Friday, October 19, 2007

LCEA Social Activity * Friday October 19, 2007 * Cellar 19


Friday October 19, 2007
Food, fun, fellowship, fesitivities

Take a few moments and join us at Cellar 19 for some time to unwind, enjoy a nice atmosphere and share stories of our journey in educating LC's best and brightest.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Teacher Quality Money Distribution


The LCEA Executive Board approved the distribution of the the largest pool of money allocated to Lewis Central fro the historic Teacher Quality Act.

Please contact Beth Frank, Negotiations Spokesperson; Barb Motes, Total Quality Committee Chair or your LCEA Building Representatives if you have any questions.
To find out your portion of the monies, simply find your placement on the salary schedule and the amount in that cell should reflect your portion of the teacher quality dollars. The monies will be split up over the period of 10 months. So, you will be receiving this money through July of this year.

This salary amount from the TQ Initiative monies will be coupled with your Phase II dollars that will also appear on your November 1, 2007 check. A special thank you to Beth Frank and Barb Motes for going over this division so carefully and the entire LCEA Negotiations Committee. Remember, ISEA is at work for YOU, our schools and our profession.


Click on the Link Below to See the Schedule in Large Mode
Teacher Quality Salary Distribution.doc

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Teacher Quality Committee Minutes October 17, 2008

Teacher Quality Committee—Official Meeting Minutes
Educational Resource Center
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

1. Call to order and roll call at 4:30 p.m.
Present: Dave Black, Jeanne Bartholow, Laurie Thies, Kim Jones, Kim Muta, Tom McLaughlin, Barb Motes, Pat Thomas, Al Lorenz, Linda Hahn, Barb Grell (left at 6:00), Marilyn Wandersee, Mark Schweer
Absent: Sean Dunphy, Kent Stopak, Chuck Story

2. Approval of the October 17, 2007, agenda
Kim Muta asked to add to the agenda a discussion of the minutes and how they will be taken. Voice vote passed the agenda as amended.

3. Review Board Presentation
Barb Motes said that she thought the individual building administrators would present plans. Tom McLaughlin said that he had a good picture of the district-level plan, but not about the building plans. Dave Black said that the district-level look was intentional, as the Board was the primary audience for that report. Mark Schweer added to that point, explaining why the presentation was done this way. Marilyn Wandersee asked if Dave Black could pull out the individual items in the presentation and break them down by building. He pulled up the presentation for discussion, and the Committee reviewed the individual pieces of professional development—specifically, where they are occurring and what they are.

4. Professional Development Allocation
The Committee discussed what kind of information is necessary in order for the decision to be made about allocation of the PD funds. The Committee decided to meet (or attempt to meet) on Wednesday, October 25, 2007, at 4:30.

5. Review Remaining Tasks—Tabled until a future meeting.
* Ensure that the negotiated agreement determines the compensation of the teachers on
the committee
* Monitor PD (Professional Development) plans
* Determine the use and distribution of 277 PD funds—For our information, Dave Black
shared that one day of District PD costs more than $53,000.
* Monitor implementation of SF277 with regard to Chapter 20 (negotiated agreement)
* Recommend market factor incentives to the Board and LCEA—With last year’s
money, the total for this pot of funds is approximately $34,000.

6. Schedule Remaining Meetings—Tabled until a future meeting.

7. Taking Minutes
The Committee discussed possibilities for sharing or delegating the responsibility, and decided to share it, alternating between teachers and administrators.

8. Adjournment
Jeanne Bartholow moved that the meeting be adjourned at 6:40.

Keep the Pressure on Congress to Slow Down, Take the Time to Get ESEA Reauthorization Right

Thanks to our LCEA Cyber-lobbyists for your efforts & for your hard work! WITH YOUR HELP have made OUR voices heard on Capitol Hill. Now, we need to keep up the pressure. Make sure Congress knows that any ESEA reauthorization bill must:

(1) Reduce emphasis on standardized tests,

(2) Provide a common-sense accountability system that looks at the full picture of student and school achievement and takes into account the unique needs of individual students,

(3) Help reduce class sizes and modernize school facilities, and

(4) Reject any effort to tie teacher pay to test scores.

Continue to Contact Your Members of Congress Today. Our Letters Have Strength

Remind your Representatives in Congress about these important principles for ESEA reauthorization.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

American Education Week

CLICK HERE to volunteer for this one activity. We have an entire plan and kit prepared for you and your AEA Committee courtesy of the NEA.

TEAM LCEA: Be a Player for Your Local
This is one of many ways that we could use your help to make our local shine.

There's lots of things that you can do for your local professional Association, the profession at-large-- that don't require you to sign away huge chunks of your already busy professional and personal lives.

Whether you help plan the public celebration of our profession with American Education Week, lobby our legislators, assist us in the NEA's Read Across America, serve on our
LC Scholarship Committee, our Social Committee or more. Please check SOME of the many opportunities below.

Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility

NEA's 86th annual American Education Week (AEW) spotlights the importance of providing every child in America with a quality public education, and the need for everyone to do his or her part in making public schools great.

Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility
reflects the Association's calling upon America to provide students with quality public schools so that they can grow, prosper, and achieve in the 21st century.

With pre-made art, downloadable posters, themes built in for each day, you don't have to pour tons of work into the activity. It's a time to recognize all those who make great schools, truly great. Be it a custodian, a bus driver, our secretaries, a food service professional, a teacher, a friend of education. This could be a true celebration...and you have a budget!

