Thursday, February 24, 2011

Va. teen's suicide prompts Md. review of disciplinary policies

By Donna St. George
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 23, 2011; 11:05 PM

(The following is related to Sunday's WaPo article, Suicide turns attention to Fairfax discipline procedures.)

Maryland officials will ask school systems across the state to examine their disciplinary policies in the aftermath of the suicide of a Northern Virginia football player who took his life as he grappled with the fallout of being suspended from his high school.

The Maryland Board of Education asked for a review of policies in the state's 24 school systems, expressing concern about any existing "zero tolerance" practices and a need for support services for suspended students.

"I want to get some assurance that this never happens in our districts," said Kate Walsh, a member of Maryland's State Board of Education..."

Read more HERE.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Digital Learning Programs Around the Country

Feb 9, 2011 – 10:31 AM
AOL News

An ongoing experiment with digital learning is changing the look and feel of American education. In New York City, the country's largest public school system, a pilot program was launched in the fall to test three types of digital learning courses: Advanced Placement, credit recovery and blended learning, which combines online courses with traditional face-to-face instruction. Elsewhere around the country, states, school districts and private institutions are testing the waters in what could amount to an educational revolution.

Here are a few examples of those programs:
1. George Washington University Online High School

In January, classes opened at George Washington University's virtual prep school -- a private, virtual high school, officially known as George Washington University Online High School. The school has 16 matriculated students from nine states so far, according to The Washington Post. It is operated by online education company K12 Inc. (many of the current students are reportedly children of K12 employees) and has plans to open its virtual doors to students worldwide. One year's tuition at the school costs $9,995.

2. Florida Virtual School

When it was founded in 1997, Florida Virtual School was the first statewide online high school. Today, it's the country's largest e-learning system, with more than 220,000 students taking at least one online course in grades K-12. FLVS courses are free to Florida residents and provide options for students who need flexible school schedules or who want to take classes that aren't offered at their own schools. School districts are also using virtual courses to meet a class size-limit law, which doesn't apply to e-learning labs, according to The New York Times.

3. Credit Recovery in Houston

The Houston Independent School District offers online credit-recovery courses to students in danger of failing a class. This fall, 2,500 students were enrolled in the program and 27 "grad coaches" -- not teachers -- were tasked with monitoring their progress, according to The New York Times. The program is touted as a cost-effective means to improving graduation rates.

4. California Virtual Academies

The California Virtual Academies is a network of nine online charter schools throughout the state. During the 2008-2009 school year, CAVA had more than 10,000 students enrolled. This fall, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest public school district in the country, opened the City of Angels Virtual Academy, an online high school offering ninth- and 10th-grade curricula.

5. 39 State Programs

According to Keeping Pace, they are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The states that do not have state virtual schools or online learning initiatives are Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Homepage High: Computer No Substitute for Teacher at Tech High

Part 3 of a three-part series on joining the digital learning revolution in America.

NEW YORK -- The High School of Telecommunication Arts & Technology is something of a misnomer, Principal Phil Weinberg explains. The Brooklyn school's curriculum doesn't focus on telecommunications or technology any more than the next school does.

"We're a high school, like every high school in the city should be," Weinberg said.

But a new program implemented this year adds a little authenticity to the word "technology" in the verbose name. As part of New York's iLearnNYC program, the school is piloting online credit-recovery courses for some of its 1,300 students.

A burgeoning movement toward digital learning is changing the face of education in schools nationwide. A 2009 study by the Sloan Consortium estimated that more than a million K-12 students were enrolled in at least one online course during the 2007-2008 school year. In secondary schools, the most popular type of digital course is credit recovery, according to a 2010 report by the Babson Survey Research Group. And in November, the federal Department of Education released its National Ed-Tech Plan, calling for "revolutionary transformation rather than evolutionary tinkering" in American schools.

Read more HERE

Friday, February 11, 2011

Homepage High: Computer Subs for AP Teacher

Part 2 of a three-part series on joining the digital learning revolution in America.

NEW YORK -- Norma Vega, principal of the ELLIS Preparatory Academy in the Bronx, faces a conundrum familiar to many high school principals: Limited resources restrict the number of classes she can offer her students. And though she tries to give them every opportunity to prepare for college, with very few students ready for Advanced Placement classes, she hasn't hired an AP teacher.

"It's about what's most efficient and what's most effective," Vega said. "If I don't have 25 kids, how do I justify hiring an AP teacher that I don't have at least a full class for?"

And yet, 12 of her 241 students are taking either AP English or AP American history this year -- just not in the traditional sense. They're taking it online.

A nascent digital revolution is taking place in some American schools, where administrators and teachers are rethinking traditional classes and experimenting with online learning. A study conducted last year by the Sloan Consortium found that 75 percent of school districts surveyed nationwide offered online or blended learning courses during the 2007-2008 school year. And online learning isn't just spreading, it's spreading quickly. The number of K-12 students enrolled in online courses increased 47 percent in those two years.
Read more HERE

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homepage High: Teachers, Computers, No Textbooks

Part 1 of a three-part series on joining the digital learning revolution in America.

