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From The Popcorn FactoryMonday, February 6, 2012

A School Social Worker Making a Difference

The Indy Star's Robert King tells the story of a school social worker who is making a difference in kids' lives at Emma Donnan Middle School in Emma Donnan social worker speaks kids' language. King tells of Ross Boushehry working through "about every topic in the social worker's manual - students who need tutoring, students grieving from the loss of siblings or of parents, students who may be victims of abuse or neglect." King adds of Boushehry's progress with kids, "In a state where educational progress is gauged almost exclusively by test scores, such progress isn't likely to register on the ISTEP."

Virtual School Company Sued

The Washington Post's Emma Brown returned last week to a story she's been covering for a while. Shareholder lawsuit accuses K12 Inc. of misleading investors on the Virginia Schools Insider blog relates that shareholders in K12, Inc., have accused the firm of violating "securities law by making false statements to investors about students’ poor performance on standardized tests," and of "boosting its enrollment and revenues through 'deceptive recruiting' practices." Both a New York Times' investigation, Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools, and an article co-authored by Brown in the Washington Post, Virtual schools are multiplying, but some question their educational value, should have pretty well alerted folks to potential problems with for-profit virtual schools. Brown also wrote a disturbing report in December about the incredible compensation executives at K12 receive. K12 Inc. chief executive Ron Packard paid $5 million compensation package in 2011 is a real eye-opener.

Odds 'n' Ends

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Sign Your Name Stand For FreedomWednesday, February 8, 2012

A Dark Cloud Hanging Over Us

I'm not even sure how to write about the news out of Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles. Two teachers arrested for abusing students - apparently many, many students and their parents now in mental turmoil over what was allegedly done to the kids - a whole staff to be farmed out to other schools and replaced by folks who may or may not know and understand the children of Miramonte.

Devastating in so many ways.

On the Blogs

The dark cloud of the misdeeds by some can easily overshadow the daily dedication of others in the classroom. While I was tempted to just post today's update with only the one section, I decided to pull back up some blogs I'd found and then deleted yesterday to share with you.

Mrs. Bluebird's Didn't Like You Then, But I Love You Now is an uplifting story in progress about a mentoring program for at risk kids.

Teachermandc's A Forever Love tells of him trying "to be upbeat and helpful because I knew that was what she needed," when a young student related to him that she was pregnant.

Mike Doyle's Elementary Science Lesson uses a Newton's cradle to demonstrate some excellent teaching and learning...without fancy words, worksheets, or quizzes.

James Boutin shares part of a series on teaching in New York in The Struggles of a Small School.

Guest blogger Janet Moeller-Abercrombie tells on The Edublogger about students using cameras and Picasaweb to produce Picasa Slideshows: Giving Parents a Glimpse of School.

Richard Byrne's Interactive Build a Body Lesson and Three Browser Extensions Every Teacher Should Try may give you a few more tools in the classroom.

And finally there's just no way I could leave out Larry Ferlazzo's The Best Education Articles From "The Onion." Just the satirical headlines should make you grin.

Odds 'n' Ends

How can you have a bullet list with just one bulleted item? Easy!

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Sweetheart Sale - Up to $675 OFF at MacMall.comFriday, February 10, 2012

Ten States Granted NCLB Waivers

President Obama announced the first ten states to be granted waivers from achieving NCLB's 100% proficiency standard yesterday. The ten states are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In a move to bypass a congress that hasn't reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the waivers allow states more flexibility in showing improvement in education, but come at a high cost of accepting the Obama Administration's vision of "education reform."

Miramonte Reopens

Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles reopened yesterday with a new principal and an entirely new staff. After two teachers were arrested on charges of sexually abusing students at school, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy decided to move the entire existing staff to other locations. New teachers and a a psychiatric social worker for each class are expected to cost the system around $5.7 million. The social workers are to provide counseling as well as interview students in the ongoing investigation.

Reactions to Deasy's actions are all over the place, as one might expect.

 • Reality Check blog on Education Week: Sex Scandals at Schools by Walt Gardner
 • The Los Angeles Times: Not business as usual at L.A. Unified by Sandy Banks
 • KABC-TV: Miramonte Elementary reopens amid scandal by Elex Michaelson, Melissa MacBride, Robert Holguin and Carlos Granda
 • NPR: Miramonte Reopens, Previous Staff On Paid Leave by Karen Grigsby Bates

Odds 'n' Ends

A couple of other good items I ran across on Education Week deserve a link here:

Today's edition is yet another short one. I'm in the middle of a changeover in main computers to a relatively new, Intel powered Mac Mini. This posting is sort of a shakedown cruise for the new machine as I'm still downloading and installing, looking up passwords and such, and even buying a piece or two of new software.

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©2012 Steven L. Wood