Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Second-grade teacher's unique homework policy goes viral

Second-grade teacher's unique homework policy goes viral

 

...[T]here’s at least one stressful thing second-graders at Godley Elementary School in Texas won’t have to worry about this year: homework.



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Brandy Young teaches 2nd grade at Godley Elementary School in Godley, Texas.
godleyisd.net
Brandy Young, a second-grade teacher at the school, passed out a letter to every parent at a “Meet the Teacher Night” ahead of the start of the school year to explain her new homework policy -- or should we say, no-homework policy.

A pleased parent posted a photo of the letter on her Facebook page, and it went viral with more than 59,000 shares...

“There will be no formally assigned homework this year,” Brandy Young explained in the letter. “Rather, I ask you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

The teacher said homework just wasn’t working for her classroom anymore. So, she decided to make meaningful change.

“[Students] work hard all day. When they go home they have other things they need to learn there,” Young told CBS News. “I’m trying to develop their whole person; it’s not beneficial to go home and do pencil and paper work.”...




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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Teacher of the Year urges Gompers’ community to be accountable

I loved teaching primary grades because I could teach kids basic skills instead of teaching over students' heads, forcing them to go through the motions, pretending they understand what they're doing. But even in primary grades teachers face pressure to teach at the level of the students' age rather than their actual level. And most or all of this pressure usually comes from other teachers.
 

Teacher of the Year urges Gompers’ community to be accountable
More than 25 teachers and students have come forward to talk about allegations of grade inflation and unrealistic academic expectations detailed by inewsource last week in an investigation of Gompers Preparatory Academy. The school is a sixth-through-12th grade charter in southeastern San Diego that promises “students can succeed at the university of their choice.”

Maria Miller, a resident of nearby Encanto, was named Teacher of the Year during one of her three years at the school. She’s currently an 8th-grade teacher at Lewis Middle School.

Miller was impressed with the order and procedures where once stood chaos, gangs and drugs. She was excited as a first-year teacher, but said she immediately noticed a problem when her advanced placement (AP) history students couldn’t read at a sixth-grade level.

She has concluded there is a glaring disconnect between the school’s leadership and the surrounding Chollas View community, as well as a need for partnerships with the elementary schools that feed into Gompers.

... [T]ranscript of inewsource’s conversation with Miller...

When I actually started to develop my lessons, and have my classroom and do what it is that I wanted to do … I started to run into some resistance in terms of how I had been trained for an AP class and what the expectation of an AP class was.
Students I knew were reading at a sixth-grade level were taking an AP class...

I had a lot of resistance in terms of how fast and the amount of work that I was giving the students. And then the students themselves. I recall a student running out of my room because they couldn’t write a summary. ‘I don’t know what you’re asking me to do.’ This was 11th grade...

UCSD teacher convicted of molesting student


LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) -- - A sexual predator masked as a teacher at one of the top charter high schools in the nation. The family of the girl he molested spoke only to 10News as they launch a full-scale lawsuit against the teacher and the Preuss School.

In a place where students should be safe a 17-year-old girl was manipulated and abused.

A teacher at the school, Walter Solomon molested the teen while he was teaching at the Preuss School. He was convicted in October, but the case is only now being made public...

A formal complaint from the victim's attorneys detail their relationship, saying Solomon was "known to the students at Preuss as a 'Pedo' which is short for pedophile..."

...Now, the victim's attorneys are going after the school and saying there were plenty of red flags.
"This teacher was actually grooming my client and grooming her to the point where he could ultimately sexually abuse her," said Steve Estey...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Despite A’s at Gompers, former student talks about feeling unprepared

First I want to say that it was brave and generous of UCSD student Felipe Morfin Martinez to come forward and say that his K-12 education did not adequately prepare him in science. I'm glad he brought that issue to the attention of the public.

I noticed that Felipe blames only the director of his high school--not his teachers--for his lack of academic preparation in science. I think Felipe is allowing his good personal relationships with his teachers to interfere with his assessment of the situation.

I believe that Felipe was short-changed, but I believe the problem started in elementary school, and I believe that teachers share the blame as much as principals.

Also, I suspect that Gompers doesn't provide adequate remediation for kids who didn't learn basic concepts in elementary school.

