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Fired Teacher Returns to School, Kills Headmistress and Himself

Although some students thought their former teacher, Shane Schumert, would return to the school and “do something,” nobody really saw it coming when he did.

On March 6, 2012, Schumert returned to Episcopal High School, a private high school in Florida where he had worked until earlier that morning when he had been fired with an AK-47 assault rifle hidden in a guitar case. He shot and killed the school’s headmistress, Dale Regan, and then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.

Details concerning why Schumert was dismissed have not been released, but one student, Maria Boyance, told a local newspaper that she heard he had been fired and was escorted out of the school. Boyance described Schumert as being an “awkward man.”

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Students Awarded Large Settlement from School District in Bullying Trial

Six students in Minnesota are happy with the outcome of their lawsuit against the largest school district in the state. The students recently sued the Anoka Hennepin School District due to the bullying they faced at school and were awarded a $270,000 settlement on March 5, 2012. The school district will also have to hire a consultant to help students who are being bullied for their sexual orientation and who will also develop a plan to help prevent this bullying from occurring in the first place.

“We wanted to make change, we wanted to make systematic change and we just wouldn’t have been able to do that without it,” said Rebecca Rooker, the mother of one of the students who was bullied, Kyle.

The bullying that Kyle suffered at his school was so bad that he moved out of the district to escape it.

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Black Students Are the Most Likely to Be Suspended or Expelled

According to the Department of Education, black male students who attend public schools are more likely to receive harsh punishments at school than other students.

The Department of Education released data that shows that black students make up 35 percent of the students who have been suspended once, 46 percent of the students who have been suspended more than one time, and 39 percent of students who have been expelled. Interesting enough, the black students were only 19 percent of the total population at the schools that were sampled in the 2009-2010 school year. The surveys also show that black students are 3.5 times more likely to face suspension or expulsion than white students. Black boys were twice as likely as black girls girls to receive an out-of-school suspension as a punishment.

“Education is the civil rights of our generation,” said Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education. “The undeniable truth is that the everyday education experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.”

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Louisiana Ready for Change in State School Districts

Louisianians are ready for some fundamental changes in their state’s school systems, as reported in a recent poll from LSU. Fifty-two percent of those who responded to the poll said they were in favor of “fundamental” changes, while another 34 percent said they wanted the school system to be “completely rebuilt.” While it is obvious that these people want to see some changes, many do not know what form that change should take.

According to the poll, many Louisianians (58 percent) are in favor of paying teachers based on their performance in the classroom, instead of based on the number of years they have been teaching (32 percent). I think this change would a great idea and should be implemented across the nation, but many teachers unions tend to disagree on this touchy subject.

Another area that received much attention in LSU’s poll of more than 700 residents was charter schools. Seventy percent of the residents said they were in favor of opening new charter schools in the state. Many were also in favor of expanding existing charter schools as well. Louisianians want to allow charter school operators who have been successful in the past to open new schools; currently, this ability is reserved for the local and state school districts only. Read the rest of this entry »



New York Releases Ratings of Individual Teachers

In a controversial move, the New York City Department of Education recently released information concerning individual teachers in the district and their ratings, based on a value-added analysis. This analysis was used to determine how effective each teacher is at helping students improve on standardized tests. More than 12,000 teachers’ ratings were released and of the teachers taught either English or math for students between fourth and eight grade.

Some people are quite upset by this release of data. The United Federation of Teachers has started an advertising campaign and is placing ads in newspapers across New York City. The ads state “This is No Way to Rate a Teacher!” and show a complicated math formula that is supposedly used to rate the teachers. The ads also feature a letter from the organization’s president, Michael Mulgrew, in which the president outlines all of the reasons why the data is faulty and should not be relied on. Read the rest of this entry »



Hugging Banned at New Jersey Middle School

In an attempt to keep students from engaging in “unsuitable, physical interactions,” Tyler Blackmore, the principal at Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School in New Jersey, passed a new rule, which forbids the 900 students who attend the school from hugging each other. Yes, that’s right, the middle school is now a “no hugging school.”

Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School isn’t the first school to institute such a rule, but they are certainly receiving quite a lot of attention for it. They are also the only school in their district to institute such a rule, but the school superintendent David Healy is supporting them. Healy has said that the school has the responsibility to teach students about proper behavior and that the principal has acted responsibly.

“There is no policy specific to hugging, and we have, nor will we be, suspending students for hugging,” Healy said. “It is unfortunate that there are those who find purpose and humor in sensationalizing such a routine school-related issue at the expense and inconvenience of our children and our school community.” Read the rest of this entry »



Should Vending Machines Be Taken Out of Schools?

