• Shaping More Science Teachers
    Mississippi’s Jackson State University is hoping its new program will make a dent in the shortage of qualified science teachers, especially in predominantly black schools where the need is greatest.  The National Science Foundation, which is funding the projects, says black students are less likely to have highly qualified teachers than their white peers.  That’s why the foundation is funding the new Teacher Residency Academy Alliance and recruiting people with science degrees and students studying science into a masters program focused on science education.
  • Searching for that “Beacon of Light”
    We need more positive reflections of African-American men who represent all walks of life to show our young brothers they can aspire to be more than thugs, rappers and professional athletes.   This is essential to the cultural consciousness, social growth and development of African-American males.  This is why I became a teacher.  This is why I began my male mentoring program, Positive Young B.r.o.t.h.a.s.(Building Roads of Opportunity Together Avoiding the Stereotype) that I plan to elaborate in my blogs.
  • State wades into Blount County charter school debate
    Folks gathered at the Blount County Schools central office Tuesday afternoon appeared to have one of two opinions: the proposed HOPE Academy is either the best option to upgrade school system or a waste of $1.5 million from the budget.
  • State May Take Over 68 Underperforming MCS Schools
    he state identified the bottom 5 percent (85 schools) of the schools in Tennessee. 68 of the 85 are in Memphis. If everything goes as planned, those 68 Memphis city schools will become what is called “the Achievement School District,” a state run district with its own superintendent, Chris Barbic.
  • Charter school verdict expected by Christmas
    After nearly six months of discussions between Blount County Schools and Innovation Education Partnership Inc., the fate of Tennessee’s first suburban charter school rests now with the Tennessee State Board of Education. State officials plan to issue their decision before Christmas, said Dr. Gary Nixon, executive director of the Tennessee State Board of Education. The state board’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.
  • Top schools official will visit Athens
    Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman will be visiting the Athens City School System on Friday, Dec. 2.
  • Gill informs school board he will leave job in June
    Rutherford County Board of Education members were shocked to learn Director Harry Gill Jr. plans to retire June 30. Board members planned to meet to discuss the process of evaluating of Gill’s job performance. That changed when Gill’s secretary, Joyce Michaels, handed them a letter from Gill stating his intent to retire in June.
  • Unified school board OKs training for members
    The board voted 13-9 on Tuesday night to hire the Houston-based Center for Reform of School Systems for an expedited training in what it takes to be an effective board. The money for the training — $42,000 — was provided by a private donor. While the timeline is yet to be worked out, the training will consist of seven half-day sessions.
  • Admissions 101: Are the SAT and ACT to blame for the inferiority of U.S. schools compared to those Finland, Japan, Singapore, and Shanghai?
    In his new book “Surpassing Shanghai” comparing U.S. schools to those in countries (and the city of Shanghai) where students outperform us on international tests, Marc S. Tucker notes that they nearly all share one approach to college admissions that is different from ours. They don’t use machine-scored exams controlled by testing companies as the key to determining who is admitted to high-level academic institutions. Unlike the SAT and the ACT, the content of the entrance exams in these countries is controlled by the universities and is closely tied to the content of the courses given in senior high school grades. Usually the exams must be scored by human beings since they are full of essay questions. Tucker suggests that this creates a different dynamic in high schools and motivates students in these schools to work harder to analyze what they are learning because if they don’t, they are not going to get into the best colleges. Does he have a point or not?
  • Teachers Add Math Concepts to Preschool Activities
    Scores of preschool and kindergarten teachers across the city are embedding math concepts into daily classroom activities, in a promising new program that gives students a foundation for more complex math and logical-thinking skills in later grades. The Early Mathematics Education Project at Erikson Institute, a nonprofit graduate school in child development, has already trained about 300 Chicago preschool and kindergarten teachers at 150 schools, funded by grants from local foundations and Chicago Public Schools. Chicago-based Erikson recently got a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to offer the training to 111 teachers from preschool to third grade at eight more Chicago schools and to study the program’s effectiveness. Evidence is mounting about the importance of teaching math in preschool and kindergarten. Research has shown that if children don’t have good instruction and effective teachers in early grades, they are more likely to struggle later when they face more complicated concepts. This is especially true for low-income children, who often arrive at school behind academically. Jie-Qi Chen, an Erikson professor who helped develop the project, said proper math instruction helps students develop reasoning and logical thinking skills—cognitive building blocks that prepare them to learn any subject. But she said early math gains in preschool can “wash out” if teachers in elementary grades don’t know how to teach it. And unlike reading, she said, which requires little explicit instruction after a certain level, “math cannot be fully grasped without assistance from a well-trained teacher.” A 2007 study by Erikson Institute showed that 21% of Chicago preschool and kindergarten teachers taught math on any given day, while 96% taught language arts. Early-education teachers rarely receive more than one semester in math instruction in college.
  • A New Way to Bargain
    A majority of teachers in Tennessee’s Knox County have voted to start a new type of contract discussions with the county school board. Fifty-seven percent of the district’s employees voted for collaborative conferencing. Eighty one percent of teachers chose the Knox County Education Association, or KCEA, to represent them.
  • Power Up – Hickory Hill’s Power Center Academy moves ahead
    The company that operates the Power Center Academy charter school in Hickory Hill has made the list of charter schools the Tennessee Department of Education will use as part of its Achievement School District.
  • Clips
    Seems to me the big AP story on Teach For America’s expansion and the risks missed the real questions and risks.

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