Also, it's possible that Felipe wasn't really much interested in science. He says,

"I wanted to do science and I guess it clicked on me when I was probably in 10th grade or ninth grade where it was like, ‘my dreams aren’t going to happen because I can see it. I’m not ready for that, I’m not prepared for that.’"
Why would he give up on science in "10th grade or ninth grade"?

I know from personal experience that an effective teacher can teach kids to thoroughly understand math and science concepts. Felipe's problem isn't that his classes weren't advanced enough.  Felipe must have taken courses up to and including pre-calculus to get into UCSD. He could also have taken two more years of calculus.

The problem is that only a minority of kids deeply understand basic concepts. And often those kids learned more at home than at school.

During my years teaching in elementary school I far too frequently heard teachers claiming that the math was too hard for any teacher to understand. I once contradicted such a teacher, and then I learned to keep my mouth shut.

The problem is a lack of basic education in elementary school and a lack of remedial education in the higher grades. And you need super good teachers to make remedial education fun and fascinating. You can't just have hacks that pass out easy math worksheets...

inewsource

inewsource published an investigation last week into the quality of education at Gompers Preparatory Academy — a nationally recognized charter school that promises “students can succeed at the university of their choice.” After the story ran, Felipe Morfin Martinez came forward to share his experience.

Morfin Martinez graduated from Gompers in 2016 and was awarded a full-ride scholarship to the University of California San Diego where he is studying communications.

He told inewsource that he realized early in his Gompers education that he wasn’t being challenged in his classes. Despite earning straight A’s, he said, he knew he wasn’t prepared to achieve his dream of pursuing a career in science. When he shared his concerns at home, he said, his parents responded: “You don’t believe in yourself, look at your grades.”

Morfin Martinez says he’s proud of his straight A’s at UCSD, “but they’re not the classes I wish I could take. They’re not organic chemistry, they’re not the chemistry series, the math series, they’re not the classes that people value.”...

Friday, May 19, 2017

All Kids Can Have Great Teachers (Without Firing Any Teachers

The best teachers should be able to rise far above average teachers on the salary scale — and they should have far more responsibility. All Kids Can Have Great Teachers (Without Firing Any Teachers

No one really knows what’s going on in individual public school classrooms. Observations by principals tend to be fleeting and few. We don’t need to fire anybody, but we do need to use highly-skilled teachers and ordinary teachers where they can do the optimal good.

The truth is that the critical moments in learning don’t happen continuously five hours a day. They add up to at most a couple of hours each day, and probably much less.

The rest of the time an ordinary teacher can handle lesson reinforcement, computer activities, art projects, silent reading, etc.

The best teachers should be able to rise far above average teachers on the salary scale — and they should have far more responsibility. In my plan, each classroom would have a full-time regular teacher.

Several classrooms would share a master teacher, who would be responsible for student progress, teaching lessons part-time and guiding the regular teacher.

Gifted regular teachers would be eligible to become master teachers. Instead of bringing in vendors selling the latest gimmick for tens of thousands of dollars, master teachers would do all necessary training.

Here’s the comparison for four classrooms and one extra salary (in thousands):

Currently: $60 + $60 + $60 + $60 + $60 = $300
New plan: $100+$50+$50+$50+$50 = $300 (minus exorbitant cost of education vendors)

If we add more money, we could have more master teachers. Meaningful evaluations of teachers would have to be instituted. Current evaluation systems are worse than useless.

My plan would call for frequent observations by both master and regular teachers, who would observe classrooms in other districts to keep school politics at bay. The observations would have a beneficial side effect: they would allow teachers to pick up new ideas.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Catherine Lhamon, ACLU attorney in LAUSD last-hired/first-fired case, talks about Betsy DeVos



Catching up with Catherine Lhamon
By Benjamin Wermund
02/09/2017
 

The Obama administration’s actions to combat campus sexual assault rocked higher ed. Now, college leaders and advocates are wondering what to expect from the Trump administration. 

Catherine Lhamon, the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who previously ran the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under President Barack Obama, says she’s dismayed that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hasn’t spelled out her position on the federal enforcement role in campus sexual assault. 

