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Archive for August, 2008

Do the Math – competition

Posted by Texas Education on August 31, 2008

‘Do the Math’ starts Wednesday

Here’s something ALL elementary math teachers should know about. Math can take you places is a joint venture with KERA and Travelocity that uses real-life travel senarios to make math fun for kids in grades fourth through sixth.

KERA’s “Do The Math” competition starts Wednesday and runs through Nov. 3. Texas math teachers and students in kindergarten through sixth grade are invited to submit original math word problems and activities illustrating how math is used in the real world.

Submissions should focus on one of five algebra readiness concepts: patterns, equivalency, measurement, reasonableness and problem solving. The activity should take no longer than 30 minutes to complete.

Details and entry forms are available here or call the KERA Educational Resource Center at 214-740-9209.

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Crosby bus driver reprimanded for turning off the A/C

Posted by Texas Education on August 30, 2008

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, someone goes and does something completely asinine. This bus driver was, well, basically given a warning, but if it were my child, I’m sorry, I would have asked for her termination. Maybe that’s just me, but I’ve seen, especially in the news, where people have done far less and have been fired or asked to resign. Nope, zero tolerance, in my books.

Here’s the scoop:

A Crosby school bus driver accused of punishing unruly elementary school students by turning off the air conditioning and rolling up the windows was reprimanded Friday by the school district. Parents complained to the Crosby Independent School District transportation department after their children got off the bus flushed and sweaty Thursday afternoon. School administrators said Friday the bus driver told them she turned off the rear air conditioning unit, but kept the bus’ front cooling unit running. ‘I was infuriated,’ said Jennifer Colombo, whose 6-year-old son Dylan was a passenger on the bus. ‘Especially with all the stories you hear about children dying in hot cars, there’s no reason anyone should be disciplined that way.’ Dylan’s first-grade classmate at Barrett Primary, Abigail Jensen, was beet red and dripping with sweat when she got off the bus, her mother Pam Jensen said.

‘Abby had on a red shirt yesterday and she was as red as the shirt,’ she said. She asked her daughter what had happened, and the girl replied, ‘Nobody would be quiet so the bus driver turned off the air conditioner and would not let us roll the windows down or anything. ‘She said they would even be in worse trouble if they rolled the windows down,’ Jensen said. ‘So here they are in 96, 98 degree weather and all these kids with no air.’ Jensen was livid. ‘I mean that’s uncalled for,’ she said. ‘I can understand children needing to have some consequences if they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do, but you don’t turn the air conditioning off, especially in Houston with the weather the way it is.’

The driver, Michelle Crawford, has worked for Crosby ISD since March 2007 and has no previous disciplinary record, said district spokesman Robert Tatman. Attempts to contact Crawford for comment Friday were unsuccessful. Tatman said Crawford told CISD Transportation Department officials that she was having problems with the students Thursday afternoon so she told them that she was going to turn the radio off until they quieted down. ‘That did not work,’ Tatman said. ‘Then what happened was that she went ahead and said that she would turn off the air conditioner. You know, trying to get them to be quiet.’ Crawford]said she only drove for about three minutes before turning the air back up, Tatman said. ‘It was just two stops,’ he said. ‘She counted the exact number.’ Crawford will continue to drive while on probation, but if there’s another incident she will be fired, Tatman said. ‘No one’s defending turning the air conditioning off, obviously,’ Tatman said. ‘It was inappropriate and hopefully would never happen again.’ Jensen said she has requested to view video from the bus so she can see for herself exactly what happened. ‘I’m still mad about it but at least they have done something,’ she said.

lindsay.wise@chron.com

“At least they have done something.” ??? What?? What did they do? No, this is unacceptable behavior, this women should not be in this line of work, if that’s all she can think of for discipline. I’d kinda like to see that video myself.

Posted in accountability, bizzare, completely unbelievable, Ethics, In-the-news | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Browse privately

Posted by Texas Education on August 29, 2008

Internet Explorer 8: More secure, private, and reliable. At first, when I found out about this, my hubby told me about it, I wanted to get the word out there, but didn’t think it was “educational.” But, alas, I was wrong, oh, yes! Anyone who deals with kids on the internet needs to be aware of this. I am downloading the beta version, as I type. This is not good news for those who need to “see” what their charges are doing on the internets. Oh my, oh my, yes indeedy. I only hope there is a way to block this baby.

I’m certainly not a big fan of Internet Explorer, not ever since I was guided to Firefox. I left IE behind from the get go. I’m going to try this, become aware of it, at the minimum. I suggest you do to, if you are in a position where there are people you need to keep track of their internet explorations.

