Archive for August 21, 2009

Unemployment Over, Back on My Head

I answered the phone as I was going out the door today, something I have GOT to quit doing! It was a job offer from hell which I was strongly inclined to turn down. SwampMan strongly opined that he wanted my ass at work and insured.

Sigh. I had so looked forward to collecting unemployment but noooooooo. The job itself will barely pay enough to buy groceries and feed but, as SwampMan pointed out, it was better than NOT having a job to pay for groceries and feed. Sometimes I want to kick SwampMan.

I had looked forward to being the emergency backup childcare plan for daughter and, in an actual emergency, I still will be.

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Chile Confirms Swine Flu in Turkeys

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile said Friday that tests show swine flu has jumped to birds, opening a new chapter in the global epidemic.

A top United Nations animal health expert said the infected turkeys have suffered only mild effects, easing concern about a potentially dangerous development. Chile’s turkey meat remains safe to eat, the expert said.

Chile’s health ministry said it ordered a quarantine Friday for two turkey farms outside the port city of Valparaiso after genetic tests confirmed sick birds were afflicted with the same virus that has caused a pandemic among humans.

So far, the virus — a mixture of human, pig and bird genes — has proven to be very contagious but no more deadly than common seasonal flu. However, virus experts fear a more dangerous and easily transmitted strain could emerge if it combines again with avian flu, which is far more deadly but tougher to pass along.

I think they should be saying when, not if.

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Ribault, Raines, and Jackson High Schools Could Be Closed if No Improvements Made, Along with Lakeshore K-8

From Jacksonville.com:

Together, they have earned 18 F grades based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores since the standardized exam was first given 11 years ago.

North Shore K-8 saw its only B five years ago.

Andrew Jackson High has never seen a B.

And Ribault and Raines High schools have never seen anything higher than a D.

The four Duval County schools are on the state’s critical “intervene” list, which requires them to improve or face changes that could, within four years, include closing.

The task is clear, the stakes are high and the urgency is palpable. But instead of a sense of dread about what could happen, there is excitement about the possibilities.

“It’s we’re either in or we’re out,” said Jackson earth space science teacher Danny Pasicolan, a first-year teacher who is also a 2000 Jackson graduate.

Pasicolan said teachers, many who were at the school when he attended, are 100 percent committed. And they refuse to see their school close.

“We’re not going to let them take this from us,” he said.

Teachers in other schools have similar feelings.

“There isn’t a teacher in this facility that doesn’t know the sense of urgency,” said North Shore math coach Janet Bosnick. “I can’t imagine how we couldn’t improve.”

The schools must improve their FCAT scores to at least a C within four years to get off the intervene list. Plus, at least one student subgroup (such as black, white or economically disadvantaged) must show proficiency in reading under federal adequate yearly progress mandates. And the same subgroup or another one must show proficiency in math.

If schools don’t show improvement this year, the district must choose one of four options — more personnel and leadership changes, switching to a charter school, being taken over by a management company, or closing.

If the necessary improvements aren’t met in subsequent years, the district chooses a different option until they are exhausted within four years.

Duval County Public Schools, working with the Florida Department of Education, has already made changes at all four schools. Three have new principals, and all transferred some teachers based on their students’ gains and are putting the finishing touches on new programs.

Changes enacted

At Raines, all students participating in extracurricular activities will have to attend twice-a-month Saturday study sessions for the ACT and SAT. Ribault and Andrew Jackson already had Saturday classes; Jackson is expanding the number of its sessions and requiring students to take an after-school study session before they can participate in any extracurricular activity.

North Shore’s teachers will work in the after-school Team Up program and focus their attention on helping students with core subjects, new principal Tarsha Mitchell said.

Many teachers took training during the summer, came back to school early and are planning tutoring sessions for their students.

At all of the schools, teachers of core subjects will work with each other and with smaller groups of students. And they’ll rely more heavily on tracking data to determine how students are doing in classes. They’re trying to build relationship so students feel comfortable reaching out for help, and also so teachers can more quickly identify the students who need help, said Iranetta Wright, principal at Jackson for a second year.

The support and encouragement are particularly visible around Raines and Ribault, the schools that have struggled longest among the four.

The NAACP is sponsoring a community forum for the two schools to help engage parents on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. at Greater Macedonia Baptist Church on Edgewood Avenue. Elnora Atkins, chair of the local NAACP’s education committee, said the increased energy and attention around the two schools are because of the high stakes.

“We don’t want the high schools in our community to be closed,” Atkins said.

Read the rest for more information about what the schools are trying in an attempt to turn around but….is the problem in the schools or in the attitudes toward education in the community? Will closing the schools down and shipping the students to other schools in other neighborhoods help the children?

Personally, I think the education system went off track when it started pushing college for everyone, whether or not they are equipped with the intellect and/or personality that would be suited for a college degree. Racking up tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of educational loans or public financing for a degree that ultimately turns out to be worthless in the job market isn’t in the best interests of anybody, IMO.

If students could see a high school diploma having actual value in the workplace, and if high schools taught skills for use in the workplace so that high school graduates could go into the job force for actual jobs that pay more than what high school dropouts make, then we might see a difference in attitude.

Actual jobs. Now that’s another problem.

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