Tag Archives: education

Rushern Baker says he stands by PGCPS Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell

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 Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker

MITCHELLVILLE, Md. – One day after the Prince George’s County NAACP sent a letter to County Executive Rushern Baker demanding that Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell’s new contract be put on hold as an investigation on allegations of grade fixing and fraud within the school system will be conducted, Baker said that he is standing by Maxwell.

Baker spoke to FOX 5 after holding his first campaign event for his run for Maryland governor.

“I made the decision that he was doing a good job for the county and when I reappointed him and sent him to the school board, I have all the confidence in the world that he is moving the school system in the direction it should be,” Baker said. “I have not changed that. My mind has not changed on that. I stand by him and I stand by the work that he has done.”

We asked if Baker would recommend the termination of Dr. Maxwell’s contract if the upcoming investigation finds the allegations are true. He said, “If it turns out that happened, there are a lot of things we will have to deal with. Not just Dr. Maxwell’s contract. There will be a lot of things, including the school board’s role in all of this.”

The investigation of Prince George’s County Public Schools comes on the heels of a FOX 5 investigation where teachers and parents were interviewed making the alarming assertions.

Baker does not believe the grades were changed.

“In order for what they are alleging to happen, that means thousands of teachers would have had to participate in this,” said Baker.

The county executive for Prince George’s County also released a statement earlier on Thursday saying:

I applaud Dr. Maxwell and the majority of the Board for asking the State Board of Education to conduct another investigation into the allegations of grade changing. Clearly they understand that these allegations are overshadowing the tremendous improvements our schools have made over the last 4 years. We have expanded all day Pre-K, provided more language arts and specialty programs, enrollment has steadily increased, 2 of our 29 high schools have made U.S. News and World Report’s Top High School list for two years straight, philanthropic support in our schools has increased and just this year, our graduates received $151,000,000 in college scholarships and our student’s college readiness for community college is now 3% less than the state average among first year community college entrants. Thanks to the hard work of our teachers, principals, parents and students we have made significant progress.

At the heart of the NAACP’s letter is their concern about these allegations and resolving whether they are true. Now that the MSDE will be investigating this matter, I am confident Dr. Maxwell and his staff will fully cooperate with the investigators as they look into this matter and resolve this matter once and for all.

via Fox5

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The big problem with early childhood education

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In this Washington post, which appeared on Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog, Nancy Carlsson-Paige explains that the biggest problem in early childhood education today is the erosion of time for play.

Carlsson-Paige is an emeritus professor at Lesley College, where she taught teachers of early childhood. She explains in this post that the changes in the recent past have damaged children and their classrooms.

She said, in a recent speech:

For the last 15 years or so, our education system has been dominated by standards and tests, by the gathering of endless amounts of data collected to prove that teachers are doing their job and kids are learning. But these hyper requirements have oppressed teachers and drained the creativity and joy from learning for students. Unfortunately, this misguided approach to education has now reached down to our youngest children.

In kindergartens and pre-K classrooms around the country we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in play. There are fewer activity centers in classrooms and much less child choice, as well as less arts and music. At the same time, teacher directed instruction has greatly increased, along with more scripted curriculum and paper and pencil tasks.

Play is very important in child development, she says:

Children all over the world play. They all know how to play, and no one has to teach them how. Any time we see a human activity that is wired into the brain and accomplished by all children worldwide, we know it is critical to human development.

So much is learned through play in the early years that play has been called the engine of development. Children learn concepts through play; they learn to cope and make sense of life experiences; and, they develop critical human capacities such as problem solving, imagination, self regulation and original thinking.

She notes that early childhood educators were never at the table when government officials, think tanks, testing companies, and standards writers decided that play didn’t matter. It does matter, and strangely enough, we need to fight to defend the right of children to play.

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Is the Drive for Success Making Our Children Sick?

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By VICKI ABELES

STUART SLAVIN, a pediatrician and professor at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, knows something about the impact of stress. After uncovering alarming rates of anxiety and depression among his medical students, Dr. Slavin and his colleagues remade the program: implementing pass/fail grading in introductory classes, instituting a half-day off every other week, and creating small learning groups to strengthen connections among students. Over the course of six years, the students’ rates of depression and anxiety dropped considerably.

