Friday, February 18, 2011 | 17 new charter schools selected

The state’s education commissioner endorsed 17 of 23 pending charter school applications yesterday, including 10 that would serve students in Boston beginning next fall or in the following academic year.

“I have every expectation that these 17 charter schools . . . are well positioned to succeed academically and become high-performing organizations,’’ said Mitchell D. Chester, commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. His agency’s board is scheduled to vote on the recommendations Feb. 28.

Charter schools, authorized under the 1993 Education Reform Act, are independent public institutions that are supposed to provide innovative alternatives to traditional public schools.

A state law passed last year allows significantly more charter-school seats in school districts with the lowest scores on standardized tests.

In addition to schools in Boston, Chester endorsed applications for charter schools in New Bedford, Lawrence, Chelsea, Springfield, and Salem. Fourteen of the endorsed charter schools would operate independently of local school districts, and teachers would not be unionized.

Three of the charter schools, including two in Boston, would be run by the districts. Teachers at those schools would join unions, though they would not have as many rights as union members in other public schools.

Superintendent Carol R. Johnson said in a phone interview that the two new charter schools in Boston, UP Academy for grades 6-8 and Boston Green Academy for grades 9-12, which would both open in South Boston next year, have received more than 1,200 statements of interest from families so far.

Opponents of charter schools, who include union officials and leaders in many school districts, say they worry that an increasing number of such schools will drain vital dollars from traditional public schools. They also argue that charter schools have exaggerated their success rates and do not serve as many English-language learners and students with special needs, assertions that charter school officials deny.

“We’re talking about allowing schools to discriminate in their student bodies, and that’s something no city should tolerate,’’ said Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union.

But Marc Kenen, executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, hailed Chester’s endorsements and said he wished the commissioner had supported more applications.

“Today is another step toward a new era of charter public school expansion in high-need communities across Massachusetts,’’ Kenen said.

Parents of students in public school districts were also divided yesterday.

Cristina Cora of Jamaica Plain, 36, whose daughter is an eighth-grader at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, said children deserve more charter schools to give them the chance to reach their full academic potential.

She said that while the staff at Roxbury Prep, an established charter school seeking to expand in Boston, is “super-attentive,’’ she felt that teachers and administrators at her daughter’s prior school in Jamaica Plain, a traditional public school, ignored her concerns.

“I constantly called the school saying that my daughter’s coming home telling me she isn’t learning anything because the teacher doesn’t have control of the class,’’ Cora said. “The whole year went by [without a satisfactory response], and I as a parent didn’t have a voice.’’

But Pelham resident Michael Hussin, 59, the former School Committee chairman of the Amherst-Pelham district whose son attends Amherst Regional High School, said the current funding formula for charters, in which districts often lose thousands of dollars for each pupil who attends a charter school, is bankrupting public education.

“That’s a lot more money being sucked out of public schools,’’ Hussin said. “It’s a misguided, mistaken policy for sure.’’


Thursday, February 17, 2011 | U.S. education secretary calls for more teacher-district cooperation

Reporting from Denver —
After a year of often using financial incentives to spur school reform, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan unveiled a different approach during a two-day conference in Denver: urging districts and teachers unions to develop trusting relationships and work together to improve student achievement.

The move comes as federal education stimulus money has dried up, although President Obama has asked for a nearly $2-billion increase in education funding in his proposed budget.

"I fundamentally believe that tough economic times are either going to paralyze folks or you're going to see opportunities through crisis," Duncan said. Collaboration "has been a desperately, desperately underutilized strategy. You could ask a free service to “write my paper" but you risk having the person that would write essay information not being qualified. Instead, you want someone with years of experience that can write analysis essay papers or write academic essay papers, no matter the topic. "

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Duncan did not back down from some of his more controversial reform proposals, including using student test score data to evaluate teachers and basing teacher layoffs on factors other than seniority.

During the conference, officials from 150 districts nationwide listened to 12 educational groups, including Green Dot Public Schools and ABC Unified School District in southeastern Los Angeles County, discuss ways in which they have improved student learning through closer relationships with labor unions.

"We really are moving forward all the time," said Gary Smuts, the superintendent of ABC Unified, during a panel with the presidents of the district and the union.

Teachers in the district, which serves about 21,000 students, went on strike in 1993 but formed a better relationship with district administrators afterward. Since then, the district's annual state Academic Performance Index, which measures student achievement on standardized tests, has increased every year. Our writers’ admission essay help also includes the editing and revision of the admission essay, so that the essays are completely free from errors.

