(CNN) - A Florida mother concerned about safety has donated more than $11,000 so that armed deputies can patrol the elementary school where her child attends, Flagler County Public Schools said Tuesday.
Laura Lauria made the decision to donate the money to the school district after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 young students were gunned down, said Principal Nancy Willis of Old Kings Elementary School.
Lauria did not want to be interviewed, Willis said, and she could not be immediately reached by CNN.
"I spoke to her this morning and she may release a statement later today," Willis said. "We were very pleased because of the safety of our children and employees."
The money will help pay for a "rotation of deputies" to patrol the perimeter and hallways of the elementary school through the end of the school year. The program began about a week ago, Willis said.
The school, about 20 miles north of Daytona Beach, has 1,165 students.
The Flagler County school board is looking into "having deputies at all five of [its] elementary schools," Superintendent Janet Valentine told CNN. A plan to have deputies in all schools will be presented to the school board in February, she said.
"There's been some indication from the sheriff that they could assist with the cost," Valentine said.
By Miriam Gamoran Sherin, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Miriam Gamoran Sherin, a public voices fellow with the OpEd Project, is professor of education and social policy at Northwestern University and mother of three.
(CNN) - In the past several weeks, middle and high school students across the country brought home their first-quarter report cards. Many make a push to improve scores and grades before the holidays, and over winter break, some will study for final exams, knowing those results are a major component of their semester class ranks.
For many families, report cards serve as the key measure of a child’s success in school. They're assigned so much importance, grades can be the source of conflict and tension at a time when parents and their children could be celebrating the winter holidays peacefully.
But what if the report card itself is not so valuable? What do grades actually tell us about our children’s learning?
Not as much as we think.
Grades are one measure of our children’s success, but perhaps not the most important one. The level of learning is what matters.
My 12-year-old daughter is getting a B in her seventh-grade math class, and learning much more than last year, when she was getting an A. Her sixth-grade math class focused on rote computation with study guides that were almost identical to the following day’s test. This year, her class focuses on mathematical problem-solving. The tests challenge students to apply what they know.
By Laurel Bongiorno, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Laurel Bongiorno is director of the master’s degree program in early childhood education at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. She is working on a book on the value of play in early childhood development.
(CNN) - Parents want to buy the best toys for their children - the educational toys that will make them grow faster, read earlier and solve math problems faster.
Toy manufacturers often market high-priced toys that play by themselves (no child needed!), are connected to movies and television shows (no imagination needed!) or have just one purpose in mind. Once played with, they go in the closet.
On this last weekend before the Christmas gift-giving commences, parents should go back to basics when toy shopping for their young children from birth to age 8. Children are complex people who need holistic opportunities for development, learning, health and happiness.
Blocks, dramatic play clothes, art supplies, messy play opportunities, books and games are the stuff they need for the holidays. And, parents don’t have to break the bank to afford them. The local dollar stores and thrift stores have many of these materials.
Consider a 4-year-old building a highway with the blocks. She sorts, sequences, maps, plans, predicts, estimates, counts and compares. The 7-year-old might create bridges and ramps, using basic physics concepts. Blocks are open-ended materials that the children don’t tire of and retire to the closet when they are done. Parents can add to block-building fun by supplying play props such as cars, dinosaurs, animals and many other options. Math isn’t the only benefit derived from blocks; children use their small motor skills, build their vocabulary, play cooperatively with others and gain self-control and patience.
By Michael Y. Simon, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Michael Y. Simon is a psychotherapist, school counselor and founder of Practical Help for Parents, a support organization for parents, educators and mental health professionals. Simon is also the author of "The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager," published by Fine Optics Press in 2012.
(CNN) - I don't have the answers.
Under the weight of mystery, loss and grief, most of us long for healing and look for answers. After hearing of the mass killing in Newtown, Connecticut, I asked a friend, the principal of an elementary school, how the children and parents there were doing.
"There was a different feeling and a much longer line than usual to pick up the kids," he said "Hugs held longer, smiles broader, more patience all around; these parents were mindful of the privilege of picking up their children today."
