Posted in Uncategorized, tagged donors choose, education, fund raising, funding, kickstarter, light unit, OFH_John, optical, optics, Optics for Hire, schools, science on May 29, 2012 |
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I’m fascinated by the many ways the Internet has enabled broader support for worthy causes. I’ve blogged about Kickstarter, for example, “a funding platform for creative projects.” Through Kickstarter, friends and other well-wishers can help fund a documentary, an art installation, or a book publication within a designated time frame. Magic can happen, often with only small donations that add up.
Today OFH_John tweeted about something similar for schools, Donors Choose. Donors Choose calls itself “an online charity connecting you to classrooms in need.” You can search for projects in your local area, projects that have special meaning to you, and projects that might let your company offer special expertise.
John’s company has optical expertise and jumped on a need at a District of Columbia school, where an applied science project on light called for optical gear. Read about that here.
If you are seeking to help impoverished schools in particular, you may look for the “high poverty” rating at Donors Choose. School needs of all sorts are listed here.
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Amusing validation for folks who think standardized testing has gone too far.
“A reading passage included [last] week in one of New York’s standardized English tests,” writes Anemona Hartocollis in the NY Times, “has become the talk of the eighth grade, with students walking around saying, ‘Pineapples don’t have sleeves,’ as if it were the code for admission to a secret society.
“The passage is a parody of the tortoise and the hare story, the Aesop’s fable that almost every child learns in elementary school. Only instead of a tortoise, the hare races a talking pineapple.”
Apparently, the test questions were so nonsensical, the kids are still scratching their heads. “And by Friday afternoon, the state education commissioner had decided that the questions would not count in students’ official scores.”
Have a chuckle here.
[We interrupt this broadcast for the baby to chew on my knuckle while his mother tries to get some stuff done,]
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Andrew Shotts, central falls, chocolatier, education, elementary, fireman, frances gallo, Garrison Confections, joe nocera, Learning Community, Meg O’Leary, Mike Ritz, NY Times, pensions, police, reading, rhode island, Sarah Friedman, schools on February 8, 2012 |
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Central Falls, Rhode Island, may be best known today for going bankrupt and forcing its police and fire unions to accept cuts to pension benefits, but it has more going for it than angst.
It has people who care, like Mike Ritz and chocolatier Andrew Shotts, who are selling Chocolateville chocolate bars to help children at risk.
It also has a charter school that has quietly improved children’s reading skills, spreading its success to public schools in the city.
Joe Nocera writes in the NY Times that before starting The Learning Community in Central Falls, Meg O’Leary and Sarah Friedman “spent three years working with the Providence school system on a pilot program designed to come up with ways to ‘transform teaching practices and improve outcomes.’ “
In 2007, when Frances Gallo became the Central Falls Schools superintendent, she began to investigate why families were so excited about getting into The Learning Community.
“The school drew from the same population as the public schools. It had the same relatively large class sizes. It did not screen out students with learning disabilities. Yet the percentage of students who read at or above their grade level was significantly higher than the public school students. When Gallo asked O’Leary and Friedman if they would apply their methods to the public schools, they jumped at it.
“ ‘At first it was, “Oh, here comes another initiative,” ‘ recalls Friedman. There were plenty of venting sessions at the beginning, along with both resentment and resistance. But The Learning Community invited the teachers to visit its classrooms, where the public school teachers saw the same thing Gallo had seen. And very quickly they also began to see results.”
Read about how they do it here.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged administration, bill strickland, children, coaching, collaboration, documentary, education, firing, geoffrey canada, maryland, mentor, montgomery county, schools, teachers, waiting for superman on June 8, 2011 |
Having blogged about the troubling documentary “Waiting for Superman” here, I thought you might be interested in hearing about a school district that has found one way to overcome a significant barrier to quality education.
The documentary’s critique of U.S. public education centers on the inadequacy of teacher evaluation and the near impossibility of firing bad teachers.
Montgomery County (MD) doesn’t have that problem. Can you guess why?
Deep, broad collaboration. Critical constituencies are in on the evaluation and the decisions about coaching and firing.
A June 5 NY Times story by Michael Winerip, “Helping Teachers Help Themselves,” explains.
“The Montgomery County Public Schools system here has a highly regarded program for evaluating teachers, providing them extra support if they are performing poorly and getting rid of those who do not improve. The program, Peer Assistance and Review — known as PAR — uses several hundred senior teachers to mentor both newcomers and struggling veterans. If the mentoring does not work, the PAR panel — made up of eight teachers and eight principals — can vote to fire the teacher. … In the 11 years since PAR began, the panels have voted to fire 200 teachers, and 300 more have left rather than go through the PAR process, said Jerry D. Weast, the superintendent of the Montgomery County system, which enrolls 145,000 students, one-third of them from low-income families. In the 10 years before PAR, he said, five teachers were fired. ‘It took three to five years to build the trust to get PAR in place,’ he explained.” Read more here.
Having started out my work life as a teacher, I feel pretty strongly that teachers have been given a bad rap lately and that most are experienced, creative, and deeply dedicated (and overworked and underpaid). My daughter-in-law is also a teacher.
But there is no doubt that the bad apples are hard to fire and that every year that they get away with bad teaching turns thousands of children off the whole idea of education, to the lasting detriment of the nation. So I hope everyone will think about the PAR program described in the Times and how they might help influence school policy.
I will post comments sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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