ATLANTA - Federal officials have approved plans by 26
Georgia school districts participating in the state's "Race to the
The approval means the districts will soon receive their first
infusion of money from the $400 million the state won last year.
Teresa McCartney, who oversees the four-year grant program for
Georgia, said the districts will get about $32 million this year,
much of which is going to teacher training.
Georgia was one of 11 applicants - 10 states and Washington,
D.C. - to win money from the $4 billion "Race to the Top" grant
competition last year. The program is designed to get states to
adopt innovative measures to improve student achievement and turn
around low-performing schools.
ATLANTA - Federal officials have approved plans by 26
ALPHARETTA, Ga.- An accrediting agency has placed Atlanta Public Schools on probation, giving the system nine months to start making improvements.
Mark Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED, said Tuesday the board is "struggling to perform its roles and responsibilities on a day-to-day basis."
Elgart says the decision to place the school system on probation resulted from an onsite investigation and review. The review came after complaints that the board of education was not governing effectively.
Elgart informed the school system of the probation Tuesday morning before a news conference at AdvancED's headquarters.
Elgart stressed that the schools remain accredited during the probation, which applies only to the system's high schools.
"College is no joke," Robert Roddy says to a group of freshmen.
Roddy is a school's college counselor, and he's telling these ninth-graders they need to start planning for college now.
"How many of you see yourself going to college after high school, can I see a show of hands?" Roddy asks the class.
Every arm shoots up. Roddy's job is to help students get into college.
When he's not lecturing a class, he's counseling in his office, or blast e-mailing application, financial aid, and scholarship info to every student in the school, sometimes late at night.
"I think we're doing the best we can with the tools that we have," Roddy says.
The problem is, Roddy is the only college counselor for a school of roughly 3,400 students.
That's a common scenario.
"I'm always asked if I can help a student individually, get into an Ivy or something like that," Roddy says, meaning an Ivy League college, "and I try to help as much as I can, but when given the numbers, I just don't have the time."
The school's principal, Dr. Matthew Welker, says that's simply the fiscal reality of Florida's public schools.
The state barely provides enough money for teachers, let alone guidance counselors, and that's fueling the rise of the private college counselor industry.
There are dozens to choose from on Google or by word of mouth.
"I don't care how great you are as a guidance counselor, it's pretty hard to give one-on-one attention to 3,000 students," says Mandee Adler, a Harvard grad who runs a Broward company called International College Counselors. "As the cost of higher education has gone up and public school dollars have gone down, there's a need for private companies to come in and provide support."
But that support isn't cheap.
Adler charges $5,000 for her services.
What does a parent get for that investment?
Starting from freshman year, Adler's group will help a student pick classes, clubs, summer activities, everything focused on getting that kid into the best possible college for him or her.
That includes the application process and the hunt for financial aid and scholarships.
"The biggest chunk of our work is the application process," Adler says. "You want to go to Harvard, how do you get there? You want to go to Penn, how do you get there? You want to go to UF, how do you get there?"
Lauren Henschel knows how to get to Durham, North Carolina. She just found out she won the college application lottery.
"I'm going to Duke!" the Krop High senior says with a smile she can't suppress.
Lauren's parents hired a private counselor (not Adler's firm) and say it took all the stress out of an extremely anxiety-ridden process.
"It definitely takes the burden off the parents," says Lauren's mom, Nancy Henschel. "For us, it was totally worth the investment."
"I had tons of scholarship applications to work on, she worked with me on everything," Lauren says about her counselor. "If I had done it by myself, I'm not sure it would've gotten done just because it was so much work, and I didn't have to fight with my parents at all, it was perfect."
ATLANTA- Schools across Georgia are bracing for another tough year financially as federal stimulus money dries up and state dollars remain scarce.
Education experts say despite Gov. Nathan Deal's pledge to end furloughs for teachers during his first State of the State address, school districts likely will have to turn to unpaid days off to cope with cuts.
For cash-strapped districts, Deal's budget proposal released this week was a harsh dose of reality with $747 million in possible cuts to programs like school nurses, student busing and other programs.
The state faces a $1 billion budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year. The Republican-controlled Legislature must approve Deal's spending blueprint and will almost certainly make changes during the 40-day legislative session.
SAN FRANCISCO- Civil rights advocates are blasting new federal legislation that allows states to classify teaching interns as "highly qualified teachers" and regularly assign them to schools with mostly poor, minority students.
President Barack Obama signed the amendment to the federal No Child Left Behind Act on Dec. 22 as part of an unrelated federal spending bill.
The measure nullifies an earlier decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that California illegally classified thousands of teaching interns as highly qualified teachers.
The court sided with low-income families who claimed the state was dumping uncredentialed teachers on their schools. That ruling would have required districts to distribute teaching interns more evenly across districts.
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