Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Some big names from Stephen Colbert to President Obama have advice for grads

Some big names from Stephen Colbert to President Obama have advice for grads


Monday, May 20, 2013

Parents and students seeing yellow after bus driver sick day adds to the school year

Walled Lake schools must add June date after day lost due to absent bus drivers

Parents are expressing anger toward Walled Lake Consolidated School District after Superintendent Kenneth Gutman says they will add another day onto the school year due to bus drivers calling in sick on May 8, forcing school to close.

School officials said they had to cancel classes for the day after about 25 percent of the district’s bus drivers called in sick because there was no advanced plan communicated to parents for the situation.

A letter was sent to parents by district spokeswoman Judy Evola on May 16 explaining the extension: “After conferring with the Michigan Department of Education, we have learned, as a result of the lost day of instruction last week, that Walled Lake Schools does not meet the required number of days for the school year and we will have to add a day to make up the lost day.”

The district needs 170 days and 1,098 hours of instruction, Evola said.

The letter states that  if the district did not make up this time, it would cost them $732,745, or $113,449 per hour of lost instruction.

Evola said that Tuesday, June 11, is now a full day of school, and Wednesday, June 12, is a half-day of school, to ensure the district meets the state requirement.

One parent wrote on Facebook that her child already has to be on a flight on June 12, so he will be missing the day. Another parent said the district reacted to the bus driver situation poorly.

A main complaint is that the district should have known how many days they had left to use when they called off school on May 8.

In addition, the state requires the district to have 75 percent attendance on the day that has been added.

“This is not one of the ‘forgiven days’ — the state forgives a certain number of snow days, or power outages and this is not in that category, so we are encouraging our parents to please send their children for school for the full day June 11 and the half day on June 12,” Evola said. “We apologize and we realize this is an inconvenience; however, it is very important to comply with the state mandates of the 170 days and the 1,098 hours.”
Walled Lake Consolidated Schools is the largest district in Oakland County, with more than 15,000 students. The district voted 7-0 in favor of privatization of the district’s transportation at the beginning of the month.

There were 23 drivers that called in sick on May 8, but Walled Lake Transportation President Ann Ridge previously said the event was was not planned by the union and she believes the drivers were actually sick.

The next future of CSI are at Oxford High School

It seems like CSI has been on the air forever and while the run will eventually end, a group of Oxford students hope to carry on the next tradition of crime scene investigation. Oakland Schools is partnering with various school districts to use modern tools to solver everything from accident investigation to homicides and have the latest tools to make sure the right conclusions are reached to solve modern day who-dun-its. The Oakland County Sheriff's department is also involved. In a story by the Oakland Press Diana Dillaber Murray, this STEM program (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) program is actually a league of high schools that compete for their own championship. This is pretty cool.


Oxford High School students use science, math skills to find ‘killers’ during CSI: Oakland Championships

Oxford High School student crime investigators came in first place in the first-ever CSI: Oakland Championships as they beat out teams from other schools to find the “killers” in each scenario.

Teams of students from each of the schools spent 35 minutes gathering evidence from a staged crime scene before a panel of judges and an audience, said Mike McIntyre, CFE STEM — Science Technology Engineering Math — Coordinator for Oakland Schools.

The forensics teams then analyzed the evidence for 80 minutes in a laboratory and presented their findings to the judges and the audience.

Although all five competing teams managed to figure out who the “killers” were, the Oxford High School CSI Team scored the most points overall from the judges and were named the 2013 CSI: Oakland Champions, McIntyre said.

The Oxford team, like the others, have learned skills to analyze crime scenes in forensics classes at their schools.

For example, at Oxford High, forensic students might use trigonometry to analyze measurements taken from blood spatter patterns to determine the direction of travel for blood spattered on a surface, explained Kelly Bollman, teacher coach for the Oxford High team, who plans scenarios for her students.

They look for the angle of impact of the blood to the surface and the height from which the blood originated.

“Using these calculations, students then show the location of the blood source three-dimensionally using string,” Bollman said.

Besides ranking as county champions for overall excellence, the Oxford High team also took the Biological Analysis Award.

Other high school teams and their awards were Birmingham Marian, which won the Presentation/Professionalism and Fingerprint Analysis awards; North Farmington, Tops in Teamwork and Best Forensics Procedures awards; Lake Orion High School, Chemistry of Crime-Fighting and Judges Award for Best Mathematical Analysis; and Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northwest, Physical Science and Most Observant awards.
The program at Oxford High, where students learned their skills, has three levels, each a semester course, Bollman said.

