, its future release uncertain, its creators scolded by some scholars for downloading the profiles without students' knowledge and for failing to protect their privacy. Those students have been identified as Harvard College's Class of 2009.
Anne Arundel County schools have not made sufficient progress in eliminating racial bias from its student disciplinary practices, according to a civil rights complaint filed by the NAACP.
The complaint, filed with the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education on Friday, alleges that the numbers of African-American students referred for discipline and suspended have hardly changed since a similar complaint in 2004. That complaint led to an improvement plan agreed to in 2005 by the NAACP and the school system.
"Six years later, however, there has been no marked improvement in the disparate treatment of African-American students in disciplinary actions, which continues a pattern of denial and limitation of their educational opportunities and thus their future sustainability," the new complaint reads
Yesterday, the full court for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued two simultaneous opinions to resolve how much control grade schools and high schools may exercise over their students' off-campus, online speech. In Layshock v. Hermitage School District and J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District, the 14-judge court delivered two landmark victories for free speech, holding that school officials cannot "reach into a child's home and control his/her actions there to the same extent that it can control that child when he/she participates in school sponsored activities." In the cases, two students had been disciplined for creating parody MySpace profiles mocking their respective principals. The Third Circuit held that schools cannot punish students' online speech simply because it is vulgar, lewd, or offensive. In addition to their impact in the grade school and high school settings, these decisions further solidify the robust free speech rights that must be afforded to college students engaging in online speech.
We previously blogged about Layshock and J.S. last year, when separate three-judge panels of the Third Circuit issued contrary decisions despite the very similar facts in the two cases. In Layshock, the Third Circuit had held that a then-senior in high school could not be suspended, placed in a special education class, and banned from extracurricular activities for a parody MySpace profile which described his principal as being a "big steroid freak" and belittled the size of the principal's penis, among other insults. In J.S., a different panel of the Third Circuit had held that a then-middle school honor student could be suspended, without violating the First Amendment, for her MySpace profile. J.S.'s profile parodied her principal as stating, "I love children, sex (any kind), dogs, long walks on the beach, tv, being a dick head, and last but not least my darling wife [a guidance counselor at the school] who looks like a man."
Yale University's decision last month to punish a fraternity that made pledges chant offensive slogans was heralded by some as a blow against sexual harassment in the college setting. But it may be the beginning of a new wave of campus censorship of politically incorrect speech. The reason lies in the relationship between the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which is in charge of enforcing federal antidiscrimination laws on campus, and the ever-growing ranks of campus bureaucracy.
On April 4, 2011, OCR issued a 19-page letter laying out detailed procedures every university in the country must follow in cases involving claims of sexual harassment or sexual assault. A college that fails to follow these guidelines risks an OCR investigation and the loss of federal funding, a devastating blow for many schools. In the case of Yale, for example, OCR has the power to withhold half a billion dollars in federal funds.
A federal judge has halted longtime state payments intended to help integrate three Arkansas school districts, including Little Rock, site of one of the most bitter desegregation fights in U.S. history.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian S. Miller, who oversees the districts' federally ordered desegregation efforts, found the payments were "proving to be an impediment to true desegregation" by rewarding school systems that don't meet their long-standing commitments.
Judge Miller's recent rulings triggered protests by the school districts. But some lawmakers and state officials hailed the decision to shut off the payments, which totaled roughly $1 billion over the past two decades.
Lawyers for Little Rock and the other districts said the loss of as much as $70 million for the year that begins in August would cause budgetary chaos. The state payments amount to about 10% of the Little Rock budget and about 9% for each of the other two districts. The parties have until Friday to seek a stay of the order.
State employee tries to sic IRS on education reform group
A new controversy related to the Madison protests has emerged. This one involves the taxpayer-funded email account of American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin leader and Department of Workforce Development employee William Franks.
For reasons explained below, the Education Action Group submitted an open records request for communications from Frank's taxpayer-funded email account that contained specific, strike-related key words.
Upon receipt of the records, EAG discovered that a state attorney allowed Franks to fill the open records request himself. That means he might have been free to turn over the entries he cared to include and delete other entries. Not only that, but the state attorney told Franks that "if you have personal email that contains those specified words in the request, please send copies of those to me, so we can discuss this further." That sounds like one bureaucrat helping another skirt the law and avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.
As I've mentioned before, I graduated from law school over $150,000 in debt. As many of you know, I haven't exactly paid all of that money back. Not making payments that first year was all my fault. I wanted to get married, didn't have a credit card, and was using money that should have been going to my loans to finance my wedding.
After that first year, things got a little out of hand. My debt was being sold, the monthly payments were outrageous, and I wasn't really paying a lot of attention to the situation during the few times when I was both awake and not billing hours. Then I quit my law firm job, hilarity ensued, and I woke up one day with a credit rating below 550.
I've been paying the minimum balances to various collection agencies since 2007 or so. Whatever. My hopes for paying it off or owning property pretty much rest on my ability to hit the lotto. Most likely, I'll die still owing money for law school. And that will be the story of me.
"They're ready," Matthews said afterward, "to do whatever it takes."Much more on John Matthews, here. Madison Teachers, Inc. website and Twitter feed.
After 43 years as executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., Matthews is in the spotlight again after encouraging a four-day sick-out that closed school in February. The action allowed teachers to attend protests at the Capitol over Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to curb collective bargaining by public employees. The matter remains in the courts, but it prompted a hasty contract negotiation between the district and union.
Teachers aren't happy about some of the changes, and Matthews is preparing for a street fight.
"It's going to get down and dirty," Matthews said, alluding to the possibility of more job actions, such as "working the contract" - meaning teachers wouldn't work outside required hours - if the School Board doesn't back off changes in the contract. "You can't continually put people down and do things to control them and hurt them and not have them react."
Moreover, the latest battle over collective bargaining has taken on more personal significance for Matthews, whose life's work has been negotiating contracts.
In response, Superintendent Nerad directed West to start providing honors courses in the fall of 2010. West staff protested, however, and Nerad retracted the directive.Much more on the Madison parents complaint to the Wisconsin DPI, here.
Community members sent another petition in July, 2010-this time signed by 188 supporters-again calling for multiple measures of identification and advanced levels of core courses for 9th and 10th graders at West. This time there was no response but silence.
In the meantime, Greater Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire told us: "The law is there for a reason. Use it."
So, after years of trying to work with the system, we filed a formal complaint with the DPI in September, 2010. Little did we know what upheaval the next months would bring. In October, the district administration rolled out its College and Career Readiness Plan; teachers at West agitated, and students staged a sit-in. In February, our new governor issued his reform proposal; protesters massed at the Capitol, and school was called off for four days.
In the meantime, the DPI conducted its investigation. Though our complaint had targeted West for its chronic, blatant, willful violations, the DPI extended its audit to the entire Madison School District.
As the mother of a special needs child and as someone who works professionally with individuals with disabilities, I support Assembly Bill 110, the Special Needs Scholarship Act. The bill would allow the small group of parents whose children's needs cannot be met by their school district to pursue an appropriate education for their children, just as any parent would want to do.
It is a sad fact that some school districts across this state fail to provide special needs students with the education they require due to lack of funding/resources, specialized training and sometimes willingness. In these few cases, the scholarships would help move these children into a program that meets their needs and prepares them for success.
Our family lives in the Racine Unified School District. We removed our son from the district when he was 3 due to inappropriate, undocumented, unapproved and sustained restraint by teachers at his school. (In 2007, the Journal Sentinel reported on the case, with the state Department of Public Instruction echoing concerns about the school's use of restraint. Following an investigation, the DPI determined that teachers in the district had improperly used restraint.)
The Madison School District failed to follow state law when it denied the Wisconsin State Journal access to more than 1,000 sick notes submitted by teachers who didn't show up for work in February, according to a lawsuit filed by the newspaper Thursday.
The lawsuit, filed in Dane County District Court, asks the court to force the district to release the notes under the state's open records law, which requires government agencies to release public documents in most circumstances.
The lawsuit says the sick notes are public records because the public has a special interest in knowing how governments discipline employees, who are ultimately responsible to the public.
"We can't know if things were dealt with appropriately if we can't see the underlying documents on which decisions were made," said April Rockstead Barker, the newspaper's lawyer.
Dylan Pauly, a School District lawyer, declined comment until she had a chance to review the lawsuit.
It was sheer luck that thugs showed up at Yang Libing's house while he was away. Mr. Yang, if you've had a chance to watch our report (below), is the father whose baby daughter was forcefully taken away from him by corrupt officials looking to profit by handing children over to adoption agencies. He was running late that morning, and what ended up happening was a rather awkward uncertainty as our team and these thugs looked at each other. They knew we were from Al Jazeera. I don't know how they knew that. They had been driving around searching specifically for us. They stood there and sized us up. In the end, the men sauntered away, ambivalent about the situation themselves. Had Mr. Yang been there, I imagine they would have stayed, their very presence meant to unnerve the person we hoped to interview. I must say we are often saved by the fact that many of the "Black Audi" types don't really understand how television newsgathering is conducted. Perhaps they believed we would also saunter off after a time, given the absence of Mr. Yang. We did not walk away, of course, but waited until he returned to speak to him.
When the government gathers or analyzes personal information, many people say they're not worried. "I've got nothing to hide," they declare. "Only if you're doing something wrong should you worry, and then you don't deserve to keep it private."
The nothing-to-hide argument pervades discussions about privacy. The data-security expert Bruce Schneier calls it the "most common retort against privacy advocates." The legal scholar Geoffrey Stone refers to it as an "all-too-common refrain." In its most compelling form, it is an argument that the privacy interest is generally minimal, thus making the contest with security concerns a foreordained victory for security.
The nothing-to-hide argument is everywhere. In Britain, for example, the government has installed millions of public-surveillance cameras in cities and towns, which are watched by officials via closed-circuit television. In a campaign slogan for the program, the government declares: "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear." Variations of nothing-to-hide arguments frequently appear in blogs, letters to the editor, television news interviews, and other forums. One blogger in the United States, in reference to profiling people for national-security purposes, declares: "I don't mind people wanting to find out things about me, I've got nothing to hide! Which is why I support [the government's] efforts to find terrorists by monitoring our phone calls!"
School districts across the state are being asked to release the names of teachers who called in sick during protests in February at the Capitol, a move that led to closures for a day or more in many districts.
It's unclear how many of the state's 424 districts received requests, but several conservative groups have made public records requests for teacher names. Most districts have released them.
But the Madison School District denied several requests, saying the release could risk the safety of teachers and students, and disrupt morale and the learning environment in schools.
And the s, the state's largest teachers union, used a similar argument in asking a La Crosse County judge to quash the release of teacher names in the La Crosse and Holmen districts.
The judge recently blocked the release of names in Holmen and may rule soon on the La Crosse case.
In October, after months of anxiety, Caroline Barwick and her husband, Russell Huerta, celebrated the arrival of their son Sebastian's third birthday. It was the day the San Francisco Unified School District became legally responsible for addressing Sebastian's severe autism.
Ms. Barwick and Mr. Huerta met with school clinicians to discuss their son's education and treatment. But the meeting did not go as they had hoped -- the district offered Sebastian fewer than half of the therapeutic services recommended by three private doctors and did not offer a choice of schools.
"You're reeling from what's already been a tragic diagnosis," Ms. Barwick said, "then it's almost like you're slapped across the face."
The couple took legal action against the district. Last week, an administrative law judge criticized the district for its handling of the case and ordered it to reimburse Sebastian's parents for about $55,000 they spent on his therapy and education during the dispute.
Ms. Barwick and Mr. Huerta are part of a growing number of parents of special-needs children who are battling the school district over federally mandated support. The stakes are high. The district is facing a $25 million budget shortfall, and the types of intensive services in dispute can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars per child.
There is not always agreement on what constitutes appropriate treatment. Disputes between the district and parents are initially addressed in Individualized Education Program meetings, and sometimes in hearings involving lawyers.
Thirteen legal actions -- called requests for due process -- were filed against the district in the first three quarters of this fiscal year. There were just five during the same period last year. Some families and lawyers believe the district is taking a more aggressive approach toward special-needs cases to hold down costs.
"In a perfect world with unlimited resources we could provide every single family everything they want," Maribel S. Medina, the district's head legal counsel, said in an interview.
More than 6,000 students with physical, emotional or developmental disabilities attend San Francisco public schools. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, passed by Congress in 1990, requires school districts to provide those children from age 3 with a "free and appropriate education."
Rachel Norton, a San Francisco Board of Education commissioner who pays for her autistic daughter to attend a private school because she could not find an appropriate placement in the district, said school officials often weighed what would cost less: settling with families or litigating over services. "We have a lot of disputes, we spend a lot of money and we have terrible outcomes," Ms. Norton said.
In September, independent auditors commissioned by the district to evaluate special education services found that parents and teachers frequently complained of children being placed in programs that did not serve their needs. "Many parents view 'special education office' staff who attend I.E.P. meetings as being obstructionists and more interested in controlling costs for the district than making sure that children receive the supports they need in order to succeed in school," the auditors wrote in their final report.
Cecelia Dodge, assistant superintendent of special education, said at the time that school administrators agreed with the auditors' findings and promised to revamp special education services districtwide.
But some parents and lawyers involved in special-needs cases said the district had only gotten more restrictive in allocating services.
"They really developed a policy that they felt that they were settling cases too easily," said Michael Zatopa, a lawyer whose firm is handling Sebastian's case and has worked on special-education disputes for three decades.
Education officials said the district had increased training and supervision across the special education department, including clinical staff who help determine placement and student services. They said the district had also placed more restrictions on offering special-needs students placement in private schools.
"I have no doubt that they are seeing a major shift in the district's approach to special education, but it's a good shift," said Ms. Medina, the district's chief legal counsel.
Since Ms. Barwick's and Mr. Huerta's first meeting with the district in October, they have been engaged in an emotionally and financially draining battle over Sebastian's education. They have exhausted nearly all of their savings on therapy, private school tuition and legal fees.
Sebastian didn't start talking until he was well past 2. His progress was short-lived; a month later, he stopped using words, his vocabulary replaced by grunts and other noises. He repeatedly opened and closed doors, fixated on his shadow and detached from those around him. Specialists diagnosed autism and recommended Applied Behavior Analysis therapy -- which focuses on the relationship between a child's behavior and environment -- for 30 hours a week and a one-to-one aide in a mainstream preschool classroom.
Before meeting with the district, Ms. Barwick, who is an insurance underwriter, and Mr. Huerta, who works for a software start-up, asked three times to visit the district's programs for children with autism but said their requests were ignored. At the October meeting, they said, district representatives dominated the discussion and failed to make a formal placement offer, as mandated by federal law and the California education code.
In subsequent mediations, the district was represented by the Southern California law firm of Leal and Trejo, which advocated for the district's proposal: less than half the weekly therapy hours recommended by outside experts and a classroom assignment in which Sebastian would not be accompanied by an aide.
Mr. Huerta said that throughout the process, the couple felt stonewalled by a "juggernaut law firm-combo-school district."
Gentle Blythe, a district spokeswoman, said the district "takes its obligation to offer services seriously, and we evaluate each child to determine" the appropriate level of education. District officials declined to talk specifically about Sebastian's case.
Ms. Barwick described the district's offer as: "Your kid has autism, you get package A."
Negotiations dragged on for months as Ms. Barwick's and Mr. Huerta's expenses mounted. Mr. Zatopa, their lawyer, said the case was similar to others in which Leal and Trejo showed an uncommon willingness to litigate even when the evidence appeared to be stacked high against the district.
"I call it the gauntlet approach," Mr. Zatopa said. "Make things difficult and expensive, and the parents will give up, and in many cases that's true."
William Trejo, a lawyer and a former special education teacher who has represented the district on several special-needs disputes, said in an interview that private lawyers representing the families often prolong the legal process to generate fees.
"When we have to come in at the back end of problems on a litigation track, that's when the money is not put to best use," he said.
Sebastian's case came before an administrative law judge in March. In last week's ruling, the judge, Michael Barth, criticized the rationale for putting the couple and their child through the seven-month ordeal. "It is clear from the evidence that district had predetermined student's placement and denied parents meaningful participation in the decision-making process," Judge Barth wrote. In addition to covering the couple's legal fees, the district is required to arrange 30 hours of therapy a week and an aide for Sebastian.
On Father's Day three years ago, biologist Jonathan Eisen decided he'd like to republish all his father's papers. His father, Howard Eisen, a biologist and a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, had published 40-some-odd papers by the time that he died by suicide at age 45. That had been in Febuary 1987, while Jonathan, a sophomore at college, was on the verge of discovering his own love of biology. At the time, virtually all scientific papers were just on paper. Now, of course, everything happens online, and Jonathan, who in addition to researching and teaching also serves as an editor for the open-access, online-only journal PLoS Biology, knows this well. So three years ago, Jonathan decided to reclaim his father's papers from print limbo and make them freely available online. He wanted to make them part of the scientific record. He also wanted, he says, "to leave a more positive presence" -- to ensure his father had a public legacy first and foremost as a scientist.
There are tons of reasons why people don't take the medications they've been prescribed, including side effects, cost and complicated drug regimens.
A couple of different approaches to improving adherence are in the news today. The first is Script Your Future, a multi-year public-education campaign spearheaded by the National Consumers League and supported by health-industry companies, government agencies, nonprofits and others.
It's aimed chiefly at patients with diabetes, respiratory diseases including asthma and cardiovascular disease, all of which affect big swaths of the U.S. population and can be particularly troublesome when not treated correctly. The campaign emphasizes the consequences -- such as poor health and quality of life -- that can spring from skipping meds.
An Illinois lawmaker says parents who have obese children should lose their state tax deduction.
"It's the parents' responsibility that have obese kids," said state Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga. "Take the tax deduction away for parents that have obese kids."
Cultra has not introduced legislation to deny parents the $2,000 standard tax deduction, but he floated the idea Tuesday, when lawmakers took a shot at solving the state's obesity epidemic.
With one in five Illinois children classified as obese and 62 percent of the state's adults considered overweight, health advocates are pushing a platter of diet solutions including trans fat bans and restricting junk food purchases on food stamps.
Today, the Senate Public Health Committee considered taxing sugary beverages at a penny-per-ounce, in effect applying the same theory to soda, juices and energy drinks that governs to liquor sales. Health advocates say a sin tax could discourage consumption, but lawmakers are reluctant to target an industry supports the jobs of more than 40,000 Illinoisans.