Not including the tragic killings at Sandy Hook, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence lists over 170 school shootings in the United States since 1997, prompting many to describe the tragic shooting as part of an epidemic of gun violence in America.
How do we make sense of these incidents and their antecedents and envision a better future? I don't know, and neither do many of the so-called experts, but that hasn't stopped them and the mass media from weighing in very quickly.Read Simon's full column
Parents camped out for days in front of a South Carolina school that has an engineering curriculum in hopes of getting their kids enrolled. (WYFF video.)
By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) On Tuesday, voters in two states – Washington and Georgia – will be weighing in on charter schools.
Charter schools are independent public schools that have flexibility in certain aspects of education like curriculum and length of the school day. In return for this flexibility, they are held accountable for student performance.
The research is mixed on whether students in charters perform better than their traditional public school counterparts. Some cite the CREDO study from Stanford University, which found that “17% of charter schools provide superior education opportunities for their students.” According to this study, about half the charters did not fare any better or worse than their traditional school counterparts, and about 37% of the charters fared worse.
Others cite research like that found in the “Informing the Debate” study from the Boston Foundation, which “found large positive effects for Charter Schools at both the middle and high school levels.”
Currently, 41 states and the District of Columbia have charter schools.
The topic of charter schools, including how they are established and who gets to attend them, stirs up a lot of emotion among parents, educators and policymakers. Because it’s relatively new territory, shaping legislation on charters has become a public tug-of-war. The states of Washington and Georgia have charter school initiatives on their ballots.
Washington’s Initiative 1240
Washington has put ballot measures on charters in front of voters three times before, each one rejected – most recently in 2004, when the measure failed by 16 percentage points. There are no charter schools in Washington.
The latest attempt is Initiative 1240, which would allow for the establishment of eight charter schools in the state per year – 40 over five years. At the end of that period, the charter system would be up for review. The state-approved charter schools would be free and open to all students and be independently operated.
By Carl Azuz, CNN
(CNN) - For many parents and teachers, it’s the first opportunity of the school year to sit down face to face and discuss everything from curriculum to issues that arise in the classroom. Here are some tips from both sides of the desk on how to make the most of a parent-teacher conference.
Do your homework
Talking to your child before the conference to find out if he has any questions or concerns of his own can give you ideas of what to address with the teacher. A good next step: having a physical list of questions.
The National PTA says that the “questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for the student’s success in class and for the teacher.”
It’s an idea echoed by Ryan Koczot, an award-winning middle school teacher in North Carolina. “Parents should come to the conference prepared (note pad, pen, list of questions) - just like teachers should be prepared (information on the child, progress report, questions for the parent).” This will help get everyone on the same page.
By Sam Macer, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Sam Macer is a PTA dad and foster parent. As the immediate past president of the Maryland PTA and the current president of the Maryland Foster Parent Association, he uses his 30 years of PTA experience to support Maryland’s foster parents as they strive to provide the youth in their care with safety, permanency, wellbeing and educational support. He was recently honored at the White House as a PTA “Champion of Change.”
(CNN) – As a PTA parent, grandparent, uncle and foster parent to over 40 children I have gained valuable experience in the area of parent engagement. I have had children who absolutely hated school and children who loved the challenge of being the best they could be. As a PTA leader, I have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts, experiences and perspectives with all parents concerning their efforts to raise and sustain academic achievement and build a strong home/school connection.
There are four basic suggestions I share with parents: Make the commitment, make a plan, determine expectations and coordinate effective parent–teacher conferences.
One of the first things I share with parents is the need to make the personal commitment to be involved and engaged the entire school year. I have never had an "easy" school year. Many times I have had to remind myself why I am engaged and why I need to stay engaged. There are many challenges to being an effective support for the children and their teachers and every once in a while I have to remind myself of my commitment. Commitment keeps you in the game. Once a parent loses commitment, things sometimes go by the wayside, the child can begin to drift through the school year and the teachers feel less supported.
Please don’t be that parent who comes to school in March to sign your child out early and when the secretary asks you for the teacher’s name, you don’t know it. Don't give the school a reason to ask, "Where have you been all year?"