NEW YORK -- Anastacia Brie, a science teacher at New York City's Hudson High School of Learning Technologies, recently realized why she wasn't tripping over backpacks in her classroom anymore. Her students' bags no longer hold textbooks.

This seemingly insignificant detail belies a new approach to learning that's changing the look and feel of classrooms nationwide. There are no textbooks at Hudson High School because the content is entirely digital. The school (originally called Homepage High School) opened in the fall with a vision of combining online courses with face-to-face instruction, a method known as blended learning.

"My hope is that we're going to change the way education looks in this little place, in this little school," said Principal Nancy Amling, who created the school with the city's Education Department, "and that ultimately we will impact all of New York City."

Read more HERE

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Superintendents' Contracts

The following information has been provided by a blog reader, with a request that it be posted. I welcome your comments.

Fairfax ˜ base salary in 2009 $292,469 (plus $65,500 in deferred pension pay investments)

to manage 22,000 employees,
173,000 students and a
$2.2 billion budget (billion, with a ˆb-)

Montgomery ˜ no details; Washington Post reported in 2009 his compensation package was worth $500,000

to manage
22,026 employees,
141,777 students and also a
$2.2 billion budget (billion, with a ˆb-)

Charles ˜ base salary $289,050

to manage
3,397 employees,
26,779 students and a
$299.5 million budget (million, with an ˆm-)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Notes from the Board of Education Meeting, 2/8/11

The Board Meeting on Tuesday, February 8th will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 and is available via webstream at . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes.
Executive session 12 p.m.
Call to order 1 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance, La Plata High School's JROTC unit
Superintendent's update  - read report
Correspondence/Board Member updates

  • Wade - accolades to Mr. Richmond on telepresence
  • Pedersen - School visits; spoke with teachers about reviews
  • Wise - school visits; career center scholarship programs....March 1st deadline
Presentation on advertising on school buses
  • "Saying it Loud" Presentation
  • Wise - brought forth fraudulent letters of support from the company; COMAR rules, etc.
  • Abell - Safety of students if other drivers are reading signs on buses; commercialism of our students, don't they get enough.
  • Wade - Doesn't see a reason to change the yellow school bus.  no distractions needed.
  • Bowie - business perspective, not a good investment, buses aren't used year round.
  • Bakare - surveyed student opinions and they don't want it.  It's odd.
Motion to vote today by Pedersen; Second by Wade
Yes=Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen,Wade, Wise
Motion to deny by Cook; Second by Pedersem
Yes=Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen,Wade, Wise

Education Association of Charles County update - read report

Student Board Member update - read report

Deputy Superintendent Update - Parent Advisory Committee
  • Abell - requested update on the cell phone policy review committee
CIP update - read report

Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA); Minority Achievement; and potential Advanced Placement (AP) teachers
  • See power point
Budget Update - See report

Legislative update - See report

Unfinished business
  • Pedersen - thanks to the students for participation in the Diversity Forum
  • Wade - thanks to the people that clean the school parking lots; cadets that open our meetings are part of a larger force.  kudos to the military and don't cut the JROTC programs
New business
  • Pedersen - question regardimg dates and agendas for work sessions
Future agenda items - none

Recognition 4:30 p.m.
  • Students
  • Employees
  • Resolutions: Read Across Charles County, Women's History Month and Fine and Performing Arts Month
I had to excuse myself at this time due to family commitment.

Public Forum 6 p.m.
Action items

  • Minutes
  • Personnel

Your Turn: Give Parents More Power in Schools

Theodora Chang and Erica Williams
The Root/ Education Reform
Posted: February 8, 2011

The case of the Ohio mother jailed for enrolling her daughter in an out-of district school shatters the myth that low-income parents don't care about their children's education. More parental involvement could speed up education reform.

The tale of Kelley Williams-Bolar, a Ohio mother sentenced to jail on Jan. 19 and fined $30,000 for enrolling her daughter in an out-of-district school, has taken on a life of its own. Her story has sparked rallies, petitions and a robust national dialogue about educational equity. But it is more than an illustration of the egregious economic, geographic and racial inequities in our public education system. Williams-Bolar has become the poster parent for a very specific issue in the education-reform movement: parental involvement and choice.

Her story stands in stark contrast to the popular but wildly inaccurate narrative of low-income parents of color being uninterested in -- and stubborn obstacles to -- their children's education. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated (pdf) that low-income and minority parents strongly value education and higher achievement. The question is, what can engaged parents like Williams-Bolar do right now as the arduous reform process moves along?

The current Elementary and Secondary Education Act includes some parental-involvement policies focused on school-parent compacts and parent-teacher conferences. But many parents find these tools inadequate, and they are using more dramatic options.

Read more HERE.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, 2/8/11

The Board of Education's next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m. and student and staff recognition starts at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12 and is rebroadcast throughout the week. The meeting is also streamed live on the Charles County Public Schools Web site. Visit to watch the meeting.