"It seems like we just, we go after the low-hanging fruit, where its easy to get," said state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford. He said the state needs to form a comprehensive plan to address physical fitness and disease prevention, rather than taking aim at sugary drinks.
A public school district in Mississippi and the federal government are divided over whether the schools are complying with a desegregation order that dates back to the civil rights era.
The Justice Department has asked a judge to order the Cleveland Public School District "to devise and implement a desegregation plan that will immediately dismantle its one-race schools," but an attorney for the district said it has been following the latest order and sends the federal government updates on its integration attempts.
Connecticut school officials cannot be held liable for their decision to discipline a student for an Internet posting she wrote off school grounds, a federal appeals court ruled Monday as it defended the leeway given school administrators who act reasonably when confronted with dilemmas that test the boundaries of what is Constitutionally protected.
The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan sided with Burlington, Conn., school officials after they punished Avery Doninger by preventing her from serving as class secretary as a senior.
Doninger sued the administrators at Lewis B. Mills High School, saying her free speech and equal protection rights were violated after she distributed the 2007 posting criticizing administrators for canceling a popular school activity. A lower judge had twice ruled school officials were entitled to immunity.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit agreed.
The American Civil Liberties Union and its Rhode Island affiliate are urging federal justice officials in Washington to investigate the lockup of truants at the state Training School.
The ACLU has asked officials in the U.S. Justice Department -- who are scheduled to arrive in Rhode Island Tuesday -- to investigate "documented evidence" published in a December 2010 Providence Journal article that showed, since 2005, at least 28 youths from the state Family Court's truancy program had been detained overnight.
The Journal article described how juveniles who attended weekly truancy hearings in classrooms, cafeterias and school offices around the state were declared in criminal contempt of court and sent to the Training School. Their offenses included not answering a magistrate's questions, swearing or otherwise acting disrespectful. In one case, a 12-year-old girl was ordered held for two nights for slamming a door on her way out of the room. At the time, the girl had no parent or lawyer present.
Take Google, for example - like WPP it has sited its European headquarters in Dublin although it most of its European revenues are generated outside Ireland - from the UK and other large EMEA economies such as Germany.Jeremy Bowers @ ycombinator
The internet giant doesn't pay 12.5% corporate tax in Ireland, it pays 20%. But that figure is not the interesting one. The interesting figure is the gargantuan "administrative expense" that reduces its gross profit from €5.5bn to just €45m.
Grant Thornton tax accountant Peter Vale, who works with multinationals in Dublin says the corporate tax rate of 12.5% may not be a critical factor for companies like Google.
The search engine is using Ireland as a conduit for revenues that end up being costed to another country where its intellectual property (the brand and technology such as Google's algorithms) is registered. In Google's case this country is Bermuda, according to an investigation by Bloomberg last year.
Vale points out that Bermuda is likely to be happy to receive tax revenues from such a huge company, saying: "To them, the 12.5% probably doesn't matter."
The 2009 Google Ireland Limited accounts show the company turned over a phenomenal €7.9bn in Europe for the year ending 2009 - up from €6.7bn the previous year.
Part of the problem is that the American distrust of intellectualism is itself not the irrational thing that those sympathetic to intellectuals would like to think. Intellectuals killed by the millions in the 20th century, and it actually takes the sophisticated training of "education" to work yourself up into a state where you refuse to count that in the books. Intellectuals routinely declared things that aren't true; catastrophically wrong predictions about the economy, catastrophically wrong pronouncements about foreign policy, and just generally numerous times where they've been wrong. Again, it takes a lot of training to ignore this fact. "Scientists" collectively were witnessed by the public flipflopping at a relatively high frequency on numerous topics; how many times did eggs go back and forth between being deadly and beneficial? Sure the media gets some blame here but the scientists played into it, each time confidently pronouncing that this time they had it for sure and it is imperative that everyone live the way they are saying (until tomorrow). Scientists have failed to resist politicization across the board, and the standards of what constitutes science continues to shift from a living, vibrant, thoughtful understanding of the purposes and ways of science to a scelerotic hide-bound form-over-substance version of science where papers are too often written to either explicitly attract grants or to confirm someone's political beliefs... and regardless of whether this is 2% or 80% of the papers written today it's nearly 100% of the papers that people hear about.In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy:
I simplify for rhetorical effect; my point is not that this is a literal description of the current state of the world but that it is far more true than it should be. Any accounting of "anti-intellectualism" that fails to take this into account and lays all the blame on "Americans" is too incomplete to formulate an action plan that will have any chance of success. It's not a one-sided problem.
"Google was Obama territory [during the campaign], and vice versa. With its focus on speed, scale, and above all data, Google had identified and exploited the key ingredients for thinking and thriving in the Internet era. Barack Obama seemed to have integrated those concepts in his own approach to problem solving. Naturally, Googlers were excited to see what would happen when their successful methods were applied to Washington, D.C. They were optimistic that the Google worldview could prevail outside the Mountain View bubble. ... [A]nyone visiting the Google campus during the election year could not miss a fervid swell of Obama-love. While some commentators wrung hands over the Spock-like nature of the senator's personality, Googlers swooned over the dispassionate, reason-based approach he took to problem solving. ... 'It's a selection bias,' says Eric Schmidt of the unofficial choice of most of his employees. 'The people here all have been selected very carefully, so obviously there's going to be some prejudice in favor of a set of characteristics - highly educated, analytic, thoughtful, communicates well.' ...Via Mike Allen.
"[O]ne of the company's brightest young product managers, Dan Siroker [the Chrome browser], ... got permission to take a few weeks off. ... At [Obama] campaign headquarters in Chicago, Siroker began looking at the web efforts to recruit volunteers and solicit donations. ... [H]e returned to Google to help launch Chrome. But over the July 4 weekend, he went back to Chicago to visit the friends he'd met on the campaign. Barack Obama walked through headquarters, and Siroker was introduced to him. He told the senator he was visiting from Google. Obama smiled. 'I've been saying around here that we need a little more Google integration.' That exchange with the candidate was enough to change Siroker's course once more. Back in Mountain View, he told his bosses he was leaving for good. He became the chief analytics officer of the Obama campaign. ...
"Just as Google ran endless experiments to find happy users, Siroker and his team used Google's Website Optimizer [tool for testing site content] to run experiments to find happy contributors. The conventional wisdom had been to cadge donations by artful or emotional pitches, to engage people's idealism or politics. Siroker ran a lot of A/B tests and found that by far the success came when you offered some sort of swag; a T-shirt or a coffee mug. Some of his more surprising tests came in figuring out what to put on the splash page, the one that greeted visitors when they went to Obama2008.com. Of four alternatives tested, the picture of Obama's family drew the most clicks.
"Even the text on the buttons where people could click to get to the next page was subject to test. Should they say, SIGN UP, LEARN MORE, JOIN US NOW, or SIGN UP NOW? (Answer: LEARN MORE, by a significant margin.) Siroker refined things further by sending messages to people who had already donated. If they'd never signed up before, he'd offer them swag to donate. If they had gone through the process, there was no need for swag - it was more effective to have a button that said PLEASE DONATE. ... There were a lot of reasons why Barack Obama raised $500 million online to McCain's $210 million, but analytics undoubtedly played a part."
The FTC on Google's "deceptive tactics" and violation of its own privacy rules.
Google Inc. has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers when it launched its social network, Google Buzz, in 2010. The agency alleges the practices violate the FTC Act. The proposed settlement bars the company from future privacy misrepresentations, requires it to implement a comprehensive privacy program, and calls for regular, independent privacy audits for the next 20 years. This is the first time an FTC settlement order has required a company to implement a comprehensive privacy program to protect the privacy of consumers' information. In addition, this is the first time the FTC has alleged violations of the substantive privacy requirements of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, which provides a method for U.S. companies to transfer personal data lawfully from the European Union to the United States.Finally: Massive Offshore Tax Giveaway supported by Senators Kohl & Feingold:
"When companies make privacy pledges, they need to honor them," said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. "This is a tough settlement that ensures that Google will honor its commitments to consumers and build strong privacy protections into all of its operations."
According to the FTC complaint, Google launched its Buzz social network through its Gmail web-based email product. Although Google led Gmail users to believe that they could choose whether or not they wanted to join the network, the options for declining or leaving the social network were ineffective. For users who joined the Buzz network, the controls for limiting the sharing of their personal information were confusing and difficult to find, the agency alleged.
As mentioned here, I, too, would like the 5.25% tax rate that our good Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl supported (to repatriate foreign profits via a one year tax break). Timothy Aeppel looks at the results:Tom Foremski:But it's far from clear whether the spending has spurred the job growth that backers of the break touted.
A law signed by President Bush shortly before the 2004 election allows companies to transfer profit from overseas operations back to the U.S. this year at a special low tax rate of 5.25%. Businesses often keep such funds outside the country in part to avoid paying taxes in the U.S., where the effective rate on repatriated profit for many companies is normally closer to 25%. Backers said the measure would provide an incentive to companies to invest those funds in U.S. operations.
Most companies using the break have offered only broad outlines for how they intend to use their windfall. For the most part, they say they are using the bulk of the money for tasks such as paying down debt and meeting payrolls. Direct job creation rarely appears on the list.
Why do countries and cities and states try to attract tech companies such as Google when they don't want to support the local community tax base?Well worth Reading: John Mauldin: The Plight of the Working Class and Ed Wallace: What's that Whining Sound?
Twitter, for example is trying to get out of paying San Francisco payroll taxes.
Yet the Obama administration believes that innovation from companies like Google and Twitter will help build jobs and provide the wealth to eliminate US deficits. Other governments have similar hopes.
That's a highly optimistic view and one that's not supported by the actions of those companies who seek the best deals they can get, and use every loophole to get out of paying a share of their profits to the communities where they live and work.
This influence peddling at the highest levels is not unique to Google, or to the private sector for that matter. MG & E's lobbying is another example where funds, generated from a large rate base (the general public), are spread to a few politicians. Facebook's privacy problems and cellular user tracking are also worth following.
Madison Urban League President Kaleem Caire 13mb .mp3 audio file. Notes and links on the Urban League's proposed IB Charter school: Madison Preparatory Academy. Caire spoke in favor of SB 22.
Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad 5mb .mp3 audio file. Nerad spoke in opposition to SB 22.
Madison School Board Member Marj Passman 5mb .mp3 audio file. Passman spoke in opposition to SB 22.
Much more on SB 22 here.
Well worth listening to. Watch the hearing here.
Latest tests show voucher scores about same or worse in math and reading.Susan Troller:
Students in Milwaukee's school choice program performed worse than or about the same as students in Milwaukee Public Schools in math and reading on the latest statewide test, according to results released Tuesday that provided the first apples-to-apples achievement comparison between public and individual voucher schools.
The scores released by the state Department of Public Instruction cast a shadow on the overall quality of the 21-year-old Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which was intended to improve results for poor city children in failing public schools by allowing them to attend higher-performing private schools with publicly funded vouchers. The scores also raise concerns about Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to roll back the mandate that voucher schools participate in the current state test.
Voucher-school advocates counter that legislation that required administration of the state test should have been applied only once the new version of the test that's in the works was rolled out. They also say that the latest test scores are an incomplete measure of voucher-school performance because they don't show the progress those schools are making with a difficult population of students over time.
Statewide, results from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam show that scores didn't vary much from last year. The percentage of students who scored proficient or better was higher in reading, science and social studies but lower in mathematics and language arts from the year before.
Great. Now Milwaukee has TWO failing taxpayer-financed school systems when it comes to educating low income kids (and that's 89 per cent of the total population of Milwaukee Public Schools).Matthew DeFour:
Statewide test results released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction include for the first time performance data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which involves about 110 schools serving around 10,000 students. There's a total population of around 80,000 students in Milwaukee's school district.
The numbers for the voucher schools don't look good. But the numbers for the conventional public schools in Milwaukee are very poor, as well.
In a bit of good news, around the rest of the state student test scores in every demographic group have improved over the last six years, and the achievment gap is narrowing.
But the picture in Milwaukee remains bleak.
The test results show the percentage of students participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program who scored proficient or advanced was 34.4 percent for math and 55.2 percent for reading.Only DeFour's article noted that voucher schools spend roughly half the amount per student compared to traditional public schools. Per student spending was discussed extensively during last evening's planning grant approval (The vote was 6-1 with Marj Passman voting No while Maya Cole, James Howard, Ed Hughes, Lucy Mathiak, Beth Moss and Arlene Silveira voted yes) for the Urban League's proposed Charter IB School: The Madison Preparatory Academy.
Among Milwaukee Public Schools students, it was 47.8 percent in math and 59 percent in reading. Among Milwaukee Public Schools students coming from families making 185 percent of the federal poverty level -- a slightly better comparison because voucher students come from families making no more than 175 percent -- it was 43.9 percent in math and 55.3 percent in reading.
Statewide, the figures were 77.2 percent in math and 83 percent in reading. Among all low-income students in the state, it was 63.2 percent in math and 71.7 percent in reading.
Democrats said the results are evidence that the voucher program is not working. Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, the top Democrat on the Assembly Education Committee, said voucher students, parents and taxpayers are being "bamboozled."
"The fact that we've spent well over $1 billion on a failed experiment leads me to believe we have no business spending $22 million to expand it with these kinds of results," Pope-Roberts said. "It's irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars and a disservice to Milwaukee students."
Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who is developing a proposal to expand the voucher program to other cities, took a more optimistic view of the results.
"Obviously opponents see the glass half-empty," Vos said. "I see the glass half-full. Children in the school choice program do the same as the children in public school but at half the cost."
The union representing teachers in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District sued the district Monday over their collective bargaining negotiations.
According to the complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court, the union said the district "bargained in bad faith" and proposed non-negotiable contract changes including removal of just cause for discipline and discharge, total district discretion of work hours, elimination of seniority protections, elimination of fair share union dues, modifications/freezes on salary schedules and elimination of compensatory time off.
The district also proposed, according to the complaint, that the School Board be the final step in the grievance procedure as opposed to having a third-party arbitrator as the current agreement states.
The Washington State Court of Appeals has reversed an earlier decision in King County Superior Court that found Seattle's choice of a new high-school math series was arbitrary and capricious.Much more on the Seattle Discovery Math lawsuit, here.
The appellate court found no basis for the Superior Court's conclusion in February 2010 that the Seattle School board "was willful and unreasoning in coming to its decision" when it chose the Discovering Math series of textbooks for algebra and geometry in high school math.
The school district has been using the series since the start of the 2009 school year.
Some parents have criticized the Discovering Math series, saying it is inferior to other series and that its emphasis on verbal descriptions makes it difficult for some students to understand, especially those for whom English is a second language.
Evan Camp's frustration had built up to the point where he couldn't shed it even by feverishly cleaning his house.
To him, all the talk about education reform seemed to be about punishing teachers, especially the part about tying teacher pay to test scores.
So Camp, a middle school science teacher in Greenwood, started jotting down thoughts as he cleaned one Saturday afternoon. Soon, he had enough material to write a tome for beleaguered teachers that would become an open letter to Gov. Mitch Daniels and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.
As the director of The Cartel documentary, one of the things I learned was how poorly the traditional news media cover issues pertaining to children, in that case corruption in public education. Since the film's release, I often get contacted about other aspects of child protection that I would have never imagined -- stories that don't seem to get attention elsewhere. Like this.
What you're about to read hasn't been reported anywhere, and when it was brought to my attention, I could hardly believe it.
It turns out that the company sporting the motto "don't be evil" has been asking parents nationwide to disclose their children's personal information, including Social Security Numbers, and recruiting schools to help them do it -- all under the guise of an art contest. It's called, "Doodle-4-Google," a rather catchy, kid-friendly name if I do say so myself. The company is even offering prize money to schools to enlist their help with the promotion. Doesn't it sound like fun? Don't you want your kid to enter too?
Not even Ferris Bueller himself could have gotten around this one: A six-week pilot program by California's Anaheim Union High School District is testing the use of technology to combat tardiness amongst the district's seventh- and eighth-grade population.
How it works is fairly simple. Students with four or more unexcused absences in a year--approximately 75 are enrolled in the Anaheim test--are given handheld GPS devices instead of detentions or prosecutions. To make sure that said students are in school when they should be, the students are required to check in using the devices during five preset intervals: When they leave for school in the morning, when they arrive at school, lunchtime, when they leave school, and at 8 p.m. each day.
And if that's not enough, students in the program also receive a phone call each and every day to tell them that it's time to get up and get to school. An adult coach also calls the students three times per week to check up and discuss different methods the students can employ to ensure that they're where they should be at any given point during the day.
Beginning March 1, public schools in Madison and across the state will be constrained in their ability to dispense medication to students and respond to health emergencies.
"Our options are now limited," says Freddi Adelson, the Madison district's health services coordinator.
The changes, crafted by the state Department of Public Instruction and passed by the Legislature last year, set stricter rules for dispensing medications at school than current district policy.
For instance, Madison schools now let school nurses dispense acetaminophen or ibuprofen to the students of parents who give written permission. The new rules say schools can dispense only medications
A long-simmering dispute between the state and parents who prefer to teach their children at home is being renewed.
The House Education Committee has scheduled for Tuesday hearings on three bills on home schooling in its largest room, the House chamber. Legislation regulating home schooling has drawn large crowds over the years.
Last month, a divorced couple who couldn't agree on how to educate their daughter took the fight to the state Supreme Court. The court is being asked if parents have a constitutional right to home school their kids. In this case, the father objected to his wife's strict Christian teachings and wants their daughter taught at public schools. The mother prefers home schooling.
Home schooling advocates say they want less regulation over what they argue is a parent's right.
Tony Brown didn't set out to overhaul his college's policies on intellectual property. He just wanted an easier way of tracking local apartment rentals on his iPhone.
The University of Missouri student came up with an idea in class one day that spawned an iPhone application that has had more than 250,000 downloads since its release in March 2009. The app created by Brown and three other undergraduates won them a trip to Apple headquarters along with job offers from Google and other technology companies.
But the invention also raised a perplexing question when university lawyers abruptly demanded a 25 percent ownership stake and two-thirds of any profits. Who owns the patents and copyrights when a student creates something of value on campus, without a professor's help?
