Starting this upcoming 2013 school term, 45 states will start field-testing the new Common Core standards. Under President Bush’s education reform in the No Child Left Behind Act, states were still free to set their own standards. Then, starting in 2008, the National Governor’s Association commissioned a new set of standards intended to be national. In order to get funding from President Obama’s Race to the Top program, states must submit to these new standards.
California adopted the Common Core standards the day of the deadline to receive national funding. Alaska, Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, and Nebraska did not sign on.
Common Core is somewhat controversial albeit not across traditional party lines. Many are concerned with a loss of local control, the increase in cost, the homogenization of education and the greater emphasis on testing. For some states, whose standards are severely lacking, Common Core is a change for the better. However, it also reins back the states with excellent and well-established standards.
Given the globalization of the workforce, the standards intend to measure individual aptitude with international standards in mind. The goal of the standards is to make access to educational material more consistently available across the country.
The standards have been popular among teachers. 75% of those polled in a survey by the American Federation of Teachers approved the standards. However, 74% also feel unprepared and worry about implementing the new standards even though 43% of teachers have received formal training. This summer, some teachers will be attending camps to learn how to implement the Common Core standards.
Most teachers polled feel that the new standards will place greater emphasis on testing and teaching for a test. Perhaps as a consequence, fully 83% of all teachers polled favor a moratorium on the consequences of the new Common Core standards until they have been in place for more than a year. Subsequently, Common Core will replace older standards starting in the 2014 school term.
Raleigh legislators rejected a proposal from Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson on Monday, who suggested that teachers should be exempt from personal income taxes.
The tax break for K-12 teachers and charter teachers would cost the state $250 million, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. North Carolina would also be the first state to implement the exemption.
“While the idea may be well-intentioned,” Representative David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican and a tax-plan author, said, “I don’t think that particular one is as well thought out as it should have been.”
The proposal was announced after frustration with teacher salaries, which starts at only $30,800 a year, emerged from both parties. A teacher must have 15 years of experience before they qualify for the next category of pay at $40,000.
The House and Senate have both developed separate tax proposals, neither of which include any mention of Atkinson’s suggestion. The Republican effort, especially, has been focused of expanding the tax base instead of shrinking it. The tax burden will in fact weigh on citizen shoulders, with both the House and Senate hoping to lower corporate income taxes in an effort to attract businesses and create jobs.
Oregon lawmakers are hoping to require all their schools to display an American flag in their classrooms — a move supporters say encourages patriotism.
The new bill also requires that charter schools participate in flag display and an option for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in a weekly reciting of it.
State law prohibits forcing students to recite the pledge.
In a 51-6 vote on Thursday, the House approved the Republican-backed bill and sent it to Gov. John Kitzhaber, which he is expected to sign.
The original bill would have required students to perform the Pledge of Allegiance every day, though civil rights advocates said it would impose on students’ freedom of speech and ostracize students unable to say the pledge. The amendment was later removed.
The bill was prompted by now Rogue River High School senior Chandler Cort, who was disturbed by the lack of opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He said is intention was not political or religious but patriotic.
“This is a bill for Americans,” Cort said.
Bill sponsor Rep. Sal Esquivel said it would be an opportunity for teachers to educate students on the history of the pledge in civics courses.
“It is important to take time to remember what binds us together and to remember those who have given so much,” Rep. Jeff Reardon said, in support of the bill.
Seventy nine percent of registered voters oppose allowing universities to consider applicants’ race as a factor in their admissions process. According to an ABC poll, 64% of registered voters oppose affirmative action “strongly.”
This marks an historic low. According to an NBC poll, support for affirmative action is down to 45%, falling from 61% in the early 90's. This should not come as a surprise, however. Even current proponents maintain that the goal of the program is to eliminate the need for affirmative action. As minorities make gains in standards of living, the need for assistance diminishes.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans are slightly more opposed at 86% to Democrats at 69%. Men and women, however, oppose the program equally. Remarkably and contrary to popular intuition, by region, the South is the least opposed to affirmative action. The Western region, the most diverse of all the regions, is the most opposed to affirmative action. This may, in part, be due to proximity; In cases like Abigail Fisher’s, students oppose affirmative action based off experiencing, firsthand, rejection from schools that admit their minority compatriots.