Lhamon said she would’ve expected DeVos to walk into her Senate confirmation hearing prepared to say whether she would maintain the Obama administration's guidance that spelled out the standard of evidence for sexual assault administrative hearings at colleges and universities. 

“I would have hoped that she had heard from all sides before that date, but I look forward to her getting up to speed,” Lhamon said. “Also, I noted with interest her saying that her mother's heart is ‘piqued’ by the issue. I hope it is piqued in ensuring civil rights for all students under her charge.”

— DeVos, who started work on Wednesday, did not specifically mention the issue of campus sexual assault in a speech to staff. But she said she's committed to ensuring that students have "learning environments that foster innovation and curiosity, and are also free from harm." At her confirmation hearing, DeVos said it would be premature to say whether she’d keep the existing guidance in place...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Study: students who got vouchers did much worse than students who didn't

"They found large negative results in both reading and math. Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point."

Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins
Kevin Carey
NYT
FEB. 23, 2017

...In June, a third voucher study was released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank and proponent of school choice. The study, which was financed by the pro-voucher Walton Family Foundation, focused on a large voucher program in Ohio. “Students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools,” the researchers found. Once again, results were worse in math.

Three consecutive reports, each studying one of the largest new state voucher programs, found that vouchers hurt student learning. Researchers and advocates began a spirited debate about what, exactly, was going on.

Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution noted that the performance gap between private and public school students had narrowed significantly over time. He argued that the standards, testing and accountability movement, for all its political shortcomings, was effective. The assumed superiority of private schools may no longer hold.

Some voucher supporters observed that many private schools in Louisiana chose not to accept voucher students, and those that did had recently experienced declining enrollment. Perhaps the participating schools were unusually bad and eager for revenue. But this is another way of saying that exposing young children to the vagaries of private-sector competition is inherently risky. The free market often does a terrible job of providing basic services to the poor — see, for instance, the lack of grocery stores and banks in many low-income neighborhoods. This may also hold for education...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

High school and college classes should start later

Down With 8 A.M. Classes: Undergrads Learn Better Later In The Day, Study Finds
April 19, 2017
Sara Sarwar
NPR

" College classes start too early in the morning for students' brains.

"While most colleges have start times of around 8 a.m., Jonathan Kelley advises NPR Ed that the ideal start time would be more like 10 or 11 a.m. The reason: People fall into different "chronotypes," which people know as "early birds" and "night owls." In this sample, night owls outnumbered early birds by far. The reasons for this are biological, says Evans.
"

Are we actually setting kids back with our emphasis on academics in kindergarten?

I've been in education for 20 years, and there's a disturbing trend afoot in kindergartens around the US
Christopher Brown
Business Insider
Apr. 17, 2017

Being a kindergartner today is very different from being a kindergartner 20 years ago. In fact it is more like first grade.

Researchers have demonstrated that 5-year-olds are spending more time engaged in teacher-led academic learning activities than play-based learning opportunities that facilitate child-initiated investigations and foster social development among peers.

...Here's how play helps children

Research has consistently shown classrooms that offer children the opportunities to engage in play-based and child-centered learning activities help children grow academically, socially and emotionally. Furthermore, recess in particular helps children restore their attention for learning in the classroom.

Focus on rules can diminish children's willingness to take academic risks and curiosity as well as impede their self-confidence and motivation as learners — all of which can negatively impact their performance in school and in later life.

Giving children a chance to play and engage in hands-on learning activities helps them internalize new information as well as compare and contrast what they're learning with what they already know. It also provides them with the chance to interact with their peers in a more natural setting and to solve problems on their own. Lastly, it allows kindergartners to make sense of their emotional experiences in and out of school.

Friday, April 14, 2017

This researcher asked kids what's wrong with U.S. schools. Here are their ideas.

Who knows the most about school? Students.
Alisha Huber
Upworthy
May 22, 2015

This is not news: America does pretty badly when it goes up against other countries academically. This is true even if we take it one state at a time—no single state, no matter how wealthy or small, matches the top scoring countries...