A Dane County jury has awarded $1 million to a former Madison couple who claimed therapists created in their daughter false memories of childhood sexual and physical abuse.
Jurors early Sunday found two of the three therapists who treated Charlotte Johnson in the early 1990s professionally negligent, said attorney Bill Smoler, who represented her parents, Dr. Charles and Karen Johnson.
The couple, now of St. Louis, had been accused by their daughter of being Satanists and incest perpetrators. Charlotte Johnson had come to believe that her father had raped her at age 3, that her mother had come after her with a knife and tried to drown her, and that the family dabbled in cults and infanticide, said Smoler, who termed the alleged memories "outrageous."
Ethics complaints have been filed against two West Bend School Board members over their actions during the recent debate over a charter school proposed by a local Baptist pastor.
The full board is scheduled to hear and possibly act on the complaints at a meeting Monday after the district's attorney, Mary Hubacher, determined that the board members might have violated board policies if the allegations prove true. Hubacher recommended against board hearings on three other complaints, which involved the same board members.
In one of the complaints to be heard, School Board member David Weigand is accused of violating the School District's ethics policy by writing a letter to the editor published in a local newspaper that supported the charter school while the board was still deliberating whether to approve it.
The other complaint to be discussed at the hearing was filed against School Board member Tim Stepanski alleging he broke district policy regarding ethics, employee harassment and e-mail communications based on his e-mail correspondence with a constituent and district officials regarding the proposed charter school.
An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.
Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.
Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.
"She got pulled into it. She doesn't have to be a bad person to be searched," Smithwick's father, Joe Smithwick, said.
The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.
"It's just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple," he said.
A 17-year-old honor student says she has been kicked off campus for the rest of the school year, because of a mix-up with her lunch box.
In October, senior Ashley Smithwick says she got in trouble at school for the first time in her life after she mistakenly took her father's lunch container -- that's identical to hers -- to Southern Lee High School.
Her dad's container had a three-inch paring knife inside.
"And I had just grabbed my dad's lunch box," Smithwick said. "I didn't mean to. I really didn't. I just grabbed it and went out the door."
School leaders say during that day a faculty member discovered a student with marijuana on campus and Smithwick's paring knife was found during a random search.
According to a written statement received by ABC11 from Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss on Wednesday, the knife was found in Smithwick's purse, not her lunchbox.
When a student dies, the bill for his student loans often lives on - to the painful surprise and dismay of his co-signers. New Senate legislation seeks to change that, by requiring lenders to make clear the obligations of co-signers in the event of death.
Introduced yesterday, the "Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act," sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), is the culmination of a multi-year battle fought by the Bryski family, profiled by the Journal in August. In July 2006, Christopher Bryski died at the age of 25, after an accident left him with a brain injury that put him in a persistent vegetative state for two years. Today, his parents continue to make monthly payments on the $44,500 in private student loans that Mr. Bryski took out to attend Rutgers University. The legislation introduced yesterday would require lenders to provide students and parents with more information about what happens to loans in the event of death.
A first round of student loan and financial reform legislation already passed this year but did not address what happens to private student loans in the event of a student death. Federal student loans can generally be discharged if a student dies or becomes permanently disabled. But private student lenders, such as Sallie Mae, Citibank and Wells Fargo, are not required to discharge loans in the event of death or disability, leaving co-signers, typically parents, on the hook for the balance. Two years ago, Christopher's brother, Ryan Bryski, began talking to lawmakers about a bill. It's an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act and the Higher Education Act of 1965.
School officials across the country are revisiting "zero-tolerance" disciplinary policies under which children are sometimes arrested for profanity, talking back to teachers or adolescent behavior that once would have been resolved in meetings with parents. The reappraisals are all to the good given that those who get suspended or arrested are more likely to drop out and become entangled in the criminal justice system permanently.
The New York City Council clearly had this link in mind when it passed a new law earlier this week that will bring long overdue transparency to the school disciplinary process. Under the Student Safety Act, which takes effect in 90 days, the New York Police Department's school security division will be required to provide clear and comprehensive data that show how many students are arrested or issued summonses at school and why. School officials will also have to provide similarly detailed information on suspensions.
In 1991, Charlotte Johnson dropped a bomb on her parents. She accused her father, Charles Johnson, of sexually abusing her. Two years later she accused her mother, Karen Johnson, of being complicit in the sexual abuse and of being physically abusive to her. The abuse, she believes to this day, happened when she was a young child.
The painful memories, buried deep in Johnson's subconscious, surfaced in adulthood.
Charles and Karen Johnson, of St. Louis, say the abuse never happened and that mental health treatment providers encouraged and fostered false memories of abuse.
In 1996 the Johnsons sued Rogers Memorial Hospital, where their daughter was admitted for treatment. They also sued Heartland Counseling Services in Madison, Madison therapist Kay Phillips, Oconomowoc therapists Jeff Hollowell and Tim Reisenauer, and the defendants' insurers. The lawsuit has crept through the legal system for more than 14 years, including two trips to the state Supreme Court.
It looks like Big Brother wants to put an end to child care fraud in Wisconsin.
The state has approved a $1 million pilot program to install fingerprint scanners in child care centers to combat fraud in the Wisconsin Shares subsidy program. It's the kind of cutting-edge technology already in use at airports and some hospitals for security purposes.
Although many Americans are concerned about technology's encroaching threats to their privacy, that doesn't seem to apply when it comes to black children in Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin Shares program was ripped off for millions of dollars by some corrupt child care providers who used state funds meant for poor children and families to line their own pockets.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Pulitzer Prize-winning series "Cashing in on Kids" pulled the covers off much of the abuse, including shoddy oversight by state bureaucrats that allowed the scandal to happen.
Superintendent Daniel Nerad School Board President Maya Cole School Board Members Ed Hughes, James Howard, Lucy Matthiak,Clusty Search: Chris Ahmuty.
Beth Moss, Marjorie Passman & Arlene Silveira, and
Student Representative Wyeth Jackson
Madison Metropolitan School District
545 W Dayton St
Madison WI 53703-1967
RE: Opposition to Single Sex Charter School
Dear Superintendent Nerad, President Cole, and School Board Members:
We are writing on behalf of the ACLU of Wisconsin to oppose the proposal for an all-male charter school in Madison. Single sex education is inadvisable as a policy matter, and it also raises significant legal concerns.
The performance problems for children of color in Madison public schools cross gender lines: it is not only African-American and Latino boys who are being failed by the system. Many students of color and low income students - girls as well as boys - are losing out. Further, there is no proof that separating girls from boys results in better-educated children. What's more, perpetuating gender stereotypes can do nothing more than short-change our children, limiting options for boys and girls alike. For these reasons, the ACLU of Wisconsin opposes the effort to open a single-sex, publicly-funded charter school in Madison.
To be clear: the ACLU does not oppose the idea of providing a public charter school with a rigorous academic program and supplemental resources as an alternative to existing school programs in the Madison district. And we strongly encourage efforts to ensure that programming is available to children in underserved communities. Were this an effort to provide an International Baccalaureate program to both boys and girls in Madison - such as the highly- rated, coeducational Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, whose students are predominantly low-income children of color - we would likely be applauding it.
Much more on the proposed IB Charter School Madison Preparatory Academy, here.
Parents can take their children's public schools to court to force educators to provide the minimum amount of physical education required by state law, the California Court of Appeal ruled in Sacramento on Tuesday, which could spell trouble for a lot of state schools.
California's education code requires elementary schools to offer 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days, an amount that rises to 400 minutes in middle or high schools, not including lunch or recess. A small-scale survey of state schools a few years ago found more than half failed to provide the required minutes of physical activity.
On November 29, 2010, the Madison School District responded to a request for information from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) about Madison's services for talented and gifted students.
The DPI initiated an audit of Madison's talented and gifted programming after West High School area parents filed a complaint on September 20, 2010, arguing that West refuses to provide appropriate programs for ninth and tenth grade students gifted in language arts and social studies. West requires all freshmen and sophomores to take regular core English and history courses, regardless of learning level.
(All three of Madison's other comprehensive high schools-East, LaFollette, and Memorial-provide advanced sections of core subjects before 11th grade. East and LaFollette offer advanced and/or honors sections starting in ninth grade, while Memorial offers English 10 honors and AP World History for tenth graders.)
As part of a Small Learning Community Initiative phased in over the past decade, West implemented a one-size-for-all English and social studies program to stop different groups of students from following different courses of study. Some groups had typically self-selected into rigorous, advanced levels while others seemed stuck in more basic or remedial levels. Administrators wanted to improve the quality of classroom experience and instruction for "all students" by mixing wide ranges of ability together in heterogeneous classrooms.
IT BEGAN with a traffic violation. Last March Jessica Colotl, a 21-year-old political-science major at Kennesaw State University, was arrested for "impeding the flow of traffic". Cobb County authorities, who participate in a federal immigration-law enforcement programme, found that Ms Colotl was in the country illegally. She had entered with her parents when she was 10. She graduated from high school with an A average, and wanted to become a lawyer. Instead she will probably be deported in the spring, after she graduates.
And if Tom Rice gets his way, there will be no more Jessica Colotls. In October Georgia's Board of Regents, which oversees the state's public universities, banned illegal immigrants from the state's five most popular universities, and said that they cannot be admitted to the other 30 ahead of qualified legal residents, having found 501 undocumented students among the 310,000 enrolled in Georgia's public universities. For Mr Rice, a Republican state representative, this was not enough; he pre-filed a bill with the state's Assembly that would ban all illegals from public universities. If it passes when the legislature convenes in January (and it stands a good chance), Georgia will join South Carolina as the only states with such a ban.
It's been a rough week in Madison schools, with the first degree sexual assault of a student in a stairwell at East High School and an alleged mugging at Jefferson Middle School.
The sexual assault occurred on Thursday afternoon, according to police reports. The 15-year-old victim knew the alleged assailant, also 15, and he was arrested and charged at school.
On Wednesday, two 13-year-old students at Jefferson allegedly mugged another student at his locker, grabbing him from behind and using force to try to steal his wallet. The police report noted that all three students fell to the floor. According to a letter sent to Jefferson parents on Friday, "the student yelled loudly, resisted the attempt and went immediately to report the incident. The students involved in the attempted theft were immediately identified and detained in the office."
The mugging was not reported to police until Thursday morning and Jefferson parents did not learn about the incident until two days after the incident. When police arrived at school on Thursday, they arrested two students in the attempted theft.
Parents at East were notified Thursday of the sexual assault.
Luis Yudice, Madison public schools safety chief, said it was unusual for police not to be notified as soon as the alleged strong arm robbery was reported to school officials.
The AJC asked Attorney General Thurbert Baker to determine whether the district's denial in July of a request for the report was a criminal violation of the Georgia Open Records Act.
The newspaper's complaint calls the district's refusal to produce the report a "willful and premeditated violation."
"The purpose of the Open Records Act is to prevent government officials from burying information in this way," said Tom Clyde, an AJC attorney.
District spokesman Keith Bromery said Friday that officials were reviewing the complaint and would not comment.
The complaint comes amid federal and state probes into the falsification of hundreds of Atlanta students' scores, with dozens of GBI agents questioning teachers and administrators at schools across the district.
MPS is in the throes of an alternative to suspensions - Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS.
According to the Milwaukee Public Schools, the goal of PBIS is to "reduce classroom disruptions and student suspensions through a schoolwide systematic three-tiered response-to-intervention (RTI) approach." PBIS looks like adults in the school community offering positive verbal redirection and modeling positive conduct. The point: to teach students about positive behavior.
Some of the nearly 100 MPS schools that use the PBIS system this academic year have reported successes. Fewer suspensions are being reported. That's good news, right? Superintendent Gregory Thornton believes that "Finding ways to keep students in school instead of suspending them improves their chances of learning and improving academically," which minimizes disruptions and keeps kids in class.
Illegal immigrants in California may continue to pay the lower in-state fees at public colleges and universities, the state's top court ruled Monday, a decision that saves them as much as $23,000 year.
The case was closely watched by several other states, including New York and Texas, which have similar laws that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition. California residents technically pay no tuition to attend public colleges and universities, but instead pay fees that are the equivalent of tuition.
California's legislature in 2001 passed a law that let nonresidents attend state colleges at the in-state rate if they, among other things, attended a California high school for at least three years.
At University of California institutions the in-state fee is about $12,000 a year, and the out-of-state rate is $35,000. Students at California State University schools pay an in-state fee of about $5,000 a year, compared an out-of-state rate of roughly $13,000.
Arrowhead High School will pay for girls lacrosse and alpine skiing programs following an investigation by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, according to documents provided to the Journal Sentinel.
It was the second such major investigation into how the Waukesha County high school treats the athletic interests of boys and girls, protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, in the last four years.
According to an Oct. 29 letter from Jeffrey Turnbull with the OCR's Chicago office, the federal government concluded "that the District is not currently fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of its girls."
The Supreme Court on Wednesday returned to a subject that produced a major and closely divided decision eight years ago: how far may the government go in aiding religious schools?
In 2002, in a 5-to-4 ruling, the court upheld a school voucher system in Cleveland that parents used almost exclusively to pay for religious schools.
Four new justices have joined the court since then, but there was nothing in Wednesday's arguments to suggest that the issue has become any less polarizing.
The program at issue on Wednesday gives Arizona taxpayers a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit of up to $500 for donations to private "student tuition organizations." The contributors may not designate their dependents as beneficiaries. The organizations are permitted to limit the scholarships they offer to schools of a given religion, and many do.
Facebook Inc. said that a data broker has been paying application developers for identifying user information, and that it had placed some developers on a six-month suspension from its site because of the practice.
The announcement, which Facebook made on its developers' blog Friday, follows an investigation by Facebook into a privacy breach that The Wall Street Journal reported in October.
Civil libertarians are raising privacy concerns about a plan by Boston public schools to issue cards to students that could be used for a variety of services from riding the bus, to borrowing library books, to accessing meal programs.
Carol Rose, executive director of the state American Civil Liberties Union, says she's concerned that information from the cards' use could be used to track students, given to law enforcement agencies, or even for commercial purposes.
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted to wait on more information from the attorney general on what they can do to force districts to follow a law about scholarships for special needs children.
The Oklahoma State Board of Education took no action after spending more than a half-hour Thursday discussing four Tulsa-area school boards that have voted not to enforce a new state law.
House Bill 3393, also known as the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program, allows the parents of special education students to receive scholarships from their public school to enroll their student in private school. The bill was signed into law during the last session and took effect Aug. 27.
The Union, Bixby, Broken Arrow and Jenks school districts have voted not to give scholarships to parents who have requested them, stating the law is in direct conflict with the Oklahoma Constitution.
The city's teachers' union said on Wednesday that it would request a restraining order to prevent education officials from releasing reports that rate thousands of city teachers based on how much progress students made on state standardized tests.
The release of the reports, if a judge does not block it, would propel New York City to the center of a national debate about how student test scores should be used to evaluate teachers and whether news media organizations should release the ratings of teachers to the public as a measure of their performance. The reports include the names of teachers and their schools.
The city's public school principals have received the reports for the past two years, and last year, they were instructed to use them in teacher evaluations and tenure decisions. But education officials have repeatedly refused to make the reports public because of an agreement with the teachers' union and because of concerns that their release could compromise student privacy. Several news media organizations, including The New York Times, requested their release.
The state's highest court will rule in coming months on the tug-of-war over power and money that pits seven school districts against the state in a fight over local control. The case has already raised a question about fair play.
Ties between Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias and Mike Bowers, attorney for Gwinnett County Public Schools, the lead district in the case, have some in education circles asking about a possible conflict of interest. Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general, is Nahmias' election campaign committee's co-chairman and contributed $1,000 to his election bid on Aug. 1, finance disclosures show.
A committee Bowers chaired in 2009 recommended Nahmias, 46, the former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, for his seat on the state Supreme Court. Nahmias appeared on the short list of candidates the Judicial Nominating Commission sent to the governor when former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears stepped down.
Tanya Lawler was taken aback. Her daughter, returning from West High's homecoming dance on Sept. 25, mentioned that students were randomly selected to take a breath test as they arrived, to see if they'd been drinking.
While her daughter was not tested, Lawler considers this a "violation of Fourth Amendment rights" because officials lacked probable cause to suspect the people being tested. Her son attended La Follette's homecoming dance, held the same night, and reported that no testing was done there.
In fact, West is the only high school in Madison that has a formal written policy (PDF) regarding student dances, and the only one that randomly tests students as they enter using "a passive alcohol detection device." Students and a parent must sign a form agreeing to these rules.
Lawler, who doesn't remember this form, advised her daughter to refuse this test. "I would rather forfeit the price of the ticket and have her call me. I'd say, 'No, they're not going to violate your rights.'"
A group of West High parents have filed a complaint concerning the perceived lack of sufficient gifted and talented programming as mandated by state statute.Much more on the complaint here.A group of 50 parents in the West High School attendance area has asked state education officials to investigate whether the Madison School District is violating state law by denying high-achieving students access to the "talented and gifted" programming parents say they deserve.I have heard similar complaints expressed by MG parents. (Some of which are addressed by recent changes to the high school science curriculum for freshman and sophomores. )
In a Sept. 20 complaint to the state Department of Public Instruction made public Tuesday, the parent group argued that freshmen and sophomores at West have limited opportunities for advanced English, biology and social studies classes
High Expectations For All Students is the Way to Beat the Achievement Gaps Simpson Street Free Press editorial Chantal Van Ginkel, age 18Note: Madison West High School has not had honors classes in 9th and 10th grade for several years. (The only exception to that is the historically lone section of Accelerated Biology, which some West teachers have repeatedly tried to get rid of.) Not only that, but Madison West High School is the only Madison high school that does not have any honors/advanced/accelerated classes in English and Social Studies in 9th and 10th grade. All West 9th and 10th grade students are expected to take regular English 9 and 10 and regular Social Studies 9 and 10, in completely heterogeneous (by ability) classes.
Historically, Madison West High School has not had a spotless regard regarding race relations. Before and during the 1990's, the school was accused by some of segregation. Most white students had their lockers on the second floor, while most minority students used lockers on the ground floor.
To the school's credit, changes in policies have greatly improved a once hostile environment. Some of these changes include getting rid of remedial classes, and implementing SLC's or Small Learning Communities.
A more recent change, however, has sparked controversy and heated debate. Madison West High School plans to largely eliminate honors classes. This is part of an attempt to provide equal opportunity for all students by homogenizing their classroom experience.