A scary number of American students are obese or overweight, and it’s easy to think of reasons why. I have heard horror stories of kids who will only eat McDonald’s Happy Meals instead of healthy meals, and elementary schools that feed their students food that has the nutritional value of garbage.

However, something that we might not think of right off the top of our heads is the food that students buy for themselves from vending machines that are found in their school cafeterias. Now, the Obama administration is tackling this culprit in its fight to make children healthier. The administration plans to propose new rules concerning vending machines and the foods that are offered through these devices within the next several weeks. Although the exact rules have not been announced, many health advocates think that these rules will reduce the amounts of fat, salt, and sugar that foods and drinks sold in vending machines can contain.

Vending machines do a surprisingly large amount of business in schools. According to the National Academy of Sciences, more than $2 billion worth of sugary treats and sodas are sold in our nations schools through vending machines. So it makes sense that the industries that profit from these sales – such as candy and soda producers – would not want vending machines to be banned from schools.

Christopher Gindlesperger is the director of communications for the American Beverage Association. Gindlesperger says that companies in his industry, such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have already taken steps to make the offerings in school vending machines healthier.


 

“Our members have voluntarily reduce the calories in drinks shipped to schools by 88 percent and stopped offering full-calorie soft drinks in school vending machines,” he said.

Many vending machines also now offer some healthier options for children, such as trail mixes and dried fruit. Unfortunately, these products are often placed beside unhealthy treats, like candy bars and cookies. A study conducted between 2006 and 2010 found that when students had the option between the healthy and unhealthy foods, snacking behavior did not change, which means kids were still choosing the unhealthy treats and putting their healthy lunch down the garbage disposal.

So what should schools do in order to help kids makes healthy choices? Should they just remove vending machines entirely? Although this seems a little drastic, it might not be a bad idea.

Roger Kipp is the food service director for the Norwood School District in Ohio. In 2010, Kipp took out the vending machines in his schools and replaces them with an area in the school cafeterias where kids could buy healthier snacks, such as fruit, yogurt, and wraps.

“It took a while, but it caught on,” said Kipp. “You have to give the kids time. You can’t replace 16-years of bad eating habits overnight.”

Via The New York Times



President Obama Waives No Child Left Behind Requirements in 10 States

U.S. Department of Educaiton No Child Left Behind SealWhen No Child Left Behind was first created, everyone thought it would be a great thing and would really accomplish its goal of getting every child in the USA up to par in the fields of math and reading by 2014. However, with the deadline drawing closer and closer, it is becoming obvious that many schools are going to fall short. This is the reason why President Barack Obama recently let 10 states off the hook and freed them from the requirements that the program enforced on schools. The states are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

President Obama said that he took action and released the states from their contracts because Congress has not updated the law, even though many agreed that it desperately needed to be fixed.

“If we’re serious about helping out children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone,” Obama said. “Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”

These 10 states aren’t the only ones who asked for a waiver to free them from No Child Left Behind. There are 28 other states that have plans on seeking waivers. Under the new waivers, the schools no longer have to prove that every student is proficient in reading and math; instead, the school must prepare students for either a higher education or a career, develop evaluation systems for teachers and principals, and establish new target goals for improvement among all students.

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Technology in the Classroom Might Not Be the Answer

typingFor almost 100 years, people have been predicting the end of the use of textbooks in public schools. The cause for the decline of textbook use is often due to some new technology that will forever change classrooms.

For example, in 1913, Thomas Edison was a nay-sayer concerning the future of textbook use.

“Books will soon be obsolete in the schools,” he said. “Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years.”

Edison was talking about replacing textbooks with videos to teach students. Sure, we do use videos today in our classrooms, but textbooks are still the main source of information in most cases.

So, should we be surprised that many education leaders, such as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, are now pushing for the use of laptops and digital books in the classroom? Using history as our source, the answer is no.

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Schools Must Buy Larger Desks to Accommodate Larger Students

class room with desksSeventeen percent of American children are considered to be overweight or obese. Of course, this statistic in and of itself is disturbing, but the manifestations of this fact are also quite mind-boggling. For example, there was recently an advertising campaign in Georgia that targeted these overweight children. Now, many schools are having to make big changes in their classrooms in order to make sure these students are comfortable.

In many schools across the nation, bigger and stronger chairs and desks are being put into classrooms for the overweight children to use because they cannot fit in normal-sized school desks. Even in schools where this is not an immediate problem, it probably will become one in the future, and because of this, furniture manufacturers are increasing the standards size of their school desks in order to accommodate the growing students.

Taylor LeBaron was an overweight child who dealer with ridicule from his classmates about his weight. When he had trouble getting out of his desk, the situation just got worse.

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