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Category: Education News Unveiled

Rochester Contract Woes Ignite Debate Over ‘Accountability’

The search for a way to incorporate the idea of "accountability" into Rochester’s teaching contract has sparked a controversial debate about the meaning of the word and how to achieve it. After two unsuccessful tentative agreements, the Rochester Teachers Association and the city school district are now waiting for state mediators to help them reach another agreement. Experts have pointed out that the fact that the union and the school district were able to reach tentative agreements that included accountability provisions shows unprecedented progress in addressing this challenging concept in school reform.

However, in Rochester, where school reform has been a topic of discussion since the 1980s, concerns about New York State’s economy and a political climate that focuses mainly on teachers’ salaries have overshadowed these achievements. The backlash following the rejection of the two contracts has also highlighted the deep divide that still exists between the education system and the broader community. While teachers are disappointed and angry about the board’s vote, they also share some board members’ disappointment that the community is unaware of the district’s accomplishments over the past three years. One teacher, Carl O’Connell, who worked as a mentor teacher, emphasized that he persuaded two people to resign for the benefit of the students, highlighting the fundamental change happening within the district.

School officials assert that Rochester’s reform efforts stem from the belief that the school system needs to take responsibility for its students and ensure that each student has the opportunity to reach their full potential. When the city’s groundbreaking teachers’ contract was announced in 1987, "accountability" referred to teachers meeting their students’ needs and committing additional time to achieve this. However, over the years, the term has acquired a different meaning, leading to confusion among some residents of Rochester and raising questions about whether the promised accountability has been fulfilled. Marc S. Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, noted that some residents are asking about the results in student performance, the presence of ineffective teachers in the system, and the implementation of pay for performance.

To the president of the school board, Catherine Spoto, the public’s outcry about teachers’ salary increases symbolizes the lack of understanding within the community after three years of reform efforts. She emphasizes that the perception persists that teachers were paid well in 1987 and did not deliver their worth, leading to reservations about paying them again.

The first contract agreement, announced in September, included a pay-for-performance plan that would have determined teachers’ raises based on their ratings under a new evaluation system. Teachers who consistently received superior ratings throughout the three-year contract could have earned total raises of up to 33.6 percent. However, concerns were raised about the affordability of the contract and confusion about how the evaluation system would work. Many teachers who voted against the agreement stated that their intention was not to avoid individual accountability. Rather, they felt they did not have enough information to ratify it. They expressed concerns about the new portfolios that the contract would require teachers to create, which included samples of student work, comments from parents, evidence of professional development, lesson plans, and other materials to demonstrate teaching skills.

Using portfolios to assess teachers’ work is still a relatively new concept nationally. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is in the early stages of research and development to create reliable performance-based assessment techniques as part of a voluntary certification system to acknowledge exceptional teachers.

Simultaneously, the language used in the initial contract effectively introduced the concept of "pay for performance" to influential leaders in the community and certain school board members. William A. Johnson, president of the Urban League and a critic of the salary increases offered to teachers, stated that now it would be exceedingly difficult to abandon this concept. He believed that it was too late for the union to reject the idea of linking pay to performance.

When the second tentative agreement was announced and subsequently ratified by 97% of the city’s teachers, the atmosphere surrounding it was shaped by the first contract. Instead of directly tying teachers’ pay to their performance, the new contract differentiated between providing raises to teachers who were fulfilling their job requirements and referring those who were not to an intervention process. At that point, a joint union-school district panel would determine whether to withhold some or all of a teacher’s salary.

Adam Urbanski, president of the R.T.A., expressed his opinion that the first contract did not align well with the expectations and dynamics embraced by teachers. However, he believed that it was necessary to experience some difficulties and challenges in order to eliminate certain approaches and build upon others.

The school district estimated that, over the course of three years, teachers would have received an average pay increase of 27%. School board members found this amount unaffordable due to the uncertainties surrounding the state, county, and city budgets that funded Rochester schools. Robert L. King, a Republican state assemblyman, argued against ratifying the contract, claiming that it seemed hollow to ask for a 27% pay increase when the district had not yet achieved financial stability.

Urbanski and his union members believed that board members succumbed to political pressure when they voted against the agreement. The district’s negotiators maintained that the new contract was affordable in its first year and allowed for new negotiations in the second and third years if necessary.

Mr. Johnson of the Urban League, as well as several parents, were offended by the teachers who spoke at a public hearing to advocate for the second contract. According to Mr. Johnson, too many teachers made the connection between their pay and their commitment to educational reform.

Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, provided consultancy to the negotiation teams on how to refine the unsuccessful September contract. She explained that the first proposal was based on the ineffective merit-pay model of the 1980s. In contrast, the second proposal built upon the existing career ladder system and established a foundation for further developing teacher professionalism. Unlike the first contract, which emphasized individual accountability and could have potentially turned teachers into competitors, the second contract did not pose this threat.

The second contract addressed the issue of professional accountability by allowing teachers on school-based planning committees to refer their colleagues for intervention. Darling-Hammond argued that professional accountability for the quality and competence of staff should be the foremost cornerstone of accountability, as it is the case in any other profession.

The contract also included several other provisions pertaining to teacher accountability. These included the elimination of the traditional dismissal time for teachers, the introduction of a mandatory home-base guidance program in every school, the implementation of a new code of professional standards, and an increase in the number of "lead teachers" on the district’s career ladder. Additionally, the contract included a section on school accountability that required each school to negotiate a multi-year improvement plan with the district and have their progress assessed annually.

The majority of taxpayers in the city are either elderly individuals living on fixed incomes or have lower incomes compared to the average Rochester teacher, who earns approximately $43,000. Minority groups make up 30 percent of the overall city population. Most taxpayers, when they observe the schools, do not see children who resemble them. Additionally, parents of 70 percent of the children notice a racial difference between themselves and their children’s teachers. To overcome these barriers, city residents need to recognize the importance of educating all children, according to Mr. Kaufman.

However, district officials acknowledge that they have a significant task ahead in convincing Rochester residents and political leaders in Monroe County that the affairs of the school system concern them, regardless of whether their children attend public schools. On top of that, involving overworked and underpaid parents in their children’s education proves even more challenging, as stated by teachers. Mr. Osborne, who teaches global studies and economics at Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School, shares an example of a pregnant student who went into labor in the classroom. The teachers arranged for an ambulance and cleaned up the room. Another student at the school has to pay his mother for food, despite her disliking him. However, he still attends school and works hard.

Parental involvement is also lacking at Monroe Middle School, according to Robert Pedzich, the principal. Although the 24-hour voice mailbox system allows parents to receive recorded messages in English and Spanish about homework and school activities, a recent meeting of the school’s parent-teacher-student group involved only nine parents. The school has 1,300 students from around 1,100 families, highlighting the lack of parental presence. Many students come from single-parent households, and while these parents want to be involved in their children’s education, they often lack the time to do so.

Nevertheless, there are signs of increasing parental involvement, partly due to the issues surrounding the teachers’ contract. A newly formed group called the Union of Parents has started holding meetings, and the district is finalizing a new plan to engage parents. This growing parental interest gives Robin J. Dettman, a parent serving on two school-based planning teams, confidence in the continuation of educational reform. The teachers had previously warned that if the contract was voted against, reform would cease to exist. However, with the involvement of parents, they are determined to prevent that outcome.

From Grassroots Movement To Health-Care Mainstream

Over 250 directors of school clinics and health educators came together from October 2nd to 4th to celebrate their important role in President Clinton’s health care reform plan. This gathering, hosted by the Center for Population Options, emphasized the growing acceptance of school clinics as a mainstream component of healthcare.

Since the first school-based clinic opened in Dallas in 1970, opposition to the provision of family-planning services on school grounds has persisted. However, despite this opposition, school clinics have gained acceptance and support from various national medical organizations. Factors such as changing federal priorities, funding from private foundations, and the rise in issues like teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and AIDS, have all contributed to the increasing importance of school clinics in adolescent health care. Industry experts believe that if the President’s adolescent-health initiatives are approved by Congress, approximately 16,000 new clinics will open within the next two years.

Although most conference attendees expressed concerns about adapting to the new health care system, they recognized the need for retraining nurses and providing technical assistance to schools in order to navigate the proposed changes. To further advance their mission, advocates for school clinics have started producing studies to demonstrate to federal and local policymakers the significance of these clinics in improving students’ access to healthcare. One such study conducted in Dover, Delaware interviewed 1,571 students in three local high schools about their access to healthcare and health insurance, as well as their expectations from school clinics. Additionally, 448 parents were interviewed to gauge their access to healthcare and the availability of social services in their community. The findings revealed that those students who needed the services the most were able to receive the necessary care. Approximately 24% of students using the school clinic reported it as their primary source of care, while around 10% stated that they would have nowhere else to go for medical attention if the clinic did not exist. Furthermore, over one-third of parents expressed concerns about limited medical resources for teenagers in their community.