In Forensic Science I, students learn basic evidence handling techniques, observation skills and use of FACES software to create suspect sketches, hair analysis, fiber and fabric analysis, and the biological analysis of blood.

In Forensic Science II, students learn the physics analysis of blood spatter, techniques in toxicology, forensic entomology and the meaning and manner of death, time of death factors, some aspects of accident reconstruction, and tracks and bites.

The third class is an independent study in which students collect and analyze eyewitness statements, apply analytical techniques in forensic contexts, forensic anthropology and a topic selected for personal research. That could be profiling, DNA analysis, arson and fire investigation, alcohol and poisons, or cyber-crime.

The CSI: Oakland league was created by Oakland Schools, in partnership with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Crime Lab and the Clarkston-area Optimists club. For more information, visit the league website at www.oakland.k12.mi.us/csi

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pontiac isn't looking super looking for a new super

     Who knows what happened in Pontiac. It was predictable last August when they hired yet another superintendent. Brian Dougherty must have replaced his optimism with "what the hell did I get myself into," sometime early in his term. Supers that last two years must in this former model district age quicker than many US  president for all that is dysfunctional in that district. For Dougherty, he lasted 9 months. Between the school board, the teachers union the nepotism in this financially strapped district  and the mostly low achieving students, what is there to like about this place? When you find out that your district is nearly 40 million in the hole after being told it was less than ten and kids are leaving the district in droves, putting up with the rest of this mess would make anyone run for the hills. I heard that Dougherty and others hoped plenty of volunteers would sub in classes whether they had the credentials to teach and hoped to just get anyone in there for no pay. This includes retired teachers on top of those that had no idea of rough the kids in this district can be to anyone.  

     What is troubling is plenty of districts have siphoned off students and it looks like Lake Orion's Schools of Choice will do its part to take that many more students from this urban district. What is this district going to do? It may be time for an emergency manger to divide up what is left and with state help,  make other districts take a piece of the Pontiac pie. The people left really cannot manage anything as incompetence, greed and self-interest have greased the rails for the latest mess. While Dougherty did not create the problems in the district, his most likely forced departure is a clear signal that this district needs outside help if it ever has a chance to right its ship. The Oakland Press story is below.

Pontiac schools superintendent leaving after less than a year; district may miss payroll

                            By DIANA DILLABER MURRAY
diana.dillaber@oakpress.com; Twitter: @DDillybar

Superintendent Brian Dougherty has resigned from the top position a Pontiac schools  — leaving the district to search for its 13th superintendent in a long line of superintendents and interim leaders in the past several years.

Dougherty took the helm of the financially struggling district in August, when the deficit was thought to be $24 million. It turned out after a recent audit to have actually been $37.7 million as of June 30, 2012.

The superintendent, who was hired in late summer, said he is leaving after less than a year because he wants to “explore some other opportunities.” He did not want to comment on whether he has an eye on a particular position at this time.

“We are coming to the end of school year and that is the best time to make a transition. It gives time for an individual to come in and get situated before the start of a new school year,” said the superintendent, whose resignation will be effective May 17.

Dougherty said he is optimistic if the state approves the amended deficit elimination plan submitted by his administration, which includes an extra year, the district will be out of debt and able to do the best for students by 2015.

“There’s an administrative team there that is doing the very best that they can and a faculty that has worked under very adverse conditions,” Dougherty said.

On Thursday, Rick Pluta, a Michigan Public Radio reporter covering state government, tweeted that Pontiac may be the second district to run out of money before the end of the school year and not be able to make payroll May 17. The district is under state review, which can be the first step toward the appointment of an emergency financial manager.

To prepare for the transition, the board will place someone in the role of acting superintendent to lead the district for the last two months of school, said Board President Caroll Turpin.

And the district will focus on two major goals, Turpin said: getting approval from the state of the deficit elimination plan and providing a quality education for children.

Turpin has also called a public meeting at 10:30 a.m. May 16, when the Michigan Association of School Boards will explain the impact of the new emergency finance manager law and what could happen if one were assigned to the Pontiac district. Continued...
The board president is calling for everyone in the district to pull together.