Educators First: Members of Congress Remember Their Days in the Classroom

More than 75 legislators were educators before their election to Congress.
Do you know who they are?

Calendar of Events

Monday, November 12: American Education Week Kicks Off.
Tuesday, November 13: Invite Parents to School Day.
Wednesday, November 14: Education Support Professionals Day.
Thursday, November 15: Educator for a Day.
Friday, November 16: Substitute Educators Day.

Use our online tools, including our 2007 poster, to plan your celebration.

The materials presented here reflect NEA's mission as an advocate for the nation's public schools, school employees, and the communities they serve.

Help the LCEA with our American Education Week Committee Celebrations

Other organizations are free to use this material or create their own. If you use this material, please credit NEA as the creator of content (art, theme, articles, resources).

Click here to see the entire American Education Week for 2007. Days, themes, artwork, ideas are located here.

LCEA Morning Edition 10/16/2007*


Few chronically failing schools have faced changes under NCLB.

In a front-page story, the
New York Times (10/16, A1, Schemo) reports, "For chronically failing schools,...the No Child Left Behind law, now up for renewal in Congress, prescribes drastic measures: firing teachers and principals, shutting schools and turning them over to a private firm, a charter operator or the state itself, or a major overhaul in governance." The most severe penalties are scheduled to take effect for the first time in this, the fifth year since the law's passage. But some states are "overwhelmed by growing numbers of schools that cannot satisfy the law's escalating demands." More than 1,000 California schools and 441 Florida schools are candidates for closure or overhaul. In Maryland, Baltimore alone has 49 chronically failing schools. With the resources available for school reform stretched thin, "so far, education experts say they are unaware of a single state that has taken over a failing school in response to the law." A survey by the U.S. DOE last year "showed that in 87 percent of the cases of persistently failing schools, states and school districts avoided wholesale changes in staff or leadership."
Arizona school reverses "failing" status without leadership change. Craycroft Elementary in Tucson, Arizona has gone from a "failing" label to a "highly performing" label without a change of leadership, reported Arizona's
Tucson Citizen (10/15, Kalaitzidis, Bustamente). The school has hired many new teachers, expanded its gifted student program and worked to create more uniform teaching standards. Craycroft now "holds sessions to show [teachers] good teaching and good presentation skills," and requires teachers to "have lesson plans ready and submit them to the principal at the beginning of the week."


Oklahoma high school eliminates lockers, does not issue textbooks.

Oklahoman (10/16, Jackson) reports, "Students at Mustang High School [Mustang, Oklahoma] are being encouraged to use online versions of their textbooks, since they did not receive their own books this year." Each teacher at the school has a set of textbooks in the classroom for student use, and students can check out books to bring home. They also have access to the entire text of their books online. The school, on a campus of 13 buildings, eliminated both textbooks and lockers this year, because "students were either carrying all their books all day long or were late to class because they were getting books from their lockers." Since 25 percent of the school's students do not have Internet access at home, the school does not expect to fully eliminate traditional books.

Guitars in the Classroom program trains teachers to give musical lessons.

Sheboygan Press (10/15, Ortegon) reported that, under the Guitars in the Classroom program, "teachers learn how to play a few simple chords on a guitar and how to turn those chords into musical lessons that can be incorporated into nearly any academic subject." The nonprofit program, offered free to schools, pays local guitar instructors to train the teachers, and "guitar manufacturers around the United States" provide "free instruments and materials to the schools." Guitars in the Classroom participant and first grade teacher Beth Hatch "said she has always used motion and music with her students and started using her program-issued guitar in class after her first lesson." Kindergarten teacher Julie Jacobsen "said her students are already so used to her strumming along during class that when a day goes by with no guitar, they object."

Michigan teacher wins national award for involving students in community service.

Lansing State Journal (10/15, Lounds) reported, "St. Johns High School [Michigan] teacher Kari Simon-Pieters has been awarded the Learn and Serve America Educator award from the Corporation for National and Community Service for linking lessons to life." Simon-Pieters, who teaches chemistry as well as anatomy and physiology, uses service-learning, "a teaching method that connects learning with meaningful service to the community." Her students have planted trees to create an erosion-reducing buffer zone around a local creek, and "participated in the Stony Creek Watershed Project to test water quality, report data to Michigan State University and watershed landowners, and post the data on the World Water Monitoring Day website." They have given presentations to local organizations about "conserving petroleum resources" by re-using parts of athletic shoes, and coordinated an organ donation drive, inspired by the tale of a student's brother who had received a transplant.

Educational foundation helps teachers from one Illinois district innovate in the classroom.

Pantagraph (10/16, Coulter) reports that Beyond the Books, "a nonprofit organization that fosters creative and innovative ideas of teachers in Unit 5 and District 87 schools" in Illinois "has awarded more than $250,000 in response to teacher requests covering "a good mix of arts, science, music, math and all parts of the curriculum." Founded by a school board member who wanted to give teachers flexibility to innovate in their classrooms, the foundation started with a single $3,000 donation from the school district in 1989. This year, Beyond the Books purchased "Dance Dance Revolution mats," which lead fourth graders through fifteen minutes of dance before starting class, "because teacher Amy Schumacher learned students retain more if they exercise first." Teacher Amy Oberts used the funds to create "a Wild About Math event at Washington Elementary School, buying math equipment, games and items for a jungle-themed family activity," while two Spanish teachers used grant money to purchase iPods for use in class.
South Carolina district trains teachers to use the Internet to enhance learning.