Another study presented at the gathering addressed the controversial issue of condom availability in schools. Despite three states prohibiting the distribution of condoms on school property, the number of schools providing condoms has significantly increased over the years, reaching 350 schools today, according to the C.P.O. In one particular program in Commerce City, Colorado, faculty advisors distribute condoms and materials for AIDS prevention to students. The study conducted in Adams City High School demonstrated that the prevalence of sexual activity among students was similar to other Colorado schools that do not distribute condoms. The availability of contraceptives did not lead to an increase in sexual activity among 14 to 19-year-olds. According to Dr. Larry Wolk, the medical director of community health services in Commerce City, the benefits of the program outweigh the risks by 3 to 1. He compared the program to avoiding lung cancer by not smoking, as it protects sexually active students from HIV and unintended pregnancies. School-clinic officials hope that this research will refute the notion that condom distribution encourages sexual promiscuity.

How Lessons About Public Health Can Engage Students In Science Class

In recent years, science teachers have been presented with numerous real-world lessons that offer valuable opportunities for their students. The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed for discussions on epidemiology and health communications, while natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires have prompted explanations on the impact of climate change on communities. At a SXSW EDU panel in Austin, educators and experts emphasized the importance of capitalizing on these moments to help students understand and engage with science.

The panelists specifically focused on public health, highlighting how this subject can broaden students’ perception of scientists and their work. They also provided tips on how to incorporate public health into the standard curriculum progression. Topics such as the opioid epidemic, racism, and measles vaccinations, which have received significant attention in the news and affect young people today, can be integrated into science classes to make the subject more relevant. This approach aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards, which aim to demonstrate the connections between scientific learning and its impact on families and communities.

Based on the panelists’ insights, here are four tips for integrating public health lessons into coursework:

1. Begin with student questions: When returning to school amidst the pandemic, Kelsey Fusco, a science teacher in Georgia, discovered that her students had a multitude of questions. By addressing their inquiries about mask mandates and quarantine protocols, she was able to provide context that was immediately relevant to their daily lives. Fusco also incorporated topics like epidemic curves, which require students to apply mathematical and scientific concepts.

2. A public health course is not necessary to teach public health topics: Teachers can seamlessly integrate public health into existing science classes, such as 9th grade biology. By demonstrating how established scientific knowledge is currently applied, educators can make learning more authentic for students. Highlighting the continued impact of scientific discoveries on the real world is crucial, ensuring that students understand the relevance of their studies.

3. Establish connections with concepts students are familiar with: Educators can simplify complex science topics by using analogies that resonate with students. For example, when explaining fetal development, Rishi Desai, a pediatrician, and chief medical officer, employed a simple analogy involving mail delivery. Drawing parallels between the sorting system in the postal service and the way cells receive messages during pregnancy can help students grasp unfamiliar processes more easily.

4. Illustrate how classroom learning can shape future career options: It is important to show students the potential career paths that can stem from their science education. By emphasizing the practical applications of scientific knowledge and highlighting various professions in the field of public health, teachers can inspire and motivate students to pursue related careers.

By utilizing these strategies, science educators can effectively incorporate public health into their coursework, fostering a deeper understanding and engagement among their students.

Your assignment is to rephrase the entire text using more refined vocabulary and ensuring it is original, using natural language. The output should be delivered in English. The given text to be rephrased is as follows:

Hands-On Learning

In the city of Chicago, a group of 10th graders gathered for their Latin II class, located about a mile away from the University of Chicago campus. These students, mostly from low-income African-American families, were using a unique learning approach to study Latin. Their teacher, Preston C. Edwards, a classics scholar who also teaches at the University of Chicago, utilized hip-hop rhythm to make the subject more engaging. By clapping their hands and tapping their feet, the students chanted the opening lines of Virgil’s Aeneid, with Mr. Edwards reading the verses aloud in Latin and the students repeating each line. This innovative teaching method has proven effective, helping the students learn Latin much more easily than traditional methods.

Although Latin isn’t commonly taught in inner-city public schools these days, the University of Chicago Charter School-Woodlawn Campus, where Mr. Edwards teaches, is not a typical school. Established just one year ago, this charter school is part of a small but growing trend of charter schools operated by higher education institutions. The University of Chicago currently runs four independent public schools and has plans to open an additional elementary school in the future. Other universities such as Stanford University, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of New Orleans have also started their own charter schools, while many other universities serve as authorizers, granting charters and holding schools accountable for meeting their requirements.

