July 3rd, 2012
02:28 PM ET

Video captures teacher pummeling student

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - Brooklyn teacher and security dean Stephan Hudson faces possible dismissal after a security tape shows Hudson grabbing and punching a 15-year-old student repeatedly. According to the New York Daily News, the incident occurred on March 6 at Brooklyn's George Westinghouse Technical Education High School.

Principal Janine Kieran issued Hudson a disciplinary letter for his permanent file.

After watching the footage recently, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he was "disturbed" by what he saw. In a statement given to CNN, Walcott says that the New York City Department of Education will begin the process of terminating the accused teacher, Hudson. Principal Kieran's role in the matter will also be investigated, according to the schools spokeswoman.

The boy's mother says that Hudson told her that her son started the scuffle. Three months later, she saw the incident on a tape supplied by the Daily News and is now considering a lawsuit against the school system. The boy's mother told the Daily News, "I’d love to hear [Hudson’s] side of the story for real, and not some bogus lies."

CNN left messages for Hudson, but he has not responded yet. The Daily News says that the principal, Kieran, refused requests for an interview.

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Filed under: Behavior • High school • Legal issues • On air • Policy • video
June 14th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

District's 'Teacher of the Year' laid off

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - As many as 33,500 teaching jobs nationwide have been lost since September, according to a recent analysis by the Washington Post. Sutterville Elementary School 6th grade teacher Michelle Apperson joined the ranks of those unemployed educators when she was laid off by the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Apperson isn't a new teacher, and she's not considered the bottom of the barrel. She taught at Sutterville for nine years, and was selected as this year's Teacher of the Year for the entire district. That distinction did not prevent Apperson's pink slip.

The district was facing a $43 million budget shortfall, which it addressed in part through cuts in its workforce – including teachers. A district spokesperson said the way teacher layoffs are handled is mandated by state law, and that the layoffs were based on seniority. Gabe Ross, the district's spokesman, called the situation "awful" and said, "It's another sign of how education's funding really needs an overhaul."

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Filed under: Economy • Elementary school • Policy • Teachers • video
Walmart Foundation pledges $20 million for summer programs
June 14th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Walmart Foundation pledges $20 million for summer programs

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – About 14 million children will participate in summer programs across America this year. An estimated 24 million more children “are on the outside, looking in,” Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, told CNN. Their parents would enroll them in these programs if they were available and affordable.

Walmart and its philanthropy arm, the Walmart Foundation, announced on Wednesday that it is giving $20 million to support youth summer programs that promote healthy meals, educational opportunities and employment and skills training.

The six grant recipients are the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA); National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA); National Summer Learning Association (NSLA); Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP); Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL); and Brandeis University. They operate or support summer programs in 350 communities.

NSLA, ICP and BELL will focus on summer learning initiatives. A Johns Hopkins study shows that low-income students can lose two months of math and reading ability over a nonproductive summer.

NSLA’s Huggins told CNN "there is a growing recognition among [school] district leaders that students are losing ground, and we have to stop that."
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Filed under: At Home • Extracurricular • Lunch • Practice • Summer learning
June 4th, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Once bankrupt school district now debt-free

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - An eight million dollar payment made on Friday means an end to more than decades of debt for a California school district. The lump sum was the last of about $47 million West Contra Costa Unified School District paid to California for a loan taken out more than two decades ago.

School officials admit that financial mismanagement led to bankruptcy 21 years ago. "We did not budget properly. We have more obligations than we could afford and the state cut revenue," school board president Charles Ramsey said.

The district, then known as the Richmond School District, threatened to close six weeks before the end of the 1991 school year. A lawsuit filed by Richmond parents forced the state to loan the district $29 million and kept the schools open.

A relatively high interest rate added about $18 million to the district's debt over the life of the loan.

The state agreed to lower the interest rate in 2004 after teachers marched on Sacramento and held a hunger strike.
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Filed under: Issues • Policy • video
May 10th, 2012
12:14 PM ET

Hollywood stars show appreciation for their teachers

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - Actresses Cierra Ramirez, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes recently talked to CNN about some of their favorite teachers. Ramirez said that she appreciates Ms. Sloat for helping Ramirez get through math. Scarlett Johansson said that her 6th grade teacher, Ms. Grossman, helped Johansson develop her conscience and her imagination. Eva Mendes shared a story about lunches with Ms. Prizowski. Mendes also thanked Prizowski for encouraging her.

Ramirez and Mendes star in the film "Girl in Progress", which opens Friday. Johansson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 2 and is currently featured in "The Avengers" movie.

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Filed under: Practice • Teacher Appreciation • video • Voices
Education websites awarded Webbys
Salman Khan started the Khan Academy from a converted walk-in closet in his Silicon Valley home. His website was named the 2012 Webby Winner in the Education category.
May 4th, 2012
07:51 AM ET

Education websites awarded Webbys

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - Khan Academy took the top prize for education in this year's Webby Awards, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday. TED Talks won the Webby People's Voice Award. The academy will dole out the awards for Internet excellence on May 21. In contrast to the long speeches you see at award ceremonies like the Oscars, each winner will be allowed to say just five words – shorter than most tweets.

