Archive for the ‘High Schools’ Category

Paddles are being used to punish students who break school rules. Photo courtesy of Google Image.

Growing up in a Catholic family, I had always heard horror stories about how nuns used to slap my parents knuckles with a ruler when they were in trouble. The idea that physical abuse was still being used as punishment in schools never even crossed my mind.  Surely its not legal, I thought. An article stating 223,190 kids were legally beaten in U.S. schools during the 2006-2007 school year proved my thought wrong.

According to the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, 5,129 Missouri students were paddled during the 2006-2007 school year. That is roughly about 0.6% of the overall student population in Missouri.

Paddling is being used as a type of “discipline” in schools, and it is not just in elementary schools. According to the article, this type of discipline is being used in kindergarten classrooms, all the way up to high schools. Students can be paddled for minor infractions of school rules, including violating a dress code, being late for school, talking in class, etc. There are dozens of schools in Missouri who have punishments like spanking in their rule books.

In a few weeks, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) will be presenting a bill to Congress instituting a federal ban on corporal punishment in all U.S. schools. Do you think this bill will pass?

In McCarthy’s opening statement, corporal punishment is still legal in 20 states, including Missouri. Using violence toward students teaches them that violence is acceptable, McCarthy states.

Corporal punishment was made legal after the 1977 U.S. Supreme Court case Ingraham v. Wright ruled schools may use corporal punishment. According to Missouri law Code Section 160.261, “Spanking, when administered by certificated personnel of a school district in a reasonable manner in accordance with the local board of education’s written policy of discipline, is not abuse within the meaning of chapter 210, RSMo.”

Do we want our children to grow up thinking violence is okay? How does this effect violence in schools among the students themselves? What about school shootings? Is it not a bit contradicting to say violence is okay when a teacher is punishing a student, yet not when you bring a gun to school? Or being a school bully?  I am interested in hearing your thoughts readers. Is discipline of this nature okay with you? If your child was spanked with a paddle at school without your permission, would you be okay with it? What ever happened to just getting detention?

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If you’ve been following not only the Columbia School District but districts across the country and their fight to improve education in financial times, this may interest you. GOOD magazine found Newsweek’s cover story, “The Key to Saving American Education” as well as a cover story from New York Teacher magazine.

New York Teacher, a magazine that circulates among 600,000 teachers, was outraged by the Newsweek article and decided to fight back hinting that teacher unions are the answer.

This echoes some conversations I’ve heard in the boardroom lately. In fact, last Monday’s meeting CMNEA and newly named Columbia MSTA disagreed on possible collective bargaining. CMNEA wanted to consider a timeline for collective representation, but Columbia MSTA’s President Laura Sandstedt is adamant about remaining outside of a union.

“I can’t think of a decision that would be worse,” she said, but despite her disappointment, she said she would never want either organization to lose its opportunity to be heard.

All this talk of teacher performance and unions can’t come without a discussion of merit pay as well, which I’m sure Missourian readers have heard a lot about over the past couple years.

Here is some merit pay background straight from the Missourian.

No one can really be certain what the “key” to education is, but you can bet more of these debates will be popping up as long as education systems are in need of money.

I would love to hear what the community thinks about these issues and, as always, keep an eye on ColumbiaMissourian.com for more updates on the district.

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April 6 was quite a day for Columbia Public Schools, because 77 percent of voters checked the “yes” box for the district’s $120 million bond issue.

The level of support shown for the issue by the public was attributed by a school board member (among others) to district Superintendent Chris Belcher’s clarity about what the issue would cost, and what the anticipated benefits would be.

Now that the issue has been approved, construction for Columbia’s third public high school (after the existing Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools) is scheduled to begin in June.

Name suggestions, anyone?

Columbia's new high school (conceptual drawing)

Architect's conceptual drawing of Columbia's new high school (provided by DLR Group- image from CPS web site)

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Here’s a video by fellow education beat reporters Lauren Rauth and Doug Davis.

The video is an interview with Taylor Arnold, a Hickman senior who directed the one-act comedy “!Artistic Inspiration” for the annual Hickman One-Act Play Festival last week. The actors we interviewed are Jessi Greer and Adam Sperber.

Enjoy the work of the Hickman director and actors.

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Getting enough information about the new Blueprint for Reform proposal released by the Obama Administration last week, and deciding whether it is a step back or forward for public school education, is no small task.

The Missourian has an article on the proposal that discusses the potential changes at the district level, and has reactions of local school officials.

This article comparing Blueprint for Reform’s ambiguity about Title 1 funding to Title 1 problems under the “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB) reminded me of the school board candidate forum at MU’s college of education on March 9. A question about NCLB from an MU student prompted nearly as much discussion by the candidates as all other questions from the audience combined. It showed just how much NCLB is on the minds of educators, school board members (Jan Mees and James Whitt) and board candidates (incumbents Mees, Whitt, and challengers Dan Holt, Phil Peters, and Jonathon Sessions).