At one time, this might have been a good step toward desegregation of West's student body. It is not a good idea now.
To some extent, enrollment in honors courses of all Madison high schools is racially segregated. Affluent students and white students take advanced courses much more frequently than other students.
But in my opinion, the lack of more rigorous courses is a problem. It is a problem for all students at West. Many parents, students and some faculty share this sentiment.
Recently, a petition signed by over a hundred West attendance area parents requested that 9th and 10th grade honors classes be reinstated. When Superintendent Nerad took steps to make this, some members of the West High teaching staff spoke up. They asserted that honors classes are racist. The project to reinstate advanced course offerings for West's freshmen and sophomores was then abandoned.
Honors classes, in and of themselves, are not inherently racist. Rather, the expectation that only certain students will take these classes is the problem. The fact that too many minority students end up in remedial courses is racist, but eliminating rigorous courses is not the answer.
As writers for this newspaper have said many times, the real racism is the cancer of low expectations. High expectations for all of our students is how we will beat the achievement gaps in local schools. Low expectations will only make our problem worse.
Note: The petition mentioned by the author -- the one requesting honors classes in English and Social Studies in 9th and 10th grade -- has now been signed by almost 200 current, past and future West community members.
Pennsylvania's Tunkhannock Area School District has settled a lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of NN, a student whose mobile phone was searched by her principal. The principal dug through several screens' worth of menus to discover some partial nude photos of NN, as well as a blurry full nude that NN had intended for her long-term boyfriend. This may or may not have been advisable, but I'm with NN and the ACLU: it wasn't the principal's place to go digging through her phone for the pix. And the principal certainly shouldn't have done what he did next: turn the photos over to the DA's office for criminal prosecution (you see, the principal believed that in taking pictures of herself, a minor, NN became a child pornographer).
The school district settled for $33K (which sounds like the ACLU's legal fees), and another suit against the DA remains ongoing. As a result of the settlement, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association is developing guidelines for searching students' phones.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made it sound so simple that day in 2007, when he and four other members of the Supreme Court declared that this city's efforts to desegregate its schools violated the Constitution.
"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race," Roberts wrote, "is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."
But life has been anything but simple for school officials here. They have steadfastly - or stubbornly, depending on the point of view - tried to maintain integrated classrooms despite the court's command that officials not consider race when assigning children to schools.
Consultants were hired, lawyers retained, census data scrubbed, boundaries redrawn, more buses bought, more routes proposed, new school choices offered and more lawsuits defended.
The Board discussed the issue. Individual members expressed concern about the 3% cap, suggesting that this wasn't the way for us to deal with the open enrollment issue. I was one of those who spoke against the proposal. The Board voted unanimously to support the other two proposed changes to WASB policy, but not the 3% cap. This amounted to a unanimous rejection of the 3% limit. (A video of the Board meeting can be found here. The WASB discussion begins about 48 minutes in.)Much more on outbound open enrollment and the Madison School Board here.
From the Board's perspective, the endorsement of the proposal regarding financial stability wasn't seen as one that had much bearing on our district. But we'd like support from other districts on our push for a fiscally neutral exchange of state dollars, and so we were willing to support proposals important to other districts, like this one, as a way of building a coalition for fresh consideration of open enrollment issues by the WASB.
The "financial stability" proposal certainly wasn't intended by us as a dagger to the heart of the open enrollment policy; I don't suppose that it was ever the intent of the legislators who supported the open enrollment statute that the policy could render school districts financially unstable.
The State Journal never reported that the Board rejected the 3% cap proposal. It ran letters to the editor on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that all seemed premised on the assumption that we had in fact supported such a cap. The Wednesday letter said in part, "[T]he Madison School District's answer to its shortcomings is to build a Berlin wall, preventing students from leaving." From the Thursday letter, "Unfortunately, instead of looking inward to address the problems and issues causing flight from Madison schools, the School Board would rather maintain the status quo and use the coercive force of government to prevent its customers from fleeing for what they think is a better value." From Friday's letter: "So the way you stem the tide of students wanting to leave the Madison School District is to change the rules so that not so many can leave? That makes perfect Madison School Board logic." (The State Journal also ran a letter to the editor on Friday that was more supportive of the district.)
I'm glad Ed continues to write online. I continue to have reservations about the "financial stability" angle since it can be interpreted (assuming it becomes law.... what are the odds?) any way the Board deems necessary. Further, I agree with Ed that there are certainly more pressing matters at hand.
A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy has found that popular children's websites install more tracking technologies on personal computers than do the top websites aimed at adults.Check your Google "preferences" here.
The Journal examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what tracking tools they installed on a test computer. As a group, the sites placed 4,123 "cookies," "beacons" and other pieces of tracking technology. That is 30% more than were found in an analysis of the 50 most popular U.S. sites overall, which are generally aimed at adults.
The most prolific site: Snazzyspace.com, which helps teens customize their social-networking pages, installed 248 tracking tools. Its operator described the site as a "hobby" and said the tracking tools come from advertisers.
Starfall.com, an education site for young children, installed the fewest, five.
The research is part of a Journal investigation into the expanding business of tracking people's activities online and selling details about their behavior and personal interests.
The tiny tracking tools are used by data-collection companies to follow people as they surf the Internet and to build profiles detailing their online activities, which advertisers and others buy. The profiles don't include names, but can include age, tastes, hobbies, shopping habits, race, likelihood to post comments and general location, such as city.
The Houston school board plans to vote Thursday on a stricter conflict of interest policy that would apply to all employees, rather than just higher-paid administrative staff. The proposal would forbid all employees from accepting any "gift, favor, loan, service, entertainment or anything of more than token value" from any HISD vendor or someone seeking to do business with the district. Allowed are coffee mugs, key chains, caps and other "trinkets."
Employees also are prohibited from accepting meals exceeding $100 in a year from any vendor or prospective vendor. Employees must report meals that exceed $50 per year. In addition, employees must report to the district any personal financial or business interests that "in any way creates a substantial conflict with the proper discharge of assigned duties and responsibilities or that creates a conflict with the best of the District."
HISD's current conflict of interest policy is similar except that it applies only to administrative employees above pay grade 14. (I'm checking with the district on that salary amount.) Ann Best, the district's chief human resources officer, told the school board Monday that the change was designed to ensure "that we're holding every single person accountable to the same standard."
Officials with Contra Costa County's Head Start program were frustrated. In order to meet federal requirements, they had to take attendance every hour.
These and other administrative tasks were taking up a lot of teachers' time - between one and three hours a day per teacher - and using up a lot of the program's limited funds.
We sympathize with their pain. An hourly attendance requirement is indeed burdensome, and it's a useless distraction from the very important work that Head Start does - preparing low-income preschoolers for school. But we can't support what those officials did next, which was to implement a microchip tracking program for those very young children.
The suit alleges that more than 30 districts require students and their families to pay for books and other basic supplies that are supposed to be provided at no cost.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Friday for allowing school districts to charge students for books, uniforms, classes and other basic supplies.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that more than 30 districts require students and their families to pay for basic supplies that are supposed to be provided at no cost. Districts cited in the lawsuit include Beverly Hills, Burbank and Long Beach.
The Los Angeles Unified School District was not named in the suit, although "we have heard anecdotal reports about Los Angeles," Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California, said at a morning news conference.
This is an era in which many devices are watching us. We carry about wireless phones that tell our service providers exactly where we are. Surveillance cameras blink down from corners and storefronts. Advertisers follow us effortlessly around the Internet. Still, plans in Contra Costa County, Calif., to tag preschoolers with radio frequency identification chips to keep track of their whereabouts at school seem to go too far.
The concern that school officials would use the ID chips to keep tabs on children's behavior -- and tag them perhaps as hyperactive or excessively passive -- seems overwrought. County officials point out that the tags will save money and allow teachers to devote less time to attendance paperwork and more time to their students. And the chips, which will be randomly assigned to different children every day, according to a county representative, will not carry personal information that could be intercepted by others.
Computerworld - Another student this week sued the suburban Philadelphia school district embroiled in allegations of spying on high schoolers using their school-issued laptops.
The lawsuit is the second aimed at the Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa., which was first accused of spying on students by Blake Robbins and his parents, Michael and Holly Robbins, of Penn Valley, Pa. TheRobbins sued the district in February, after Blake was accused by a Harriton High School official of "improper behavior in his home" and shown a photograph taken by his laptop.
A report conducted by an investigator hired by the district later concluded that the cameras had snapped more than 30,000 photographs when school personnel triggered software designed to locate lost, missing or stolen laptops. The report blamed the district's IT staff for the fiasco, saying that a former head of the department had dismissed earlier concerns about privacy violations if the software was used.
In a ruling by California's chief justice nominee, a state appeals court has barred a school district from drug testing all students in extracurricular activities such as choir, the school band and Future Farmers of America.
The Shasta Union High School District in Northern California began the testing in 2008, saying the prospect of being disqualified from a favorite after-school activity would discourage youths from using drugs or alcohol.
The district noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that random drug tests of all students in extracurricular programs did not violate the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches.
Students of Verona High School, cast aside your name tags; you are no longer subject to the tyranny of instant identification.
Conceding defeat after only a year, school officials have abandoned a requirement that students wear their ID cards. Compliance with the rule had never reached more than 85 percent.
Eighty-five percent is pretty good in most things, but we're dealing with identity here. Would you trust an online retailer that could protect your credit card number only 85 percent of the time? Airport screening that stopped 85 percent of the people on the terrorist watch list?
Of course, forcing students to wear their IDs isn't meant to thwart a terrorist plot, and while the IDs are used to check out books at the library and get on the bus, adorning yourselves with them is not necessary to do either of those things.
School officials in Pennsylvania's Lower Merion School District will not face criminal charges for activating a tracking feature on school-issued webcams that allowed them to capture about 56,000 images of unsuspecting students and their families at home.Remarkable.
Federal prosecutors said today that they will not file charges against the district or its employees, according to an Associated Press report. Investigators found no evidence of criminal intent by those who activated the feature and/or reviewed the images.
Also today, the district announced new policies for its One-to-One laptop program. In a statement, the district explained the new policies and emphasized how it would be allowed to activate the tracking feature in the future. The district wrote:
Under pressure from state public health officials, the professors behind UC Berkeley's controversial plan to genetically test incoming freshmen and transfer students said Thursday they will scale back the program so that participants will not receive personal results from their DNA samples.
The university raised the ire of genetic watchdog and privacy groups in May when it first launched "Bring Your Genes to Cal." The voluntary program is believed to be the largest genetic testing project at a U.S. university.
The 5,500 incoming freshman and transfer students for the fall semester received testing kits in the mail and were asked to submit cheek swabs of their DNA to kick off a yearly exercise to involve the new students in a common educational experience centered on a theme. This year's theme is personalized medicine.
Students were to receive personal information about three of their genes - those related to the ability to break down lactose, metabolize alcohol and absorb folates. This information was to be the basis of lectures and discussions on such topics as the ethical, social and legal interpretations of genetic testing.
But what was meant to be a group educational exercise turned into a lesson for the university on the politics and policy of medical testing.
The program was the subject of a state Assembly committee hearing on Tuesday in Sacramento. On Wednesday, officials from the state Department of Public Health said the university must use certified laboratories that meet specific standards, rather than the campus labs, if the school planned to release individualized test results, identified only by barcodes, to students.
"The California Department of Public Health made the determination that what we're doing isn't really actual research or education; that what we're doing is providing medical information, conducting a test," said Dr. Mark Schlissel, dean of biological sciences at UC Berkeley's College of Letters & Science and a professor of molecular and cell biology.
Schlissel said he disagreed with that assessment, but said the university will comply with state regulators. UC officials have asked the Department of Public Health to provide legal authority for its interpretation.
The university still plans to analyze the DNA samples in a campus research lab, but students will not have access to their personal results. Instead, the test results will be presented in aggregate to students during lectures and panel discussions this fall.
Schlissel said the controversy and intervention by state regulators has raised interesting questions for the discussions. "Who has authority to tell an individual what they're allowed to know about themselves?" he said. "I don't know the answer to that."
About 700 students have already submitted their samples.
Critics had raised questions about how the genetic information, even seemingly innocuous, could be misinterpreted or misused. For example, students who learn they metabolize alcohol well may mistakenly think they can overindulge without consequence.
Jeremy Gruber, who testified at Tuesday's hearing before the Assembly Committee on Higher Education in his role as president of the Council for Responsible Genetics, still has lingering concerns about how the samples will be handled and whether students had the proper amount of information before offering consent to provide them.
"The fact it required the intervention of the Department of Public Health before they would act in the best interest of their students is absolutely appalling," he said.
UC Berkeley officials have said the university will incinerate the samples after they are tested in the next few weeks. Jesse Reynolds, policy analyst at the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, had opposed the university's program primarily over privacy concerns and what he considered the lack of research into the implications of such a mass experiment.
He said restricting students from receiving information about their personal genetics essentially cancels the "personalized medicine" aspect of the program. He said that although students signed consent forms to participate as part of submitting their DNA samples, he is concerned they have now signed consent forms for what is to be a different program.
"Genetic testing in general and personalized medicine specifically are likely to be an increasing part of our lives," Reynolds said. "More education is certainly needed, but this was not the way to go about it."
In a 1963 Supreme Court opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren observed that "the fantastic advances in the field of electronic communication constitute a great danger to the privacy of the individual." The advances have only accelerated since then, along with the dangers. Today, as companies strive to personalize the services and advertisements they provide over the Internet, the surreptitious collection of personal information is rampant. The very idea of privacy is under threat.
Most of us view personalization and privacy as desirable things, and we understand that enjoying more of one means giving up some of the other. To have goods, services and promotions tailored to our personal circumstances and desires, we need to divulge information about ourselves to corporations, governments or other outsiders.
This tradeoff has always been part of our lives as consumers and citizens. But now, thanks to the Net, we're losing our ability to understand and control those tradeoffs--to choose, consciously and with awareness of the consequences, what information about ourselves we disclose and what we don't. Incredibly detailed data about our lives are being harvested from online databases without our awareness, much less our approval.
In the next year or so, the market for statins may get a further boost.
The National Cholesterol Education Program, the group that drafted the 2001 and 2004 guidelines on statin use, is expected to update its treatment recommendations. In doing so, the group will decide whether to suggest the broad use of statins for healthy patients with high readings of a marker for inflammation called C-reactive protein.
If the group does urge statins for these healthy individuals, at least 6.5 million new patients could sign up for long-term statin use.
Internet companies such as Facebook and Google have come in for repeated criticism in Germany, where the government has concerns about what they do with users' data. Now one state, worried about the amount of information young people reveal online, plans to teach school pupils how to keep a low profile on the web.
Many of Facebook's 2 million users in Germany are young people who might not give a second thought to posting pictures of themselves and their friends skinny-dipping or passed out at parties. Unfortunately, being casual with one's data also has its risks. After all, potential employers also know how to use social networking tools.
Now the government of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, recognizing that young people are not always aware of the dangers of revealing personal information on the Internet, is planning to teach school students how to deal with the Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
"Our goal is to convey that the Internet doesn't only offer chances and opportunities, but also has risks that students should understand in order to exercise autonomy with regards to digital media," said North Rhine-Westphalia's media minister, Angelica Schwall-Düren, in an interview with the Thursday edition of the regional newspaper WAZ.
Educators in the Marshall School District properly determined that a student with a genetic disease was no longer eligible for special education and related services, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, released Monday, reversed a lower court's ruling that relied heavily on a doctor's opinion and discounted the testimony of the student's special education gym teacher.
Barbara Sramek, Marshall superintendent, said the ruling's implications extend far beyond one school district.
"This was not about money, it was about principle," she said. "Ultimately, it reinforces the value of educators and professional development."
In his much-discussed recent Wall Street Journal op ed, Virginia Senator James Webb makes some good points about affirmative action and race, but also some key mistakes and omissions. On the plus side, Webb's article highlights the contradictions between the "diversity" and compensatory justice rationales for affirmative action. He also correctly suggests that slavery and segregation inflicted considerable harm on southern whites as well as blacks; it is therefore a mistake to view these injustices as primarily a transfer of ill-gotten wealth from one race to another. On the negative side, Webb is very unclear as to his own position on affirmative action. He also seems to blame racism and the historic economic backwardness of the South on the machinations of a small elite. The reality was more complicated. Low-income southern whites were often much more supportive of racism and segregation than economic elites were, and Jim Crow might have been less virulent without their support.Clusty Search: James Webb, Ilya Somin.
I. Competing Rationales for Affirmative Action.
One of Webb's best points is that affirmative action has resulted in preferences for groups that cannot claim to be victims of massive, systematic injustices inflicted in the United States:
The first finding of the Audit Report is "The Seattle School District did not comply with state law on recording meeting minutes and making them available to the public". Id., p. 6. The auditor found: "We determined the Board did not record minutes at retreats and workshops in the 2008 - 2009 school year. Id. These retreats and workshops were held to discuss the budget, student assignment boundaries, school closures and strategic planning". [Emphasis Supplied] Id., p. 6. The school board's decisions regarding student assignment boundaries and school closures are the subject of the Commissioner's ruling denying review in the Briggs and Ovalles discretionary review proceedings and in this original action.Related: Recall drive for 5 of 7 Seattle School Board members.
The Auditor described the effect of these violations to be: "When minutes of special meetings are not promptly recorded, information on Board discussions is not made available to the public". Id., p. 6. The Auditor recommended "the District establish procedures to ensure that meeting minutes are promptly recorded and made available to the public." Id., p. 6. The District's response was: "The District concurs with the finding and the requirement under OPMA that any meeting of the quorum of the board members to discuss district business is to be treated as a special or regular meeting of the OPMA." Id. p. 6. Thus, the school board admits the Transcripts of Evidence in the Ovalles and Briggs appeals contains no minutes of the discussions relating to student assignments and school closures, even though the law required otherwise. Additionally, there is no indication of what evidence the school board actually considered with regard to the school closures and the new student assignment plan at retreats and workshops devoted to these specific decisions.
The fifth finding of the Auditor's Report was: "5. The School Board and District Management have not implemented sufficient policies and controls to ensure the District complies with state laws, its own policies, or addresses concerns raised in prior audits". Id., p. 25. In a section entitled "description of the condition" the report states: "In all the
areas we examined we found lax or non-existent controls in District operations. ..." Id., p. 25. With regard to the Open Meetings Act the Auditor noted continuing violations of state law and that "the District did not develop policies and procedures to adequately address prior audit recommendations." Id, at p. 27.