Even if affirmative action is overturned, it will continue to impact minorities. Long after race ceases to be a factor in admissions, some will remain wary of the qualifications of these targeted minorities. Indeed, this might explain why support and opposition do not fall so neatly along racial lines. American whites and blacks oppose affirmative action in equal number (79% and 78% respectively). Hispanics support the program the most, however, with only 68% in outright opposition. East and Southeast Asian Americans were not polled.
The court will release their ruling on Fisher v. University of Austin, Texas, sometime this month. It is unclear whether popular opinion will sway their vote. A tie is also possible, since Justice Elena Kagen has recused herself. In the event of a 4-4 tie, the ruling would favor the status quo and affirmative action would remain legal.
A school for the developmentally disabled in Providence, RI., allegedly forced students to work manual labor for little or no pay. A letter from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice called the operation at the Harold H. Birch Vocational School a “sheltered workshop,” according to a report from WPRI Target 12 News.
For years the school has been violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"Birch obtains contracts with private businesses to perform work, such as bagging, labeling, collating and assembling jewelry," stated the DOJ letter obtained by WPRI. "One former student stated that she was required to spend a much greater portion of her school day in the workshop, including full days, when the workshop had important production deadlines."
The DOJ said students received subminimum wages or no payment at all. Sometimes working weekends, the DOJ found kids were making 50 cents to $2 an hour.
Mayor Angel Taveras said he had no idea the workshop existed until a federal investigation started in January.
"I think there were very low expectations at that school ... we weren't preparing them to be successful as young adults," Taveras told WPRI. "I think we all let these kids down."
Taveras said he has spoken with public safety officials about launching a criminal investigation.
"Were there people who benefited financially from this?" Taveras said. "Who were they — did they know what was going on? These kids deserve justice, they deserve better, and people should know what happened, and [that's] the only way we can ensure that it doesn't happen again."
Birch School has shut down the program, according to the mayor. He said the city is attempting to reach a settlement with the DOJ. School principal, Larry Roberti, was originally put on leave. He resigned Tuesday, according to an attorney for the city.
A 17-page letter from the DOJ dated June 7 outlined federal investigators’ findings and the appropriate ways to fix the problem.
"The City, in part, by operating an in-school sheltered workshop at Birch, has planned, structured, administered and funded its transition service system in a manner that imposes a serious risk of unnecessary segregation upon Birch students," the letter stated.
The investigation also found that Birch was feeding students ages 14 to 20 into the workshop through the Training Through Placement (TTP) program by offering them few prospects if they wanted to work after leaving Birch.
"TTP is a segregated setting with many of the hallmarks of other segregated settings,” the letter stated. “[Participants] are required to follow fixed, highly regimented schedules and routines; individuals with disabilities do not have private or personal space and are separated from spaces for managers and staff without disabilities; individuals exercise very limited choice over the activities that they engage in throughout the day."
The DOJ letter stated that the school board had been warned about potential hazards at Birch in 2011. Taveras and Providence School Superintendent Susan Lusi said they are not aware of the findings of that report.
Valedictorian Roy Costner went off his preapproved speech and said the Lord's Prayer at the graduation ceremony of South Carolina's Liberty High School on Saturday (video below).
Costner was protesting the Pickens County School District’s decision to no longer include prayer at graduation ceremonies because of protests by atheists.
According to Christian News, Costner spoke about his Christian upbringing before saying the prayer.
“Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today," Costner said. "I’m so glad that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age. And I think most of you will understand when I say ... our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
The audience erupted with cheers as he continued the prayer.
Costner concluded with: “For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
“The bottom line is, we’re not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths,” Pickens County School District spokesman John Eby told Christian News. “He’s a graduate now. There’s nothing we can do about it, even if we wanted to.”
Source: Christian News
The Maine Senate rejected a bill this week that would have allowed qualified public school employees to carry a firearm on the job. Both the Senate and the House rejected the bill – the Senate turned it down with a 19-14 vote, and another thumbs down from the House killed the bill.
If the bill had passed, it would have allowed school administrators to establish rules and procedures detailing how employees could carry concealed guns into schools. It would have also required participants to complete crisis intervention and hostage training scenarios.
Sen. Gary Plummer (R), who supported the bill, argued guns in schools might have prevented the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy.
