Grants Given by Citi Towards Native American Education

Citi and Citi Foundation announced that they are giving $280,000 to grants in South Dakota, They report that some of these funds will go toward scholarships for students that attend tribal colleges as well as funding for teacher positions at reservations. The grants will be given to non profit groups in the state that provide support to Native Americans.

Click here for the full article

Also

Scholarship database for Native American Students

Five Year Old Boy Sleepwalks To School…

I guess he didn’t want to be late.

Apparently a five year old boy really likes going to school. He got up in the middle of the night and somehow made his way to school while he was still sleeping. Seems he only lives a few blocks away. Luckily he was safely returned to his parents who were woken up by a knock at their door….It appears they were still sleeping and never knew he was gone.

Click here for full abc report

Breathalyzer Tests in School??

Students at Foxboro High School in Massachusetts will soon face the possibility of taking a breathalyzer test during school and at after school events. The program is starting in hopes of detouring students from drinking.
CNN reported that students that are suspected of drinking alcohol would be subject to a breathalyzer test. Those students testing higher than .02 would be suspended for 5 days. So far it seems like the program is getting support from both parents and students.

Overall I would be supportive of a program like this. It sounds like a good idea and may work out really well. My question is simply: How does the school plan to enforce this new policy?

Sure I wish it was just as simple as seeing a student glassy eyed, slurring his/her speech, and then having that student take a breathalyzer. That would be ideal, but this is 2009 and any time students are subjected to test that some would see as intrusive, there is always the chance of someone suing the school for harassment. I hope the school is taking proper precautions by giving training and procedure instructions that assure the selection of students and administration of the test is done in a consistent, fair, and respectful manner.

Click here to watch the full CCN report

Bullying: Information for Parents and Teachers

I recently contacted Marlene Snyder, Director of Development for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. I wanted to know more on what I could do as a parent as well as what teachers could do to assist in the prevention of bullying. She recommended visiting the following sites:

www.olweus.org

www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov

She also recommended encouraging your local school to consider using the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Some states require schools to have an anti bullying program. Even if your state does not require this, teacher and parent advocacy could help begin a program like this at your school.

School Bullying: No Joke

If you have ever been the parent of a child being bullied you know the fear and helplessness a parent feels. And if you have ever been the parent of a bully you like wise have had similar feelings.

Recently Clemson University has been conducting research and training in using a model known as the “Olweus Bullying Prevention Program” The have had great success, in some instances showing a reduction in school bullying by as much as 50%.

They also debunk some old myths: It was found bullies are not necessarily unpopular and do not necessarily have low self esteems.

For anyone interested, Dr. Olweus has written a book: Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do.

Also if you are interested contacting a trainer to start the Bullying Prevention Program at your school click here for contact information.

“Bronx Princess” Moving Too Fast For Her Roots

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PBS has a documentary called “Bronx Princess” About an African American teenager, “Rocky” at the end of her senior year getting ready to begin college. I thought this was going to be a bit more related to her school experience, but this was still a great portrait of a teenager in her transition from living at home and attending high school, to moving out and starting college. The film highlights struggles 1st generation American children may go through to find their identity in the US, and at the same time, hold onto their roots. The film is very touching at times, capturing the sincerity of this family’s quest to make sure they have given Rocky a strong foundation that will provide her with everything she needs to begin her transition to adulthood……and it looks like they are succeeding.

You can watch this online on PBS until 10/23/09

Obama’s Speech to Schools: How ridiculous can people get?

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I am getting very tired of hearing the ruckus and ridiculous comments about a speech President Obama will deliver Tuesday. I find my self laughing in disbelief thinking, “these people can’t be serious.”
America , land of the free, and home of the brave…not to mention home of a bunch of crazy drama loving politicians. All the ridiculous comments are meant to excite people to react rather than have them think, that is their purpose…..looks like its working.

Teachers Feeling the Pressure to Change Grades

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An article released by the associated press stated that according to a survey by the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Sun Times that one out of five high school teachers reported changing grades in the past school year. That is 20% of the teachers surveyed. The report also stated that 31% of teachers felt pressure to change grades.

