Friday, February 11, 2011

Flight Tips


Check one of the travel sites (Orbitz, Travelocity, Kayak, etc. but note that AA does not use Orbitz or Travelocity)
Then check the carrier's sites to see if they are offering the ticket at a lower price
If you don't mind stops sometimes taking multiple ones lowers the price and gets you more miles/credits
Also do fares for one way tickets and add up the costs..sometimes it can be cheaper..I saved 75$ one time on just doing one way fares
Buy tickets at the latest two weeks in advance (three weeks is better) but no later than two weeks...airlines are flying less and cramming more people so the earlier you buy your seat the better
If you are having to take multiple bags fly southwest-it might seem more expensive but once you add the baggage fees with the other airlines it'll come out to the same price if not more on the other carriers
Check airfare trend sites...also...note the price you paid for your ticket..if becomes cheaper near your flight contact the airline..usually the will offer a refund...
trip insurance always for flying out of the country; always bring a carry on with at least 2 days worth of clothes if checking bag
check weather-a lot of airlines will allowyou to change your flight one time for weather purposes...check the carriers website for information
want to rack up miles? try to fly the main carrier out of the city (ex. Pittsburgh=US Airways, Denver=United, Houston=Southwest, Dallas=American, Atlanta=Delta/Airtran)

if taking a cab in a city check to make sure it is insured..that it is licensed...what the price code/scheme is(always check before-for example D.C. operates in zones not by miles)


Three Quotes from Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor

We can not live in a society where the poorest students are the poorest educated.

You have got all the tools and you will grow each year.

We are human. The best we can do is our best. We can not live with regrets.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Little as They Try, Students Can't Get a D Here

Little as They Try, Students Can't Get a D Here
Sunday, August 08, 2010
By WINNIE HU, The New York Times

MOUNT OLIVE, N.J. -- Who wants to pay for "D"-quality plumbing? Fly the skies with a "D"-rated pilot? Settle for a "D" restaurant?


The way the Mount Olive school district sees it, its students should not be getting by with D's on their report cards, either. This fall, there will no longer be any D's, only A's, B's, C's and F's.

"D's are simply not useful in society," said Larrie Reynolds, the Mount Olive superintendent, who led the campaign against D's as a way to raise the bar and motivate students to work harder. "It's a throwaway grade. No one wants to hire a D-anything, so why would we have D-students and give them credit for it?"

The no-D policy, which was adopted by the school board last week, has led to a flurry of Facebook messages from students calling it the worst idea ever, and has been debated on soccer fields and around swimming pools in this suburban township in northwestern New Jersey. Even some teachers have expressed concerns that it may result in more students failing.

"I really don't like it," said Chris Radler, 13, who is entering ninth grade; he said it was unfair and would increase the pressure on students. "If you're a little bit less than a C, but not quite an F, you're still going to fail. Some kids aren't at that level yet. They aren't able to get that upper grade."

But parents like Christine Priest, a mother of six, applaud the new policy for reinforcing a message that they have long taught at home: D's are not good enough. "With my kids, we always told them a D is an F," she said. "D just wasn't enough of an effort."

Under the old system, students could pass with a 65 -- 389 of the 1,500 students at Mount Olive High had a "D" on their final report cards in June -- but now anything lower than a 70 will be considered failure.

While few high schools have banned D's outright as Mount Olive has, some have sought to tamp down grade inflation by quietly tightening their standards over the years. Several New Jersey high schools, for instance, have raised the minimum for D's to 70, which is traditionally the C-minus range, with anything below deemed an F.

Mount Olive, an above-average school in a middle-class community, is developing a support system to help students meet the tougher grading standard. When students receive a failing grade on a test, a paper or a homework assignment in the future, they will have three days to repeat the work for a C, and their parents will be notified by phone or e-mail.

Students who continue to fail will be placed on a "watch list" to receive extra-help classes, as well as tutoring from other students. If they need to make up a failed course, they will be given the option of attending an evening school, known as "Sunset Academy," that will charge a fee of $150 per class.

The total cost of these support efforts to the district is expected to be less than $10,000, school officials said.

Max Werner, 17, an A-student whose father, Mark, is president of the school board, said he and his friends liked the no-D policy because no one should be satisfied with such a low mark. "People are going to have to try harder," he said. "It's not like a nice college is going to see all D's on a report card and want to accept that student."

Dr. Reynolds said he used a similar grading policy -- "A, B, or do it over" -- when teaching college classes in Wichita, Kan., in the late 1990s. About half of his students in those classes had to rewrite their initial papers, he recalled, but eventually nearly everyone was turning in work that merited an A or B. "I have never given less than a B," he said.

In summer school last week, 79 Mount Olive High students were repeating classes they had failed during the year. Mark Fiedorczyk, the summer school principal, said he expected to see an increase next summer because of the no-D policy.