InPrivate Browsing
Sometimes you don’t want to leave any trace of specific web browsing activity, such as when checking e-mail at an Internet café or shopping for a gift on a family PC. InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer 8 helps prevent your browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies, and usernames and passwords from being retained by the browser, leaving no evidence of your browsing or search history.

You can start InPrivate Browsing by opening a new tab and selecting Start InPrivate Browsing or selecting it from the Safety button on the top right corner of the browser window. Once you complete this action, Internet Explorer 8 will launch a new browser session that won’t record any information, including searches or webpage visits. To end your InPrivate Browsing session, simply close the browser window.

This simply amazing. Now anybody can browse porn and not get caught. What’s this world coming to?

Oops, update, not so fast:

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 looks very promising, but it is very obvious why it is and will be for some time in beta phase. Apart from several annoying bugs reported by those who downloaded the early next-generation browser from the Redmond company, there are some problems with Windows XP’s Service Pack 3 as well.

Microsoft Corp. warned users of Windows XP Service Pack 3 that they won’t be able to uninstall either SP3 or Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 under some circumstances. The actual problem appears only in users who downloaded and installed IE8 Beta 1 prior to updating Windows XP to SP3, Microsoft said, which triggers a special installation message which reads:

If you chose to continue, Windows XP SP3 and IE8 Beta 2 will become permanent.

Internet Explorer 8 will feature a full-fledged privacy mode which will prevent the browser from saving any browsing or search history, will delete your IE8 browser cache at the end of every session and will also disable saving of cookies, data, passwords and other offline data. The tools share the “InPrivate” name, which Microsoft registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office several weeks ago.

Internet Explorer 8.0 includes three rendering modes: one that is using the current web standards, a second one that reflects Microsoft’s implementation of Web standards at the time of the release of Internet Explorer 7 in 2006 and a third one based on rendering methods dating back to the early Web. By default, the first mode of rendering will be enabled in Internet Explorer.

Seems appropriate, since I was having trouble downloading it anyway. That’s pretty easy to do for me, have trouble, when you are trying to do a dozen different things at a time, like I do, plus trying to keep up with Hurricane Gustov.

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State law, books are required to have covers????

Posted by Texas Education on August 29, 2008

Wow, I’m scratching my head on this one. Did you know that? I sure didn’t. That there is a state law that all books must have book covers?

State law says that “each textbook, other than an electronic textbook, must be covered by the student under the direction of the teacher.” It does not require school districts to supply students with said cover.

What? This is a law? If you don’t cover your books, what happens? I just thought the schools did that to “protect” the books to enable them to last a bit longer. Wow, a state law??? No wonder the other states laugh at us every time we turn around. This article doesn’t have the title mine does, because apparently the press already new it was a law. Am I the only one who didn’t know this? Their title, “No paper bags for these school books, Austin school district to spend nearly $30,000 on new book covers after supply of free ones dries up.” Even that is enough to make you take a double look. Districts paying $30,000-$100,000 for…book covers? And we wonder why those not associated with education accuse us of misappropriating funds.

I watched my daughter put a Hollister paper bag on one of her books, just last night. Oops, is she breaking the law? I hope not.

Here are a couple of responses to this article:

This is just one more example of why I will NOT vote for an increase in school (i.e. my property) taxes. Use brown paper bags, the ways legions of school children have for decades. When you waste the taxpayer’s money, it’s no wonder you always need another tax increase. Vote NO on new school taxes.

and…

State law says that “each textbook, other than an electronic textbook, must be covered by the student under the direction of the teacher.”
Boy, I hope the penalty for failure to comply doesn’t involve jail time for teachers because this law is not being enforced in Round Rock or Taylor. If someone presses this issue, then at least two districts–and I suspect many more–just lost all their staff.

I am just not going to sleep well tonight.

Full story here if you dare to look.

Posted in bizzare, In-the-news, ummm... | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

$13 million from state for teacher incentive pay

Posted by Texas Education on August 29, 2008

In all, 211 school districts and charter schools statewide will receive $148 million in incentive pay grants. But, this is not without the districts contributing, thus the reason some districts turn down the Governor and his wonderful incentive bonuses. Will the state never quit in trying to undermine the state public school system? Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Then what will the state do with most of the general public running around “uneducated?”

“I know that Texans agree with education professionals and myself that the most important thing we can do for our citizens is to get them an education,” Perry said. “That’s exactly why the Legislature created the rewards for teaching excellence. They are meant to identify and reward the teachers who have gone the extra step.”

In all, 211 school districts and charter schools statewide will receive $148 million in incentive pay grants.

The grants require districts to contribute some money to their incentive pay programs. HISD will be required to kick in $1.3 million. Several other Texas school districts have opted out of the bonus pay program out of concern about the financial costs and the potentially negative impact on teacher morale.

The chron scratches on this, and the wacotrib chimes in also.

