superintendent (education)

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It was Anne’s idea that they dramatize Elaine. They had studied Tennyson’s poem in school the preceding winter, the Superintendent of Education having prescribed it in the English course for the Prince Edward Island schools. They had analyzed and parsed it and torn it to pieces in general until it was a wonder there was any meaning at all left in it for them, but at least the fair lily maid and Lancelot and Guinevere and King Arthur had become very real people to them, and Anne was devoured by secret regret that she had not been born in Camelot. Those days, she said, were so much more romantic than the present.

“This is not one of those situations where it’s just smoke. There is in fact fire,” said Alabama’s new state superintendent of education, Michael Sentance.

The fire: Sentance revealed earlier this month that high schools there have “misstated student records … resulting in diplomas that were not honestly earned.” At a recent meeting of the state school board, he also admitted that Alabama’s education department had not provided enough oversight.

“This is a black eye for the department,” Sentance said, “and it makes the education system here look bad, and in some ways undeservedly so.”

The revelations come as high school graduation rates have been rising across the country, nowhere more than in Alabama. Its rate, now at 89 percent, has risen 17 points since 2011. The average state increase was barely four points.

Alabama Admits Its High School Graduation Rate Was Inflated

Illustration: LA Johnson/NPR

Take a look at your hand, right or left, it doesn’t matter. Now imagine every finger represents a word. How many sentences can you come up with?

I think therefore I am.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

All you need is love.

Ximena Martinez, from Texas, thought this one was good: “Las naranjas son muy ricas.” Translation: The oranges are very delicious.

She’s a native Spanish-speaker and preschooler at Kramer Elementary School in Dallas. Her teacher, Jorge Ruiz, always asks his young students to speak in complete sentences.

That’s because research shows that if children aren’t reading proficiently by third grade, they’re four times more likely to drop out of high school. “We’ve known for quite some time in education that there’s an incredibly strong link between oral language development and future reading abilities” — no matter what language kids speak, says Alan Cohen.

He’s the brains behind this seemingly simple effort by the Dallas Independent School District to improve literacy by getting preschool through second-grade students to express themselves in full sentences. Cohen is the district’s former assistant superintendent for early childhood education, a subject he has researched for a long time.

“If a teacher says, ‘What color is this?’ and holds up a red pen, and a child just says 'Red,’ they’ve heard one word,” says Cohen. “If the child says 'The color of that pen is red,’ well, they have heard multiple words.”

That, he explains, means kids are hearing a greater number of words by the hundreds, or maybe thousands, each day of the year. Then, multiply that year, after year and the benefits are huge.

To Teach Kids To Read And Write, Sometimes You Have To Get Creative

Illustration: Byrd Pinkerton / NPR

Virginia is adding computer science to every K-12 school

Guest post by Chris Dovi, co-founder of CodeVA

When we launched CodeVA in 2013, my wife, Rebecca Dovi, and I had in mind the simple goal of making sure that Virginia students didn’t fall behind.

Last week, Virginia took a giant leap forward toward becoming a national leader in computer science. CodeVA helped convince state legislators to pass a law making computer science a topic that will be taught in all schools, and to all Virginia students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The new bill adds “computer science and computational thinking, including computer coding” to Virginia’s Standards of Learning.

Over the next few years, computer science standards will be reviewed and adopted that integrate concepts, and expose students to real-world uses of computer science. Virginia has long provided basic access to computer classes to all high school students through a statewide virtual learning school, but now coding courses also will be added to what students can take.

The road to Virginia’s victory started very differently

 In January, lawmakers introduced legislation to allow computer science to count for foreign language credits. We knew there were problems.

Had any of the bills become law, they might have further confused schools on just what constitutes computer science. CodeVA had already found that many classes considered to be computer science by the state were instead productivity software classes. Luckily, all of the lawmakers who proposed foreign language bills were well intentioned, and determined to do right by Virginia kids. But none were aware that state universities wouldn’t accept high school diplomas that substituted computer programming languages for French or Chinese. And what would people think about students missing out on foreign languages?

We made it our mission to educate them. With the help of Microsoft, all five bills were soon set aside in favor of a single substitute bill carried by Del. Tag Greason. Not a bad bit of teamwork.

The bill passed both the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate on unanimous votes, with the nod of the Virginia Department of Education, and blessings from stakeholders like the Virginia Educators Association, superintendents, and the school board association.

When this change is officially signed into law in July, Virginia will be the first state to require computer science to be integrated at all K-12 levels. After that, the Virginia Department of Education will get to work developing standards for each grade level.

All of this means lots more hard, but rewarding, work ahead for us, with help from our partner Code.org.

It’s time to train a whole lot of teachers!  

CodeVA, an independent nonprofit, was Code.org’s first national affiliate partner. Since 2014, CodeVA has trained teachers in 33 Virginia school districts, impacting tens of thousands of Virginia students.

anonymous asked:

My schools dress code sexualizes girls so so much. We can't wear a certain tank top without being yelled at or a certain dress or shorts. I really want to do something to stand up to it. Do you have any ideas?

The first suggestion that comes to mind is taking a direct-action approach. 

1. Read the school’s official dress code and highlight the portions that are unfair or discriminate specifically against girls clothing. 

2. Write a petition to rescind or review those portions of the dress code.

3. Collect signatures from students and parents.

4. Present signed petition to principal/headmaster or headmistress/superintendent/board of education (determine who the most appropriate person would be in your situation).

5. Raise awareness to your petition in the local paper or on a local radio station. 

If all of that seems overwhelming or intimidating, involve friends! Everything is a little easier with someone to support you by your side. 

