Thursday, March 01, 2007


But the Left have always been quick to imprison people -- often "for their own good", of course

School principal Robin Harris used to see the clock on her office wall as the enemy, its steady ticking a reminder that time was not on her side. But these days Harris smiles when the clock hits 1:55 p.m. There are still two more hours in the school day - two more hours to teach math and reading, art and drama. Harris runs Fletcher-Maynard Academy, a combined public elementary and middle school in Cambridge, Mass., that is experimenting with an extended, eight-hour school day. "It has sort of loosened up the pace," Harris said. "It's not as rushed and frenzied."

The school, which serves mostly poor, minority students, is one of 10 in the state experimenting with a longer day as part of a $6.5 million program. While Massachusetts is leading in putting in place the longer-day model, lawmakers in Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Washington, D.C., also have debated whether to lengthen the school day or year. In addition, individual districts such as Miami-Dade in Florida are experimenting with added hours in some schools. On average, U.S. students go to school 6.5 hours a day, 180 days a year, fewer than in many other industrialized countries, according to a report by the Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank.

One model that traditional public schools are looking to is the Knowledge is Power Program, which oversees public charter schools nationwide. Those schools typically serve low-income middle-school students, and their test scores show success. Students generally go from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and for a few hours every other Saturday. They also go to school for several weeks in the summer. That amounts to at least 50 percent more instructional time for students in such programs than in traditional public schools, according to the report. The extended-day schedule costs on average about $1,200 extra per student, program spokesman Stephen Mancini said. Massachusetts is spending about $1,300 per student extra on its extended-day effort.

Most of the extra cost goes into added pay for teachers. At Fletcher-Maynard, senior teachers can make up to $20,000 more per year for the extended hours, Harris said. Not all of the school's teachers have opted to work longer hours.

The National Education Association, the largest teacher's union, has no official opinion on extending the school day. But its president, Reg Weaver, said teachers probably would support the idea if, like in Massachusetts, they could choose whether to work the longer hours. He also said teachers must be adequately compensated and should have a say in setting the goals of any such effort.

An important impetus for the debate around extending school hours is the federal No Child Left Behind law. The five-year-old law requires annual testing in reading and math for grades three through eight, and again in high school. All students are expected to be working on grade level by 2014. Schools that fail to meet annual benchmarks are labeled as needing improvement and have to take steps to address the problem.

Up against such a tough requirement, extending the day makes sense, Harris said. "If you want kids to read, and you want to teach them how to read, they have to have time reading," she said. [Not nearly as helpful as realistic tuition methods, though. I have seen some phonics-educated kids able to write intelligible sentences by the end of Grade1!]

Kathy Christie, a policy analyst at the Denver-based Education Commission of the States, said that law "has put enough pressure on more people to realize that the traditional school day is not enough to catch kids up." Christie, whose Denver-based nonprofit focuses on school reform, added, "You can't keep taking away recess."

Schools that are experimenting with longer days are adding more down time and enrichment courses, as well as reading and math. At Edwards Middle School, an extended-day school in Boston, students are staging musicals, designing book covers for favorite novels and coming up with new cheers to boost school spirit - an activity favored by 13-year-old Janice Tang. "This is a class where I can express myself, be active," Tang said one afternoon after she pumped her arms in the air during a girls-only class that incorporates cheering with topics such as sex education and discouraging smoking. "It's very cool, and I have fun a lot."

Massachusetts' education commissioner, David Driscoll, said the offbeat classes get kids excited about a longer day. "Once they're engaged, they'll learn other lessons," Driscoll said. "I think the big mistake that everybody makes is they think that education is all about the academics."

The No Child Left Behind law is due to be updated this year, and the lawmakers involved are eyeing the Massachusetts model. U.S. Rep. George Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said he likes the way schools in Massachusetts have invited community organizations to help with some enrichment courses. "If you're just extending the day to bore the hell out of the child, why don't we all just all go home and save the overtime. You've got to rethink these models," said Miller, D-Calif.

U.S. Sen. Democrat Edward Kennedy, chairman of the Senate committee overseeing education, is considering allowing schools that fail to meet annual progress goals to extend their day as a possible solution. Kennedy, D-Mass., also is considering putting AmeriCorps volunteers - recent college graduates who can help teach - into schools that adopt a longer day.

Extending the day has not been tackled extensively in high schools where many students have afterschool jobs or play sports. The idea is not always applauded by parents, at least initially. Dawn Oliver was so apprehensive about a plan this year to expand the day at her daughter's middle school in Fall River, Mass., that she considered pulling 11-year-old Brittany out. "We all had the same thought in our head, which was, 'Oh my God, these kids are going to have their head in a book for the same amount of time as working a full-time job,'" Oliver said. She said her fears began to fade, however, when she saw the list of electives the kids could take in the afternoon, including cooking and forensics. Those reinforce core lessons, Oliver said. "They're making a magazine. She's an advice columnist," she said of Brittany. "The kids get so involved in these things because it's not all book work." [Probably not a lot of use, either, usually] Oliver said the real benefits showed up on Brittany's report card, which improved from straight C's to B's. "I did not foresee honor roll," Oliver said, brimming with pride.


High School dropout deluge alarms California officials

That the root cause of it might be their own stupid educational and social theories will not of course be considered. The no. 1 need is for able teachers and very few people with ability would take on teaching in California's indisciplined and dangerous schools

"Why are we allowing this to continue?" asks Sen. Darrell Steinberg. The Sacramento Democrat known for tackling complex social issues and building consensus among colleagues has turned his attention to high school. "Issues cry out to you as needing attention, and this is at the top of my list. It affects children, families, schools, communities and has major economic consequences for the state," Steinberg said. "We need to make a systemic commitment to eliminating this high school dropout rate." He convinced the state Senate to form a select committee devoted to exploring how California can keep students in school. It began a series of hearings last week that will continue March 14.