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Gun-free for good reason

Posted by Texas Education on August 29, 2008

Back to the gun toting teachers issue. (I just can’t seem to let this one go.) An opinion from the Waco Trib – I like the way they think. I just can’t believe people actually think this is a good idea, putting guns IN schools.

Legal or illegal? Harrold Independent School District teachers, if they have a conceal-carry permit and are cleared by the school board, can come to school armed.

The district says it’s legal. Others point to a law that says armed campus personnel must be commissioned peace officers.

Whatever the case, it’s ill-advised. For one thing, schools are among the safest places to be.

[…]

Gov. Rick Perry has said he’d like to have it so that people with concealed weapons permits can have guns in any of the above settings and more.

Not surprisingly, this idea is opposed by the Texas Association of Business. It says that proprietary matters should trump the concerns of people who want to have a loaded gun on their persons at all times.

no-gun-left-behind.pdf

Posted in In-the-news, Texas schools | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Humble ISD Education Foundation has new members

Posted by Texas Education on August 28, 2008

This just in from the Chron.com website. Six new members have been added to the Humble school district’s Education Foundation board of directors for the 2008-09 school year.

The new executive board is being lead by Chair Corinn Price. Mrs. Price is entering her third year as chair. Also on the executive board are Lupe Lopez as vice-chair, Paul Saunders, treasurer, school district superintendent Guy Sconzo, Secretary, and Keith Lapeze serving as the appointed trustee to the Education Foundation. Serving the executive board in at-large positions are Tracy Stunja and Kim Riley.

The other new members to the board are Tom Broad of Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, Beth Cipriani an area volunteer; Marietta Winters of Green Oaks Diagnostic; Nancy Williams, a local motivational speaker and writer; and Cheryl Burnett who represents the Humble school district’s council of PTA’s.

“I can’t think of a more exciting or challenging time to be a part of the Foundation than right now when our kids, their teachers and our schools need us the most,” said Tom Broad. “That’s why I agreed to be a part of the Humble ISD Education Foundation. And I want to be able to say that I didn’t just talk about what our schools need but that I actually helped to do something about it.”

Also joining the Education Foundation is Jeanette Ramirez, who comes from the Hayes school district. She holds the position of fund development associate.

Directors serve three-year terms and also serve on subcommittees to oversee fundraising, long-range planning and development, community relations and administration. The education foundation is a non-profit charity that raises funds to award to Humble school teachers through the Innovative Education Grant Program. For more information about the education foundation, visit www.humbleisdfoundation.org.

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Voting on “rollback” elections

Posted by Texas Education on August 28, 2008

Things certainly are gearing up, educational wise. And I’m not just talking about school starting. Much abuzz with budgets (or should I say cuts) going on, on an ongoing basis (say that three times fast,) gun toting teachers, drumming up dollars by advertising on buses and the like, building and opening of new schools (major growth,) and of course, the dreaded “rollback” elections that are about to commence. The decision to increase the tax will go to voters most likely after the November general elections because the districts did not receive their certified tax values from the county appraisal district in time for the deadline. There is still no firm commitment by our district, and some others, as to whether or not it will be become an issue, but everything sure seems to point to that happening.

I’m hearing a lot of buzz that it might not pass. I too have struggled with this. I’m seeing a lot of funds misappropriated, clubs and organizations being funded by the district that should not have been funded by the district, and more. But, and considering I lost my job because of budget cuts, many more will go by the wayside due to more cuts. Our district is not the same as it was when we moved here almost to the day, 10 years ago.

It’s being reported that we, Alief and North Forest are expected to vote this week on whether or not to hold the elections. Austin, Corpus Christi have already made the decision this week, and Galena Park is the only district that sought an increase last year, and it passed, which is surprising to me.

Here is an editorial to help understanding of the school roll-back elections.

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Education falling through the cracks

Posted by Texas Education on August 28, 2008

This is more national than Texas, but technically, anything national is certainly Texas, at least for the time being. Again, reasons I’m here (blogging) – not enough emphasis is being put on educating our future leaders (or lack there of.) Kathleen McCartney, a dean at Harvard says we all must share the blame for the current state of education in America. I agree, in part, only because I feel there have been steps taken, laws made, and major neglect on those in charge, making the rules.

Kathleen McCartney is the Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development. She is a developmental psychologist whose research informs theoretical questions on early experience and development as well as policy questions on child care, early childhood education, poverty and parenting.

Kathleen McCartney

“All must share the blame for the current state of education in America,” says Kathleen McCartney, a dean at Harvard.

Ms. McCartney has some pretty valid points in her piece for CNN, below. I too feel compelled to voice my concerns as to why this is not even an issue in the presidential elections. I supposed we will always battle the who’s, why’s and wherefore’s when it comes to educating our young.

