Teacher gives epic resignation in video

In what’s already become viral amongst educators, one fourth-grade teacher has posted her resignation in an emotional video that’s hard to ignore.

After learning that she would be involuntarily transferred to another Illinois school, Ellie Rubenstein, who became a teacher at 45 years-old, declared that she is tired of being “forced to function as a cog in a wheel” going in the wrong direction.

“I was proud to say I was a teacher,” she explains. “But over the past 15 years, I’ve experienced the depressing, gradual downfall and misdirection of communication that has slowly eaten away at my love of teaching.”

“Raising students’ test scores on standardized tests is now the only goal, and in order to achieve it the creativity, flexibility and spontaneity that create authentic learning environments have been eliminated…Everything I love about teaching is extinct,” she continues.

(Next page: Resignation video)


Schoola: Like Groupon for school fundraising

School fundraising sites have cropped up by the dozens in recent years, and educators can add a website called Schoola to the list.

Created by a former teacher and school principal, Schoola is a Groupon-style fundraising site that connects parents with local businesses for special deals on food and merchandise, with a portion of the proceeds going to their school.

Schoola bills its service as a “win-win-win”: Parents get discounts on local goods and services, businesses get a boost from their community, and schools get needed funds.

Here’s how it works: PTAs or other school groups negotiate discounted prices with local businesses and then advertise these deals to parents and other community members. Schoola hosts the fundraiser online and collects the money, keeping 15 percent of the proceeds as its fee.

According to a news report from a local TV station, Lakewood Elementary School in Dallas worked with Schoola and a local bakery to raise thousands of dollars for its education programs in just a few days.


Teacher evaluation in PreK: Using student data is risky

According to a new report, many states will soon measure student learning in the “untested grades,” meaning teacher evaluation will use data from students in prekindergarten through third grade. The report explores the risks associated with this and its potential impact on teachers?

The brief, “An Ocean of Unknowns: Risks and Opportunities in Using Student Achievement Data to Evaluate PreK-3rd Grade Teachers,” funded through grants from the Foundation for Child Development and the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation, reports that as of 2012, 20 states and Washington, D.C. require evidence of student learning to play a role in evaluating teacher performance. As a result, better information on student learning is in high demand, and no grade level is immune.

Historically, most states have required standardized testing only in grades three through eight. But now those 21, with likely more to follow, must devise comparable ways to measure student learning in the “untested grades,” as well, including preK, kindergarten, and grades one and two. And even with testing in grade three, a lack of baseline data has implications for those teachers, too.

(Next page: Common Core complications)


The global search for education: Finnish math lessons

Research has sought to understand why more boys than girls excel in math and science in the U.S., the Huffington Post reports. “The gender gap in math and science achievement in Finland is rather equal between boys and girls. Finns give a strong focus to math and science in elementary grades supported by well-trained primary school teachers with masters degrees who emphasize both the experimental and experiential nature of learning math and science,” states Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons: What can the World learn from Educational Change in Finland? According to PISA and Sahlberg’s book, fewer pupils think math is difficult in Finland. Interestingly, math textbooks, which are written by teachers, are only a fraction of the size of similar textbooks in the U.S…

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NYC Spanish teacher claims she was fired for using “negro” word in class

The Epoch Times reports that a Spanish teacher in the Bronx  said she was fired for using the word “Negro” in class. Petrona Smith, a 65-year-old junior high school teacher at P.S. 211, called a student “Negro” but she said she was using the Spanish word for the color “black,” reported the New York Post. Smith filed a lawsuit after she was ousted from her job. “They haven’t even accounted for how absurd it is for someone who’s black to be using a racial slur to a student,” Shaun Reid, Smith’s attorney, told the paper. “Talk about context! There’s a lot of things wrong here.”

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Protests fail to deter Chicago from shutting 49 schools

The New York Times reports that officials here in the third-largest district in the country voted Wednesday, after an emotional meeting, to close 49 public schools that they said were not being fully used. The decision, passed overwhelmingly by the Chicago Board of Education, came after weeks of contentious public hearings that brought more than 34,000 people out to oppose the school consolidation plan at dozens of meetings across the city…

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How New Printers Will Save Mineola Schools $1.1 Million over Four Years

The Mineola Union Free School District’s investment in Lexmark products, which helps educate school leaders about the latest technologies—is projected to generate a 300-percent return on investment (ROI) in the first four years. Mineola expects to break even on the investment within one year and achieve net benefits of $1.1 million over four years.


Seven key stats with important implications for schools

The percentage of U.S. students living in poverty jumped by 40 percent in the last decade, and total funding for K-12 education dropped by $1 billion from 2008-09 to 2009-10. Yet, despite these challenges, high school graduation rates are slowly climbing—and more students are completing math and science courses, according to the latest figures from the National Center on Education Statistics.

Released May 23, “The Condition of Education 2013”—the latest in an annual series of reports from NCES, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education—is chock full of valuable statistics for policy makers and education leaders. Here are seven findings of particular significance for K-12 education.

1. Public school enrollment is projected to increase by 7 percent from 2010-11 to 2021-22.

From school years 2010-11 through 2021-22, public elementary and secondary school enrollment is projected to increase by 7 percent overall, from 49.5 to 53.1 million students. But changes will vary widely across states, ranging from a projected increase of 22 percent in Alaska to a decrease of 15 percent in the District of Columbia.

In grades preK-8, enrollment is projected to increase by more than 20 percent in Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, and Washington but decrease by 11 and 13 percent, respectively, in the District of Columbia and West Virginia. Enrollment in grades 9-12 is expected to increase by more than 20 percent in Texas, while enrollment in these grades in the District of Columbia is projected to decrease by 20 percent or more.

2. The percentage of students living in poverty has risen sharply.

The percentage of students living in poverty in the United States rose sharply in the last decade, from 15 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2011, according to NCES data. This rise comes after a decade in which the percentage of students living in poverty had declined, from 17 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2000.