New research paints a decidedly mixed picture when it comes to mandatory drug testing for high school students trying out for sports or other extracurricular activities: While testing seems to reduce self-reported drug use in the short term, it has virtually no effect on teens' plans to use drugs in the future.
A U.S. Department of Education study, out today, surveyed students at 36 high schools that got federal grants to do drug testing. Half of the schools had already begun testing for marijuana, amphetamines and other drugs; the other half had not.
Breach of contract action focuses on written contract requiring divorced father to cover daughter's school costs until age 25
It's not news that some children, especially as they hit their teenage and college years, don't get along with their parents. But even experienced attorneys say it's rare when the disagreements grow to a point where litigation is required.
So consider the odd case of Dana Soderberg, who went to court to force her father to live up to a deal to pay her tuition at Southern Connecticut State University. Hamden family lawyer Renee C. Berman handled the lawsuit for Soderberg.
Trying to put the finishing touches on a series of education policy victories in the recently concluded legislative session, Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law a hotly debated plan to let local schools seek waivers from a range of state rules and regulations.
But as soon as the ink was dry on House Bill 1368, one of the state's major teachers unions delivered on its promise to challenge the act as unconstitutional.
The teachers group wants a Baton Rouge district court to rule that the Legislature cannot abdicate its law-making authority by effectively allowing the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to pick and choose which laws local schools have to follow.
The new program topped Jindal's K-12 education agenda for the session that ended June 21. The governor pitched waivers as a way to give schools more flexibility, much like public charter schools that have proliferated in New Orleans and elsewhere since Hurricane Katrina.
Google announced today that it was moving domains for its encrypted search from https://www.google.com to https://encrypted.google.com.There is certainly a message in this change.
In May Google launched an encrypted version of its Web search, allowing users to enable a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection to encrypt their information as they searched.
As ReadWriteWeb reported, this move ran afoul of some school districts' web filtering requirements, forcing them to possibly block access to other parts of the Google secure domain.
Colorado education officials have been ignoring a law intended to "flag" the arrests of teachers and then alert all school districts and charter schools across the state, a Coloradoan investigation has found.
The 2008 law requires the Colorado Department of Education to issue an alert every time a licensed educator is ar-rested. The arrest information is provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
But a Coloradoan investigation shows CDE officials have largely ignored the law since it was passed, arguing that they didn't have enough money to implement it. Within days of the Coloradoan inquiring about the situation, CDE officials said they planned to start following the law. They couldn't provide a specific timeline.
A U.S. appeals court heard arguments Thursday over whether school officials can discipline students for making lewd, harassing or juvenile Internet postings from off-campus computers.
Two students from two different Pennsylvania school districts are fighting suspensions they received for posting derisive profiles of their principals on MySpace from home computers. The American Civil Liberties Union argued that school officials infringe on student's free speech rights when they reach beyond school grounds in such cases to impose discipline.
"While children are in school, they are under the custody and tutelage of the school," ACLU lawyer Witold Walczak argued Thursday in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "Once they leave the schoolhouse gate, you've got parents that come into play."
The District's Appeal Brief is in -- A link to the appeal is shown on the lower left.Much more on the initial, successful rollback of Seattle's Discovery Math program here
The Seattle School District's first brief in its appeal of Judge Spector's decision was filed on Friday. To me, it is not surprising that its arguments are weak. I don't think we could ever have scored this unprecedented victory had our case not been extremely well founded. Nonetheless, one can't predict what the appeals panel will rule.
Basically, the brief restates the district's original contention that, because the specified process was followed, any decision made by the board, (I might add -- regardless of how it flouted overwhelming evidence) must stand. Also, the brief misstates and misinterprets many aspects of our case. One of the most egregious examples is the contention that the court overstepped its authority by making a decision on curriculum. Not so - the court simply remanded the board's decision back to the board on the basis of the lack of evidence to support the decision.
We have 30 days to file our response brief (by June 21), and SPS has 15 days after (by July 6) to file its rebuttal. Our attorney tells me that a hearing will be scheduled after all briefs have been filed.
I requested the messages via an open records request out of concerns expressed to me that public communications to this email address were not always making their way to our elected representatives on the Madison Board of Education. Another email address has since been created for direct public communication to the Board of education: firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been extensive back and forth on the scope of the District's response along with the time, effort and expense required to comply with this request. I am thankful for the extensive assistance I received with this request.
I finally am appreciative of Attorney Dan Mallin's fulfillment (a few items remain to be vetted) and response, included below:
As we last discussed, attached are several hundreds of pages of e-mails (with non-MMSD emails shortened for privacy purposes) that:It would be good public policy to post all communications sent to the District. Such a simple effort may answer many questions and provide a useful look at our K-12 environment.
(1) Are not SPAM / commercial solicitations / organizational messages directed to "school districts" generally
(2) Are not Pupil Records
(3) Are not auto-generated system messages (out of office; undeliverable, etc.)
(4) Are not inquiries from MMSD employees about how to access their work email via the web when the web site changed (which e-mails typically contained their home email address)
(5) Are not technical web-site related inquiries (e.g., this link is broken, etc.)
(6) Are not random employment inquiries / applications from people who didn't know to contact the Human Resources department and instead used the comments address (e.g., I'm a teacher and will be moving to Madison, what job's are open?).
(7) Are not geneology-related inquiries about relatives and/or long-lost friends/teachers/etc.
(8) Are not messages that seek basic and routine information that would be handled clerically(e.g., please tell me where I can find this form; how do I get a flyer approved for distribution; what school is ____ address assigned to; when is summer school enrollment, etc.)
Some of the above may have still slipped in, but the goal was to keep copying costs as low as possible. Once all of the e-mails within your original request were read to determine content, it took over 2 hours to isolate the attached messages electronically from the larger pool that also included obvious pupil records, but you've been more than patient with this process and you have made reasonable concessions that saved time for the District in other ways, and there will be no additional copying charge assessed.
I am indebted to Chan Stroman Roll for her never ending assistance on this and other matters.
Related: Vivek Wadhwa: The Open Gov Initiative: Enabling Techies to Solve Government Problems
Read more: http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/22/the-open-government-initiative-enabling-techies-to-solve-problems/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29#ixzz0ohshEHIG
While grandma flips through photo albums on her sleek iPad, government agencies (and most corporations) process mission-critical transactions on cumbersome web-based front ends that function by tricking mainframes into thinking that they are connected to CRT terminals. These systems are written in computer languages like Assembler and COBOL, and cost a fortune to maintain. I've written about California's legacy systems and the billions of dollars that are wasted on maintaining these. Given the short tenure of government officials, lobbying by entrenched government contractors, and slow pace of change in the enterprise-computing world, I'm not optimistic that much will change - even in the next decade. But there is hope on another front: the Open Government Initiative. This provides entrepreneurs with the data and with the APIs they need to solve problems themselves. They don't need to wait for the government to modernize its legacy systems; they can simply build their own apps.
Genetic watchdog groups want UC Berkeley to suspend plans to ask incoming freshmen and transfer students to supply a DNA sample to participate in what is considered the first mass genetic testing by a university.
Next month, about 5,500 first-year students will receive testing kits in the mail and be asked to submit DNA swabs to test three genes. The genes include those related to the ability to break down lactose, metabolize alcohol and absorb folates.
Berkeley officials said the university has followed appropriate privacy and consent procedures and has no intent to changes its plans.
But the Center for Genetics and Society, a Berkeley public interest organization, and the Council for Responsible Genetics, which is based in Cambridge, Mass., say the project disregards the potential harmful use of the information.
Jessica Colotl, a 21-year-old college student and illegal Mexican immigrant at the center of a contentious immigration case, surrendered to a Georgia sheriff on Friday but continued to deny wrongdoing.
Ms. Colotl was arrested in March for driving without a license and could face deportation next year. On Wednesday the sheriff filed a felony charge against her for providing a false address to the police.
The case has become a flash point in the national debate over whether federal immigration laws should be enforced by local and state officials. And like Arizona's tough new immigration law, it has highlighted a rift between the federal government and local politicians over how illegal immigrants should be detected and prosecuted.
"I never thought that I'd be caught up in this messed-up system," Ms. Colotl said Friday at a news conference after being released on $2,500 bail. "I was treated like a criminal, like a threat to the nation."
A bill introduced this month in Congress would put the federal and state governments in the business of tracking how fat, or skinny, American children are.
States receiving federal grants provided for in the bill would be required to annually track the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. The grant-receiving states would be required to mandate that all health care providers in the state determine the Body Mass Index of all their patients in the 2-to-18 age bracket and then report that information to the state government. The state government, in turn, would be required to report the information to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for analysis.
The Healthy Choices Act--introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee--would establish and fund a wide range of programs and regulations aimed at reducing obesity rates by such means as putting nutritional labels on the front of food products, subsidizing businesses that provide fresh fruits and vegetables, and collecting BMI measurements of patients and counseling those that are overweight or obese.
Students at Northern Arizona University will have a hard time skipping large classes next fall because of a new attendance monitoring system.
The new system will use sensors to detect students' university identification cards when they enter classrooms, according to NAU spokesperson Tom Bauer. The data will be recorded and available for professors to examine.
Bauer said the university's main goal with the sensor system is to increase attendance and student performance.
"People are saying we are using surveillance or Orwellian [tactics] and, boy, I'm like 'wow,' I didn't know taking attendance qualified as surveillance," Bauer said.
University President John Haeger is encouraging professors to have attendance be a part of students' grades, but he added it is not mandatory and up to each professor to decide, Bauer said.
Oregon has signed a deal with Google that enables any school district to provide Google Apps for Education [faq] for free to its students and teachers. This includes Google Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Sites and Pages, Talk, Video, Groups, Docs, and Postini email management. Google Apps for Ed lets the school district use its own domain names rather than Google.com.
Google Apps for Ed is alwaysfree to schools, so the effect of this contract will depend on whether these are simply services students can use, or if students are actually expected to do their work with Google Docs et al. If the latter, this would be a step toward establishing Google (and its cloudy ways) as the educational default, the way Apple's educational program inserted Macishness into the brains of our young. One Google Account Per Child!
It will be interesting also, of course, if it decreases the purchase of other software; Google says it will save Oregon $1.5M, but doesn't say how)
Madison School Board members used a secret straw poll, conducted via e-mail, to guide their deliberations over how to close a nearly $30 million budget hole for next year.
The move has raised questions about whether the board violated the state open meetings law by coming to agreement on decisions before taking a public vote.
"In my opinion it violates the spirit of the open-meeting procedures, if not the exact letter," said Peter Fox, executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
But board president Arlene Silveira defended the process, saying the board sought to make its handling of the 2010-11 budget as transparent as possible. With more than 200 potential budget cuts proposed by district administrators, the board needed a way to streamline the process of reviewing the cuts, she said.
Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee's senior Republican member, today warned sensitive student information could be at risk through vast data warehouses that collect private, personally identifiable information on school children. The committee heard testimony on the risks to students' personal information during a hearing on data collection in the K-12 education system.
"Today's hearing reinforces the need for federal, state, and local policymakers to ensure sensitive personal information about our children is safeguarded, and student and family privacy rights are protected. Efforts to collect vast troves of information on our students, tracking them from cradle to career, raise serious concerns," said Kline. "Information on student performance, while important to a child's success in the classroom and ensuring we have the best teachers serving in our schools, should not supersede our responsibility to protect a student's personal information."
The committee heard testimony from Professor Joel Reidenberg, academic director of the Center on Law and Information Policy at the Fordham University School of Law, who shared his research into security weaknesses in current state-based data systems and the potential that state data warehouses could be commandeered to create an unprecedented federal tracking system for maintaining private student information.
Cristin Frodella, a senior marketing manager for education at Google, says this is not a strategy to make money.
"We give it away for free now," Frodella says. "We plan to always give it away for free. You know, Google actually started in the education world, and so we'd like to continue to support education. And we think this is a great way for us to support it."
No ads, no charge -- what's the catch?
"That's a very good question. The answer isn't entirely clear," says Christian Csar, a senior computer science major at Yale University.
He says he was troubled when he heard that Yale was planning to migrate student e-mail to Google. "There are some distinct privacy concerns because Google now has complete access to your e-mail in order to show it to you," he says.
Frodella says students shouldn't worry. "The school owns all of the student's private data. We are not looking at it. The school owns all of it," Frodella says.
The `Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009′ (RTE Act) came into effect today, with much fanfare and an address by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In understanding the debates about this Act, a little background knowledge is required. Hence, in this self-contained 1500-word blog post, I start with a historical narrative, outline key features of the Act, describe its serious flaws, and suggest ways to address them.
After independence, Article 45 under the newly framed Constitution stated that The state shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.
As is evident, even after 60 years, universal elementary education remains a distant dream. Despite high enrolment rates of approximately 95% as per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2009), 52.8% of children studying in 5th grade lack the reading skills expected at 2nd grade. Free and compulsory elementary education was made a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution in December 2002, by the 86th Amendment. In translating this into action, the `Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill' was drafted in 2005. This was revised and became an Act in August 2009, but was not notified for roughly 7 months.
Even if you don't live in Florida, you should pay attention to what is going on there.
Teachers, parents and even students in the Sunshine State call it the "Education Debacle." And they are no longer sitting quietly, hoping that common sense will magically prevail with state legislators seemingly intent on passing legislation affectionately called a "hammer" on the teaching profession by its sponsor.
They are taking to the streets, literally and digitally, to transmit their horror over legislation that would end teacher job security, increase student testing and tie teacher pay to student test scores. It also prohibits school districts from taking into account experience, professional credentials or advanced degrees in teacher evaluation and pay.
Certain websites could soon be "pre-approved" by Facebook, so that if a user is logged into Facebook and then visits the third-party website, it would receive information including the "names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting" of a user and his or her friends.
The sites might be able to retain that information "to the extent permitted under their terms of service or privacy policies".
Facebook said it would introduce the feature with a small group of partners and offer new controls for users to opt out.
However, the company could face resistance by users and advocates who see such a move as another invasion of privacy.
In the State of Illinois, 65% of all education funding comes via property taxes. The state, meanwhile, contributes a measly 28%. Illinois' contribution ranks one of the lowest rates in the nation. Yet, Illinois is still $853.5 Million in arrears to school districts around the state.
Property Tax funding of school districts has long been a controversial issue. The biggest argument, against this method of funding, is that poorer communities must pay higher property taxes in order to meet the minimum cost of educating a student than the affluent ones. Each year, the state must establish a funding "foundation level". From that baseline and depending on property values, communities rely on different tax rates, along with expected state aid to arrive at the minimum cost of educating a student. This year that cost was determined to be $6,119 per pupil.
UNLIKE many of the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" that have sought refuge in America, the Romeike family comes from a comfortable place: Bissingen an der Teck, a town in south-western Germany. Yet on January 26th an American immigration judge granted the Romeikes--a piano teacher, his wife and five children--political asylum, accepting their case that difficulties with home schooling their children created a reasonable fear of persecution.
Under Germany's stringent rules, home schooling is allowed only in exceptional circumstances. Before emigrating, Mr and Mrs Romeike had been fined some €12,000 ($17,000); policemen had arrived at their house and forcibly taken their children to school. The Romeikes feared that the youngsters might soon be removed by the state.
In September 2006 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Germany was within its rights to follow this approach. Schools represented society, it judged, and it was in the children's interest to become part of that society. The parents' right to raise their offspring did not go as far as depriving their children of the social experience of school.
A convicted sex offender has moved into a home across the street from Wildwood Elementary School in Piedmont, infuriating parents, who are asking school officials and the police why the 2006 state law mandating a minimum distance of 2,000 feet between schools and the residences of sex offenders is not being enforced.
But the Piedmont police, on the advice of county and state law enforcement officials, say there is nothing they can do.
On Feb. 12, James F. Donnelly, 71, a convicted sex offender, registered his new address as 256 Wildwood Avenue, where a blue-hued house overlooks Piedmont, Oakland's upscale, uphill neighbor.
Shortly after Mr. Donnelly filed his registration, Chief John Hunt of the Piedmont police realized that the house was almost directly across from the school.
"We said, Wait, this can't be, somebody dropped the ball," Chief Hunt said in an interview.
Today we received notice of the Seattle School District's decision to appeal the Decision of Judge Spector which required the SPS board to reconsider its high school math text adoption vote.
I am deeply disappointed that SPS will funnel more resources into this appeal, which, I suspect, will be more costly than following the judge's instruction to reconsider.
Our attorney tells me: ".... I'll put in a notice of appearance, and then we wait for the District to complete the record by having the documents and transcripts transmitted to the Court of Appeals. They write the first brief, due 45 days after the record is complete.
In this week's A Million Stories, we explored the messy Webcam scandal that's going down at Lower Merion School District. The district insists that it only peered through students' Webcams in order to find lost or stolen laptops, and did so using a security software called LANrev. Insanely enough, Douglas Young, the district's spokesperson, told us that it wasn't the only school district using such software: "The software feature isn't just utilized in this school district," says Young. "It's utilized by other school districts and organizations." (He said he couldn't name any offhand.)
Technology director Bill Herman has migrated the district's email over to Google. Our new email addresses are email@example.com. You can still continue to use the old addresses so the change should be transparent from the outside. The change is motivated by a desire to provide a more reliable system with less maintenance and support.A few related links:
n January 2010, a 9-year old boy named Montana Lance hung himself in a bathroom at the Texas elementary school he attended. Although certainly shocking, such acts are unfortunately becoming less and less unusual. In fact, the suicide of Montana Lance is very reminiscent of what happened in April 2009 when two 11-year-old boys, one in Massachusetts and one in Georgia, likewise committed suicide just days apart. What would cause these children to end their lives? The answer in each case is the same: all three suffered extreme levels of victimization at the hands of school bullies--bullying that others have described as involving "relentless homophobic taunts." And, as we can see from the fate of these three little boys, this form of harassment was obviously very traumatic.