As we enter the final months of the longest presidential campaign in American history, it seems clear that the issue of the education of our nation’s children is virtually absent from John McCain and Barack Obama’s rhetoric.

During the primary season, throughout the stump speeches, the daily press opportunities and the countless television and print ads, I have wondered about the lack of attention to education. National polls reflect Americans’ priorities: the war, the economy and escalating energy costs. There is no question that these are critical issues.

But so, too, is public education, a system that serves as the very foundation of our democracy. In its present state, it is unclear how public education will shape today’s children into tomorrow’s workers — with the skills, knowledge and capacity to solve tomorrow’s problems.

Are we concerned enough about the next generation to invest today’s scarce resources in their success?

In my role, I am frequently called upon to speak about the state of U.S. education. I typically frame the problems by citing some well-known statistics, such as low high school graduation rates for large cities like Washington, where only 58 percent of students graduate in four years, or New York, where the number is 45 percent.

Then there is America’s disappointing international ranking on math and science tests, 25th and 21st respectively. In the Education Olympics, we’re nowhere near the medal stand.

Meanwhile, our international peers from Finland to Singapore have made significant strides, gaining ground where we have lost it. Somehow, such concerns — and the proposed policies to address them — have eluded the campaign platforms. iReport.com: What issues are important for you in Election 2008?

The people I speak with on both sides of the political aisle blame parents, teachers, school boards, school districts or schools of education. But in truth, the blame must be shared by all.

Public education has some powerful allies, including the Gates and Broad foundations. They have banded together to support ED in ’08, a nonpartisan awareness campaign that seeks to inform the public about the critical need to improve U.S. education. But this campaign has met with only limited success.

If we, the people, decide we are serious about supporting our public education system, what might we do?

We need to recognize that there isn’t a single solution, such as creating small schools or charter schools. We need to rely on good data and good judgment about what works. And we need to have the patience to support sustained efforts.

Here are three examples of worthwhile initiatives.

We know that early childhood education sets the stage for school success, especially for children living in poverty. We know that an extended day in school provides students with more time to learn, a lesson culled from other countries like China and India. And we know that children learn more when they are taught by qualified teachers. Public pre-kindergarten, longer school days and teacher work force development all make good sense. We must invest in good practice.

Still, we do not know everything, and serious investment in education will be required to conduct scientific research to get more of the answers we need.

Consider that the annual budget for the Institute for Education Sciences is $594 million, a small fraction of the $28 billion allocated in 2008 for the National Institutes of Health. It is little wonder that medical breakthroughs have outpaced advances in education. We must invest in rigorous research.

I know the power of education because I’ve lived it. Unlike my parents, who struggled to make ends meet, I profited from good public schools and access to higher education through financial aid and fellowships.

Sadly, not all American children are as fortunate as I was.

Much is a stake regarding the decisions we make for all our children, and it is nothing less than our democratic way of life. If we decide that we want to invest in education, the results for the country will be great: global competitiveness, scientific discoveries and productive citizens.

We, the people, must acknowledge our responsibility in driving the issues of this election cycle. And then needed presidential leadership will follow.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

All About EducationU.S. Presidential ElectionJohn McCainBarack Obama

Posted in In-the-news, leadership, national education, teaching | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Permanent School Fund set to drop key overseer

Posted by Texas Education on August 28, 2008

From the AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF,
State board’s adviser also bid to be its real estate consultant.
I’ve been following and learning about this Permanent School Fund. I think I’m beginning to understand what it is all about, here in Texas. But, now some disturbing news, looks like there has been some impropriety going on.

The State Board of Education appears ready to fire the investment consulting firm that is overseeing a major overhaul of the Permanent School Fund, the state’s $24 billion endowment for public education.

The education board voted 8-6 last month to start looking for a firm that could replace Portland, Ore.-based R.V. Kuhns & Associates Inc. The vote came after a sharply divided board argued about whether R.V. Kuhns acted improperly in trying to become the school fund’s real estate consultant as well as its general investment adviser.

If, we don’t have enough on our plates right now.

The school fund generates $716 million a year for public education in Texas.

“We’re wasting a lot of time and money and energy starting over with a different consultant,” board member Patricia Hardy, R-Weatherford, said in an interview Friday. “RVK was hired because it had an impeccable reputation, and I still stand by that reputation.”

Again, not liking what I’m hearing:

As part of its duties as investment strategy consultant, R.V. Kuhns in December reviewed the request for the real estate job at the request of school fund officials. Board member Rick Agosto, D-San Antonio, said R.V. Kuhns officials improperly helped the school fund write the request for proposals.

“They wrote an RFP suited to themselves,” he said. “They were not even supposed to touch this thing.”

Here for full story.

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