But even Dr. Slavin seemed unprepared for the results of testing he did in cooperation with Irvington High School in Fremont, Calif., a once-working-class city that is increasingly in Silicon Valley’s orbit. He had anonymously surveyed two-thirds of Irvington’s 2,100 students last spring, using two standard measures, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The results were stunning: 54 percent of students showed moderate to severe symptoms of depression. More alarming, 80 percent suffered moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety.

“This is so far beyond what you would typically see in an adolescent population,” he told the school’s faculty at a meeting just before the fall semester began. “It’s unprecedented.” Worse, those alarming figures were probably an underestimation; some students had missed the survey while taking Advanced Placement exams.

What Dr. Slavin saw at Irvington is a microcosm of a nationwide epidemic of school-related stress. We think of this as a problem only of the urban and suburban elite, but in traveling the country to report on this issue, I have seen that this stress has a powerful effect on children across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Expectations surrounding education have spun out of control. On top of a seven-hour school day, our kids march through hours of nightly homework, daily sports practices and band rehearsals, and weekend-consuming assignments and tournaments. Each activity is seen as a step on the ladder to a top college, an enviable job and a successful life. Children living in poverty who aspire to college face the same daunting admissions arms race, as well as the burden of competing for scholarships, with less support than their privileged peers. Even those not bound for college are ground down by the constant measurement in schools under pressure to push through mountains of rote, impersonal material as early as preschool.

Yet instead of empowering them to thrive, this drive for success is eroding children’s health and undermining their potential. Modern education is actually making them sick.

Nearly one in three teenagers told the American Psychological Association that stress drove them to sadness or depression — and their single biggest source of stress was school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vast majority of American teenagers get at least two hours less sleep each night than recommended — and research shows the more homework they do, the fewer hours they sleep. At the university level, 94 percent of college counseling directors in a survey from last year said they were seeing rising numbers of students with severe psychological problems.

At the other end of the age spectrum, doctors increasingly see children in early elementary school suffering from migraine headaches and ulcers. Many physicians see a clear connection to performance pressure.

“I’m talking about 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds who are coming in with these conditions. We never used to see that,” says Lawrence Rosen, a New Jersey pediatrician who works with pediatric associations nationally. “I’m hearing this from my colleagues everywhere.”

What sets Irvington apart in a nation of unhealthy schools is that educators, parents and students there have chosen to start making a change. Teachers are re-examining their homework demands, in some cases reviving the school district’s forgotten homework guideline — no more than 20 minutes per class per night, and none on weekends. In fact, research supports limits on homework. Students have started a task force to promote healthy habits and balanced schedules. And for the past two years, school counselors have met one on one with every student at registration time to guide them toward a manageable course load.

“We are sitting on a ticking time bomb,” said one Irvington teacher, who has seen the problem worsen over her 16 years on the job.

A growing body of medical evidence suggests that long-term childhood stress is linked not only with a higher risk of adult depression and anxiety, but with poor physical health outcomes, as well. The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study, a continuing project of the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, shows that children who experience multiple traumas — including violence, abuse or a parent’s struggle with mental illness — are more likely than others to suffer heart disease, lung disease, cancer and shortened life spans as adults. Those are extreme hardships but a survey of the existing science in the 2013 Annual Review of Public Health suggested that the persistence of less severe stressors could similarly act as a prescription for sickness.

“Many of the health effects are apparent now, but many more will echo through the lives of our children,” says Richard Scheffler, a health economist at the University of California, Berkeley. “We will all pay the cost of treating them and suffer the loss of their productive contributions.”

Paradoxically, the pressure cooker is hurting, not helping, our kids’ prospects for success. Many college students struggle with critical thinking, a fact that hasn’t escaped their professors, only 14 percent of whom believe that their students are prepared for college work, according to a 2015 report. Just 29 percent of employers in the same study reported that graduates were equipped to succeed in today’s workplace. Both of those numbers have plummeted since 2004.