In this article, I look at the growing problem of school bullying in America today. Now, almost all children are teased and most will even face at least some form of bullying during their childhood. However, studies reveal that some children will unfortunately become chronic victims of school bullying. Chief among that group are those children whose gender expression is at odds with what society considers "appropriate." As my article explores, the gender stereotypes that exist within our society are frequently to blame for the more extreme levels of bullying currently being carried out in our nation's schools. And the impact this bullying has on its victims is staggering. Earlier I mentioned three children who took their own lives as a result of bullying. These are but three examples of those who have lost their lives to gender-based bullying. However, there are countless other victims who, although not paying with their lives, are nonetheless paying dearly in other ways. Specifically, the psychological literature on the emotional impacts that befall these chronic victims of bullying reveals a whole host of resulting problems--debilitating consequences that can last a lifetime.
Two computer security experts, Aaron Rhodes and a man known by his pseudonym Stryde Hax, put together an eye-opening and well-researched attack on both the Lower Merion High School that's been accused of spying on students and the software that was used to do it. In the process, they reveal some disturbing school policies regarding the use of the laptops, and the unnerving nature of the software itself.More here.
The writers scoured forum activity, blog posts, and publicity videos made by one Mike Perbix, the Harriton High School technical security staffer who was in charge of the use of LANRev, the software in question. They also hunted down comments from some of the more tech-savvy members of the student body, who revealed some pretty startling policies regarding the laptops.
The main points: the school-supplied (and monitored) MacBooks were required for certain classes; the included Webcams could not be disabled; the laptops could not be "jailbroken" to circumvent the security measures (and any attempt could result in expulsion); and possession of a personal computer, meaning one other than the school-supplied MacBook, was forbidden and subject to confiscation. One example, from a student:
The next time Lower Merion school administrators want to talk to students and parents about their laptop-camera controversy, they will have to get a lawyer's blessing.
Not from their own lawyers, but the ones suing them on behalf of a Harriton High sophomore who claims the school invaded his home and his privacy by remotely snapping his image with the camera on his school-provided laptop.
The unusual order, signed by a federal judge yesterday, means those running the elite Lower Merion School District can't say a word about the laptop cameras or any other issues in the suit without giving the other side a copy of what they want to say - plus six hours' notice.
Such communication limits are commonplace in class-action litigation, but rare in the context of a school district at the center of what's become a nationwide controversy.
"What's a court doing making a decision on math textbooks and curriculum?" This question and its associated harrumphs on various education blogs and online newspapers came in reaction to the February 4, 2010 ruling from the Superior court of King County that the Seattle school board's adoption of a discovery type math curriculum for high school was "arbitrary and capricious".
In fact, the court did not rule on the textbook or curriculum. Rather, it ruled on the school board's process of decision making--more accurately, the lack thereof. The court ordered the school board to revisit the decision. Judge Julie Spector found that the school board ignored key evidence--like the declaration from the state's Board of Education that the discovery math series under consideration was "mathematically unsound", the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction not recommending the curriculum and last but not least, information given to the board by citizens in public testimony.
The decision is an important one because it highlights what parents have known for a long time: School boards generally do what they want to do, evidence be damned. Discovery type math programs are adopted despite parent protests, despite evidence of experts and--judging by the case in Seattle--despite findings from the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Key Curriculum Press is in quite a snit over the Court's decision about the high school textbooks.Much more on the recent successful community vs. Seattle School District Discovery Math court case here.
According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.
If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come. I don't know about you, but I often have the laptop in the room while I'm getting dressed, having private discussions with my family, and so on. The idea that a school district would not only spy on its students' clickstreams and emails (bad enough), but also use these machines as AV bugs is purely horrifying.
A school superintendent in Rhode Island is trying to fix an abysmally bad school system.Jennifer Jordan & Linda Borg:
Her plan calls for teachers at a local high school to work 25 minutes longer per day, each lunch with students once in a while, and help with tutoring. The teachers' union has refused to accept these apparently onerous demands.
The teachers at the high school make $70,000-$78,000, as compared to a median income in the town of $22,000. This exemplifies a nationwide trend in which public sector workers make far more than their private-sector counterparts (with better benefits).
After learning of the union's position, School Supt. Frances Gallo notified the state that she was switching to an alternative she was hoping to avoid: firing the entire staff at Central Falls High School. In total, about 100 teachers, administrators and assistants will lose their jobs.
Gallo blamed the union's "callous disregard" for the situation, saying union leaders "knew full well what would happen" if they rejected the six conditions Gallo said were crucial to improving the school. The conditions are adding 25 minutes to the school day, providing tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school, eating lunch with students once a week, submitting to more rigorous evaluations, attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers and participating in two weeks of training in the summer.
The high school's 74 teachers will receive letters during school vacation advising them to attend a Feb. 22 meeting where each will be handed a termination notice that takes effect for the 2010-'11 school year, Gallo said.
Here is an open letter which I sent last night to Edie Harding, Executive Director of the State Board of Education. Under the letter I have paraphrased her reply; below that is my response to her.
I am responding to your comment today in the Seattle Times:
' "It's long been established that in our state, the local board is always the prime decision-maker on curriculum." ....the Seattle decision was "a surprise, and if I were the Seattle School Board, I would -- well, I might take issue with the judge," she added.'
Having been one of the plaintiffs in the recent textbook appeal in Seattle, I'm well aware that School Boards make curriculum decisions. However, Ms. Harding, what recourse do you suggest to parents when School Boards abdicate their decision making power - refusing to consider voluminous, compelling, evidence from parents and community members, and instead give school administrators carte blanch to turn math education in directions that are unacceptable to informed parents and community members?
Decision favors plaintiffs in court challenge of Seattle math text adoption
Statement from Laurie Rogers:
Last year, Seattle Public Schools adopted the Discovering math series despite valiant opposition from parents and math professionals, despite poor assessments of the Discovering series' rigor and adherence to the new state math standards, and despite the fact that OSPI did NOT ultimately recommend the Discovering math series.
In response, three people filed a lawsuit, saying that Seattle didn't have sufficient supporting evidence for its adoption, and also that the Discovering series was associated with an INCREASE in achievement gaps.
Recently, a judge agreed with the plaintiffs and - while stopping short of telling Seattle to cease and desist in their adoption - told Seattle to revisit its adoption. The district can continue to use the Discovering series, and Seattle administrators have stated their clear intention to do so.
Nevertheless, the court decision is momentous. It sets a precedent for districts across the country. When board members can't justify their adoption decisions, the people now have legal recourse.
A number of years ago, curious about the ownership of student work produced in a class, I asked a lawyer friend who specializes in art and design copyright law if schools had the right to reproduce student work in their recruitment publicity without the students' permission. He informed me that the student, despite advice from faculty who may have shaped the work, owns the work and that written permission must be secured before it could be reproduced. He also said such works could be considered student records and recruitment results in some benefit to the institution that exceeds any reading of the "fair use" practices of educational institutions (i.e. those that might be applied to the use of lecture slides for a class).
This reading of the law is at odds with the prevailing opinion of many schools that the student would not have produced work of a particular quality under his or her own resources, and therefore, that faculty have some "ownership rights" in the output of any class. Since that time I have been very careful to ask students first about any public use of their work, even in lectures I give at other schools, and I always credit the work with their names and give students the details on the presentation venues for their resumes. My lawyer friend told me that statements in college catalogs claiming that the institution retains ownership of work produced in a class wouldn't hold up in court; unless the maker is an employee of the institution/company or has signed away rights through some explicit agreement, ownership is retained by the maker. Other attorneys may have different interpretations, and I don't profess to be a legal expert, but the ownership of work produced by students is certainly something to think about.
I am one of the three plaintiffs in the math textbook appeal. I am also the white grandmother of an SPS fifth grader, and a retired SPS math teacher.
Mr. Westneat grants that the textbooks we are opposing may be "lousy," but he faults us for citing their disproportionate effect on ethnic, racial, and other minorities. He states that we can't prove this claim. I disagree, and West Seattle Dan has posted voluminous statistics in response to the column. They support our claim that inquiry-based texts, which have now accrued a sizable track record, are generally associated with declining achievement among most students and with a widening achievement gap between middle class whites and minorities.
We've brought race and ethnicity (as well as economic status) into this appeal because there is ample evidence that it is a factor. True, this is not the 80's, and true, in my 10 years of experience teaching in Seattle Schools, I found no evidence that people of color are less capable than whites of being outstanding learners. However, in my 30+ years as a parent and grandparent of SPS students and my years as a teacher, I've developed deep, broad, awareness of the ways that centuries of societally mandated racism play out in our classrooms, even in this era of Barack Obama's presidency.
G.P. "Bud" Peterson, president of Georgia Tech, sat down with writers at the AJC today and made clear that he did not support the pending legislation in the Georgia General Assembly to allow guns on college campuses. (We talked about other education issues that I will write about later.)
Under a bill in the House, Georgia gun owners with conceal carry permits could bring their guns everywhere except the courthouse and the jailhouse. The restrictions on churches and campuses would be lifted.
Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson says "absolutely not" to guns on his campus in an interview Wednesday with the AJC
"Absolutely not," said Peterson, who was appointed as the 11th president of Georgia Tech in April after serving as chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and provost at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. In addition, Peterson has held various positions at Texas A&M University and taught mathematics, physics and chemistry in Kansas.
In other words, this man has been around students and on campuses all his life and he doesn't believe that guns will better protect students.
But let him do the talking.
Today Cliff Mass and I, (DaZanne Porter had to be at a training in Yakima) accompanied by Dan Dempsey and Jim W, had our hearing in Judge Julie Spector's King County Superior Courtroom; the event was everything we hoped for, and more. Judge Spector asked excellent questions and said that she hopes to announce a decision by Friday, February 12th.Associated Press:
The hearing started on time at 8:30 AM with several members of the Press Corps present, including KIRO TV, KPLU radio, Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times, and at least 3 others. I know the number because, at the end, Cliff, our attorney, Keith Scully, and I were interviewed; there were five microphones and three cameras pointed towards us at one point.
The hearing was brief; we were done by 9:15. Keith began by presenting our case very clearly and eloquently. Our two main lines of reasoning are, 1) that the vote to adopt Discovering was arbitrary and capricious because of the board's failure to take notice of a plethora of testimony, data, and other information which raised red flags about the efficacy of the Discovering series, and 2) the vote violated the equal education rights of the minority groups who have been shown, through WASL scores, to be disadvantaged by inquiry based instruction.
Realistically, both of these arguments are difficult to prove: "arbitrary and capricious" is historically a very, very difficult proof, and while Keith's civil rights argument was quite compelling, there is no legal precedent for applying the law to this situation.
The School District's attorney, Shannon McMinimee, did her best, saying that the board followed correct procedure, the content of the books is not relevant to the appeal, the books do not represent inquiry-based learning but a "balanced" approach, textbooks are merely tools, etc., etc. She even denigrated the WASL - a new angle in this case. In rebuttal, Keith was terrific, we all agreed. He quoted the introduction of the three texts, which made it crystal clear that these books are about "exploration." I'm blanking on other details of his rebuttal, but it was crisp and effective. Keith was extremely effective, IMHO. Hopefully, Dan, James, and Cliff can recall more details of the rebuttal.
A lawsuit challenging the Seattle School District's math curriculum went to trial Monday in King County Superior Court.Cliff Mass:
A group of parents and teachers say the "Discovering Math" series adopted last year does a poor job, especially with minority students who are seeing an achievement gap widen.
A spokeswoman for the Seattle School District, Teresa Wippel, says it has no comment on pending litigation.
KOMO-TV reports the district has already spent $1.2 million on Discovering Math books and teacher training.
On Tuesday, January 26th, at 8:30 AM, King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector will consider an appeal by a group of Seattle residents (including yours truly) regarding the selection by Seattle Public Schools of the Discovering Math series in their high schools. Although this issue is coming to a head in Seattle it influences all of you in profound ways.
In this appeal we provide clear evidence that the Discovery Math approach worsens the achievement gap between minority/disadvantaged students and their peers. We show that the Board and District failed to consider key evidence and voluminous testimony, and acted arbitrarily and capriciously by choosing a teaching method that was demonstrated to produce a stagnant or increasing achievement gap. We request that the Seattle Schools rescind their decision and re-open the textbook consideration for high school.
On December 1, 2009, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) released Mama Says: A National Survey of Mothers' Attitudes on Fathering, the first-ever national survey taking an in-depth look at how today's mothers view fathers and fatherhood.
Conducted online by the University of Texas Office of Survey Research, Mama Says surveyed 1,533 mothers over the age of 18 with at least one child in the home under the age of 18. They were asked a series of over 80 questions dealing with a range of topics, such as their general opinions about fatherhood, views on work-family balance, and obstacles to good fathering.
The study is a companion piece to NFI's 2006 study, Pop's Culture: A National Survey of Dads' Attitudes on Fathering. The report was co-authored by Dr. Norval Glenn, PhD. and Dr. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, PhD.
Ninety cameras will be installed outside Fenger and 39 other Chicago Public high schools to stop what Mayor Daley called the ugly "epidemic of children killing children," thanks to a $2.25 million gift from the banking giant that employs the mayor's brother.
Last year, a bloody weekend for CPS students prompted Daley to link 4,844 cameras inside schools and 1,437 exterior school cameras to police districts, squad cars and the 911 center. Until that time, real-time video from school cameras was accessible only to school security.
Thanks to J.P. Morgan Chase, where William Daley serves as Midwest chairman, 40 more high schools will get exterior cameras. They include Fenger, where 16-year-old Derrion Albert was beaten to death in September during a brawl captured on videotape and played around the world.
Another camera will be installed outside Walter H. Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st St., where two students have been murdered this year.
Led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the groups criticize Facebook for changes that made previously private information public.
"More than 100 million people in the United States subscribe to the Facebook service," Marc Rotenberg, EPIC's executive director, said Thursday in a prepared statement. "The company should not be allowed to turn down the privacy dial on so many American consumers."
In response, Facebook said it was "disappointed" that EPIC took its complaints to the FTC instead of the company itself.
New Jersey's laws governing charter schools received a "C" from a Washington, D.C. non-profit group that ranked the statutes governing charter schools across the nation.
The Center for Education Reform, which advocates for charter schools and school choice, found New Jersey's laws fell right in the middle -- 17th strongest -- among the 40 states and districts that allow charter schools.
Only three places received an "A": California, Minnesota and the District of Columbia. And only 13 of 40 states have strong laws that do not require revision, according to the report released today.
CEREMONIES in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra are typically attended by visiting royals, heads of state and other dignitaries. On November 16th several hundred ordinary, middle-aged Australians, with pain in their faces and tears in their eyes, packed the hall to witness a ceremony devoted to them. It seemed a miracle that many were there at all. Shipped from Britain as youngsters, or plucked from broken homes and single mothers in Australia, some suffered childhoods spent in orphanages where violence, sexual abuse and humiliation were rife. Some of their peers killed themselves.
After years of campaigning, survivors gathered to hear Kevin Rudd, the prime minister, offer a formal apology for this "great evil". It was the second such apology Mr Rudd has offered in under two years. Early last year, he began his government's first term by apologising to the "stolen generations": children, many of mixed race, taken by the authorities from aboriginal families. In all, by 1970 over 500,000 "stolen", migrant and non-indigenous children had been placed in church, charity and government institutions.
Mr Rudd's latest apology has focused attention on Britain's grim "child migration" scheme, under which children as young as three were sent to the former colonies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, often without their parents' knowledge or consent. One motive was racial: the young countries wanted "British stock". Australia took about 10,000 children, most of them after Canada reduced its intake in the 1940s.
After losing a court challenge, several teachers laid off from D.C. public schools are now criticizing the union for not being proactive enough in helping them keep their jobs.
Crystal Proctor is one of several teachers who say union lawyers were not well prepared in court when they argued in favor of reinstating the more than 250 teachers. "We don't think that the legal representation was competent," says Proctor. "Watching our attorney perform, it was laughable. It was ridiculous."
Another teacher Natasha Mason says she didn't get replies when she sent emails to her union representative. She says she's gotten "nothing" out of her membership. "I'm totally disappointed," says Mason. "It's a pity we've been paying all this money into people to protect us and represent us and to stand up for what our rights are none of it has been done."
A new study has found that young people feel differently about two types of parental control, generally viewing a type of control that's thought to be better for their development more positively. However, when parents are very controlling, young people no longer make this distinction and view both types of parental control negatively.
The study, conducted in the United States by researchers at Örebro University in Sweden, appears in the November/December 2009 issue of the journal Child Development. Unlike a lot of prior research on parenting that's focused on control, this study looked at how adolescents view and react to parental control.
Scholars tell us that parental control falls into two categories: behavioral control (when parents help their children regulate themselves and feel competent by providing supervision, setting limits, and establishing rules) and psychological control (when parents are manipulative in their behavior, often resulting in feelings of guilt, rejection, or not being loved). It's thought that behavioral control is better for youngsters' development.
via a kind reader's email:
The case was brought by Seattle parents who challenged the use of race in assigning students to schools, arguing it violated the Constitution's right of equal protection. The ruling was celebrated by those who favor color-blind policies, but criticized by civil rights groups as a further erosion of Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 case that outlawed school segregation."
The results of this lawsuit in the Seattle Public School district are very discouraging, especially the disparity in income, race and available resources between "south end" and "north end" schools. A new school assignment plan currently being implemented for 2010-2011 will only relegate neighborhoods of color to the poorest schools in the district. The blog http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/, while mostly dealing with "north end" problems like APP programs and such, the fact that children will be forced into neighborhood schools is dividing an already divided district. Rainier Beach High School, for instance, demographic data indicates Caucasians at less than 7% and an African American at more than 65%, a graduation rate of 37% and test scores at the bottom of the barrel.
A Study of Elementary and Secondary School State Reporting Systems
Following the No Child Left Behind mandate to improve school quality, there has been a growing trend among state departments of education to establish statewide longitudinal databases of personally identifiable information for all K-12 children within a state in order to track progress and change over time. This trend is accompanied by a movement to create uniform data collection systems so that each state's student data systems are interoperable with one another. This Study examines the privacy concerns implicated by these trends.
The Study reports on the results of a survey of all fifty states and finds that state educational databases across the country ignore key privacy protections for the nation's K-12 children. The Study finds that large amounts of personally identifiable data and sensitive personal information about children are stored by the state departments of education in electronic warehouses or for the states by third party vendors. These data warehouses typically lack adequate privacy protections, such as clear access and use restrictions and data retention policies, are often not compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and leave K-12 children unprotected from data misuse, improper data release, and data breaches. The Study provides recommendations for best practices and legislative reform to address these privacy problems.