Still, Mr. Fiedorczyk, who teaches seventh-grade science during the year, said the higher standard was just what some students needed. In June, he handed out D's to a half-dozen students, all of whom, he said, were capable of C's if they had tried harder. Instead, they had skipped homework and projects, and showed up unprepared for tests.

"I have kids who walk the borderline," he said. "They know it. They admit it. They calculate what they need to get the D."

At which, another teacher joked: "Then they'll turn around and say they can't do math."

For Aphrodite Georgakopoulos, 16, the no-D policy means she will have to work a lot harder to avoid summer school again. She is repeating world history and Algebra 2 after getting lazy about assignments or just giving up in frustration, she said.

"It's not like I can't do it; it's just that I won't push myself," she said. "I don't know why. I need someone to be constantly on top of me, making sure I do everything."

Down the hallway, Sean Robinson, 17, who is retaking Spanish, said he hoped that students would feel better about themselves in a D-free school, and that Mount Olive's higher standard would raise its profile in the region.

"Normally, I just wouldn't try, but I feel like if I did badly, I'd bring down my school's G.P.A.," he said. "My mom will be happy."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Inspirational Story of Dr. Theodore Stoddard

The Inspirational Story of Dr. Theodore Stoddard


There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her fifth grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie?

Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that She loved them all the same? But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise. Teddy's first grade Teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed, how pretty the bracelet was. She put it on and dabbed some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to." After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "pets."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer.

The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear" Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference." Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

Warm someone's heart today. Never underestimate the Power of Purpose.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Texas School Asked Students to Withdraw, Obtain Diplomas Online

Texas School Asked Students to Withdraw, Obtain Diplomas Online
By Gustavo Reveles Acosta, El Paso Times (MCT)
El Paso, Texas

Canutillo High school seniors who failed the standardized TAKS test and missed graduation last month were asked by administrators to withdraw from the public district and obtain their diplomas from an online high school.
Canutillo school board members authorized district officials to approach 17 students who had completed all classes needed to graduate but had not passed at least one part of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test. Administrators wanted these students to enroll in a well-regarded cyber school, Pennsylvania-based Penn Foster High School.

The move would have circumvented the state rule that requires all public high-school students to pass the TAKS to receive a diploma.

Canutillo Superintendent Damon Murphy said all 17 students agreed to enroll at Penn Foster, but none was admitted because its academic standards were more rigorous than those of Canutillo.

Murphy said that his attempt was rare among Texas school districts, but that it was lawful.

"Heaven forbid a school district organize an expedition to look into having its students move on to college," he said. "You can be high and mighty about this, but I was working in a legal way to get them through to college and avoid having them become dropouts."

Murphy's plan would not have cost students or taxpayers any money because the Princeton Review, which owns Penn Foster, had agreed to take the students for free.

Officials at Penn Foster said the students were not able to enroll in the program because they would have had to take additional classes in the summer or fall semester before they were awarded a diploma.

Penn Foster requires students to have four years of science and math to graduate, and none of the Canutillo students met that mandate.

Murphy said he was comfortable recommending Penn Foster to his school board precisely because of the cyber school's high academic standards.
"I could have gone with a diploma mill, and there are several of those available to students," he said. "But this is a reputable program and a great option for students who otherwise would be stuck in limbo for God only knows how long."

The 17 students must now take the summer TAKS test next week and hope for a passing score when the results are released later this summer.
If they fail again, they will not be eligible to enroll in a four-year college or university or qualify for financial aid.

They may enroll at El Paso Community College and take a certain number of courses, but they will not be given need-based aid and will not be able to receive an associate degree until they pass the TAKS.

The students have the option to give up their right to retake the TAKS in future administrations and opt instead to earn the equivalent of a high-school diploma, or GED.

Either way, any of the 17 Canutillo students who fail the TAKS next week will be labeled dropouts and counted against the school and the school district once the state is ready to hand out ratings.

DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, said she was aware that school districts in the Houston and Brownsville areas had tried to do what Canutillo did this year.

"We keep track of dropouts, but I can't say how common or uncommon this practice is," she said of Canutillo's move. "However, any student in Texas can withdraw from any school and move to an online program, a charter school, a private school or even just be home-schooled."

Murphy said the practice of withdrawing academically troubled students from public school and enrolling them in private ones right before graduation has been common for years among wealthier parents.

"That option, though, was not something my 17 kids could afford," he said. "If we as a district don't look for ways to try and get them moving toward graduation and into college, these kids would be lost."
School districts in El Paso have strived to help their non-graduating seniors pass the TAKS during the summer.

