Juilliard for juveniles: School offering online classes

From Inside Higher Ed:

High school musicians will soon be able to take a class from the Juilliard School. Well, kind of.

The noted conservatory, which offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in music, is lending its name and expertise to a series of online K-12 courses that will be marketed to individual students and school districts starting this fall and offered through Pearson’s Connections platform.

Juilliard President Joseph Polisi said the courses will fill a need by providing rigorous music study for young people, something that’s increasingly rare in the K-12 realm as school districts slash arts funding. Polisi said the online courses, which have been in the works for 18 months, are meant to complement classroom teachers and not replace them.

Read more.

Atlanta cheating scandal: Retired teachers say they had OK to cheat

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Two retired educators testified Tuesday they erased answers at Deerwood Academy in 2008 and 2009 with the blessing of then-Assistant Principal Tabeeka Jordan.

Jordan appeared before a tribunal of retired educators to fight efforts by Atlanta Public Schools to fire her. Jordan was suspended from August 2009 until June 2010 and since has been on medical leave awaiting a resolution of cheating charges, according to a state report.

APS is trying to fire Jordan and about 80 educators implicated in the cheating scandal. Jordan’s hearing will resume at 10 a.m. May 30.

At Tuesday’s hearing, former Deerwood employees Lavonia Ferrell and Margaret Merkerson testified they changed answers on state exams in summer 2008 and spring 2009. Jordan walked in and out of the conference room while the cheating was taking place, they said.

Jordan’s attorney said she did not know the two were erasing answers. Part of their duty was to bubble in student information on the front of test sheets, according to testimony.

Read more.


DeKalb budget fix: layoffs, larger class size, tax hike

Tuesday night, the DeKalb Board of Education voted 5-2 to approve a budget plan that will cut expenses by about $45 million and raise taxes $30 million.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Without that $30 million, the board will have to look far beyond a list of 15 reductions recommended by Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson.

The biggest, a two-student increase in the average classroom size that would save $14 million, may also be the most controversial. Layoffs of about 70 central office employees would reduce spending by $5 million and a pullback in overtime pay would save another $5 million. Assorted other cuts, including the elimination of the Montessori program, transportation to magnet schools and elimination of 25 librarians, would make up the rest.

Atkinson withdrew other options, but they’re still on the table if the tax rate doesn’t rise. Among those options, are eliminating the pre-kindergarten program and outsourcing custodians.

Read more.

See previous post on DeKalb School budget.

DeKalb School Board faces grim financial prospects

My school district has no cash reserves and probably will finish the current fiscal year $6 million in the red. Add to this a budget shortfall of more than $70 million in the coming year, and the term “tough choices” sounds like a euphemism. Part of the the shortage comes from a decline in property values; several board members oppose raising property taxes, so they’ll have to cut their way out of this mess.

That’s a lot of cutting. What will go? There’s talk of removing the Pre-K program. This is terrrible. 

The board meets tonight to discuss these issues. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more.



Headline of the day

“Vendors are main Milpitas school bond backers”

From the San Jose Mercury-News:

Vendors who will gain contracts from Milpitas Unified School District’s Measure E general obligation bond should it pass have donated tens of thousands of dollars for the campaign efforts leading up to Tuesday’s decision.

Funds raised by the independent committee Community United for Excellent Milpitas Schools totaled nearly $105,000, according to the group’s campaign statement filed with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters May 21.

The bond will raise property taxes by $50 per $100,000 of a home’s value. 

Read more.


University VP wants to punish rape victim for speaking out

At the University of Montana, they’re sincerely not into dealing honestly with sex crimes on campus.  And don’t call them “gang rapes.” That sounds too nasty. The spin these people put on the issues is both dizzying and disgusting, especially when football players are involved.

There’s a short version and a long version to the story.

The short version, from Inside Higher Education:

E-mail records obtained by The Missoulian suggest that Jim Foley, vice president of the University of Montana, asked the then-dean of students if there was a way to punish the victim of an alleged rape for speaking out about the incident. “Is it not a violation of the student code of conduct for the woman to be publicly talking about the process and providing details about the conclusion?” Foley asked in an e-mail obtained through an open-records request. In another e-mail to the then-dean of students, Foley expressed dismay that an alleged incident involving four football players and a woman was being described in the press as a “gang rape.” (University officials had been using the term “date rape.”) The dean responded that the term “gang rape” was being used “because that is what it was.” The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating how the university has handled a series of sexual assault allegations. Foley did not respond to requests from the newspaper for comments on the e-mail messages.

For a more complete take (with plenty of warts), see The Missoulian’s coverage.