For more than a decade, classes of students at Northwestern University's journalism school have been scrutinizing the work of prosecutors and the police. The investigations into old crimes, as part of the Medill Innocence Project, have helped lead to the release of 11 inmates, the project's director says, and an Illinois governor once cited those wrongful convictions as he announced he was commuting the sentences of everyone on death row.
But as the Medill Innocence Project is raising concerns about another case, that of a man convicted in a murder 31 years ago, a hearing has been scheduled next month in Cook County Circuit Court on an unusual request: Local prosecutors have subpoenaed the grades, grading criteria, class syllabus, expense reports and e-mail messages of the journalism students themselves.
The prosecutors, it seems, wish to scrutinize the methods of the students this time. The university is fighting the subpoenas.
Parents are being banned from playing with their children in council recreation areas because they have not been vetted by police.
Mothers and fathers are being forced to watch their children from outside perimeter fences because of fears they could be paedophiles.
Watford Council was branded a 'disgrace' yesterday after excluding parents from two fenced-off adventure playgrounds unless they first undergo criminal record checks.
The Broward Teachers Union accused the school district Thursday of blocking hundreds of e-mails sent by school employees to School Board members since March -- without board members' knowledge.
The union says e-mails about teacher raises, use of federal stimulus money and employee contract negotiations never made it to board members' in-boxes -- or to their junk e-mail folders. Instead, they were filed away on a server and never read.
BTU lawyers sent Board Chairwoman Maureen Dinnen and board attorney Edward Marko a letter Thursday asking the district to stop blocking e-mails and threatening to sue if they don't do so by Oct. 26.
The letter argues blocking e-mails violates the sender's and the receiver's constitutional rights under U.S. and Florida laws.
Superintendent Jim Notter said district attorneys were reviewing BTU's letter. He questioned its timing, with the district in the throes of negotiating a contract with the union. BTU has asked for an average 4 percent pay increase. The district isn't offering any raise, but has offered to pick up the difference in employee health insurance.
``Unfortunately we're back in a position where it's adversarial,'' Notter said.
Two Christian girls. Two sets of distraught parents. And two state courts smack in the middle of it.
One of these courts is in New Hampshire, where a judge recently ordered that home-schooled Amanda Kurowski be sent to public school. The order signed by Family Court Justice Lucinda V. Sandler says the 10-year-old's Christian faith could use some shaking up--and that the local public school is just the place to do it. So while the child's lawyers at the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal outfit, filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider, last week Amanda started fifth grade at a local public school.
At about the same time Miss Kurowski was starting school in New Hampshire, a state court in Florida was considering what to do with 17-year-old Rifqa Bary. Miss Bary fled to Florida from Ohio a few weeks back, where she sought refuge with a Christian couple whose church she had learned about on Facebook. She says she ran away from home because her father discovered she'd become a Christian--and then threatened to kill her. On Thursday, Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson ordered the girl and her family to try mediation and set a pretrial hearing for the end of the month.
Several high-profile authors are to stop visiting schools in protest at new laws requiring them to be vetted to work with youngsters.
Philip Pullman, author of fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, said the idea was "ludicrous and insulting".
Former children's laureates Anne Fine and Michael Morpurgo have hit out at the scheme which costs £64 per person.
Officials say the checks have been misunderstood and authors will only need them if they go to schools often.
The Home Office says the change from October will help protect children.
The measure was drafted in response to recommendations made by the inquiry into the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002, by school caretaker Ian Huntley.
A law designed to keep college students' grades private often is used for a much different purpose -- to shield universities from potentially embarrassing situations.
Some critics say a number of schools are deliberately misreading the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in order to keep scandals and other unflattering news from hitting the media. "Some schools have good-faith misunderstandings of the law, but there are others that simply see this as a handy excuse to hide behind," says Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, which provides student journalists with legal help.
Legal experts say part of the problem is that the law is loosely defined. In addition, the potential consequences of violating the law -- namely, that schools would lose their federal funding -- prompt university officials to be conservative in their decisions about releasing information.
Those complaints rankle advocates of student privacy, who say that, if anything, the three-decade-old law should be expanded. "Most of these kids are adults, and they should be able to make their own decisions," says Daren Bakst, president of the Council on Law in Higher Education.
In the year that the Waukesha School District laid off all but one staff member devoted to gifted and talented education, identification of students for the gifted program dropped 29%, according to an audit by the state Department of Public Instruction.
Nominations of students for the gifted program dropped even more -- by 65% -- in the 2007-'08 school year. This followed a school year in which nominations and identifications already were down from the year before.
At the time they made the GT staff cuts, Waukesha school board members said they hoped that regular classroom teachers would take on the task of providing special programming for gifted students, as required by state law.
But district officials acknowledge difficulty without specialty staff.
"Any time you have budget reductions it is going to have an effect," Ben Hunsanger, Waukesha's new GT coordinator, said in an e-mail. "There was a drop in GT identifications because we lost GT resource teachers. The GT student population also lost direct resources as a result of the staffing reductions."
In an April letter to Waukesha's superintendent, the DPI recommended the district refine its methods for identifying students as gifted and talented and provide professional development for staff on providing special services for such students.
The state audit was performed after a group of district parents filed a complaint last year alleging numerous deficiencies in Waukesha's program for gifted students.
One of those parents, Amy Gilgenbach, said she wishes the audit had focused less on policy corrections and more with what was going on in the program itself. She said the state agency should have looked into what happened to instruction due to the loss in staffing.
"At the elementary level, when you have already overburdened teachers with 28 or more kids in their classes and then expect them to take on added responsibilities without additional training or instruction, obviously you're not creating a good situation for GT students in those classes," she wrote in an e-mail.
"At the middle and high school levels, not having appropriate guidance and course selections and potential college and career paths is a huge pitfall for GT students."
An Ohio school district says it uncovered a cheating scheme so pervasive that it had to cancel graduation ceremonies for its 60 seniors -- but will still mail their diplomas.Related: Cringely on Cyber Warfare.
A senior at Centerburg High School accessed teachers' computers, found tests, printed them and distributed them to classmates, administrators said.
Graduation was canceled because so many seniors either cheated or knew about the cheating but failed to report it, said officials of the Centerburg School District.
Superintendent Dorothy Holden said the district had to take a stand and let students know that cheating can't be tolerated.
"I am alarmed that our kids can think that in society it's OK to cheat, it's a big prank, it's OK to turn away and not be a whistle-blower, not come forth," Holden said.
The School Performance Report is the annual "report card" that is required under Wisconsin law (Wi.Stat.115.38) to be compiled and published for each public school and public school district. DPI's recent announcement (noted here) that selected School Performance Report information will now be available online at the DPI web site is a step in the right direction, but this important tool for school accountability and information for parents and the public has yet to reach its full potential, due to inconsistent compliance with the requirements of the reporting law.
The School Performance Report has been required since 1991. The items that are to be included in each report are (emphases added):
(a) Indicators of academic achievement, including the performance of pupils on the tests administered under s. 121.02 (1) (r) and the performance of pupils, by subject area, on the statewide assessment examinations administered under s. 118.30.It should be noted (and is acknowledged by DPI) that the School Performance Report information on the DPI site does not cover all of these items.
(b) 1. Other indicators of school and school district performance, including dropout, attendance, retention in grade and graduation rates; percentage of habitual truants, as defined in s. 118.16 (1) (a); percentage of pupils participating in extracurricular and community activities and advanced placement courses; percentage of graduates enrolled in postsecondary educational programs; and percentage of graduates entering the workforce.
2. The numbers of suspensions and expulsions; the reasons for which pupils are suspended or expelled, reported according to categories specified by the state superintendent; the length of time for which pupils are expelled, reported according to categories specified by the state superintendent; whether pupils return to school after their expulsion; the educational programs and services, if any, provided to pupils during their expulsions, reported according to categories specified by the state superintendent; the schools attended by pupils who are suspended or expelled; and the grade, sex and ethnicity of pupils who are suspended or expelled and whether the pupils are children with disabilities, as defined in s. 115.76 (5).
(c) Staffing and financial data information, as determined by the state superintendent, not to exceed 10 items. The state superintendent may not request a school board to provide information solely for the purpose of including the information in the report under this paragraph.
(d) The number and percentage of resident pupils attending a course in a nonresident school district under s. 118.52, the number of nonresident pupils attending a course in the school district under s. 118.52, and the courses taken by those pupils.
(e) The method of reading instruction used in the school district and the textbook series used to teach reading in the school district.
In 2005, the statute was amended to require that parents be alerted to the existence and availability of the report and given the opportunity to request a copy, and to require that each school district with a web site post the report on its web site (amended language italicized below):
Annually by January 1, each school board shall notify the parent or guardian of each pupil enrolled in the school district of the right to request a school and school district performance report under this subsection. Annually by May [amended from January] 1, each school board shall, upon request, distribute to the parent or guardian of each pupil enrolled in the school district, including pupils enrolled in charter schools located in the school district, or give to each pupil to bring home to his or her parent or guardian, a school and school district performance report that includes the information specified by the state superintendent under sub. (1). The report shall also include a comparison of the school district's performance under sub. (1) (a) and (b) with the performance of other school districts in the same athletic conference under sub. (1) (a) and (b). If the school district maintains an Internet site, the report shall be made available to the public at that site.This information, if fully compiled and made available as intended by the statute, could be a valuable resource to parents and the public (answering, perhaps, some of the questions in this discussion). There may be parents who are unaware that this "report card" exists, and would benefit from receiving the notice that the statute requires. For parents without access to the Internet, the right to request a hard copy of the report may be their only access to this information.
Districts who do not post their School Performance Reports on their web sites may do well to follow the example of the Kenosha School District, which does a good job of highlighting its School Performance Reports (including drop-down menus by school) on the home page of its web site.
Over the course of one week, Which MBA? followed the fortunes of five MBA students from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, graduating into one of the toughest jobs markets in memory.
Day one: Daianna
Last summer, The Economist called business schools "ports in a storm," (see article) such was the surge in applications from prospective students seeking to ride out the recession. Almost a year on, students have seen an economy that looked bad when they first applied grow much, much worse. As the spring term comes to an end, rumour has it that nearly half of my fellow MBAs are still without summer internships or full-time offers. Fierce headwinds face us as we sail back out into the world.
Whatever the initial motives for enrolling, few go to business school without the belief that an MBA will put them on a fast-track to bigger and better things upon graduation. That's certainly what I had in mind when I left my job, salary and friends to move to Chicago to pursue a two-year, full-time MBA at Kellogg. I wanted to expand my business skills at a top-ranked school in order to change from a career primarily at non-profit organisations to a more traditional role at a prominent company in the private sector.
Over the course of one week, Which MBA? followed the fortunes of five MBA students from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, graduating into one of the toughest jobs markets in memory.
Day one: Daianna
Last summer, The Economist called business schools "ports in a storm," (see article) such was the surge in applications from prospective students seeking to ride out the recession. Almost a year on, students have seen an economy that looked bad when they first applied grow much, much worse. As the spring term comes to an end, rumour has it that nearly half of my fellow MBAs are still without summer internships or full-time offers. Fierce headwinds face us as we sail back out into the world.
Whatever the initial motives for enrolling, few go to business school without the belief that an MBA will put them on a fast-track to bigger and better things upon graduation. That's certainly what I had in mind when I left my job, salary and friends to move to Chicago to pursue a two-year, full-time MBA at Kellogg. I wanted to expand my business skills at a top-ranked school in order to change from a career primarily at non-profit organisations to a more traditional role at a prominent company in the private sector.
A group of fourth-graders at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School had planned to remain in their classroom through lunch and recess Friday, enjoying a meal of fresh fruit, vegetables and homemade pasta at cloth-covered tables with flower centerpieces.
The group from Joshua Forehand's class, which calls itself BCSL ("Boycott School Lunch") formed to protest what they see as unhealthy food offered in the school's cafeteria, but they scrapped their plan to host a "Good Real Food" picnic after Assistant Superintendent Sue Abplanalp called school administrators and parents to discourage it.
"There were too many obstacles," Abplanalp said in an interview, citing the possibility of allergy-causing ingredients in shared homemade food, lack of adequate supervision, and the presence of the news media as major concerns.
"We want students' voices to be heard. This just seemed to come together too fast, without various issues being addressed."
When asked if the district feared negative publicity, Abplanalp said no. Instead she cited student privacy as a major concern.
"We have strict guidelines about the media interviewing students on school grounds. The principal maintains a list of kids whose parents have given permission for media exposure."
Is there a difference between a stupid teen trick - passing around a girl's naked picture she'd earlier provided her now-ex-boyfriend - and child molestation?
Without a doubt.
Is there a difference even between that stupid teen behavior and being a teenager who threatens to use naked pictures obtained under a ruse as ammo for extorting sex?
But under state law, all of them could become convicted felons who land on the state's registry of sex offenders, leaving little distance between them. They would, most likely, be vilified and haunted by the label for decades, if not life, and increasingly told by communities where they can and cannot live.
Dangerous, devious sex offenders who are a risk to public safety deserve it.
Teens with unbelievably cavalier attitudes about sexual limits, to the point of stupidity, do not.
Parents, educators, communities and - we can only hope - kids have had their eyes opened by recent, revolting revelations.
The earlier case, as described in criminal charges, involved since-expelled New Berlin Eisenhower student Anthony Stancl, 18, who, pretending to be a girl on Facebook, got at least 31 boys to send him pictures of themselves naked. Threatening to circulate the pictures to schoolmates, he coerced at least seven of them into sex acts.
The best women's chess player in the world flipped a dirty diaper into the trash as she pondered her next move after a dominating year.
"I want to open a chess academy online, keep training, doing the podcast," says south Floridian Alexandra Kosteniuk. "But right now, my priority is being a mother."
Kosteniuk, 24, won the Women's World Chess Championship in her homeland, Russia, in September. After several months of travelling the globe, Kosteniuk, her husband, Diego Garces, and their 20-month-old daughter Francesca are home.
About 3,000 people subscribe to her podcast at chessiscool.com, and about 10,000 others log on each month to her website, where they can see photos of Kosteniuk in bikinis and buy her instructional DVDs. "It's the most popular chess site out there," says her husband, 49, who is also her webmaster and publicist.
With the nation's school systems roiled by campus shootings over the past decade, and on the lookout for conflict, students are being asked to check a broader array of free-speech rights at the door -- raising questions about what lesson that is teaching them.
Public-school administrators are hewing to a zero-tolerance policy on expression they believe incites violence, and they are doing so with the backing of the courts. Controversial clothing has been a common casualty. Struggling with racial tensions at his high school, a principal in Maryville, Tenn., banned depictions of the Confederate flag in 2005 and was supported by a federal court. Last month, the Aurora Frontier K-8 School in Aurora, Colo., suspended an 11-year-old who refused to remove a homemade T-shirt that read, "Obama is a terrorist's best friend." The shirt caused "a very loud argument on the playground," according to a statement from the school.
Since such actions stem from a concern over the safety of adolescents, even free-speech advocates acknowledge a need for some degree of deference to educators. But an argument of imminent danger is hard to make in many of these cases. Some think educators may be inadvertently teaching children that suppressing speech is the ready solution to ideological conflict.
Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain's most senior police forensics expert.Via Bruce Schneier.
Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.
'If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,' said Pugh. 'You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won't. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.'
Pugh admitted that the deeply controversial suggestion raised issues of parental consent, potential stigmatisation and the role of teachers in identifying future offenders, but said society needed an open, mature discussion on how best to tackle crime before it took place. There are currently 4.5 million genetic samples on the UK database - the largest in Europe - but police believe more are required to reduce crime further. 'The number of unsolved crimes says we are not sampling enough of the right people,' Pugh told The Observer. However, he said the notion of universal sampling - everyone being forced to give their genetic samples to the database - is currently prohibited by cost and logistics.
When last I wrote about the status of Accelerated Biology at West HS, I was waiting to hear back from Assistant Superintendent Pam Nash. I had written to Pam on June 8 about how the promised second section of the course never had a chance, given the statistical procedure they used to admit students for next year.
On June 11, I wrote to Pam again, this time including Superintendent Rainwater. I said to them "I do hope one of you intends to respond to [my previous email]. I hope you appreciate what it looks like out in the community. Either the selection system was deliberately designed to preclude the need for two sections (in which case the promise of two sections was completely disingenuous) or someone's lack of facility with statistical procedures is showing." I heard back from Art right away. He said that one of them would respond by the end of the week.
On 6/13, he did, indeed, write:
I finally have time to reply to your concerns. In our meeting I agreed that selecting an arbitrary number of 20 students for accelerated biology was not fair. I agreed to examine this and develop a process that would allow all students who meet a set criteria to be provided the accelerated biology class. I used two sections as an example. Obviously it would be just as wrong to set an arbitrary 2 sections as it would be to set 20 as an arbitrary number. Our intent was to set a cut score on the placement test and allow everyone who met the cut score to be enrolled in the class. After reviewing the previous years test data we selected the mean score of the last student admitted over the past several years. I understand that you believe that is not the way to select. However, I am very comfortable with this approach and approved it as the means of selecting who can be enrolled. Thank you for your continued concern about these issues. Please feel free to bring to my attention any other inequities that you see in our curriculum.
I quickly replied, twice. Here is my first reply (6/13):
Quickly, I have one question, Art (and will likely write more later). Each year, four slots are reserved for additional students to get into the Accel Bio class in the fall. These might be students who are new to the District, who didn't know about the screening test in the spring, or who want to try again.
Were the screening test scores of students admitted into the class in the fall included in the selection system used on this year's 8th graders?
(SIS readers, the reason why it is important to know if the fall scores were included is that it is highly likely that the scores of the students who enter the class in the fall are lower than the cut score used for selection purposes in the spring. It is simply too hard to believe that four students scoring higher than the cut score would magically appear each fall.)
Art wrote back simply (6/13):
There are two slots remaining.I wrote back again (6/13):
My question is about the set of scores that were used to determine the cut score for this year. Were the scores of students admitted into the class in the fall over the past several years included in the set of scores used to determine this year's cut score? Art, parents would like to see all of the test scores from recent years -- that is, we would like to see the frequency distribution of all scores for each year, with the cut score indicated and the scores of the fall entires into the class included.