“As a district, we will increase collaboration and input from all administrators and teachers during these challenging times,” Turpin said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“The district has to work as a team with all personnel focused on a common outcome. Lines of communication have to be transparent and the message has to be one of a common belief, forged in the belly of the district, in order to produce successful students prepared for life,” Turpin said.

“We believe in basic fundamental values of respect, integrity, compassion, accountability and a belief in our children. These fundamental values must be reflected in our policies, our classrooms and the overall decorum of our buildings.

“Yes, we have challenges. Yes, we believe in our district family. Yes, we will prevail,” Turpin concluded in her statement.

Dougherty said he was hopeful when he came to Pontiac district.

“Obviously, my hopes when I came to the district were to reduce what I thought was to be a $24 million deficit and we were successful in reducing by $11 million,” Dougherty said, in large part, because employees gave concessions in salary and health insurance.

But an audit of the 2011-2012 school year showed the deficit was $37.7 million.

“Obviously, that put us back at square one and only one year to go in the deficit elimination plan,” which calls for the Pontiac district to have a balanced budget by June 30, 2014, Dougherty said.

“It makes it difficult to keep the district moving when dealing with those kinds of constraints.  
“Most of my day, frankly, was spent from December on with dealing with the amount of debt the district has and the issues with infrastructure that popped up continuously and became very consuming,” Dougherty said, referring to almost daily break-ins, occasional fires in the district’s vacant schools and other types of building emergencies.

“My career has always been working with teachers and academic advancement. Part of the separation here ... it’s just a tremendous amount of time spent for me in areas that weren’t really focusing on student achievement.

“It is no one’s fault. It was the circumstances of the district,” Dougherty said.

“My biggest hope, at some point soon the district can address the class sizes and begin to meet the needs of the kids.”

 Dougherty took over from Interim Superintendent Walter Burt, who served for less than a year after being appointed to take over from Jon Brown, who was in the position for a short time after Superintendent Thomas Maridada III’s surprise resignation in July of 2011. Maridada was superintendent for two years.

Meanwhile, a court ordered the district to levy taxes on property owners in the portions of the eight communities in the Pontiac school district boundaries in order to pay off $7.8 million for unpaid teachers’ health premiums.

“I’m very concerned for these students and for my members and district as a whole, said teacher’s union President Aimee McKeever.

“There are so many scenarios in my head; there are so many different things that could happen. I continue to have conversations with the board, the (Michigan Education Association) and officials in Lansing, and we continue to work together to do whatever is possible for the survival of the district,” McKeever said.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Teen rips into teacher, garners YouTube views

If you are a teacher that passes out packets, kicks up your chair and kicks back until the end of class, a Texas student kicks back.  

Teen rips into teacher, garners YouTube views

Posted: May 09, 2013 5:53 PM EDT Updated: May 09, 2013 6:01 PM EDT
Jeff Bliss was identified as the teen heard ripping into his teacher in a YouTube video. (Image capture from YouTube) Jeff Bliss was identified as the teen heard ripping into his teacher in a YouTube video. (Image capture from YouTube)
DUNCANVILLE, TX (FOX5) - A YouTube video showing a Texas high school student ripping into his teacher for her methods has garnered support and thousands of views.
In the video (http://youtu.be/yqk3tqwAfC8), a teen named Jeff Bliss rants to his teacher after she ordered him out of the classroom.
"[I keep] hearing this freaking lady go off on kids 'cuz they don't get this freaking crap," Bliss says in the clip. "If you would just get up and teach them instead of handing them a freaking packet. These kids don't learn like that."
Later in the video, Bliss urges the teacher, who is identified in the YouTube clip page as Mrs. Phung, to get his classmates excited for the material in the class.
"You want a kid to change and make him do better? You gotta touch his freaking heart," Bliss says in the clip. "You gotta take this job serious. This is the future of this nation."
Bliss told FOX station KDFW the tirade sparked from his teacher telling him to stop questioning procedures in a test. Bliss said she responded with profanity.
Bliss, though, acknowledged his opinions could have been made in a better way than what was seen in the video, which, as of Thursday, garnered more than 84,000 views since it was uploaded Wednesday.
Meanwhile, KDFW reported the Duncanville, TX, Independent School District suspended the teacher in the video with pay amid an investigation in the incident.
What do you think about the teen's rant? Send your own rant to FOX5Vegas.com or The Rant page on Facebook.
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