South Carolina's ABC affiliate
WPDE-TV (10/16) reports that South Carolina's Darlington School District is looking to social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace "for ways to enhance learning, in and out of the classroom." The district is asking every K-12 teacher to become familiar with the sites, and training all its teachers to "create websites where kids can access assignments and seek help from fellow students and teachers."

School nurses often the first to be aware of students' emotional struggles. The New York Times (10/16, F5, Hoffman) reports, "Sorting fact from fiction, tragedy from comedy, fever from fevered performances is the venerable part of a school nurse's job. But as childhood and adolescence have become increasingly medicalized, and schools have been mandated to accommodate students with an array of physical and psychological challenges, the school nurse's role has expanded exponentially." The Times profiles Pam Palmieri, nurse at New Jersey's Millburn Middle School, whose role has changed considerably in more than 20 years of service. Now, she is "often the first adult to learn about bullying," to see students struggling with eating disorders or self-mutilation, or to know which students are struggling with the demands of a highly competitive school.


Students at two Chicago schools walk out over teacher firings.

Chicago Tribune (10/16, Sadovi) reports, "Several hundred students at Schurz High School on the northwest side" of Chicago "staged a four-hour walkout Monday to protest the firing of four new teachers." Students at Julian High School on Chicago's south side held a similar protest last week after 10 teachers there were released. "Districtwide, 56 high school and 11 elementary school teachers were sent letters informing them that their jobs had ended due to lower-than-expected enrollment figures, said Mike Vaughn, a Chicago Public Schools spokesman." District officials say they are meeting with the displaced teachers "to try to help place them in new jobs."

Many barriers make it difficult to bring healthy, local foods into school lunchrooms.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer (10/15, Langston) reported, "While schools are offering healthier menu choices, what seems like a no-brainer -- feeding local kids locally grown food -- is surprisingly hard to do." Lunch programs generally "have roughly one dollar per student to spend on food for a nutritious lunch...less than the cost of a single tomato bought at a farmers market," and even if they had more to spend, they are often limited by state procurement policies that require them to purchase from the lowest bidder. Many schools "have ripped out kitchens and replaced them with closet-sized rewarming centers" with limited cooking ability. Still, some schools have succeeded in reforming lunch programs to focus on healthy, local food, seeking out private funding and partnerships to make reforms affordable. Legislative initiatives that seek to make it easier for schools to serve local, nutritious food are gaining traction on both the national and state levels.

Minnesota report recommends new teacher mentoring program be adopted statewide.

Mankato Free Press (10/16, Krohn) reports that Minnesota 2020, a state education think tank, has recommended that Minnesota adopt a new teacher mentoring program pioneered by the Mankato Area Public Schools (MAPS). "The report notes that half of all new teachers change schools within the first five years of their careers and 15 percent leave the profession out of frustration or are attracted by higher-paying jobs." Under the MAPS program, veteran teachers can "take a leave, for up to three years, to be district mentors who work with student teachers and college students transitioning into teaching." Teachers at individual schools serve as on-site mentors, helping new teachers "understand mandates and rules particular to" their district, and giving "advice on everything from teaching methods to working with other faculty."

Newark, New Jersey works with nonprofits to operate new teacher support program.
New Jersey's
Newark Star-Ledger (10/16, Addison) reports that Newark, New Jersey's city schools operate a New Teacher's Resource Program that "aims to further develop instructional skills and give teachers a support network." New teachers in the city's schools "are given a handbook, a CD with instructional videos and access to material on" a teacher support website. They meet with mentors regularly, and with a group of other new teachers once per month. The program is operated in partnership with the nonprofit Teachers Network, and funded by the Citi Foundation, a philanthropic project of the financial services company Citigroup.


Los Angeles program distributes food, coupons to feed students through the weekend.

The CBS Evening News (10/15, story 11, 2:40, Couric) reported that in one of Los Angeles's poorest schools, "[s]cores are up and so is attendance thanks to a ground-breaking program." Every Friday, students at Normandy Elementary School receive a backpack filled with "food, store coupons and [a] menu...all provided free" by the "Blessings in a Backpack" program. So that no student is singled out, every student in the school brings home the backpack to help feed their family through the weekend. School psychologist Cynthia Brockman-Coleman noted that since the start of the program "test scores have gone up 33 points, and attendance has increased, too." She also said that "the parents really feel that the school cares about them and so they also feel that they have to give something back to the school." The program is funded by "former Disney star Hilary Duff." With new support from corporate donors, the program "has gone nationwide with seven other schools and 20 about ready to launch."

Chicago to open U.S. Marine Corps high school.

The Chicago Tribune (10/15, Banchero, Sadovi) reported, "Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which already has the largest junior military reserve program in the nation," has created "the country's first public high school run by the U.S. Marines, much to the chagrin of activists who have fought to keep the armed services out of city schools." The city also "announced plans to open an Air Force academy high school in 2009." The move would make CPS "the only public school district in the nation to have academies dedicated to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines," serving over 11,000 students. Students are not required to enlist in the military after graduating from the schools. "But despite a stated focus on college prep, the city's military academies have had mixed academic records since the first academy opened in 2000," with none of the schools meeting federal

No Child Left Behind testing standards last year.
Editorial: Focus reform efforts on middle school to ensure high school success.