Leaders of the country's two largest teacher unions largely echoed Duncan's message. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, pointed out that many new teacher contracts that include merit pay and the use of student data in evaluations were the result of closer collaboration.

"They really listened to each other," she said.

Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Assn., said there is more opportunity for teachers unions to work with districts without looming federal grant applications. The Department of Education sponsored a grant contest, known as Race to the Top, last year that awarded $4.35 billion to states that promised to make changes, including possibly using student data to evaluate teachers.

States had several months to complete their applications. California failed to qualify for those funds.

"The biggest problem was that the time pressure was unbelievable," said Van Roekel, who added that the contest was primarily a top-down program dictated by the Obama administration.

The next phase of Race to the Top, which has not been formally announced, should be open to local school districts, officials have said.

But there were also signs that not everyone was on the same page. Superintendents, school board presidents and teachers union leaders had to sign an agreement to try to work together before attending the conference, which was paid for by the Ford Foundation. Contingents from New York City and Washington, D.C., had planned to attend but canceled at the last minute due to disagreements. Los Angeles officials bowed out because they said the school board had to vote on a proposed budget on the first day of the conference.

Weingarten said she "understood full well" why New York and Washington, D.C., officials didn't attend, but Duncan expressed disappointment, saying that it was a "sad reflection of the dysfunction" in the relationship between labor and management in some districts.

And during a question-and-answer period, Duncan was asked several pointed questions.

One attendee said he was troubled that the federal government mandated that some low-performing schools be closed or reconstituted, which would require staff to reapply for their jobs. "When is the Department of Education going to trust us?" he said to applause from many in the audience.

Duncan acknowledged that many teachers are wary of federal intervention. He and other leaders acknowledged that not all districts and unions were willing to work together now but would have to in the future.

"I don't think it's a movement yet, but it's got to be," Van Roekel said.

Source: LA Times

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 | Obama to go West, tout education, hi-tech

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will promote his $3.7 trillion budget's education and technology programs during a two-day West Coast trip, the White House said.

Obama is to fly Thursday to the San Francisco area for a meeting with "a number of business leaders in technology and innovation," the White House said in a statement. The meeting, closed to the press, "is a part of our ongoing dialogue with the business community on how we can work together to win the future, strengthen our economy, support entrepreneurship and get the American people back to work," the statement said. If you are one of those students, who is undergoing such a situation, then we are here to help with essays. We have a team of experts, who have years of experience in writing essays for students. You can place an order for any help with essays from us and be rest assured to receive quality services from us.

Obama and the high-tech business executives, whose names were not included in the statement, will discuss promoting American innovation and increasing investments in research and development, education and clean energy, the White House said.

After spending the night in the Bay Area, Obama will fly to Hillsboro, Ore., west of Portland, where he will visit an advanced Intel Corp. research factory Friday with company Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini.

The factory develops each new generation of computer chip-making technology.

Obama will learn about Intel's STEM program -- an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. On its Web site, Intel says the program "inspires the next generation of innovators" with a "design and discovery curriculum," student science contests and online resources for K-12 students.

Obama will then talk about the importance of "out-educating the competition in order to win the future," the White House said. When you are writing a custom research paper you need to keep several things in mind. As the name suggests, a custom research paper needs to be written in a professional manner and you should handle all the details in a custom research paper accordingly.

The White House will stream the president's remarks at, around 11:30 a.m. PST.

Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., has 15,000 employees in Oregon, more than any other business.

The company said in October it would build a multibillion-dollar research facility in Oregon that would lead to 1,000 permanent jobs. Otellini may participate in a "virtual groundbreaking" for the project with Obama, The Oregonian of Portland reported.

Source: UPI

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | Obama launches attack on US deficit

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Monday, February 14, 2011 | Obama budget to hit Pell grants in education

Despite the Obama administration's overt and covert attempts at protecting education and research from the government's drastic measures towards reining in spending and reducing the budget deficit, the overall federal Pell Grants program may witness cuts up to $100 billion, according to Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

In an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday, Mr. Lew said that in order to ensure that the maximum amount of Pell Grant available to an eligible student remains at its current level of $5,550 for school-year 2012, the new budget would discontinue the policy of allowing students to qualify for two grants in one year - one for the regular academic year and another one for summer school. According to administration sources quoted by CNN, this would lead to savings worth $8 billion dollars in the next year, and $60 billion dollars over 10 years.

