December 22nd, 2011
08:21 AM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Governor’s budget includes $438 million for K-12 education

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell unveiled a 2013-14 budget that includes an additional $2.2 billion for state employee and teacher pensions as well as covering the cost of taking the PSAT for 10th graders.

(Pittsburgh) City teachers offered buyouts

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board has approved a plan that would offer buyouts to eligible teachers, but hundreds of layoffs are still expected next year. Math reform hits North Carolina’s Triangle schools

Traditional algebra and geometry may be subjects of the past as Triangle schools adopt courses aligned to the Common Core standards.

Education Week:  Devices, devices, devices

Along with cost and capabilities, look at culture and community when weighing your school’s technology options.

Elearnspace: A few thoughts on China and education

Blogger George Siemens shares his thoughts on what he learned from a recent trip to China.

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Filed under: Issues • Teachers • Technology • Today's Reading List
Educators accused of influencing results of standardized exam in Georgia county
December 21st, 2011
12:11 PM ET

Educators accused of influencing results of standardized exam in Georgia county

by Vivian Kuo, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) – Investigators say nearly 50 schoolteachers and administrators inGeorgia's Dougherty County School System have participated in "criminal conduct and wrongdoing" in influencing results of standardized exams.

The discovery comes in a new report released Tuesday by members of a special task force appointed by former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to look into suspiciously high scores on the exams, called the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT), a multiple-choice test given annually to all public school students in the state.

"Hundreds of schoolchildren were harmed by extensive cheating in the Dougherty County School System. In 11 schools, 18 educators admitted to cheating," members of the task force said in the report. "We found cheating on the 2009 CRCT in all of the schools we examined. A total of 49 educators were involved in some form of misconduct or failure to perform their duty with regard to this test."

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal called the findings alarming.

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Filed under: Issues • Policy • Practice • Testing
December 21st, 2011
08:12 AM ET

My View: Time for a better future

Courtesy Bill Imbrognaby Jennifer Davis, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Davis is the co-founder and president of the National Center on Time & Learning, which is dedicated to expanding learning time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded education. For twenty years she has held federal, state and local positions aimed at improving educational opportunities for children, including  serving as U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary . She can be followed on Twitter @expanding_time.

Common sense tells us that when it comes to learning, time matters. An individual simply cannot become more proficient in any given area without committing a certain amount of time to grasping  new content, practicing and honing skills, and then applying such knowledge and skills to realizing specific outcomes. Think of the chess master who plays match after match to improve his game, or the scientist who toils long hours in her laboratory to unlock the mysteries of an intricate scientific puzzle. For them, becoming more adept in their chosen field depends on the time they invest to know and do more.

The great irony is that our nation’s public schools have, by their adherence to the conventional calendar created a century ago to meet the needs of farms and factories (180 six-and-a-half-hour days), essentially disregarded the powerful connection between time and learning. We know that many parents who are financially able invest in their children’s education beyond school hours—whether it be programming in the arts, music, ballet, or tutoring. Low-income parents (and increasingly middle-income families) often lack the financial resources to provide additional learning opportunities outside of school.  

In this increasingly global economy, it is in our country’s best interest to give our children expanded opportunities for learning in order to prepare them for a complex future. Our students need time both to master the basics and to engage in subjects—from science to foreign languages to art and technology—that pique their interests and encourage a love for continuous learning. We need to teach our students what it means to be a leader, a collaborator, and presenter - all skills that are vital in the 21st century. Schools cannot develop these skills thoroughly in the time currently available. The traditional school calendar limits opportunities for the deep and broad learning students need to thrive.

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Filed under: Policy • Practice • Voices
December 20th, 2011
02:27 PM ET

Colleges pay presidents millions while raising tuition

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Some private colleges are paying their top executives millions of dollars, at the same time they're hiking tuition prices for students.

Vanderbilt University paid its chancellor, Nicholas Zeppos, $1.9 million in 2009, according to the school's most recent tax filings - enough for up to 43 students to attend Vanderbilt at current prices. His total pay includes a base salary of $673,002, as well as bonus and other compensation.

That same year, Vanderbilt's tuition jumped 4.3%. Since then, the college has hiked tuition more than 3% annually, and now totals $41,332, according to the university.

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Filed under: After High School • College • Economy
December 20th, 2011
11:39 AM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today: Arizona online schools: Merits of online learning are unclear
Online education proponents say research shows that online learning is modestly better than face-to-face instruction. Others say there's not enough research to develop a valid conclusion about the benefits of online instruction.

The Kansas City Star: Joe Robertson | Games are focus of Quest schools
At the Quest schools in Chicago, every lesson is a game. But will questing for knowledge result in improvement on high-stakes tests?

The Palm Beach Post: For undercover officer in high school, bad grades were good
An undercover officer of "Operation D-­Minus" passed himself off as a high school student. When he intentionally let his grades slip to raise his "street cred", his teachers called his "parents" and offered tutoring.