And the nominees in the category of Education Websites are....

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media provides parents and educators information about the media-rich world we all live in. The non-profit organization says that students spend more time with traditional and digital media than with families or teachers. For parents, the site offers reviews of many types of media, from books to movies to websites.
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Filed under: At Home • Curriculum • Resources • Technology
April 24th, 2012
12:35 PM ET

California middle school educator is Teacher of the Year

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – President Obama praised more than 50 teachers at a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday. The educators were previously honored by their states and territories as Teachers of the Year. President Obama told the group “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for teachers like these.”

On Monday, The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced that Rebecca Mieliwocki, a 7th grade English teacher from California, is the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. The 14-year veteran educator said, ““I have an unshakeable understanding that when children have a strong education, they can do anything.”

Earlier in an interview, Mieliwocki said, “I'm not the best teacher in America; I'm one of so many.”

California chose Mieliwocki as the state’s Teacher of the Year from among its roughly 287,000 teachers. The state’s selection process included a written application, visits by officials to her classroom and an interview. Mieliwocki is known for her teaching techniques at Luther Burbank Middle School. She would play music on her iPad while students work, or use playing cards to select students randomly to read in class.

Learn more about 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki from CNN affiliate KTLA.

One of Mieliwocki’s colleagues, Sue Lipschultz, told the Los Angeles Daily News, “My feeling is that [Mieliwocki] should be training teachers – she's that good – but she loves those kids and loves being in the classroom."

A panel of educators from 15 national organizations chose Mieliwocki from the Teachers of the Year of all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., four U.S. territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity. State teachers of the year are nominated by students, teachers, principals and district administrators.

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Filed under: Practice • Teachers
The new graduation rates
April 19th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

The new graduation rates

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - The District of Columbia's 2011 high school graduation rate is down 20 percentage points from 2010. Utah's rate dropped from 90% in 2010 to 75% in 2011 - 15 percentage points. And Georgia's 2011 rate dropped 13 points from the year before. These significant drops aren't because of performance. It's all in the math. States are changing the way they figure out graduation rates.

The new formula is a bit of simple division: The number of current graduates is divided by the number of them that sat in a ninth-grade classroom for the first time four years earlier. It’s called the “four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate,” and it requires states to keep track of every student who enters ninth grade and follow them wherever they end up - at graduation or elsewhere.

In 2005, governors from all 50 states signed on to use this new formula. Before then, states used different ways to measure graduation rates.
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Filed under: Graduation • High school • Policy
Update on the Atlanta cheating scandal
April 5th, 2012
06:55 AM ET

Update on the Atlanta cheating scandal

By John Martin, CNN
(CNN) – Atlanta Public Schools is preparing for annual, state-mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests later this month. This high stakes testing session is the first after an inquiry by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation suggested that at least 178 APS educators had cheated on the CRCT. The inquiry concluded the cheating had possibly gone on for years, up to and including the 2009 exam.

After the report's release, Superintendent Erroll Davis made a promise to Atlanta parents: "None of those implicated will be in the classroom when school starts this fall." Resign or be fired – that was the message coming from Davis' office, in letters and in meetings. About 70 educators named in the report retired or quit.

Of the teachers that remain, educators with three or more years of experience have tenure. The district cannot terminate them without due process. The district might even be forced to offer contracts to accused teachers who haven't been let go by May 15.

Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Keith Bromery recently told CNN that about 100 educators who have been implicated in the investigation remain on the APS payroll, on paid administrative leave. The accused educators are costing the district $600,000 to $1 million a month.

APS is in the process of terminating all of the alleged cheating educators. The district "hopes to do all of these by the middle of May," Bromery told CNN.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Cheating • Legal issues • Policy • Practice • Testing
Fewer women enrolling in STEM classes in community colleges
March 22nd, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Fewer women enrolling in STEM classes in community colleges

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – While it has been argued that science, technology, engineering and math may open the door to more job opportunities, it seems that fewer women are pursuing those courses of study, at least at the nation’s community colleges.

A study released Tuesday by the Institute for Women's Policy Research says that while women represent a majority of college graduates overall, only 27.5% of Associate’s degrees and occupational certificates in the STEM fields were awarded to women in 2007. Cynthia Costello, the study’s author, found that women are losing ground: This statistic was more than 10% higher in 1997.

Underrepresentation in STEM fields at community colleges may be part of the reason women lag behind men in the STEM workforce. According to the study, women make up almost half of the American workforce but only around a quarter of the STEM labor pool. Data presented in the study shows that women are leaving some STEM fields. From 2000 to 2009, the number of women working in computers and math dropped about 3%.
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Filed under: After High School • College • Policy • STEM • Women's issues
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