Indiana's Indianapolis Star (10/15) editorialized, "The correlation between middle-school performance and high school achievement," according to a Center for Education Policy study released last week, is a stronger predictor of testing success than whether students attend public or private high school. "The better a student performs in middle school, the more likely he will ultimately earn a high school diploma." But in Indiana, 32 percent of eighth-graders failed the state's recent standardized English test, and 29 percent failed the state's math assessment. The Star wrote that "the lack of rigorous, relevant curricula, an underlying factor in why many high schools produce large numbers of dropouts, also is a problem at the middle-school level," and while "officials have made strong efforts to overhaul high schools," middle schools have not received the same attention. The Star argued that "the importance of middle schools can't be ignored. It's time for an overhaul."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Teacher Quality Committee Agenda 10/15/2007

Teacher Quality
Committee Work Session

Educational Resource Center
October 15, 2007

6:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

Tentative Agenda

6:30 1. Call To Order – Roll Call

6:31 2. Board Presentation

7:15 3. Adjournment

Teacher Quality Committee Minutes October 15, 2008

Teacher Quality Committee—Official Meeting Minutes
Educational Resource Center
Monday, October 15, 2007

1. Call to order and roll call at 6:27 p.m.
Present: Dave Black, Jeanne Bartholow, Chuck Story, Laurie Thies, Kim Jones, Kim Muta, Barb Motes, Pat Thomas, Al Lorenz, Linda Hahn, Barb Grell, Sean Dunphy, Kent Stopak, Marilyn Wandersee, Mark Schweer, Tom McLaughlin

2. Board presentation
The Committee listened to the presentation of the District staff development plan by Dave Black to the Board.

3. Adjournment
Kim Muta moved that the meeting be adjourned at 7:27 p.m., and Kim Jones seconded the motion.

LCEA Morning Edition 10/15/2007*


Programs recruit non-traditional teachers for neighborhood schools.

U.S. News & World Report (10/13, Ramirez) reported, "Tired of seeing first-year teachers flee to suburban schools, Illinois is spending $7.5 million to help" people who lack traditional teaching qualifications "become teachers in underperforming schools in [urban] neighborhoods like their own." The initiative, called "Grow Your Own Illinois," has attracted "mostly women of color from low-income communities," who "receive forgivable college loans of up to $25,000 in exchange for a minimum five-year commitment to teach in underserved schools." Since the programs are aimed at people who look to improve their own neighborhood schools, officials believe they will recruit dedicated, if non-traditional, teachers. "Similar initiatives have sprouted in urban school districts across the country," such as a program in Broward County, Fla., where "schools give college scholarships and guarantee jobs to high school students who return as certified teachers," and in Seattle, Washington, where "the emphasis is on developing teachers from immigrant groups."
Military programs train veterans, military spouses for teaching careers. New Jersey's
Record (10/14, Brody) reported that the U.S. Department of Defense is expanding its "Spouses to Teachers" program, which "provides career counseling, $600 to assist with teacher certification exams and networking opportunities" to help military spouses become teachers. Military officials "say it's a good match because military spouses are frequently relocated and teaching jobs tend to be available wherever they land." Spouses to Teachers expands this year from six states to 49. "This initiative joins the long-standing 'Troops to Teachers' program, which has put 10,569 veterans at the heads of classrooms so far."


New York City program will pay students for high AP scores.
New York Times (10/15, B1, Medina) reports that New York City schools are "expanding the use of cash rewards for students who take standardized tests with a $1 million effort financed by philanthropists who will pay students who do well on Advanced Placement (AP) exams." In 25 public schools and six private schools this year, selected for their high proportion of low-income minority students, high schoolers can earn anywhere from $500 (for a score of three) to $1,000 (for a top score of five) on an AP exam. The goal of the program is to encourage low-income, minority students to challenge themselves with AP courses. This follows a recently announced program where some fourth and seventh graders can earn smaller amounts of money for top scores on state standardized tests. The program may also pay principals bonuses if their school's passing rate improves, "but that aspect of the program is still subject to approval by city officials under conflict of interest regulations."

Teachers at one Virginia middle school combine courses, achievement levels in one classroom.

Washington Post (10/14, B1, Matthews) reported, "[A]t Blue Ridge Middle School in Loudoun County," Virginia, three teachers "decided last year to experiment with placing honors, regular and special education students in the same rooms, offering a course that unified social studies and English, and encouraging every child to reach higher than before." Now in the second year of the experiment, "the three teachers said the tendency [is] for students at or below grade level to try books and projects considered above them." Students "of different achievement levels" study subject matter along shared themes, and discuss it with their entire class, but "honors students have more open-ended essay questions on their tests," and "are assigned projects that demand more thought and imagination." All students have the opportunity to volunteer for higher-level work. Sixth-grade teacher Inez Lemmert said that the students "bring themselves up to these new expectations, rather than someone dumbing down all the work for them."

Maryland school uses Drop Everything and Read program to encourage independent reading.

Baltimore Sun (10/14, Gvozdas) reported, "Low reading scores and a lack of interest in reading prompted" Annapolis, Maryland's Wiley H. Bates Middle School "to launch the Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) program, which gives students two 30-minute periods a week to read whatever they want." Students are awarded five "book bucks" for each book report they write. These can be spent at a store stocked by the school's PTA, which has "prizes ranging from pencils with fancy erasers for five book bucks to the Apple iPod nano for 250 book bucks." While the program is still fairly new, many teachers report encouraging results. "Sarah Green, a seventh-grade math teacher, said she can see an improvement in how her students handle word problems," while seventh-grade language arts teacher Tara Striffler said that students who were previously unable to focus on books now "are begging me to read." The school aims to encourage every student to read 25 books this year.