Contrary to a commonly voiced fear that easing pressure will lead to poorer performance, Saint Louis medical school students’ scores on the medical boards exams have actually gone up since the stress reduction strategy was put in place.

At Irvington, it’s too early to gauge the impact of new reforms, but educators see promising signs. Calls to school counselors to help students having emotional episodes in class have dropped from routine to nearly nonexistent. The A.P. class failure rate dropped by half. Irvington students continue to be accepted at respected colleges.

There are lessons to be learned from Irvington’s lead. Working together, parents, educators and students can make small but important changes: instituting everyday homework limits and weekend and holiday homework bans, adding advisory periods for student support and providing students opportunities to show their growth in creative ways beyond conventional tests. Communities across the country — like Gaithersburg, Md., Cadiz, Ky., and New York City — are already taking some of these steps. In place of the race for credentials, local teams are working to cultivate deep learning, integrity, purpose and personal connection. In place of high-stakes childhoods, they are choosing health.

Via New York Times

Vicki Abeles is the author of “Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation,” and director and producer of the documentaries “Race to Nowhere” and “Beyond Measure.”

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‘Culture, not just curriculum’, determines east Asian school success

Pupils-study-inside-a-cla-014The study found that children of immigrants from high-achieving East Asian countries are still two-and-a-half years ahead of their western peers by the time they are 15. Photograph: Alamy

A new study has cast doubt on the current enthusiasm in the west for copying teaching methods in China and South Korea, where children score highly in international tests, suggesting that cultural factors beyond school also play a part in their success.

Politicians and policymakers from the west, where children gain lower marks, are avidly studying the education systems of those countries that regularly top the Pisa international league tables in the hope of emulating their achievement.

But a new study from the Institute of Education (IoE) at the University of Londonconcludes that the children of immigrants from these countries when educated elsewhere continue to score just as highly within no-better-than-average school systems.

The study, by Dr John Jerrim, reader in education and social statistics at the IoE, found that children of immigrants from high-achieving east Asian countries are still two-and-a-half years ahead of their western peers by the time they are 15, even when they are educated alongside them in western-style schools.

Jerrim studied the performance of more than 14,000 Australian schoolchildren who took the 2012 Pisa maths test, set by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and found that second-generation immigrants from east Asia, who were mostly of Chinese origin, scored on average 605 points – 102 points more than Australian-born citizens.

Their results were only beaten by the Shanghai region of China, which came out top in the Pisa rankings. By contrast, second-generation immigrants in Australia from the UK scored 512 in the Pisa maths test. In England, children of Chinese origin have the highest GCSE scores of any ethnic group – last year, 78% gained at least five A*-C GCSEs, compared with a national average of 60%.

The UK, in common with other countries, has been keen to learn from the success of Asian education systems. In July, the Department for Education (DfE) announced an £11m initiative to bring 50 Shanghai maths teachers to Englandthis year to help raise standards. The Chinese teachers will provide masterclasses in 32 “maths hubs”, which will form a network of centres of excellence across England.

Yet Jerrim warns policymakers not to be guided by Pisa scores alone. “High-ranking Pisa countries may well provide western policymakers with valuable insights into how their own education systems might be improved. But any subsequent policy action must be supported by a wider evidence base – policymakers should not rely upon Pisa alone.

“For instance, one does not want to erroneously conclude that rote learning helps to improve children’s maths skills, simply because this technique is often practised within east Asian schools. Indeed, the fact that children of east Asian heritage perform just as highly in the Australian education system (whose schools and teachers do not routinely use such techniques) would actually seem to contradict such views.”

Jerrim continued: “The attitudes and beliefs east Asian parents instil in their children make an important contribution to their high levels of academic achievement. Yet as such factors are heavily influenced by culture and home environment, they are likely to be beyond the control of schools. Greater recognition needs to be given to this point in public discourse. Indeed, policymakers should make it clear that there are many influences upon a country’s Pisa performance, and that climbing significantly up these rankings is unlikely to be achieved by the efforts of schools alone.”

Children taking the Pisa test completed a background questionnaire asking about their parents’ country of birth, attitudes to education, their own aspirations and out-of-school activities, which Jerrim used to explore other factors that may play a part in the immigrant children’s school success. His study then used advanced statistical analysis to gauge their relative importance.