In the El Paso Independent School District, all seniors who have completed coursework but need the TAKS to graduate are given the option of one-on-one tutoring during the weeks before the last administration of the exam.
Students in the Socorro district have the option of enrolling in classes at El Paso Community College that will prepare them to take the TAKS and then earn them credit toward a college degree.

Holly Fields, a Socorro assistant superintendent, said the program has been successful.

"We find that the intensive TAKS remediation and the college setting is beneficial for our students. The rates of students passing the TAKS during the summer has increased," she said.

Fields said her district had not considered online high schools as an alternative because "we want all of our students to earn Texas high-school diplomas and be ready for college courses."

Murphy acknowledged that his cyber school idea was unorthodox, but said he felt strongly about "out-of-the-box ideas to help our students graduate."
"I have been superintendent of the Canutillo district for less than a year, and many of the remediation programs other school districts have were not in place when I arrived," he said. "I'm trying to work with what I have here. Next year it should be a different story."

Copyright (c) 2010, El Paso Times, Texas. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Vol. 36, Issue 29

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Detroit Public Schools Tries Something New: A School Run by Teachers

Detroit Public Schools Tries Something New: A School Run by Teachers
By Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki, Detroit Free Press (MCT)

Detroit Public Schools is set to open its first school without a principal—teachers will be running the day-to-day operations and making all pertinent decisions.

They won't have to wait for the central office's OK to purchase needed items or increase their emphasis on fractions or writing, for instance.
Founded on the belief that those within the building know best what their students need, Barbara Jordan Elementary will be the district's first teacher-led school, open only to students whose parents agree to be involved. State officials know of no teacher-led schools in Michigan.
The Detroit school, for students in kindergarten through fourth grade, is modeled after teacher-led schools in Boston, Milwaukee, Denver and Los Angeles.

It's too early to know test results, said Michael McLaughlin of the Boston Teachers Union School. But he can name one indicator of the Boston school's success: "The families in the area, they're clamoring to get into this school."
In Detroit, the high-profile experiment in school reform could have long-reaching implications, said Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

"It's an unprecedented opportunity," Johnson said. "We cannot fail."
Less bureaucracy at school could make it easier to educate students
Summer has barely begun, but Ann Crowley can't wait for school to open in the fall.

The 22-year veteran teacher and administrator is part of a new experiment in Detroit Public Schools—a school run by the teachers.
Her enthusiasm is obvious and contagious.

"I returned to the classroom to better meet the needs of the children, right at the ground level," said Crowley, who expects to teach at Barbara Jordan Elementary. "That's what this school is all about."

She's part of a DPS group called Detroit Children First, which is made up mostly of teachers. It has been asking for a teacher-led school for years.
With the backing of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, it convinced the district's emergency financial manager, Robert Bobb, to let it run a school that bypasses layers of bureaucracy that can often slow decision-making. It is a school where the staff makes all the decisions, from lessons to hiring to building repairs.

It is believed to be the first teacher-led school in the state.
The hope is to "cut out the middle man," said Kim Kyff, a teacher with more than 20 years' experience who also hopes to teach at the school.
Without bureaucracy, "there's more direct communication," Kyff said. "You are able to more readily implement and make changes, without having to go through multiple layers."

Increased responsibility will come with that increased autonomy. The school's success will rest on teachers' shoulders.

"Teachers here do not fear accountability," Crowley said. In fact, some had offered to surrender tenure in exchange for a teacher-led school—a sacrifice the district didn't ask them to make in the end.
DFT President Keith Johnson knows the importance of the school's success and the price that could be paid for failure.

"I'm excited about it, but I'm also cautiously optimistic, because we've got to make sure that we do it right," Johnson said. "We cannot let the school crash and burn. I think the perception of teachers as effective educational leaders would be severely damaged if we can't make this school a success."
Detroit's teacher-led school initially will be for students in kindergarten through fourth grade, with a middle school operating in an adjacent building. Eventually, the entire K-8 campus will be part of the teacher-led school.
The school, which will be funded like any other DPS school, will have an extended day, with enrichment programs such as music or art after lesson hours, and a longer school year.

This first year, the DFT will hire the teachers, but Barbara Jordan teachers will eventually take over that task. There will be no principal. There will be a building administrator, probably with experience as a principal, to handle the administrative duties that teachers aren't familiar with. That position is expected to be phased out in about three years, with teachers taking over those duties, as well.

School governance will come from teacher committees. Teachers will meet in small groups to make decisions for their students. Each small group will choose a point person to represent the group at meetings of point people from the rest of the building. Teachers will rotate the point-person position.
"The teachers just did not have a lot of leverage in meeting the needs of the children that were sitting in front of them," Crowley said, explaining the desire for the school.

They hope to change that. The school is envisioned as a model of democracy, with every employee having a say in how it's run and parents as important participants. In fact, parents will have to sign a contract promising to be involved in their child's education and the school.