Some Texas elementary schools use chess in the classroom to reinforce learning.

Texas's CBS affiliate
KHOU-TV (10/15) reports, "The First Move chess program is being implemented" at 16 Spring Independent School District elementary schools "as a learning tool to increase higher-level thinking skills, advance math and reading skills and build self-esteem in students." The program teaches second and third grade students "to solve problems, make decisions, and reason logically" through the game of chess, practiced in the classroom for one hour each week. Several teachers were trained in the program over the summer -- the training took place onboard a cruise ship at sea, though the district's superintendent maintains it was less expensive than many other training programs the district has funded -- and have now trained their colleagues. Organizers believe "the game has links to many subjects, including math, science, reading, writing, social studies and art, and the First Move program maximizes those connections to the curriculum."
Vail Daily (10/14) adds that First Move is "an American Federation of Chess program that 155 other schools throughout the United States teach."

After test questions are printed in newspaper, Michigan reconsiders testing across multiple days.

In continuing coverage from Friday's briefing, the
New York Times (10/13, A12, Bunkley) reported that "Michigan's Department of Education (DOE) is making thousands of fifth- and sixth-graders retake a part of the state's standardized writing test because a newspaper published a brief article about the test that revealed the topics of two questions." The state is "considering penalties against the Jackson Public Schools," for allowing a reporter into a classroom during testing.
AP (10/13, Eggert) added that Michigan's DOE "said Friday it will reconsider letting school districts give state standardized tests on different days." Many parents have questioned whether the practice is a security risk regardless of the newspaper's actions, since students could post information about the tests on social networking sites.

As students make use of high-tech cheating devices, teachers counter with low-tech tests.

Citizen-Patriot (10/14) reported, "As technology improves, students can find ways to cheat other than the antiquated methods of writing answers on their hands or whispering to a friend seated nearby. They can record information on iPods or MP3 players and sneak a listen in a large lecture hall, or check out Web sites that post answers to tests given by specific professors." Some students photograph notes or textbook pages with their cell phones, which they may be allowed to carry with them during class. Services such as and search engines such as Google allow instructors to compare students' entire compositions -- or even a phrase -- with a massive database to check for plagiarism or inaccurately documented sources." But some solutions to the problem are surprisingly low-tech. Teachers have had some success with offering only paper-and-pencil tests, offering multiple versions of the same test, and banning electronic devices from the classroom.


Researchers say teachers suffer highest rate of vocal injuries.

San Antonio Express-News (10/13, Ludwig) reported, "Teachers have the nation's highest incidence of voice box injury, according to the world's leading vocal researchers, who are" visiting San Antonio "this weekend for an international conference on occupational voice injuries at the University of Texas at San Antonio." According to one study, teachers make up 20 percent of the patients in vocal clinics, but less than four percent of the workforce. Some participants at the conference hope to see "federal safety guidelines" placing limits on the number of hours per day that anyone can be required to speak to a group of people, including the number of hours that teachers can be required to hold classes.

Plan to build affordable housing for teachers in New York City seen as model for other cities.

AP (10/15, Dobnik) reports that teachers struggling to afford housing in New York City "may soon have a new option," a "234-unit housing project being developed specifically for educators." The project, paid for in part by the New York City Teachers' Retirement System, is seen as a possible "model in other cities where soaring rents are forcing out essential workers like teachers, police and firefighters." New York lost more than 4,000 teachers last year, with exiting teachers citing the high cost of housing frequently in exit interviews. A studio apartment typically costs more than half the annual salary of a starting teacher in New York City. The new building, to be built in the Bronx, is expected to charge "from $806 a month for a studio to $1,412 for a three-bedroom apartment" and "will be open to teachers in public, private, parochial and charter schools, as well as administrators."


Schools nationwide face increase in staph infections.

In continuing coverage from a previous briefing, the AP (10/13, O'Dell) reported, "Schools across the country are reporting outbreaks of staph [Staphylococcus Areus] infections, particularly among athletes, and the germs include an antibiotic-resistant strain that is sometimes associated with serious skin problems and blood disorders." The antibiotic-resistant strain, known as MRSA [Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Areus], "thrives in healthcare settings where people have open wounds. But in recent years, outbreaks have also occurred in schools." The state of Virginia is preparing safety information on MRSA for distribution to all schools and parents, after several Virginia schools have closed weight rooms or cancelled sporting events in response to outbreaks. Anne Arundel County in neighboring Maryland has faced such an extensive outbreak that "crews have been scrubbing all 12 high schools with hospital disinfectant," while more than 800 students at an Ohio school were sent home early last Tuesday "as a precaution after at least one student contracted MRSA." The bacteria thrive in warm, wet conditions, and have appeared in many school locker rooms.


Illinois districts spend about half of funding on classroom instruction.
Daily Herald (10/14, Krone) reported that an examination of school revenue and spending in 94 Illinois school districts revealed that "[s]tatewide, districts spent 50.1 percent" of their funding "on instruction." The remaining money "went to everything else: construction and maintenance; janitors, nurses, social workers and guidance counselors; administrators and principals; consultants and lawyers." Some states now mandate that a certain percentage of expenditures must go toward classroom instruction, though Illinois does not. Many educators question the value of such calculations, as a recent "Standard and Poor's analysis found no significant correlation between the percentage of money districts spend on instruction and the percentage of students who meet state standards in reading and math."