Validity of the survey??

After reading the article the first thing that comes to mind is….duh, of course this happens.
And 20% of the time doesn’t seem all that unrealistic. I did see that only 18% of those surveyed responded ( that is less than 1 in 5)….so this does take away some of the validity of the survey.

Where is the pressure coming from?

In high school there is a lot riding on the grades, (college admission, class ranking, and eligibility to continue sports) No doubt there is pressure coming from different angles. The article noted that teachers reported feeling pressure from parents, school employees, and principles.

Some of the pressure coming from principles!!

My experience was in elementary education, so I never saw pressure to change grades, but I did notice that when there were problems internally a strong and supportive administration helped tremendously. It was great to know that your principle had your back…….must be tough if your principle wants you to “cook the books” …..

SO……A NOTE TO FURTURE TEACHERS: Find a school where you have a dedicated, honest, and supportive principle. They can really change the whole dynamic of a school. And yes, they are out there. Just ask around and when you find one, stick with them if you can….there is no doubt they will already have some loyal followers.

Merit Pay for Teachers

Why are teachers afraid of a performance based system???

5 Things you Should Know about Performance Pay for Teachers.

1. Merit Pay (Performance Pay) is NOT Punitive.

Merit pay is not about punishing teachers for failing to meet certain goals or for bad test grades. It’s about more rewards and incentives for teachers that go above and beyond the norm. Performance pay can be structured where all teachers receive a raises.… Some teachers will simply receive more of a raise for better performance.

2. It is NOT all about test scores.

Test scores will be a part of the equation, but it does not have to be the sole determining factor. Other performance pay incentives may include raises for teachers that complete training and implement certain knowledge and skill based programs, as well as evaluations on a teacher’s overall performance.

3. Performance Pay Updates an Out Dated Pay Structure:

The current teacher pay structure can be traced back as far as 1921. The original system was designed to bring equality across gender and racial lines. A new pay scale system can assure equality by keeping some elements of the current standardized increases, while adding a more dynamic performance based component.

4. Merit Pay for Teacher Shortages

It is no secret that there is a great need for teachers in: Math, Science, and Special Education. Plans for merit pay also include simply rewarding those in hard to fill positions. Look around the country at the job posting for available teacher positions….What do you see??

5. Money Motivates….enough said.

Right now there is no definite plan or structure for changing the current pay systems for teachers. There has been much discussion on how best to connect pay with performance, but there is a definite need for increased dialogue between teachers and policy makers on how exactly teachers will be evaluated on their performance and how performance pay increases will be structured.
Clear dialogue and open communication between teachers and law makers is essential so that misunderstandings are at a minimum and rhetoric simply for the sake of driving up fear among teachers is replaced with realistic conversations.

Sure I understand teachers are scared. Change can be uncomfortable, not because people will necessarily be negatively affected by change, but because the concept of change itself is uncertain, and this triggers fear.
It is important that policy makers and teachers work together on a merit pay system to assure that the structure for teacher performance evaluations are balanced and fair, and so that correct and up to date information can be communicated to teachers throughout this process to keep fear and uncertainty at a minimum.

Supreme Court: School Strip Search is Unconstitutional!!

Got pills…..

This case involved a 13 yr old female at a middle school.  It was alleged that she had given two prescription strength ibuprofen to a classmate. She was taken to the vice principle’s office.  The school officials searched the student’s back pack and outer clothing, when nothing showed up, the school nurse was instructed to take the student to another room for a strip search …..  Yea… Not much common sense with these people…

No phone call allowed

She was not allowed to call her mother before or after this occurred.  It was only after she returned home in tears that her mother found out.

Nothing found

The strip search turned up nothing because obviously this girl is an honor student, and most likely either maximized her profits by selling the rest of the bottle before getting caught, or passed off what was left to a sixth grader trying to be cool….

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Seriously though….. What were these people thinking.  A 13 years old girl, and for what,  ibuprofen….Needless to say, the high court ruled 8-1 in favor of the student.

Click here for the complete article