Friday, November 12, 2010

Quick Hits

Ore. school boosts ELL performance with intensive reading time: A Portland, Ore., elementary school where roughly one-third of students are English-language learners is improving these students' reading skills with intensive two-hour periods of daily literacy time. The first hour is devoted to a classroom lesson for students of all abilities, and the second hour is focused on differentiated, small-group instruction. The school's strategy has helped it become the best-performing elementary school for students who are English-language learners in a district that has otherwise shown poor results for these students. (The Portland Tribune)

How can professional-development programs be improved?: The focus on professional development for teachers has increased, but there remains uncertainty over what effective professional development is and how it can translate into better results for students. This analysis shows that many professional-development programs lack standards and accountability. Some schools also might be selecting inappropriate training for their teachers. "We should start where students' weaknesses and shortcomings are and then seek strategies or techniques to help [teachers] understand those shortcomings," one education professor said. (Education Week)

Houston offers bonuses to principals who raise achievement at struggling schools: The Houston school board voted 7-1 on Thursday to offer principals of nine academically troubled schools the potential of earning extra bonuses if they improve student performance. The incentive program, which gives the principals the potential to receive as much as $45,000 on top of their salaries, had come under fire from some parents and the teachers' union. The bonuses are reserved for principals in Superintendent Terry Grier's signature school reform program called Apollo 20. Board member Carol Mims Galloway voted against the incentives, saying that the staff members who "are making it happen for the students are the teachers."(Houston Chronicle)

Civil rights complaints focus on schools' compliance with Title IX: The National Women's Law Center filed civil rights complaints against 12 U.S. school districts Wednesday, claiming a disproportionately low number of female students are participating in athletics. The complaints are reportedly part of a campaign to raise awareness about Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination in public schools. There is a "widespread pattern of schools failing to give girls as many chances as boys to play sports," an NWLC official said. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Seniors in Pa. district are back in school despite teacher strike: High-school seniors in a Pennsylvania school district where teachers have been on strike since Oct. 25 are back in school, participating in field trips and attending makeshift classes taught by school administrators. Students who take Advanced Placement classes are using online "Study Island" classes to keep up with their courses. "We can't replicate what the teachers do in the classroom," one principal said. "What we are trying to provide is a good experience so they can graduate on time." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Should charters and traditional schools be collaborating more?: aboration between charter and public schools is not as common as many had expected, but a few successful examples show promise for arrangements in which the schools are working together. Critics of charters say many of the charter schools' innovative practices began in traditional public schools, but charter proponents say they have some ideas that are worth replicating. "We were trying to move past the whole charter-war debates and move to a more productive place," one charter-school advocate said. (Education Week)

Magazine executive to run NYC schools as Klein resigns: New York City's schools chief Joel I. Klein, a former media executive who carried out an overhaul of the nation's largest school system, announced his resignation Tuesday. Klein -- who will stay on until the end of the year -- served for eight years, during which he sought to boost student achievement and hold teachers accountable for student learning. He will be replaced by Cathleen P. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, who -- like Klein -- has no background in education and will become the first woman to preside over the city's schools. (The New York Times)

Education Department releases national technology plan: Education Secretary Arne Duncan released the final version of the National Education Technology Plan on Tuesday. The plan -- which emphasizes the role of the department as a facilitator -- is focused on enhancing academic instruction through Internet-based learning, a decreased emphasis on "seat time" and a preference for more flexibility. The document also includes plans to fund the creation of open-source resources for schools and online professional learning communities for teachers, among other initiatives. (Education Week) (T.H.E. Journal)

Are charter schools weeding out their weaker students?: Charter schools are growing in popularity in Chicago, with some 11,000 students on waiting lists. However, data show that students are leaving the charters at a high rate. Critics say the schools weed out the weakest students -- particularly those who are struggling academically or have behavioral difficulties -- but charter officials say they carefully consider all transfer requests and work hard to ensure that struggling students stay on and improve. (WBEZ-FM)


Caroline Marcum said...

The article concerning the Bethel Park seniors was quite interesting to me. I was impressed that the seniors decided to go back to school so they could graduate. When I first read this article, I was not fully aware of the situation. But as I read on, I began to wonder what was going through the teacher’s minds when they decided to go on this strike. Not every teacher is educated at Eastern like I am, but is the common reason to be a teacher to do one simple thing; teach? I was appalled at the fact that these teachers left a graduating class of seniors to possibly not be able to walk across the stage. In fact, as I read on, I found that the entire school district was not in session because [as it was implied], all of these teachers were on strike! I know as a teacher, I would never even dream of doing this to students, would you? It was amazing to even think of what reactions of parents and the students themselves were. If this had ever happened to me while I was in school, I would have been furious at the teachers who decided their needs were more important than my education.

jean said...

I'd have to agree with Caroline, the fact that this strike is still going on is wrong. I agree with trying to improve your life, but as an educator it shouldn't negatively impact your students. Also I typically wouldn't comment too harshly about such a strike, except for the fact that not only am I aware of how a strike can affect students but also because according to the Post Gazette, this marks the sixth time that this school has had such a strike.
In addition a quote from an article the Post Gazette released covering the strike states that "According to the board's news release, 106 teachers nearly a fourth of the 391 union members are at the top of the salary scale, in at least the 17th year of teaching, with an average pay of $93,151."
These teachers either need to strike in regards to their union fees or settle until after graduation this summer. The fact that they are risking an entire class of seniors not graduating to me says that they neither care about their students or their integrity as an educator. Education should never be withheld from a person though I know such things have happened since the beginning of time, however in our day it shouldn't be a case. Giving your student a proper education should be on the top priority list for a teacher, way above attempts to picket or stretching out a strike to last for several weeks. In my own personal opinion, if an agreement can not be reached soon, why not bring in a new round of teachers who are willing to teach.

I'm not going to say that these teachers who are striking are intentionally bad teachers, I'm sure that some of them are just thinking of their own families- that however can not always be the case in this field. Some times as a teacher you have to learn to put others before yourself - the same as a parent. A good way to put it would be to say teachers are humanoids. We are supposed to be human yet hide emotions that would cause trouble in our educational environment. I would say it fair to assume that the hostility that floats around a strike would be one of those emotions.
I merely hope for the sake of the potentially graduating class of 2011 that this strike comes to an end that satisfies all and they can walk that stage.

Bethany Husband said...

I enjoyed the section about the teacher strike in PA. I was so amazed that the seniors actually came back to school on their own to secure their graduation. I do not know many students who would willingly come back to school if they were not forced to. I was hoping the article would include many parent opinions about the strike and the fact that their children were not in school, but it was mainly focused on teachers and the seniors. I am proud of those seniors to take the responsibility and initiative to come back and finish out the year, I feel that the teachers would share the same feelings as me.

Latosha Adams said...

In correlation to Caroline Marcum. I agree with you that what the teachers did was awful. However, you seem to be more concerned for the Seniors (which I am concerned for them as well) but I still think that a huge issue is the other students that are sitting at home. The seniors decided to come back because they want to graduate. What about the others; how does this affect their high school careers? I am very concerned for them and the incoming middle schoolers the next year.

Brian Carter said...

As a middle school teacher candidate, and father of two public school students, it is imperative for the well being of the student to have high standards and expectations set before them. Many students will only work toward to achieve this standard, and without some coaching and encouragement from the staff, most will perform with just enough effort to exceed the minimum. The discipline and rigor schedule of the charter curriculum will challenge these students and further prepare them for higher learning. Not withstanding any effort from public nor private schools, I applaud charters for their efforts to enforce accelerated learning at the entry level.