In addition to the Harvard researchers and school district administrators who testified at the first hearing was 17-year-old Ann Marie Reyes of Sacramento. She boasts a 3.29 grade-point-average and is looking forward to going to California State University, Sacramento. But during her first two years in high school, Reyes said, she teetered on the edge of dropping out. "My grades weren't good, and I just didn't believe in myself," she said. "A lot of things were going on." The oldest of nine children, she worked nights at a 24-hour child-care center and weekends setting up birthday parties at the zoo. Her report cards were covered with D's and F's. She had joined a gang. "Once I got into my junior year, I realized, 'I'm not going to be able to graduate,' " Reyes said. "It hurt me inside, it killed me. So I cut myself off from all my friends, and all I did was schoolwork."

She also found support at school. Reyes switched from River City to McClatchy High School, where she formed a close relationship with a teacher. She joined a program for at-risk students that stresses values such as courtesy, integrity and perseverance. Reyes told the select committee that lawmakers should fund similar efforts to stem the flow of dropouts. She also said they should consider more training for teachers in how to communicate with teenagers, more English-language support for immigrant students and more college-prep classes for everyone.

Increasing the availability of college-prep classes is one proposal among the five bills Steinberg is pushing as part of his dropout prevention agenda. Fewer than half of California high schools now offer enough college-prep classes to allow all students to participate in the curriculum, according to UCLA researchers. The other bills in his package would:

* Expand the number of high school students who simultaneously enroll in community college. More community colleges would be able to grant high school diplomas under Senate Bill 218.

* Change the way the state calculates the academic performance index, or API, with Senate Bill 219. In addition to reflecting student test scores, the API for each high school also would indicate how many students dropped out, the test scores of students re-assigned to alternative schools, the availability of college-prep courses and what kinds of jobs graduates hold.

* Offer more help to struggling middle schoolers. Schools would be required to provide interventions to students in sixth through ninth grades who fail a class or miss more than 10 days in one semester. (Bill number not yet assigned.)

* Limit which high school students could hold jobs. Students would have to maintain a C-average and an 80 percent attendance record to receive a work permit from their school. (Bill number not yet assigned.)

Many school districts -- including Elk Grove Unified -- already place such restrictions on granting work permits, said Mike Furtado, a work experience coordinator at Elk Grove High School. It's an effective way to keep students in check. "Working is a real carrot for kids. It's important for them to work to earn money, to be a little bit independent. I've found that by having this GPA requirement, it makes students do better," he said. "If it's not universal, perhaps the law does need to be in place."

It's too early for many groups to take official positions on Steinberg's bills. But upon early consideration, the Association of California School Administrators has identified some problems with the API legislation. It's unfair for a high school's API to reflect the test scores of students who are transferred into alternative schools, because the high school can't control the education at the alternative school, said Sherry Skelly Griffith, a lobbyist for the group. But Steinberg said the current system doesn't work because high schools, under pressure to keep their scores up, have an incentive to shove out the low-performing students. "There ought to be a link between a high school and a continuation school," he said. "Otherwise, too many kids are just falling through the cracks."


Australian school authorities say: 'Be happy your son is bullied'

A mother who sought Education Department help amid repeated assaults on her six-year-old son by a classmate was twice told "bullying builds character", a court has heard. Angela Cox yesterday said she was stunned by the comment which came after her son Ben was choked by a nine-year-old boy at Woodberry Public School, near Maitland, on the Central Coast. "I was really annoyed the school hadn't done anything," she said. "(Department officer) Ian Wilson told me bullying builds character and it was a good thing."

Mrs Cox and her son Ben are suing the state, claiming the department was liable for the treatment of her son in 1995 and 1996, which left him depressed, anxious and reluctant to leave the house. "I couldn't believe something like this could happen," she told the Supreme Court yesterday. "(After the violence) he wasn't the same boy he used to be."

Ben, now 18, spends his days watching TV or playing computer games. He has only completed schooling to Year 7. Attempts to have his education continued at other schools and by correspondence failed. Mrs Cox said, with the school doing little more than occasionally putting the nine-year-old on detention, she removed him from class. "I went to the principal, said, 'I'm taking Ben out of school' because they couldn't provide a safe place for (him)," she said. "(The principal) said, 'Sorry, but you keep some, you lose some'."

Needing departmental permission to move him to a school outside the immediate area, she spoke to Mr Wilson again. "He said he couldn't provide total safety for my son and bullying could happen (anywhere). He told me bullying builds character."

When Mrs Cox was asked what the alleged bullying had done to her son's mental health, she replied tearfully: "In his mind he always thinks he's that little boy, ready to be hurt again." Mrs Cox's own psychiatric history was raised in court yesterday and she admitted spending time in hospital due to chronic depression. She denied she had kept her son or her daughters Hannah and Rebekah home from school because she needed companionship when she was too ill to leave home.

Ben had played rugby league in his mid-teens but there were still problems like his fear of the change rooms, she said. Counsel for the state Robert Sheldon asked her if her son had ever been any good at school. "I don't think we ever got the chance to see," she said. Mrs Cox also denied she made any attempt to stop her son from going to school because she was "worried about losing him" as he headed into high school.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

re: "Australian school authorities say: 'Be happy your son is bullied'."

". . .by that 'logic', no woman could ever feel bad about being raped, nor could she ever refuse. (They won't tell you that because public sentiment based on outmoded primitive beliefs still strongly opposes it, but don't worry, they're tirelessly working on that.)"