Opinion: New Orleans experiment could re-create urban education in America. In an opinion for the Boston Globe (10/14), James Peyser of the NewSchools Venture Fund wrote, "What has happened since the disaster" of Hurricane Katrina "is redefining urban public education. Instead of simply rebuilding the old district, based on the old institutions, policy leaders in New Orleans and Baton Rouge decided to start from scratch, fashioning a public education system based on new ideas and promising models of reform from around the country." Educators nationwide are watching the results of the experiment, hoping to see a "model for the radical transformation of city school systems." New Orleans' new system de-emphasizes the central office, granting power over budgets and curriculum to principals. More than half of the city's schools are now public charter schools. Organizations work to recruit teachers for New Orleans nationwide -- and to certify non-traditional teachers. "Such a real-life, large-scale example of a totally redesigned school system," writes Peyser, "developed under extraordinarily harsh conditions, promises to transform the debate about what is possible in public education."

Friday, October 12, 2007

LCEA Morning Edition 10/15/2007--from 10/12/2007

Connecticut districts use videoconferencing technology to share classes between schools.

Journal-Inquirer (10/11, Abalyan) reported, "With the help of cutting-edge video conferencing technology, high school teachers and students in Ellington, Suffield, Windsor Locks, and Granby [Connecticut] are part of a distance learning program that allows them to collaborate on educational projects without leaving their respective schools." Educators at one school can teach classes to the students in the others using "two cameras for capturing images from the front and back of the room and a TV that allows administrators to preview and select which images will be broadcast to other schools." At present, the system is being used to teach SAT prep courses. "Instead of hiring teachers to lead the two-month program at each of the schools, administrators now share resources and split the bill." The schools were initially worried that students would reject the approach, but "the response has been positive."

"Freedom Writers" curriculum succeeds in suburban Ohio school.

Ohio's Vindicator (10/11, Schmitt) reported, "Outwardly, the students at Austintown Fitch High School don't have much in common with the students who inspired the movie 'Freedom Writers.'" While the film focused on poor, minority students in "neighborhoods plagued by gang violence," Fitch's students tend to be white and middle class. "But English students in Steven Ward's ninth- and 11th-grade classrooms at Austintown Fitch are benefiting from the same avant-garde curriculum that had such a powerful impact on" the students profiled in the film. "Ward is one of just 150 teachers nationwide who have been trained in the principles teacher Erin Gruwell used to inspire the California students to challenge their prescribed identities and their standards for personal achievement." As his students study the stories of others through literature, he requires them to tell their own stories through anonymous diary entries. He finds that, in addition to improving their reading and writing skills, the approach is "empowering them to change their own lives."

Kansas students learn biology through competitive Eco Meet.

Pittsburg Morning Sun (10/12, Stefanoni) reports, "Fourteen teams of junior high and high school students from" Pittsburg, Kansas-area schools gathered "Thursday for a competition that didn't involve scoring a touchdown or shooting a basket. ... The students were competing in the regional Eco Meet, an event designed to challenge and inspire an interest and appreciation of nature and the environment -- something coordinators say is something they rarely get to do with upper grades." Biology students from four schools competed in zoology labs, in which they examined "live, preserved, or photographed species" then were asked to "answer questions pertaining to their habitat, their identification, their life cycle, or their food preferences." They also came with prepared "skits" on environmental issues, and competed in a scavenger hunt.


Study suggests Rhode Island may find it too expensive to move teachers to 401(k) plans.

Rhode Island's
Providence Journal (10/12, Peoples) reports, "A study commissioned by the [Rhode Island] governor's office reveals that moving to a 401(k)-style retirement system would cost Rhode Island taxpayers $151.5 million next year and more than $520 million over the next seven years before the state sees any savings." Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri (R) has proposed moving all state employees and teachers to a defined-benefit plan instead of a traditional pension, but "the new study details the specific price for the first time and suggests that elected officials may have trouble changing the system this coming legislative session." Nationally, "just three states -- Alaska, Michigan and West Virginia -- and the District of Columbia require state employees and public school teachers to enroll in a defined-contribution plan," while six offer the plans as an option.

Number of male teachers at 40-year low.

Indiana's South Bend Tribune (10/12, Ellis) reports, "The National Education Association (NEA) recently announced that nationwide, 24.9 percent of teachers are men -- a 40-year low. In elementary schools, just 9 percent of teachers are men." NEA President Reg Weaver "blames low pay and declining respect for the job." The decline will probably continue for some time, as most schools of education report low enrollment among men. California State University at Fresno, for instance, reports that "just 18 percent of students this year in the school of education are men, compared to 24 percent a decade ago." The trend is worrisome to many educators because boys "have fallen behind girls in graduation rates and have more trouble reading and writing, leading some to wonder whether more male teachers would improve boys' classroom performance."

Editorial urges California to give teachers more authority in classrooms.

In an editorial, California's Oakland Tribune (10/11) wrote that a recent "California State University Teacher Quality Institute study found that the leading reasons why teachers left the profession were bureaucratic impediments, poor district and principal support, lack of resources, too much testing and, most importantly, because they did not have the authority to make decisions about how to teach their students." To combat these problems, the Tribune recommends that the state DOE give teachers "far more control of how they teach," which "means less interference from the state and district, fewer changes in curricula and more flexibility for teachers." Among other recommendations, the Tribune argues for higher starting salaries and "differential pay," offering more money to teachers of subjects facing shortages.