The University of Chicago is investing significant resources into their charter school venture, including faculty time and expertise, back-office support, and fundraising. Their aim is to ensure that every student has the opportunity to attend and succeed in college. However, not everyone agrees that the university is utilizing its resources effectively. Some believe that instead of starting new charter schools, the University of Chicago should focus on other educational initiatives. Despite this, university leaders argue that the charter effort aligns with their research agenda and provides an opportunity to help disadvantaged students and share lessons learned with other urban schools.

The University of Chicago has a longstanding history of involvement in running schools. In 1896, just six years after the university was founded, education philosopher John Dewey established a school, now known as the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, to test and evaluate his educational theories. This private school continues to operate on campus and is highly regarded, with high school tuition reaching $20,000 per year.

In conclusion, universities in the United States are increasingly becoming involved in operating charter schools. The University of Chicago is a prime example of this, using its resources to improve education for disadvantaged students through their charter school initiative. While there are differing opinions on the university’s approach, the goal is clear – to provide every student with the opportunity to succeed in college.

Robert J. Zimmer, the president of the university, stated that the key to operating charter schools successfully in higher education institutions is to ensure alignment with faculty interests, strong support from university leadership, and a strong partnership with the local school system. He emphasized the importance of approaching this endeavor with a clear understanding of its challenges.

Johnny B. Dorsey, a college counselor at the university, engages in conversations with students during lunch breaks. (Change to natural language)

According to Mr. Zimmer, the charter schools associated with the university serve as an applied expression of their scholarly work. He believes that these schools make a significant contribution to the city’s efforts to improve education. The University of Chicago’s influence on the schools is evident in various aspects, as their ideas are put to the test. Stephen W. Raudenbush, a sociology professor at the university and the head of its interdisciplinary Committee on Education, explains that their ideas reign in those schools.

The charter schools share a core educational philosophy that prioritizes a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, a combination of whole-class, small-group, and individualized instruction, and extensive project-based learning. The university has developed its own refined grade- and subject-specific standards for the schools, which align with state standards. Additionally, the schools have an extended school day and academic year, and students who miss key academic benchmarks are required to attend summer school. Some campuses utilize math curricula developed at the university. The schools regularly monitor students’ academic progress through diagnostic assessments, and all students in 6th grade or higher receive laptops as part of a one-to-one computer initiative developed at the Center for Urban School Improvement.

The University of Chicago currently operates four charter school campuses on the South Side of the city and plans to open a fifth in the future. These campuses function under a single charter approved by the Chicago school district. The student body is primarily African-American, with 78% of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

The university places great importance on teacher professional development and utilizes the charters as a training ground for teachers in its alternative-certification program. In the second year of the program, candidates participate in a clinical residency, working alongside classroom teachers at the NKO elementary and other Chicago public schools. This program will soon expand to include all of the university’s charter schools.

The University of Chicago Charter operates several campuses, including the North Kenwood/Oakland main campus, the North Kenwood/Oakland middle school campus, the Donoghue campus, and the Woodlawn campus. Each campus serves specific grade levels and attendance areas.

The university raises additional funds for the charter schools through major fundraising efforts, providing approximately $1,000 to $2,000 per student. On average, the schools receive approximately $7,300 per child for elementary and middle school students, and $8,300 for high school students from a combination of local, state, and federal funds. The goal is to showcase the schools’ success over time in order to convince policymakers of the need for higher funding for urban schools in Chicago and beyond. While the university’s involvement is seen as a benefit, the schools’ leaders acknowledge that it can sometimes slow down decision-making processes due to the university’s longer timeline and multiple systems.

The university’s efforts in operating charter schools are not limited to Chicago, as they are also involved in initiatives elsewhere.

Henry M. Levin, the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, located at Teachers College, Columbia University, stated that if universities operating charter schools closely examine their experiences, they may discover valuable lessons. However, he suggests that these universities possess unique advantages that are difficult to replicate. In addition to their ability to raise funds, he emphasizes that their intellectual capital is a significant force, and a charter school run by the University of Chicago undoubtedly attracts exceptional teachers. "Imagine how highly sought-after a school like this would be among your best teachers," Mr. Levin exclaimed.

