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Verizon Wireless Awards Kansas Department of Education a $30,000 Grant

moblie communications companyIf students in Kansas are about to sign up with a cell phone provider, they should probably consider signing on with Verizon Wireless. This isn’t based on the cost of quality of cell phone service that the provider offers in the state, but instead it based on a somewhat strange factor. What is this factor? The fact that the cell phone company recently announced plans to donate $30,000 to the Kansas Department of Education in a grant.

The grant will be given to the state in order to help fund the training of teachers on the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards were adopted by the state of Kansas in October 2010 and the funds will be used in the implementation of the plan.

“Verizon Wireless is proud to support the Kansas Department of Education and its undertaking to implement the Common Core Standards in classrooms across the state,” said Brendan Fallis, the Verizon Wireless president of the Kansas/Missouri region. “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

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An Entire School District in Montana Exists for Only One Student

student and teacher enter a school houseSome people think that smaller class sizes are the answer to improving the quality of education that students in America receive. However, I doubt that anybody would really want to have a class – or even more shocking, an entire school district – that only has one student enrolled for the school year. Yet, for Amber Leetch, a sixth grader in Greenough, Montana, this strange scenario is just her daily life.

Amber is the only student in the entire Sunset School District 30. The school district is in a prosperous ranching corner of Montana and the district consists of a one-room school house, one student, and one teacher.

“The hardest part is getting through the day without feeling too lonely,” Amber said about her unusual learning environment.

Earlier this year, there was one other student enrolled in the school district; however, the first-grader only attended classes for a few weeks. Now, the long school-days are shared by only Amber, her teacher, Toni Hatten, and the new school dog, Baylee.

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Elementary Students Need Physical Education, Even if the School’s Budget Doesn’t Cover It

elementary school gym classJessica Mazeau teaches physical education at Clifford School in Redwood City, California, five days a week. Her students are in kindergarten through fifth grade and a typical class includes activities such as keep-away with basketballs, hula hooping, and jumping rope. However, Mazeau does not work for the school or for the school district, nor is she a volunteer. Instead, she works for a private company, Rhythm and Moves, which was hired by the school’s parent-teacher organization, to provide physical education and activities for the students after the school’s budget cuts required it to eliminate its programs for students in all grades, except sixth through eighth.

“Clearly, if we don’t fund it the kids are not getting any active outside, except for minimum recess time and lunch time,” said Marilyn Ezrin, co-president of the Clifford School Parent-Teacher Organization.

Along with music education, physical education is becoming a luxury that schools simply cannot afford due to budget cuts and a hurting economy. However, with state requirements in California mandating that students receive 200 minutes of PE classes every 10 days, the responsibility to fulfill this requirement has fallen on classroom teachers.

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Atlanta Public Schools Have to Repay Money Won from Grants, Due to Cheating Scandal

bubble sheetIn July 2011, it came to light that teachers and administrators in the Atlanta School District had been helping their students to cheat on national, standardized tests. Now, the school district has to pay for their crime to the tune of $363,000.

The cheating had been going on since 2001 and involved almost half of the schools in the district. There were almost 180 teachers and principals accused of being involved in the cheating scandal. Evidently these teachers went so far as to give the students the answers during the tests and even changing the answers that were wrong.

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NYC Teachers are Paid to Migrate from School to School

new york city department of educationCan you imagine waking up every Monday morning and reporting to a different building each week to do your job? Your job might even change on a weekly basis: one week you could be working in the sciences and the next you might be filling out paperwork. However, you would still be considered a full-time employee for the DOE’s ATR and you would still receive your full salary. It sounds like the life of a super-secret-agent to me, but for the teachers who work for the Department of Education’s Absent Teacher Reserve, it is just another day at the job.

Each week, hundreds of teachers in New York City go through this routine. As a mentioned before, these nomadic teachers receive their full salaries not to teach their normal jobs, but to work as substitutes at different schools throughout the New York Public School District. Many of these teachers were “excessed” due to budget cuts, but some have escaped from the “rubber rooms,” where teachers are sent as punishment for “excessive lateness or absence, sexual misconduct with a [minor], physical abuse, incompetence or use of drugs or alcohol.”

Up until October 2011, ATR teachers would remain at one school for the entire school term. If they did a good enough job, the principal could decide to hire them. But now, the teachers move from school to school on a weekly basis because the United Federation of Teachers signed a deal with the DOE to make the change. The United Federation of Teachers claims that teachers will have a better chance of finding a job by changing schools each week because they will be meeting more new potential bosses.