Roll Call (10/11, Dennis) reported, "Efforts to reach a bipartisan deal on revamped No Child Left Behind legislation have broken down, with Republicans charging" that House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) "has refused to compromise." The committee's ranking Republican, Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), said that "his staff and Miller's staff have been working together all year to try to work out a deal, but he said there are about 15 issues that have yet to be worked out." Miller said that he "remains hopeful," but that "President Bush's decision in past years not to fully fund No Child Left Behind has undermined support for the legislation."


U.N. report shows that U.S. leads world in education spending.

Chronicle of Higher Education
(10/11) reported that UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has released its annual report on the state of education around the world, the Global Education Digest for 2007. The report reveals that "the United States spends the most on education, with a public education budget 'close to that of all governments in six regions combined: the Arab States, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, South and West Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.'" The U.S. has just four percent of the world's children, but accounts for 28 percent of the world's education spending. The imbalance is "mainly due to the large numbers of university students and the relatively high costs associated with this level of education."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Halloween Safety Reminders

LCEA Offers Advice to Parents as Halloween Approaches
Know where your children will be on Halloween

The best time to trick-or-treat is early evening. Preschool through third grade youngsters should be accompanied by an adult or responsible teenager. Older children should go with friends. Parents can help plan a route map for trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. And remind them only to visit homes or apartments where the lights are on.

Set time limits with your children
How about tucking an alarm clock in the bag of older trick or treaters to signal when it's time to come home?

Review pedestrian rules
Cross streets at corners; watch for traffic in all directions; stick to sidewalks if possible; don't walk between cars or cut through vacant lots. Give kids a flashlight with fresh batteries.

Emphasize that all goodies need to be brought home for inspection before eating
Any doubt about something in the bag? Throw it out! Allow your child to eat only those treats that come in original, unopened wrappers. To avoid squabbles, combine all the food into one bag or bowl!

Costumes should be white or light
Decorate with reflective tape so motorists can easily see small ghosts and goblins.

Make-up or grease paint is better than a mask
Most make-up kits are non-toxic. Use liberal amounts of cold cream to remove.
If your child does wear a mask, enlarge the eyeholes until he/she can see clearly.

Try on costumes before Halloween
Ask your child to walk around the house a bit. That way you can fix anything that might cause a fall or is constrictive. If the weather turns very cold, will it fit over a sweater or sweatshirt?

Strange costumes may frighten house pets
Instruct children to stay clear of cats and dogs while in costume. A strange costume can make even the tamest dog aggressive.

LCEA Bargaining Team/Negotiations Survey 2008-2009


Now is the time for our annual LCEA Negotiations Survey. You can also download one here.

You should receive a survey on Friday October 12, 2007. It is due on November 1, 2007 to your Building Representative

PLEASE be an active participant of the process as the LCEA begins gathering data from members with our LCEA Bargaining & Interest Survey for 2008-2009. Filling out the survey and hearing what you have to say is important in setting our goals and priorities for the upcoming year.

Surveys must be completed and returned to Building Representatives by November 1, 2007. Please find your LCEA Building Representative or LCEA Executive Board Member's name on the LCEA INSIDER Sidebar if you have any questions. Please don't hesitate to contact your Executive Board of Negotiations Committee for assistance. Please also let us know if you are interested in serving on the committee. Committee Chair, Beth Frank, already has a team partially assembled. CLICK HERE to contact Beth Frank if you have questions or if you're interested in serving on the team if there's room. Your participation would be greatly appreciated.


Make sure that site pop-ups are allowed with the little hammer in the upper right hand corner, CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW and patiently wait to have a survey pop up on your computer screen.

LCEA Morning Edition 10/12/2007

America's Choice program uses school-wide focus on one book to teach all subjects.
The Washington Post (10/11, T1, Hernandez) reports, "Through a new academic program called America's Choice, Suitland Elementary [Maryland] is trying harder to connect what the students see in books to practically every area of school life in hopes of bolstering reading and math skills among students, as well as leadership and teaching skills among staff."

Illinois elementary school uses new literacy curriculum to build independent reading skills.

Illinois' Forest Park Review (10/10, Adams) reported that kindergarten, first and second grade teachers at Garfield Elementary (Illinois) are working with a new literacy curriculum known as SLANT. The program "has not received national attention," but Garfield teachers believe it "has the potential to produce huge results."

Chicago program empowers girls through Shakespeare.
The Chicago Tribune (10/11, Eckinger) reports, "The Viola Project" works with Chicago Public Schools, and in its own independent workshops, "to empower girls through the study and performance of Shakespeare's plays." Co-founders Ellie Kaufman and Reina Hardy host workshops where girls ages 8 through 18 study and perform Shakespeare's plays, playing all roles regardless of gender.

Palm Beach, Florida teachers find that microphones increase class participation.

In an opinion piece in Florida's Palm Beach Post (10/11), Emily Minor writes that in more than 1,500 Palm Beach County public school classrooms, "[t]eachers are wired for sound with microphones that dangle around their necks." The sound systems are receiving positive reviews from Palm Beach teachers. "[A]t the end of the day, you're not nearly as tired because the strain of teaching in a teaching voice is not there," according to Gary Weidenhamer, the district's manager of educational technology and "a classroom teacher for 25 years." Fifth grade teacher Mike Sabatino says the system "makes it easier for the student to understand what's going on all around the room."

Colorado educator's presentation has now reached more than 10 million people.

Colorado's Rocky Mountain News (10/10, Meadow) reported, "All Karl Fisch, an energetic but essentially anonymous educator at Arapahoe High School in Centennial [Colorado], wanted to do was 'start a conversation' among fellow teachers" about how to "prepare kids to become successful, happy citizens of the 21st century." He created a PowerPoint presentation on trends in the global population that he saw shaping the world today's students will live in.