Admission will be based on the parent's willingness to participate.

DPS officials said it's up to the teachers to make this school a success.
The federal No Child Left Behind law "requires that failing schools face sanctions, up to and including closure. We have shown that we will close failing schools," said Barbara Byrd Bennett, Bobb's chief academic adviser.
"That said, nobody intends for this school to fail. Everyone is committed to making it a success, and interventions will be put in place to ensure it succeeds."

Copyright (c) 2010, Detroit Free Press. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

4-Day School Weeks Gain Popularity Across U.S.

Published Online: June 4, 2010
4-Day School Weeks Gain Popularity Across U.S.
By The Associated Press

Fort Valley, Ga.
During the school year, Mondays in this rural Georgia community are for video games, trips to grandma's house and hanging out at the neighborhood community center.
Don't bother showing up for school. The doors are locked and the lights are off.
Peach County is one of more than 120 school districts across the country where students attend school just four days a week, a cost-saving tactic gaining popularity among cash-strapped districts struggling to make ends meet. The 4,000-student district started shaving a day off its weekly school calendar last year to help fill a $1 million budget shortfall.
It was that or lay off 39 teachers the week before school started, said Superintendent Susan Clark.
"We're treading water," Clark said as she stood outside the headquarters of her seven-school district. "There was nothing else for us to do."
The results? Test scores went up.
So did attendance — for both students and teachers. The district is spending one-third of what it once did on substitute teachers, Clark said.
And the graduation rate likely will be more than 80 percent for the first time in years, Clark said.
The four days that students are in school are slightly longer and more crowded with classes and activities. After school, students can get tutoring in subjects where they're struggling.
On their off day, students who don't have other options attend "Monday care" at area churches and the local Boys & Girls Club, where tutors are also available to help with homework. The programs generally cost a few dollars a day per student.
Experts say research is scant on the effect of a four-day school week on student performance. In fact, there is mostly just anecdotal evidence in reports on the trend with little scientific data to back up what many districts say, said University of Southern Maine researcher Christine Donis-Keller.
"The broadest conclusion you can draw is that it doesn't hurt academics," said Donis-Keller, who is with the university's Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation.
Many districts that have the shortened schedule say they've seen students who are less tired and more focused, which has helped raise test scores and attendance. But others say that not only did they not save a substantial amount of money by being off an extra day, they also saw students struggle because they weren't in class enough and didn't have enough contact with teachers.
The school district in Marlow, Okla., is switching back to a five-day week after administrators decided students were not being served well by attending school only four days. The 440-student district tried the shorter week the spring semester this year to save $25,000 in operation costs.
"It was harder on the teachers. We were asking the kids to move at a quicker pace," said district Superintendent Bennie Newton. "We're hoping the four-day week won't come into play next year."
The move by Peach County in Georgia gets mixed reviews.
Parents like Heather Bradshaw worry that their children are getting shortchanged on time with teachers.
"I don't feel like they're having the necessary time in the classroom," said Bradshaw, a single mother with a fourth-grade son at one of the county's three elementary schools. "The schedule has slowed him down."
Other parents prefer the shorter schedule and don't mind the hassle of finding a babysitter one day a week.
"It makes the children's weekend a little better, so they get more rest," said LaKeisha Johnson, who sends her fourth-grade daughter to the Boys & Girls Club on Mondays.
The trend of four-day school weeks started in New Mexico during the oil crisis of the 1970s and has been popular in rural states where students have to commute a long way. Other districts have used it as a way to try to fix schools with a long history of poor student performance by shaking up the schedule and giving children more time to study outside of school.
Georgia, Oklahoma and Maine have changed their laws in the last couple of years to allow districts to count their school year by hours rather than days, allowing for a four-day week if needed. Hawaii schools were off every other Friday this year for schools to save money, giving them the state with the shortest school year in the country.
From California to Minnesota to New York, districts — mostly small, rural ones with less than 5,000 students — are following the trend, hoping to rescue their bleeding budgets.
For Peach County, the four-day week was enough of a success that the school district is trying it again next year, Clark said. The move saves $400,000 annually and is popular among teachers and students because they get extra rest, she said
"Teachers tell me they are much more focused because they've had time to prepare. They don't have kids sleeping in class on Tuesday," she said. "Everything has taken on a laser-light focus."
Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Morning Quote 6/2/2010

Good Decisions - Daily Discipline = A Plan without a Payoff
Daily Discipline - Good Decisions = Regimentation without Reward
Good Decisions + Daily Discipline = A Masterpiece of Potential

Maxwell, J. C. (2008). Make today count : the secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda (1st Center Street ed.). New York: Center Street, Hachette Book Group USA. {Page XI}