Good luck! Fight the good fight.

- Claudia

The Mysterious Death of Kendrick Johnson: A Georgia Family Seeks Justice & Answers

Kendrick’s Death & Initial Investigation

Johnson was found headfirst in the center of a rolled up wrestling mat, in his high school gym, on January 11, 2013. The body was discovered by students who had climbed up to the top of a cluster of mats, each of which stood nearly six feet tall and were three feet wide.[6] An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) stated that Johnson had died from positional asphyxia,[5] and the case was ruled an accidental death by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.[1]

They hypothesized that Johnson had fallen into the mat while looking for a shoe and died after being unable to get out.[5] Three students told investigators that it was common for some students to store their shoes behind or under the rolled up mats. Johnson was not wearing shoes when he was found.[6] A student at the school said that he shared a pair of Adidas shoes with Johnson, and that after gym class Johnson would always “go to the mats, jump up and toss the shoes inside the middle of the hole.”[6] Lt. Stryde Jones, who headed up the investigation for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office stated: “We never had credible information that indicated this was anything other than an accident”[6]

Johnson’s family has questioned this hypothesis. An independent autopsy conducted by a private pathologist in the service of Johnson’s parents came to a different conclusion, finding that his death was caused by blunt force trauma.[1]

After the opinion of the private pathologist was released, Johnson’s family stated that they believed Johnson had been killed.[5] The family retained the services of attorney Benjamin Crump.[7] On October 31, 2013, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia announced that the office would open a formal review into the death of Johnson.[4] The Federal Bureau of Investigation is participating in that review process.

The family filed a legal action to open a coroner’s inquiry into the unusual death of Kendrick Johnson. When the judge in that case delayed a decision, pending the outcome of a U.S. District Attorney review, the family demanded that the governor of Georgia immediately authorize the inquiry, instead. The Johnson family, together with the NAACP and other civil rights activists, then held a “Who Killed K.J.?” rally at the state capitol in Atlanta.[7] The governor’s office released a statement indicating that they would await the report of the U.S. District Attorney.[5]

The State of Kendrick’s Body After His Death

The independent autopsy found, among other things, that Johnson’s body was stuffed with newspapers.[5][8] The funeral home, which processed the body after it was turned over to them following the GBI autopsy, stated that they never received Johnson’s organs from the coroner. Johnson’s internal organs were said to have been “destroyed through natural process” and “discarded by the prosector before the body was sent back to Valdosta” according to the funeral home owner.[1] That left a void, which the funeral home filled.[5] The funeral home owner stated that it is standard practice to fill a void in this fashion, and that cotton or sawdust may also be employed for this purpose.[5][8] Johnson’s family filed a complaint, with a regulatory body, against the funeral home operator.[5] A subsequent investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office found that the funeral home did not follow “best practice” and that other material was “more acceptable than newspaper”. Nonetheless, the investigation cleared the funeral home of any wrongdoing.[9] A spokesperson for the Secretary of State said that the investigation found that the funeral home “didn’t violate any rules”.[10] The Johnson family subsequently filed a civil suit against the funeral home, seeking money damages.[9]

The Surveillance Tape Possibly Edited

In November 2013, 290 hours of surveillance tape from 35 cameras that covered the gym area was released to CNN following a court request.[11] A forensic analyst Grant Federicks enlisted by CNN found that tapes from two cameras are missing an hour and five minutes of footage while another set is missing 2 hours and 10 minutes. The cameras were motion activated, and the mat area was believed to be outside the camera’s range.[6] Two cameras covered the entrance into the gym before Johnson’s arrival, and would have shown who (if anyone) had entered before him.[11] Attorneys for the Johnson family have expressed fears that the camera footage was edited as part of a “coverup”.[6] However, both the president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County chapter of the SCLC, and the lead investigator for that chapter, who is also the past president of the local chapter of the NAACP, have stated that they believe the attorneys for the Johnsons have “not been entirely truthful in their statements” and that there is no coverup in this case.[12]

Legal Action

The family of Kendrick Johnson filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lowndes County Board of Education, its superintendent and the high school principal. The suit alleges that Johnson “was violently assaulted, severely injured, suffered great physical pain and mental anguish, and subjected to insult and loss of life” on January 10, 2013. While the lawsuit does not name the person or persons allegedly involved in the January 10th event, nor identify the race of alleged perpetrators, it implies a race-based dimension to the hypothetical assault. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants were negligent, and violated Johnson’s constitutional right to equal protection based on race. It alleges that the defendants ignored reports that, previously, Johnson was repeatedly attacked and harassed by a white student.[13] Kendrick was allegedly attacked on a bus trip earlier in the year as well as on another occasion by this student. According to the lawsuit, the other student “had a history of provoking and attacking” Johnson at school. Johnson was “victimized” again “in the presence of the coaching staff and employees” of the school again after his mother complained about the attacks, the suit said.

The suit also alleges that school officials failed to “properly monitor the activities of students throughout all areas” of the campus and to “maintain a properly functioning video surveillance system.”[13]

In August 2014, the parents of two Lowndes County High School students filed a $5 million lawsuit against Ebony Magazine after they published a series of articles naming two students as possible suspects in the death. The magazine used pseudonyms, but used otherwise accurate descriptions of the boys, including the fact that their father was an FBI agent. The article used as a source an anonymous email to the sheriff’s office alleging that the younger of the two brothers killed Johnson after learning that Johnson had sex with Bell’s girlfriend. Rick and Karen Bell assert that their sons were not involved in the crime, are not considered suspects, and have been harassed as a result of the publication.[14]

Source: Wikipedia