Non-profit group sends teachers on international enrichment experiences.

California's ABC affiliate KGO-TV (10/10, Hollyfield) reported, "International travel on a teacher's salary can be challenging, and that is why" the nonprofit group Funds for Teachers "steps in and offers grants" that allow teachers to arrange international enrichment experiences. Oakland, California French teacher Celeste Dubois, for instance, used a $5,000 grant last year to travel to Paris and videotape interviews with French teenagers. "She started showing the tapes to her classes yesterday...

Columnist: Why are New York teachers facing administrative action assigned to punitive "rubber rooms?"

In his On Education column for the New York Times (10/10), Columbia University Journalism Professor Samuel Freedman wrote that teachers in New York City's public school system who await administrative decisions on disciplinary matters or other job actions can be "ordered by [principals] to a reassignment center, more commonly known among New York teachers as a 'rubber room.'"

National Science Board calls for federal criteria for science and math curricula.
Illinois's Medill Reports (10/10, Ali) reported that the National Science Board on Wednesday recommended that Congress create "a wide-ranging national council to coordinate science and math education from preschool through college," which would be "comprised of representatives from federal and local agencies as well as school districts." The proposed council "would work independently of other federal programs to create national guidance on science, technology, engineering and math curriculum."


Supreme Court splits on special education funding case.
The New York Times (10/11, B1, Stout, Medina) reports, "The Supreme Court on Wednesday let stand a ruling that the New York City school system must pay private school tuition for disabled children, even if the parents refuse to try public school programs first. But the justices are likely to take up the issue again soon, with nationwide implications."


Some Pennsylvania schools adopt positive-reinforcement discipline strategies.
Pennsylvania's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (10/11, Cronin) reports that several Pittsburgh area schools have adopted a "positive-reinforcement approach to discipline this year," and "research shows it works, improving both behavior and grades." At Avalon Elementary, for example, "students can earn 'Good Apple' cards for good deeds, such as lining up straight in the hallway lines or waving hello instead of shouting it.


Student wounds four, kills self in Ohio high school.

The AP (10/11, Milicia) reports, "A 14-year-old suspended student opened fire in his downtown [Cleveland, Ohio] high school Wednesday, wounding four people as terrified schoolmates hid in closets and bathrooms and huddled under laboratory desks. He then killed himself." Two teachers and two students were wounded.
Cleveland Plain Dealer (10/11, Turner) adds, "All the children are in good condition and the two adults' conditions were 'slightly elevated,' according to Mayor Frank Jackson (D)."

LCEA Morning Edition 10/11/2007


Oregon school finds that test scores rise when teachers share practices.
Oregon's READ MORE FROM The Portland Oregonian (10/9, Hammond) reported, "When teachers at Glencoe High in Hillsboro [Oregon] saw that fewer than half their students passed state tests in math and writing, they knew they needed to do something drastic. Down came the walls dividing teacher from teacher, ending the practice that let them each cover their own material their own way."

Majority of U.S. kindergarten programs are now full-day.
The READ MORE FROM THE AP (10/9, Berris) reported that the majority of kindergarten programs in the U.S. are now operating on full-day schedules. "Nationwide, more than 60 percent of children in public or private kindergarten [are] enrolled in full-day programs."
Nebraska school implements teacher-guided homework period after performance audit.
Nebraska's READ MORE FROM The Columbus Tribune (10/10, Blum) reports that Columbus Middle School in Nebraska has added "Anchor Time" to its schedule.

Columnist: International Baccalaureate programs have "small advantage" over Advanced Placement courses.

In his Class Struggle column for the READ MORE FROM The Washington Post (10/9), Jay Matthews wrote that "the battle between pro-Advanced Placement (AP) and pro-International Baccalaureate (IB) a big deal and is likely to become even more important as IB -- at the moment tiny compared to AP -- continues its rapid growth."

Fingerprint scanners in school cafeterias prove controversial.
Oregon's READ MORE FROM The Portland Oregonian (10/10, Trappen) reports that "students at an increasing number of Oregon schools are buying their on-campus meals in speedy fashion using fingerprint technology that, at first breath, sounds eerily Big Brotherish."
President suggests willingness to alter NCLB.
The READ MORE FROM The Washington Post (10/10, A4, Baker) reports, "Under pressure from the right and the left, President Bush said yesterday that he is open to reformulating his signature No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education law but stressed that he remains unwilling to surrender on its core elements of testing and accountability."

Congress debates restrictions on beverages sold in school.
READ MORE FROM Education Week (10/10, Samuels) reports that a school nutrition measure under consideration in Congress now "would call for the Department of Agriculture to update its decades-old standards on the nutritional quality of food and drinks sold outside of the cafeteria during the school day."

Nevada educators attend conference on bullying among girls.
Nevada's READ MORE FROM The Sparks Tribune (10/10, Kearney) reports, "A diverse group of nearly 300 educators, counselors, parents, Girl Scout leaders and juvenile justice officers attended a two-day conference in Reno over the weekend," hosted by the national Ophelia Project, an anti-bullying initiative for girls.


Columnist: High-stakes testing may not be "anything more than a shell game."
In a column for the READ MORE FROM The New York Times (10/9, A31) Bob Herbert argued that "[i]t's time to rein in the test zealots who have gotten such a stranglehold on the public schools in the U.S.