“I believe [the principal at Sandy Hook] could have taken [Adam Lanza] out and thus saved the lives of the staff and those children," Plummer said. "We will never know for sure if I am correct about this, but we do know for certain, without a gun, [the principal] was unable to stop [Lanza] from carrying out his terrible plan."
Sen. Stan Gerzofsky disagreed with his colleague, stating, "There's nothing here that will enhance safety. I think it will do the opposite."
This is the end of the bill, but it might not be the end of guns in schools in Maine. Lawmakers are considering new legislation that would allow school employees to enter into an agreement with law enforcement to promote school employees as temporary police officers. Educators would have to be trained at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
This approach is a double-edged blade. On the one hand, it would be much more difficult and time-consuming for educators to earn the privilege of carrying a gun. On the other hand, educator who do go through training would be much more qualified than educators would have been under the defeated bill. Plus, the local law enforcement would be on board with everything, so it would be much less likely that they would accidentally shoot a gun-wielding educator.
Source: SF Gate
School crossing guard, Scott Becker, has been bringing a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun to work in Bethlehem, Pa. The gun is on display as Becker assists children crossing the street (video below).
An unidentified person took a picture of Becker with his gun and recently posted it on Facebook. This led to public outcry and Becker's boss asking him to stop carrying the handgun Monday.
“Usually I have it on me, but he asked this morning to take it off while crossing the kids, and I have no problem with it,” Becker told WPVI-TV. “I don’t want to cause grief for anybody. I’m not out to be the monster or anything. I’m just out to do my job.”
Police in Bethlehem are concerned and plan to investigate, but Becker claims he has a gun permit.
“That way I would be here as the first person to respond,” Becker said . “I would be here right away before someone else could respond.”
Becker co-owns a laundromat and will continue to wear his gun there.
“I have a business to take care of, too, so I want to work with that and protect myself,” he said.
Briar MacLean of Calgary was sitting in class on Tuesday when he overheard a classmate being bullied. Realizing the bully had pulled a knife on his classmate, he instinctively tackled him.
Unfortunately, Sir John A. Macdonald School does not “condone heroics,” and MacLean found himself in trouble along with the knife-weilding assailant.
“I was in between two desks and he was poking and prodding the guy,” Briar told the National Post. “He put him in a headlock, and I saw that.”
MacLean did not see the bully pull out a knife, but he “heard the flick, and [he] heard them say there was a knife.”
Around fourth period that day, Briar was sent to the office and the vice principal called his mother, Leah O’Donnell.
“They phoned me and said, ‘Briar was involved in an incident today,'” O’Donnell said. “That he decide to ‘play hero’ and jump in.”
She said the school told her that her son should have told the teacher if there was a problem instead of handling the situation himself.
“I asked [the vice principal] ‘In the time it would have taken him to go get a teacher, could that kid’s throat have been slit?’” O'Donnel said. “She said yes, but that’s beside the point ... we ‘don’t condone heroics in this school.’”
The bravery of confronting someone with a knife aside, what Briar did was stand up to a bully. Bullying is an epidemic in the United States and across the globe, and it often leads to suicide. In fact, bullying is the third leading cause of death among young people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The student who reportedly intervened was asked to remain in the office to explain what happened but was in no way disciplined,"wrote the school's principal, Michael Bester.
While he was not suspended, Briar was made to feel as if he did something wrong.
"It is not recommended that students intervene in incidents such as this to ensure their own safety,” Bester wrote. “There was a teacher nearby who could have been asked to assist before the third student became involved."
Health teachers in grades 7 through 12 in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are promoting Qpid.me, a website that allows children as young as 12 to share their "verified STD results" and look up other people's HIV/STD statuses with their cell phone.
Qpid.me it is not directly part of the LAUSD's health education curriculum, but is a sex education resource.
Qpid.me posters in LAUSD schools encourage students to utilize the website, reports CBS Los Angeles.
In a Qpid.me demo video (below) for teachers, the website looks up the STD results for former Miss California 2009 Tami Farrell.
Students can use the website to find a STD testing location, find their results online and then share their results, if they want.
While this might sound like it's going too far to some parents, California law allows for children 12 or older to consent to medical care, including the prevention of sexually transmitted disease, without parental consent.
Sources: CBS Los Angeles and Qpid.me