Meanwhile, my second initial email (6/13) consisted of a forward to Art of the email he wrote to me on February 12, with a cover line:
Art, see below. FWIW, there is no ambiguity or equivocation in your email here. --L
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 08:04:40 -0600
From: "Art Rainwater"
To: "Laurie A. Frost"
Subject: Re: West HS follow-up: Accelerated Biology
We have followed up with Ed and there will be an additional Advanced Biology class.
After seeing a copy of his own email, Art replied (6/13):
Creating two accelerated biology classes solely for the sake of having 40 students taking the class is no different than having a class for 20 students arbitrarily selected. If you feel that I broke some promise to you based on this email I am sorry. The responsibility for these decisions is mine and I am going to make the one that I feel is in the best interest of the district. I believe this decision is fair and removed the arbitrary nature of the previous class selection.
My decision is final.
I have not yet written back, but here is what I will say: "Art, I do feel you broke your promise to me. I also feel you broke your promise to future West HS students. Selection based on high scores is not "arbitrary." And 40 is no more or less "arbitrary" a number than 20. "Arbitrary" means "for no particular reason." But you had a reason. For whatever reason, you (or someone) wanted to make sure there was only one section of the class after all. If you (or that same someone) had wanted there to be two sections of the class, then you (or they) would have come up with selection criteria designed to insure that outcome."
Meanwhile, I forwarded Art's emails to the three other West parents who attended the meeting with him in January. To a one, we recall the same thing very clearly, that Art agreed there should be a second section of Accelerated Biology at West due to consistently high interest and demand at the school and in order to create greater access to a particular learning opportunity, the same expanded access there is at the other high schools. My best guess is that Art ran into unanticipated and powerful opposition to a second section in some key places at West and so is now changing his story.
In my mind, I keep going back to how poorly the Accelerated Biology screening test was publicized at Hamilton; how the Hamilton staff were told by the West counselors to "downplay" the opportunity to the students; and how that West staff person responded so carefully, "IF there is need for a second section, then the current teacher has been asked to teacher it." All that, combined with a selection procedure that so clearly guaranteed only one section's worth of eligible students (a point that no teacher or administrator seems to understand).
Now I'm hearing that at least some parents of students who did not get into the class are reluctant to say anything because they fear repercussions from the West staff.
Mission accomplished? I guess so, though it depends on what your mission is.
Interestingly, today's SLC grant focus group at West included a long discussion of the fact that we have no PTSO officers for next year and what sort of parental frustration and dissatisfaction with the school might account for that.
As some of you may recall, back in December, I posted a few questions to the members of Madison Partners for Inclusive Education. As a result of that posting, several members of each group have met a couple of times in order to try and make personal connections and identify areas of shared concern and potential joint advocacy. It is too early to say how that effort is going. I, personally, am ever hopeful that we can find the patience and persistence needed to build a foundation of mutual understanding and trust, a foundation upon which we can ultimately work together for all children.
I would like to share a recent exchange from the MUAE list serve (where MPIE members have been welcome since the get-go -- in fact, more than one are longtime MUAE list serve members). In response to a post about one of the BOE candidates, an MPIE member wrote the following:
I would like to clarify something that was misstated in a recent post. Madison Partners for Inclusive Education (MPIE) does NOT promote or endorse COMPLETELY heterogeneous classrooms ALL the time. The group does not think completely heterogeneous classrooms all of the time is in the best interest of children with disabilities. Their website goes on to explain their philosophy: http://www.madisonpartnersforinclusion.org/whatisinclusion.html Thank you for understanding this and clarifying in future posts.
I then replied:
Thanks for the clarification, though I really think we are in agreement on this point. Certainly the inclusion decision for students with disabilities should be a flexible one, based on the specific nature of the disabilities, the specific educational needs, and the family's preference for their child. Most of us know, for example, about IDEA and the K-12 IEP process. We know, too, that our high schools offer alternative classes and other learning options for those students with disabilities for whom the "regular" classes are not appropriate.
I am sure we get sloppy with our language, at times; but our language errors are surely inadvertent, mostly because -- like all parents -- we are simply thinking about our own children, whether or not they are thriving, and whether or not their needs are being well met by our schools. We are guilty of being good parents. Nevertheless, we apologize.
The fact is, we do not want much of anything to change for students with disabilities. (We would like to see the state and federal governments pay a larger portion of the tab for special education -- can we encourage your group to take the lead on that issue at the local level?). We support all of the flexibility, all of the options, and all of the tailoring of educational programming that goes on for them during their years in the MMSD. MUAE stands absolutely with MPIE on that, as I see it (though obviously I really can't speak for everyone). We are your partners there.
We ask the same of you.
I wonder, will you be our partners in getting our children's educational needs met in the same way that the needs of students with disabilities are met? Just as you do not think placement in completely heterogeneous classrooms all of the time is in the best interest of children with disabilities, so do we think such placement is inappropriate for our children. Full days spent in "regular" classrooms does not necessarily meet our children's educational needs any better than it does your children's needs. We are told the District is committed to giving each student the appropriate "next level of challenge." And yet too many of us know (or have) "formerly bright" students who have become turned off to school as a result of too many years of insufficient challenge and chronic boredom. They are miserable. They are in pain. They are not growing well at all. Meanwhile, our advocacy efforts on our children's behalf are too often met with disdain, deception and complete stonewalling. We do not yet have the same legal foundation on which to stand as you do.
We at MUAE are simply asking for the same flexibility -- in thinking, in approach, in educational opportunity and in classroom placement -- for the District's highest potential, highest performing students that students with disabilities experience. Nothing more; nothing less.
Can you and the other MPIE members support us in that position as wholeheartedly as MUAE members support you in yours? (That's really the question I was asking of you in my SIS post a while back.)
I hope so.
State gifted education advocate and Madison attorney Todd Palmer recently filed a request for a judicial "summary judgement" in the matter of "Todd Palmer v. The State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Elizabeth Burmaster." As he explained it to me in layperson's terms, a summary judgment "is a procedure wherein a party (me) asks the judge to render a decision based on the record. I am essentially arguing that the factual issues here are undisputed, therefore the judge can render a decision without a trial. I have every expectation that this motion will decide all relevant issues (one way or the other) and therefore we will avoid a trial. The state (DPI) must respond to my motion on or before 12/1/06." Todd expects a decision from Judge Nowakowski sometime in January, 2007.
The complete document has been posted on the Madison United for Academic Excellence (MUAE) website -- http://madisonunited.org/documents/pld_061101_brief_in_supp_MSJ1.pdf
Here is the Introduction:
This case is about a state agency purposely ignoring statutory mandates that require educational opportunities to be provided to an entire class of underserved and at-risk children -- specifically those labeled as "gifted and talented."
At their core, the issues before this Court are straightforward: Can a state agency ignore a legislative directive to promulgate rules governing this underserved class of children? Alternatively, can a state agency unilaterally transfer this rulemaking responsibility to local units of government in contradiction of a clear legislative directive? The clear answer to both issues is no.
Here, these issues arise in the context of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's ("DPI") failure -- for nearly 20 years -- to promulgate rules which implement and administer the gifted education mandates set forth in Wis. Stat. 118.35(2) and 121.02. In these two statutes, the Legislature clearly directed DPI to:
1) "BY RULE establish guidelines for the identification of gifted and talented pupils." See Wis. Stat. 118.35(2).
2) "PROMULGATE RULES to implement and administer" the legislative mandate that each school board "provide access to an appropriate program for pupils identified as gifted or talented." See Wis. Stat. 121.02(1)(t) and (5).
3) "PROMULGATE RULES to implement and administer" an auditing program to ensure that school boards are providing gifted students with access to appropriate programs. See Wis. Stat. 121.02(2) and (5).
To date, DPI has not promulgated rules meeting these directives. Instead, DPI has perpetuated a regulatory environment for nearly two decades whereby Wisconsin's 426 school boards have had: (a) no rules for identifying the gifted children within their district which require specialized services; (b) no rules defining what specialilzed educational services must be provided to these students once identified; and (c) no rules defining how DPI will unilaterally audit school boards to ensure compliance with these gifted education mandates.
In the absence of these rules and DPI's total abdication of its responsibilities, school districts have largely ignored their obligations owed to gifted children and many are openly planning to severely cut or altogether eliminate gifted programs in the future. This is a serious situation. Former State Superintendent of DPI, Herbert Grover, described the status of gifted education in Wisconsin as follows:
Research continues to show that, as a group, gifted and talented children are the most underserved pupils in public schools. Too often, these pupils are ignored, restricted, or underachieving and, if not part of the typical dropout statistics, have become in-school dropouts.
In order to educate yourself about the status of gifted education in Wisconsin, I encourage you to read the entire brief.
For additional background, here is the link to a previous entry about Todd's March, 2006, lawsuit against the DPI:
Link to the DPI Gifted Education home page: http://dpi.wi.gov/cal/gifted.html
Monday, June 5, 2006 · Last updated 8:37 a.m. PT
Supreme Court to hear schools race case
By GINA HOLLAND
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
With the addition of the Supreme Court's newest member, Justice Samuel Alito Jr., top row at right, the high court sits for a new group photograph, Friday, March 3, 2006, at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. Seated in the front row, from left to right are: Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, and Associate Justice David Souter. Standing, from left to right, in the top row, are: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. The Supreme Court said Monday, June 5, 2006, that it will decide the extent to which public schools can use race in deciding school assignments, setting the stage for a landmark affirmative action ruling (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court said Monday it will decide the extent to which public schools can use race in deciding school assignments, setting the stage for a landmark affirmative action ruling.
Justices will hear appeals from a Seattle parents group and a Kentucky parent, ruling for the first time on diversity plans used by a host of school districts around the country.
Race cases have been difficult for the justices. The court's announcement that it will take up the cases this fall provides the first sign of an aggressiveness by the court under new Chief Justice John Roberts.
The court rejected a similar case in December when moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was still on the bench. The outcome of this case will turn on her successor, Samuel Alito.
"Looming in the background of this is the constitutionality of affirmative action," said Davison Douglas, a law professor at William and Mary. "This is huge."
Arguments will likely take place in November. The court's announcement followed six weeks of internal deliberations over whether to hear the appeals, an unusually long time.
In one of the cases, an appeals court had upheld Seattle's system, which lets students pick among high schools and then relies on tiebreakers, including race, to decide who gets into schools that have more applicants than openings.
The lower court decision was based in part on a Supreme Court ruling three years ago, written by O'Connor, which said that colleges and universities could select students based at least in part on race.
The court also will also consider a school desegregation policy in Kentucky. That case is somewhat different, because the school district had long been under a federal court decree to end segregation in its schools. After the decree ended, the district in 2001 began using a plan that includes race guidelines.
A federal judge had said system did not require quotas, and that other factors were considered including geographic boundaries and special programs.
A mother, Crystal Meredith, claimed her son was denied entrance into the neighborhood school because he is white. The Jefferson County school district, which covers metropolitan Louisville, Ky., and has nearly 100,000 students, was ordered to desegregate its schools in 1974.
The court will also consider whether Seattle's so-called integration tiebreaker system, which has been discontinued, is tailored to meet a "compelling interest" by the school.
A group called Parents Involved in Community Schools sued in July 2000, arguing that it was unfair for the school district to consider race, and Seattle halted the system.
Lawyers for the Seattle school district had told justices that it was not known what the district's new school board and new superintendent would do now.
Under the district's plan, the first tiebreaker was whether an applicant has a sibling already at the school. The second tiebreaker was race: which applicant would bring the high school closer to the districtwide ratio of whites to nonwhites, roughly 40 percent to 60 percent. The third tiebreaker was distance, with closer students getting preference.
Seattle has about 46,000 public-school students. The racial tiebreaker helped some whites get into predominantly minority schools, and vice versa.
The cases are Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, 05-908, and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 05-915.
I recently posted a comparative list of the English courses offered to 9th and 10th graders at Madison's four high schools. The list showed clearly that West High School does not offer its high achieving and highly motivated 9th and 10th grade students the same appropriately challenging English classes that are offered at East, LaFollette and Memorial.
Here is the yield from a similar comparison for 9th and 10th grade Social Studies and Science.
Social Studies -- Ninth Grade
East: U.S. History 9, TAG U.S. History (U.S. History or TAG U.S. History required)
LaFollette: Exploring U.S. History, Challenges of Democracy (a.k.a. Advanced U.S. History) (Exploring U.S. History or Challenges of Democracy required)
Memorial: American Experience 1 and 2, 9th grade elective -- .25 credit course "Interdisciplinary TAG" (American History 1 and 2 required)
West: U.S. History (required)
Social Studies -- Tenth Grade
East: World History, TAG World History, Ethnic Studies, Social Psychology (consent of instructor required for 10th graders only), American Politics and Government (World History or TAG World History required)
LaFollette: World History, Civilizations (a.k.a. Advanced World History), Challenges of Democracy, American Women's History, AP European History, AP Psychology (World History or Civilizations required)
Memorial: World History, World History AP, American Politics Today, International Relations and National Security Issues, Women In U.S. History, The Ancient World, Modern European History AP (World History required; World History AP can replace World History)
West: Western Civilization 10, Tools for Success in the Social Sciences (World Civilization 10 required)
Science -- Ninth Grade
East: Biology I, Biology 9 for Talented and Gifted (number of sections depends on demand)
LaFollette: General Biology I, Honors Biology I (number of sections sections depends on demand)
Memorial: Integrated Science, 9th grade elective -- .25 credit course "Interdisciplinary TAG" (Integrated Science required)
West: Biology (embedded honors option available beginning 2006-07), Accelerated Biology (one section of 24 students, regardless of demand)
Science -- Tenth Grade
East: Chemistry, Chemistry for Talented and Gifted, Earth Science 1, Earth Science 2, Biology I, Physical Science Chemistry, Physical Science Physics, Advanced Laboratory Science
LaFollette: General Biology I, Honors Biology I, Practical Biological Science, Biology II, Physical Science, Practical Physical Science, General Physics, Math Physics 1 and 2
Memorial: Earth Science 1, Fundamentals of Biology, Biology, General Physics, Chemistry in the Community, Math Chemistry, Chemistry AP, Aircraft Construction (Biology AP is available to 11th and 12th graders -- Biology is not a pre-req for Biology AP)
West: Biology (embedded honors option available beginning 2006-07), Biology II, Earth Science, Chemistry, Chemistry in the Community
I have asked the District and West High School administrations to please explain to me how the more limited course offerings at West fulfill the District's legal responsibilities to the school's academically talented and highly motivated 9th and 10th grade students, under the requirements set forth by Wisconsin State Standard t.
I have also asked if the District has plans to "re-design" our four high schools with an eye on equity of educational opportunity, in the same way the District's eleven middle schools were evaluated this year. I have asked if the plan is to bring West in line with the other three high schools or vice versa.
Stay tuned for more.
New Glarus parent and Madison attorney Todd Palmer has filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and DPI Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster for their failure to promulgate rules for the identification and appropriate education of Wisconsin's 51,000 academically gifted students, as is required by Wisconsin state law. Here is the press release; a link to the lawsuit itself may be found at the end.
Todd will be joining us for the beginning portion of our Madison United for Academic Excellence meeting on Thursday, March 23, at 7:00 p.m. in Room 209 of the Doyle Administration Building. We will also be discussing the INSTEP process and the District's new TAG education plan, currently under development. Come share your experiences and offer your input. All who care about rigorous curriculum and high educational standards are welcome.
CONCERNED PARENT FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION CONCERNING GIFTED AND TALENTED EDUCATION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2006
On March 2, 2006, a lawsuit was filed in Dane County Circuit Court against the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster. The lawsuit challenges DPI’s failure to promulgate rules to govern public school districts in educating pupils identified as gifted and talented.
At present, DPI estimates that there are over 51,000 Wisconsin school children enrolled in Wisconsin’s public schools who are gifted and qualify for special educational programs. However, Wisconsin lacks a comprehensive, objective and clearly defined set of rules to ensure that all 426 school districts in our state meet the needs of these students. A recent Legislative Audit Bureau investigation demonstrated that in the absence of these rules, the needs of these gifted and talented students are not being met. According to DPI, this problem is only getting worse.
DPI has acknowledged that, “Wisconsin state law requires school districts to establish programs for these pupils, but the fiscal pressures facing many school districts has led a growing number of them to severely curtail or eliminate these programs.” DPI has acknowledged that gifted students are the most underserved pupils in public schools and that “too often, these pupils are ignored, restricted or underachieving and, if not part of the typical dropout statistics, have become in-school dropouts.”
On November 29, 2005, approximately 200 parents filed a Petition with DPI asking that DPIcreate rules to ensure that the educational needs of gifted children are being met. By letter dated February 1, 2006, DPI refused to issue those rules. The March 2, 2006 lawsuit challenges DPI’s denial of that Petition and asks the Court to order that DPI create these rules that are required by state law.
According to Todd Palmer, a parent and the attorney who filed the lawsuit, “Many school districts simply ignore the needs of gifted and talented students because adequate rules are not in place to define appropriate programs for these children and to ensure those requirements are enforced.”
According to Palmer, “Recent surveys show that 60% of the Wisconsin school districts plan to cut or altogether eliminate their talented and gifted programs despite the statutory mandate that requires these programs to be offered to students.” He believes this state’s problem is exacerbated by a lack of federal funding for gifted education, “recent estimates predict that only 3/10 of a penny per $100 spent on education in this country is devoted to gifted children.”
DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C.
Link to Todd's lawsuit: http://tagparents.org/documents/DPIsuit.pdf
Link to the DPI Gifted Education home page: http://dpi.wi.gov/cal/gifted.html
Thanks to the kind generosity of the civic-minded folks at Ingersoll-Rand, teachers at Boca Raton's Don Estridge High Tech Middle School will no longer have to take attendance. Side benefit: malleable, young students will become conditioned and eager to submit their body parts for biometric identification in the future.
Obligatory stomach-churning quote:
"It's for the teachers' protection as well as the kids ... my kids are telling everyone about it. They think it's so high-tech, so FBI, so cool."In case you experience any cognitive dissonance with the sentiment above, just keep repeating the following handy mantra to yourself: "it's for our protection, it's for our protection, it's for our protection..."
BTW - Don Estridge headed up the skunk works in Boca Raton that led to the 1981 IBM PC. (Estridge died in the 1985 Delta L-1011 crash at DFW airport).