A second area within the program that would be affected is the subsidy on student loans in graduate and professional school. The Government would no longer pay the interest on loans for a certain section of students in graduate/professional school for as long as they are studying, as it does now. Instead, the interest would accumulate even during their years in school, though students would start repayment only after they graduate. This again would lead to savings of $2 billion next year and $29 billion dollars over 10 years.

Meanwhile Justin Hamilton, press secretary for Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been quoted by Inside Higher Education as saying, "We're cutting where we can so that we can invest where we must." In the absence of the present measures, the maximum Pell Grant could decline by $2,500, he said adding that "That is financially unworkable and morally unacceptable."

Friday, February 11, 2011 | Parents, teachers not happy with Luna proposals

LEWISTON - Education reform bills are being heard in the Idaho Legislature this week. And it has some parents and teachers concerned for the future of Idaho schools.

Around 300 people gathered at LCSC Monday night to talk about ways to make their voices heard during the debate on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's plan for Idaho schools.

"We need to find a way to get all the stakeholders at the same table together and come up with this," said President of the Lewiston Education Association Bruce Schulz. "This plan that is before us now did not have all of the stakeholders involved at the table at the time it was discussed."

The bills being debated this week would change class sizes, modernize schools through the use of online courses, and attempt to re-write teacher contracts and evaluations.

Lewiston High School Associated Student Body president Hayden Lohman told the audience those kind of changes are forcing good teachers out of the classroom.

"The level of respect for teachers is not where it needs to be today, but why," said Lohman. "Everyone who is successful in life owes it to their teachers and the one on one experiences they had in classrooms throughout their life."

Students, teachers, and parents expressed frustration with the proposal. Schultz agreed there needs to be some change, but said the proposed changes will only hurt the students.

Parent Christine Jorgens told the crowd parents against the plan need to step up and be heard.

"My oldest son is in the Special Education class at Webster Elementary and it takes a team of people to ensure that he has a successful education," said Jorgens. "I know that there are a lot of teachers here, but I am asking the parents to stand up, because this legislature is not going to listen to the teachers, I'm sorry. They're going to listen to the parents."

The Education Association was planning a trip to Boise Wednesday so people can testify at the hearing.

Source: Klewtv

Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Teachers' Colleges Upset By New US News Ranking System

Educators have grown upset over a new ranking system introduced by the US News & World Report that plans to assign A through F grades to more than 1,000 teachers' colleges.

Many education school deans have protested the new program and called its methodology flawed, The New York Times reported. Last week, officials from 35 top education colleges and graduate schools--including Columbia University, Harvard University and Vanderbilt University--have openly criticized US News for forcing institutions to participate in the program.

Initially, US News and its partner in the rating system, the National Council on Teacher Quality, an independent advocacy group, told schools that if they did not voluntarily give data and documents to them, they would seek the information under open-records laws. If those efforts failed, the raters planned to give the institutions an F.

Brian Kelly, the editor of US News, commented that the back lash from education schools proved that they are "an industry that doesn't want to be examined."

"These teacher-education programs are hugely important and not very well scrutinized," he said. "This is coming at a time when you have this tremendous national push for improvements in teacher quality: Who's teaching the teachers?"

In response to criticisms that many schools voiced about receiving a failing grade for refusing to provide information, Kelly stated that US News has rescinded the policy.

"We regret that language," he said. "It's really not the way we want to be doing business."

Education college deans have objected that the methods for arriving at ratings are not transparent enough and are not clearly proven by data. For example, US News has requested detailed information about courses, textbooks and admissions selectivity.

"Nobody's against being evaluated or having good reliable information available to the public about how we can prepare better teachers," said Mary Brabeck, dean of the school of education at New York University. "But what will we know if everybody uses the same textbook? What will that tell us about how you prepare highly effective teachers?"

Despite criticisms from educators, Robert Morse, who directs the higher education rankings of US News, said that the magazine has no intention of backing away from the project or methodology, Inside Higher Ed noted. He commented that US News never considered alternative methodologies besides the one the council has developed.

However, some officials sympathized with the concerns educators have expressed about the rankings, Education Week reported.

"These are folks for whom this is their life's work," said Kate Walsh, president of the council. "It's a very emotional issue. We totally understand why people are inclined to get upset about this. But on the other hand, we're asking folks to put that to the side and recognize what we all recognize, that there are many institutions in the US not preparing teachers adequately, in addition to many doing a great job."