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More Students Today are Cheating, Thanks to Technology and the Internet

person typing on black keyboardCheating today is a lot easier than it was a decade ago. It’s not because Little Sally is much more likely to show Little Timmy her homework assignment before school today than she would have been in the past. Nor is it because school districts feel pressured to attain high standardized test scores and let their students cheat in order to do so – although this has happened. Instead, the main reason that it is much easier for today’s students to cheat is sitting right in front of you right now: the Internet and technology.

Studies confirm this increasing trend in the number of cheaters: 80 to 85 percent of students have cheated at least once by the time they graduate high school. Until they reach the second grade, most of this cheating does occur in the traditional ways, but once they reach third grade, many are turning to the Internet to cheat. Internet plagiarism is on the rise, as is cheating with a cell phone. Students can text each other answers during a test, look up the answers to a problem on their smartphones, or take a picture of an exam and send it to a friend who has not taken the test yet.

So what are concerned parents to do about this problem? How can they keep their kids from becoming cheaters? The answer might be to start combating the issue while children are still young.

“You want to get good behavioral habits established while moral reasoning is developing and deepening,” said Thomas Lickona, Ph.D. and author of Raising Good Children and Character Matters – How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgement, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues. “There’s research to suggest that even young children are more sophisticated and morally observant than we might give them credit for.”

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Los Angeles Elementary School Tries to Fix Things After Two Teachers are Arrested

los angeles elementary schoolLast week, two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles were arrested on charges of child sexual abuse and it was announced that classes would cancelled until Thursday, February 9, 2012. On Monday, February 6, 2012, the Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy announced that when the school reopens its doors on Thursday, there will be an entirely new group of teachers and faculty members ready to welcome the students back to class. The current teachers and faculty members are being relocated to a school that is currently under construction. While there, they will be interviewed about their knowledge about the child molestation cases by school officials, and if it proves to be necessary, by the police.

“We have to investigate this,” said Deasy. “And we don’t want to constantly disrupt education while we do that.”

Deasy also said that he felt personally responsible to do two things: comfort the children who were abused and regain the parents’ trust. In an effort to accomplish these goals, he is also assigning psychiatric school workers to each class.

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Pennsylvania Middle School Bans Uggs Boots in the Middle of Winter

bootsMiddle school students at Pottsdam Middle School in Pennsylvania can now add Uggs boots to the list of clothing items that may not be worn to school. It’s common knowledge that many schools have dress codes which prevent the wearing of some articles of clothing, such as baseball caps and extremely baggy pants, but I have never heard of a school banning a particular brand of shoes before.

According to the school, the shoes were causing problems…or more appropriately, it was the items that students were bringing into the school – hidden inside their shoes – that was causing the problems. Many students were hiding their cell phones in their furry boots and then texting during class. After several students were caught in the act, the school decided to ban the shoes in order to address the issue.

Some parents are quite upset about this new banned article of clothing. In addition to the ban being “totally ridiculous,” according to a Facebook post by a parent, some people are saying that the Ugg-ban is sexist against girls, who are the main wearers of the shoes.

“Pockets, bras, socks, what’s next?” one parent wrote on Facebook.

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Are Students Able to Count the Numbers in the Super Bowl?

superbowl xlviHave you ever heard the expression “It’s all Greek to me?” If not, it means that you do not understand something, and this saying might soon become much more common (and literal) among younger generations because many schools are no longer teaching Roman numerals.

Okay, so students aren’t learning Roman numerals. No big deal, right? Most of the time, I’d have to agree with you. However, without learning how to count in Roman numerals, students will be confused when they study European history and are confronted with the monarchs of the XIII century. Or, even worse, when they sit down with their families to watch Super Bowl XLVI, which means Super Bowl 46, in case you didn’t know. So maybe Roman numerals do still have a place in our society.

“I went to Catholic school [and] I still have bruised knuckles from not learning them,” says NFL historian and Spokesman Joe Horrigan about the Roman numerals. He now feels that the Roman numerals add a certain flair to important events, like the Super Bowl. “‘Number 46’ it just kind of sounds like an inventory. ‘Inspected by Joe.’ Those Roman numerals, they’re almost like trophies.”

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Michelle Obama Visits a Secondary School in Virginia with the Cast of iCarly

tv show logoMichelle Obama is always a class-act, but she also knows how to have fun, and she showed off this funner side when she appeared with the cast of iCarly at Hayfield Secondary School in Fairfax County, Virginia. Michelle and the cast of the popular Disney show were at the school to promote a new episode of the show. Michelle will appear in this episode and thank the thousands of military families in this country for their services and sacrifices.

The pep rally also allowed Michelle to get groovy during a minute of “random dancing,” which is also a staple of the television show. Michelle’s dancing featured a few variations of some old-school dances, like “the Jerk” and “the Monkey.”

“I think she showed everybody up in the dance department,” said Jennette McCurdy, an actress on the show who plays Samantha.

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