Jerrim concludes that family background factors such as parental education accounted for almost 20% of the 102-point achievement gap between East Asians and native Australians – half of the 276 second-generation east Asian children had graduate fathers, compared with only a quarter of the 6,837 Australian-born children. A further 40% of the gap between east Asian and native Australian children (the equivalent of a year’s school progress) was accounted for by a range of school factors.

“I found that, on average, east Asian families send their children to ‘better’ schools than native Australians do,” Jerrim says. “We can’t be sure why this occurs. Their school selection may, of course, reflect the high value east Asian parents place on education. What is clear, however, is that a range of school effects (including the positive influence of fellow pupils as well as the quality of the school) form a key part of the reason that east Asian children in Australia are doing so well.”

A combination of out-of-school factors and personal characteristics accounted for another 25% of the Pisa score gap. East Asian children spent substantially more time studying after school (15 hours a week) than native Australian teenagers (nine hours). They had a very strong work ethic and were more likely to believe that they could succeed if they tried hard enough – although there was no evidence that they had put more effort into the Pisa maths test. They also had higher aspirations; 94% of them expected to go on to university, compared with 58% of the native Australians.

via theguardian

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Common Core generates bill to drop old tests in Md. public schools

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Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery, the sponsor of the Senate companion bill she will introduce shortly to scrap the test

Emergency legislation to stop Maryland from administering a federally mandated student assessment test was introduced Thursday in the House of Delegates with strong bipartisan sponsorship.

The Maryland Student Assessment test (MSA) is slated to be phased out after this year, when it will be administered once more this spring. But the test is considered outdated because it doesn’t test for what students are learning in classrooms this year under the state’s new Common Core education curriculum.Luedtke 2

Del. Eric Luedtke

“The MSA tests students on material they aren’t being taught, and takes away valuable teaching time to do it,” said Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, the lead sponsor of the House bill. “It’s testing for the sake of testing, and we should not be giving it.”

The bill, which has 10 co-sponsors, including five Republicans, would require the state to request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education  (DOE) to excuse Maryland from administering the MSA test this year. It costs the state $6 million to give the test.

The Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), a union which represents 71,000 public education employees across the state, asked the state education department to obtain such a waiver, but state officials said DOE offers no such waiver.

Read more:  http://marylandreporter.com/2014/01/09/common-core-generates-bill-to-drop-old-tests-in-md-public schools/#ixzz2q9ATbZw1 Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job.

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Sign the petition.

Target: Governor Martin O'Malley, Dr. Bernard J. Sadusky and Board of Education members
Region: United States of America

Petition:

Vote of No confidence on William Hite EdD.

Dear Governor O’Malley, Dr. Bernard J. Sadusky and Board of Education members,

We are respectfully requesting that you act to have Dr. William Hite Jr removed as superintendent of schools in Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS). Under his watch, we have witnessed nepotism, professional misconduct, discrimination and corruption.

Dr William Hite has been the disgraced Jack Johnson’s side kick before and after he became the County superintendent of schools. We have the evidence and the PG County needs new officials with no ties to corruption.

Keeping Superintendent Hite is just not working well for students and staff of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). We the public, would like to see an effort to address this situation by the state of Maryland. Enough is enough.

Reform Sasscer Movement.

 
We are asking people to sign a petition that will be forwarded to Governor Martin O’Malley of the state of Maryland, the local school Board of Education and State superintendent Dr. Bernard J. Sadusky in order to address the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) situation! The Online petition requests that, nepotism, professional misconduct, discrimination and corruption by senior staff in PGCPS be brought to an end.
 
Dr William Hite has been the disgraced Jack Johnson’s side kick before and after he became the County superintendent of schools. We have the evidence and the PG County needs new officials with no hands tied to corruption.Please sign the petition. However if you leave comments, no foul language, belittling etc should be used. Example, what you see on comment boards.

We need for everyone to post this link to Face book. Twitter. Email. This will close March 30th 2012. We need several thousand to be heard!

Also please forward this link. We need many signatures!

 

Sign the petition~> Here