AJC: Southeast boarding schools drawing more students
Across America, private boarding schools are seeing slight increases in enrollment, while parents in the Southeast have sent 8% more students away to school since 2010.

Slate: Isolated Incident?
A teacher seeks answers to a dilemma: When a parent takes discipline too far just once, should that incident be reported to authorities?

December 19th, 2011
04:37 PM ET

FAMU president to stay in office during hazing probe

By Rich Phillips, CNN

Courtesy Florida A & M University

Some band members have said Robert Champion may have
died after a rite of passage involving a beating aboard a bus.

Tallahassee, Florida (CNN) - Florida A&M University President James Ammons will stay in office during a hazing investigation, the school's board decided Monday.

The A&M board of trustees rejected a request from Gov. Rick Scott to suspend Ammons while officials probe various issues at the school, including the suspected hazing death of a band member.

"We will stand firm against outside influences which hinder the viability of the university," said Solomon Badger, the board's chairman.

"It requires us to rely on facts," he said.

The board chose not to vote on Ammons' status.

Ammons was not present for Monday's meeting, but took part by telephone.

On Friday, the medical examiner in Orange County, Florida, ruled that the death of 26-year-old Robert D. Champion was a homicide.

December 19th, 2011
04:29 PM ET

'Tebowing' leads to teens' suspension

(CNN) – Four student athletes were suspended after encouraging several others to do the 'Tebow' prayer pose, blocking a hallway in school.

Read more coverage of the prayer pose on the Belief Blog here: 'Tebowing' prayer stirs debate, but quarterback is OK with it."

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Filed under: Behavior • Sports
December 19th, 2011
01:52 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

New York Times: Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools
Nine for-profit companies run dozens of online public K-12 schools across the country. Several of the companies make a profit, but critics say that comes at a price: lower-performing students.

The Atlantic: The Great Education Hypocrisy: What's So Bad About For-Profit Teaching?
The author argues that public-private partnerships should develop public education policy. He says that similar partnerships in the space program and communications, among others, have led to innovation and jobs. Kids can continue to learn during the holidays
Dr. Bob Wilmott, chief of pediatrics at a St. Louis hospital, says parents should encourage children to have a balance of relaxation and mental activity during the holidays. He suggests several holiday activities that he says will keep young minds stimulated.

NPR: An Early College Economics Lesson For One Student
A high school student comes to the realization that the cost of college may outweigh his ability to pay for it in the future.

U.S. News & World Report:Better High School Graduation Rates May Be An Illusion
New federal laws will standardize how states calculate their graduation rates. Some states could see a drop in this statistic, but one expert says the new figures will be a better reflection of reality.

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Filed under: At Home • Curriculum • Policy • Practice • Teachers • Today's Reading List
Searching for news that matters
December 19th, 2011
08:02 AM ET

Searching for news that matters

By Michael Schulder, CNN

(CNN) To mark one of the biggest science news stories of the year, I've retooled an old story to make up the very first physics joke in history. Here it goes.:

A physicist is bending down, at night, searching for something beneath a lamp post.A guy walks up to him and says "what are you looking for?
Physicist: A Higgs particle.
Guy: Where did you see this Higgs particle last?
Physicist: I've never seen one. Nobody has.
Guy: Then why are you looking under the lamp post?
Physicist: That's where the light is.

Aah, if it were only that easy.

In fact, if it were possible to find a Higgs particle under a lamp post you would see every ambitious physicist in the world wearing knee pads, crawling from lamp post to lamp post, coast to coast.

That's because a Higgs particle. also known as the God particle, is believed to be the final link in a mathematical formula that explains what makes matter matter.

That's tough to explain in plain English, so I've enlisted one of the world's most respected and plain-spoken physicists.

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Filed under: Practice • Science
December 16th, 2011
04:23 PM ET

Nine states win big in early childhood education

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) Today the White House announced that nine states – California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington – will each receive a portion of $500 million awarded in the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.

Thirty-five states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico submitted proposals in the competition, outlining their plans to increase access to high-quality, early childhood education for low-income families. According to the Department of Education, the number and list of winners were determined by both the quality of applications and the funds available.  Each of the winning nine states will receive a different grant, depending on state population and proposals.

According to Jon Schnur, executive chairman and co-founder of America Achieves, the winning plans focus not only on academic outcomes, but on social and other skills important to early childhood education and development.  Schnur points out that this is a “watershed moment” because the states are acting on evidence of quality learning practices and their proposals were the result of bipartisan planning and action.

Professor Sharon Lynn Kagan, co-director of the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University, says this was an incredible competition with high quality submissions. She cites the announcement today as “extremely significant” because “it says that early learning is important.”

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Filed under: Early childhood education • Policy • Practice • Race to the Top
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