Executive session 12 p.m.
Call to order 1 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance, La Plata High School's JROTC unit
Superintendent's update
Reports of officers/boards/committees

  • Correspondence/Board Member updates
  • Presentation on advertising on school buses
  • Education Association of Charles County update
  • Student Board Member update
  • CIP update
  • Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA); Minority Achievement; and potential Advanced Placement (AP) teachers
  • Budget update
  • Legislative update
Unfinished business

New business and future agenda items
  • New business
  • Future agenda items
Recognition 4:30 p.m.
  • Students
  • Employees
  • Resolutions: Read Across Charles County, Women's History Month and Fine and Performing Arts Month
Public Forum 6 p.m.
Action items

  • Minutes
  • Personnel

Facebook 'Bait' Pages Raises Flags

Parents, school officials concerned
Friday, Feb. 4, 2011
Staff writer

Anonymous Facebook pages that rate students' attractiveness have many school communities in the county concerned.
The pages are found on the popular social networking site where people post information and photos for friends and family to see.
The members of these pages are posting photographs of students and fellow members post comments, which are usually of a "sexual, hurtful or otherwise inappropriate nature," the Charles County Sheriff's Office has warned on its Facebook page.
Elizabeth Bellet, 17, a student at Thomas Stone High School, said the pages are "the worst thing to come to Charles County schools in a long time."

Read more HERE

Friday, February 04, 2011

The fine art of polishing your online persona

Jenna Johnson
Campus Overload
The Washington Post
February 3, 2011

Your high school career is coming to an end and college is already on the horizon. You've worked hard all these years, putting together a terrific academic record that will hopefully lead to acceptance to the college of your choice.

Your applications have all been submitted -- but you could still be sending info about yourself to the admissions committee without realizing it.

All of your hard work could possibly be undone by a not-so-great online and social media footprint. You probably didn't think a college admissions officer would look at your Facebook page, MySpace homepage, Twitter feed or the videos you uploaded to YouTube... but there's a chance that's exactly what they're doing.

Read more HERE.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

7th Youth Arrested in Bullying of Teenager in Philadelphia

The New York Times
Published: February 1, 2011

PHILADELPHIA — A seventh teenager was arrested on Tuesday in a bullying incident in which a 13-year-old student was kicked and beaten before being hung by his coat from a spiked fence post, the police said.

The attack on the 13-year-old boy, whose family came to the United States to escape the war in Liberia in 2000, was recorded on video by one of the suspects.

Read more HERE.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Plastic pellet incident at Va. school ends in expulsion, assault charges

By Kevin Sieff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 1, 2011; 8:55 PM

Andrew Mikel II admits it was a stupid thing to do. In December, bored and craving attention, the 14-year-old used a plastic tube to blow small plastic pellets at fellow students in Spotsylvania High School. In one lunch period, he scored three hits.

"They flinched. They looked annoyed," Mikel said.

The school district saw it as more than a childish prank. School officials expelled him for possession and use of a weapon, and they called a deputy sheriff to the scene, said Mikel and his father, Andrew Mikel Sr.

Read more HERE.

'A Rosa Parks moment for education'

By Kevin Huffman
The Washington Post
Monday, January 31, 2011

Last week, 40-year-old Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar was released after serving nine days in jail on a felony conviction for tampering with records. Williams-Bolar's offense? Lying about her address so her two daughters, zoned to the lousy Akron city schools, could attend better schools in the neighboring Copley-Fairlawn district.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Duncan, Lee urge more black men to become teachers

The Associated Press
Monday, January 31, 2011; 4:54 PM

ATLANTA -- Filmmaker Spike Lee joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan in issuing a call Monday for more black men to become teachers, making their plea at the country's only all-male historically black college.

The two took part in a town hall meeting at Atlanta's private Morehouse College just a week after President Barack Obama urged more people nationwide to become teachers.

Duncan told an audience that more than 1 million educators are expected to retire in the coming decade and that federal officials are hoping to harness that opportunity to create a more diverse teaching work force, noting that less than 2 percent of the nation's 3 million teachers are black men.

Read more HERE.

Three-year-old suspended from Arlington preschool for too many potty accidents

By Brigid Schulte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 30, 2011; 12:56 AM

Zoe Rosso, who is 3 years old, likes to bake brownies with her mom, go to tumbling class and make up elaborate worlds with tiny plastic animals and dolls. Like many children her age, she sometimes has difficulty making it to the toilet on time.

That's why she was suspended from her preschool. For a month.

Arlington Public Schools' Montessori preschool at Claremont Elementary "removed" Zoe in December, asking her parents not to bring her back to school for a month, or until the child learned not to have any more "accidents."

The principal escorted Zoe and her mother, Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso, from the building on Dec. 3. "The principal told me that Zoe had had enough chances," Rosso said. "That seemed absurd to me. It came as a total shock."

Read more HERE.