Randomized Study Initiated

Mr. Knowles, a former deputy superintendent of the Boston public schools, expresses confidence that the university will produce lessons that can be applied to other urban schools. "The crucial aspect is what we learn from our actions and how easily we can apply that knowledge," he explained. "How we utilize people, time, and the funds we receive." The university is undertaking a substantial research endeavor linked to its charter schools. As these schools typically use lotteries to select students, they collect data on a comparison group of students who were not admitted. This approach will result in what Mr. Knowles refers to as a "legitimate randomized experiment." The objective is to analyze not only measures such as test scores but also to track students beyond high school and assess how their K-12 schooling impacts their subsequent lives.

Meanwhile, life continues at the charter schools. The Woodlawn campus, which is expanding to accommodate grades 6-12, has recently doubled in size. It now welcomes 110 new 9th graders from 46 different schools. On the 11th day of the new year, Ms. Crock shared that she was striving to instill in new students the school’s high expectations for appropriate behavior. "Many of our students haven’t yet grasped this on their own," she remarked. Unfortunately, violence remains a harsh reality in this inner-city community. Earlier that week, a 10th grader was confronted by outsiders attempting to steal his laptop before teachers intervened. Despite the challenges, various parents and students expressed belief in the charters and the hope they offer.

"My mom told me that this would be the best school to get me into college," said Melvin L. Fouch, a Woodlawn 9th grader. "Just having the name University of Chicago in the title… It’s associated with a prestigious college." Parent Terry Shank stated that his 7th grade daughter is thriving at Woodlawn compared to her previous school. "I entered her name in the lottery, and I thank God they chose her."

Court Accepts Case On Peer Harassment

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case concerning whether school districts can be sued under federal anti-discrimination law for failing to address instances of student-on-student sexual harassment. This issue is closely related to the court’s recent ruling in Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, where they established a new standard for holding districts accountable for a teacher’s sexual harassment of a student. In that case, the court determined that districts cannot be held liable under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 unless an official in a position to take corrective action knew about the harassment and deliberately chose not to address it.

Title IX prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, in education programs that receive federal funding. The court will now decide in the case of Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education whether Title IX can be used to seek monetary damages from school districts when they fail to address sexual harassment between students. This is a significant question that has caused division among lower federal courts, and the Clinton administration has called upon the Supreme Court to resolve it.

The administration argues that Title IX should be interpreted in a way that allows plaintiffs to sue districts for peer sexual harassment. According to them, a district’s failure to address sexual harassment violates Title IX regardless of whether the harasser is a school employee or another student. School boards, on the other hand, claim that they should not be held legally responsible for the actions of students, as they have less control over their behavior compared to that of their employees. They believe that encouraging schools to create a positive environment for all students is important, but they also want to avoid unnecessary liability.

Districts have also argued that they were not aware they could be held liable for monetary damages for peer sexual harassment under Title IX. They claim that the language in Title IX does not explicitly allow for a cause of action in cases of hostile-environment sexual harassment between students. In the Georgia case of Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the allegations involve a 5th-grade student named LaShonda Davis who was repeatedly harassed by a male classmate, with school officials failing to respond to her mother’s complaints.

The Davis family’s lawsuit against the county district was dismissed by a federal district court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld the dismissal in a 7-4 decision. The court ruled that Title IX does not require districts to prevent nonemployees, such as students, from sexually harassing other students. However, other federal appellate courts, including the 7th Circuit and the 9th Circuit, have ruled that Title IX does cover peer sexual harassment.

This case is important because peer sexual harassment can be a significant barrier to learning, and it is crucial for schools to address these issues effectively. The Supreme Court’s decision will provide clarity on whether school districts can be held responsible for peer sexual harassment under Title IX.

Your objective is to rephrase the entire passage by utilizing more refined vocabulary and creating a unique rendition using natural language. The resultant output should be expressed in English. The provided text to rephrase is as follows:

A.F.T. For Dukakis

Last week, the American Federation of Teachers officially endorsed Michael S. Dukakis, the candidate of the Democratic Party for the presidency. According to Albert Shanker, the president of the union, Dukakis is a compassionate and thoughtful leader who has consistently demonstrated his dedication to addressing the needs of the American people. Shanker further highlighted that the executive council of the union unanimously voted to endorse Dukakis, and internal surveys revealed strong support for him among the union members.

Rachelle Horowitz, the political director of the A.F.T., also expressed that the union will launch one of its most vigorous political campaigns ever to support Governor Dukakis from Massachusetts.

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