New report alleges decades of sexual abuse at elite Connecticut prep school

UPDATE:

Ex-Choate Teacher Spent Years Working In Connecticut Schools After Sex-Abuse Accusations David Altimari
Hartford Courant
April 14, 2017

One of the 12 former Choate Rosemary Hall teachers accused this week of sexually abusing students has spent most of the 18 years since the allegation surfaced as a teacher and administrator at Connecticut public schools that were not made aware of his past, including as a Litchfield high school principal until last week.
Jaime Rivera-Murillo was one of 12 former teachers at the prestigious Wallingford boarding school accused of inappropriate relations with students in a blistering 48-page report released Thursday by Choate officials.
Rivera-Murillo, who resigned as principal at Wamogo Regional High on April 6, was accused by a 17-year-old girl of forcing her to have anal sex in a swimming pool during a 1999 school trip to Costa Rica, the report said.
Rivera-Murillo, who denied the allegations to school investigators, was fired from Choate in 1999. He subsequently worked as a teacher at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury, Harrison High School in New York and Newtown High School, where he was also assistant principal.
None of the schools was notified of the allegations until Choate informed the superintendent of the Wamogo district last month, just before Rivera-Murillo was placed on leave...

ORIGINAL POST:

It seems that a lot of schools and churches readily cover-up sexual abuse of children. Board members should insist on being informed of all allegations of abuse, and should be held responsible.

Public schools seem to be as bad as, if not worse than, private schools in covering up problems.


New report alleges decades of sexual abuse at elite Connecticut prep school
washingtonpost.com
Peter Holley
April 14, 2017

Choate Rosemary Hall is known for being one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country, an institution with alumni like President John F. Kennedy, two-time presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson and playwright Edward Albee.

The elite Connecticut private school is also a place that has for decades fostered a pattern of sexual abuse and misconduct between teachers and students, according to a troubling new internal investigation initiated by the school to address abuse allegations.

...The report names 12 former Choate faculty members who engaged in what it said were substantiated instances of sexual misconduct with Choate students dating back nearly 60 years, five of whom are no longer living. The report recounts the alleged abuse in explicit detail, documenting the experiences described by 24 survivors, some of them as recently as 2010.

The report notes that in some cases the school acted swiftly to address the alleged abuse, but in many cases the school failed to alert police or allowed faculty members to resign, avoiding serious legal consequences.

“The detailed content of this report is devastating to read”...

Friday, January 27, 2017

If stubborn education attorneys had settled case of girl forced to pee in a bucket, San Diego Unified wouldn't have to pay over $1.29 million

A student was forced to urinate in a bucket during class. She sued — and won.
A Southern California classroom was filled with high school freshmen when one of them realized that she needed to run to the restroom.

Patrick Henry High School in San Diego, however, had a policy at the time stipulating that students were not permitted to take bathroom breaks during class — and the teacher took a strict interpretation of it.

The teacher, Gonja Wolf, forbid the 14-year-old girl from leaving the classroom that Wednesday in February 2012. Instead, she let the girl pee in a bucket, then empty it in a classroom sink, according to a lawsuit.

The gossip reportedly spread through the school, then hit the news media, leading to the girl’s anxiety, depression and an attempted suicide.

Now five years later, the San Diego Unified School District was ordered Wednesday to pay the student, who is now 19, more than $1.25 million in damages and $41,000 to cover medical bills, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“Something like this never should have happened to a 14-year-old girl just entering high school,” Brian Watkins, an attorney for the teenager, told the newspaper this week. “She took the stand and told a really embarrassing story, she told the jury how this has affected her life and how she is still working through issues.”

The ruling Wednesday concluded a years-long court battle in the Superior Court in San Diego.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2012 against Wolf and the San Diego Unified School District, claims that on Feb. 22, 2012, the girl was forced to urinate in a small supply room next to the classroom and then take her urine back into the classroom for disposal. The lawsuit argues it was done to “humiliate and disgrace” the girl for trying to use the restroom during class time.

It states:
In the presence of several of [the student’s] male classmates, Wolf told [the student] that she could not leave the classroom regardless of the urgency of the situation and that she would have to pee in a bucket if she really needed to go. These instructions were explained in the presence of said classmates and Wolf then took [the student] to a small room and instructed her to pee in a bucket, then empty the contents in an unused classroom sink, and finally return the bucket back to the room.
The lawsuit alleges that the girl “was given no choice except to comply with these instructions.”...