Lack of specifics is the problem in Blueprint for Reform

The new proposal is not specific about Title 1 school funding, according to the article’s author, Jennifer Cohen. Cohen is a policy analyst for the New America Foundation, a non-profit public policy think tank in Washington , D.C..

The problem is in the Blueprint’s language concerning “Title 1 comparability,” a requirement that school districts direct equivalent amounts of state and local funding to both lower-income Title 1 schools and higher-income schools. It is meant to ensure that states and school districts use Title 1 funds for their intended purpose –  financial help for schools with economically-disadvantaged students.

According to Cohen, this is where the Blueprint for Reform is unclear:

It only says: ‘Over time, districts will be required to ensure that their high-poverty schools receive state and local funding levels (for personnel and relevant nonpersonnel expenditures) comparable to those received by their low-poverty schools.’

This does not clearly specify the nature of the expenditures that will be used to demonstrate comparability, Cohen says. She says that lack of clear language about comparability requirements might have a negative effect on low-income students, depending on how states and school districts interpret it.

NCLB comparability verification was not stringent

Uncertainty about Title 1 comparability is not unique to the Blueprint, as Cohen cited shortcomings in that area under NCLB, which gave school districts wide latitude in how they demonstrate Title 1 comparability. This made it difficult to determine how much state and local funding really went to Title 1 schools, Cohen said in the article.

For example, districts can demonstrate comparability by comparing student-instructional staff ratios between Title I and non-Title I schools or presenting the federal government with a district-wide salary schedule that demonstrates that all teachers with similar qualification earn the same amount of money across the district. These current methods overlook the variation in teacher pay due to years of experience, a significant factor in teacher salaries. Without a dramatic overhaul of the comparability provision, higher-income schools will continue to monopolize state and local resources, short changing low-income students and schools.

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Students attending Columbia Public Schools will now go to school on May 21 with a 2.5 hour early dismissal. Previously, students didn’t have school that day. This changes the last day of school to June 4, instead of June 7.

For more on the School Board’s recent decisions, read Nicole Lebsack’s story on the ColumbiaMissourian.com

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Back in December, three Missouri superintendents appeared on Intersection, an online community talk show produced by KBIA and The Reynolds Journalism Institute. Intersection is a place where mid-Missourians can discuss the issues most important to them. The show airs every Monday from 12 to 1 p.m. online.

Go to the video to hear three superintendents answer questions from Missouri residents.

It features:

  • Chris Belcher – Columbia Public Schools
  • Charlotte Miller – Southern Boone County School District
  • Brian Mitchell – Jefferson City Schools

Next Monday, March 22nd, conversation on Intersection will revolve around school board elections, so be sure to tune in! Interested in viewing past episodes of the show? Go to the archives page to watch episodes on everything from health care to campaign finance.

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Tuesday night, Alix Wiggins and I attended an MU College of Education-hosted  “Meet and Greet” for the current Columbia School Board candidates. Alix reported the story for the Missourian.

A number of topics were discussed by the candidates, including technology use in schools, No Child Left Behind, and teacher retention.

Near the end of the meeting, Ken Green, a Columbia resident, asked the candidates to answer why private and home-schooling alternatives attract students to leave the public education system. He added during his question, that he and his wife had home-schooled their son, but unlike most home-schoolers they did not do it for religious reasons.

Here is a synopsis of the candidate’s answers by the order in which they responded:

James Whitt: He said there are two things happening related to this problem (for public education). First, young people are more advanced than the techniques we are using to teach them, Whitt said. Second, our curriculum doesn’t change as quickly as rapidly as technology changes. He said, young teachers may help change this problem, being more comfortable with the newest technology. There is a segment of students we could just turn loose to virtual classrooms, he said.

Jan Mees: She said it was a hard question, because historically, public schools were the only option, but that the world has changed, and that technology has changed things. Parents are more demanding of what public education can do, she said. If parochial and independent schools are successful, that’s still good, because student needs are being met, but, we’re still having trouble teaching some kids to read, Mees said.

Phil Peters: He said that public schools serve a democratizing societal function, and that we need them to be excellent, or at least equivalent in quality to their alternatives.

Jonathon Sessions: He said that alternatives to public schools aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but that public school educators have to work hard and provide quality.

Dan Holt: Speaking directly to education students about their careers, he said that “year 1 to year 5 is the time when you decide if classroom teaching is for you.” He said the onus is on the school board to help provide incentives to encourage young teachers. He also said, that we need to be able to recognize what incentives help teacher satisfaction. Home schooling thrives because home-schoolers feel something is not being done the right way in public schools.

The school board election is on Tuesday, April 6.

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