Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Riley will sign education budget

Not that anyone doubted this would happen...



Governor Riley to Sign Education Budget

PRATTVILLE — Governor Bob Riley will sign the FY 2009 Education Trust Fund budget into law on Thursday, June 12, at 9:30 a.m. at Kiddie College in Prattville. The $6.3 billion dollar budget increases funding for critical programs that Governor Riley has promoted throughout his administration, such as the Alabama Reading Initiative, the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative and ACCESS Distance Learning. The budget also doubles funding for First Class Pre-K, Alabama’s nationally recognized pre-kindergarten program. Kiddie College is one of 85 current First Class Pre-K sites throughout the state.

WHO: Governor Bob Riley, state education officials and legislators

WHAT: Signing the FY 2009 Education Trust Fund budget

WHEN: Thursday, June 11, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Kiddie College, 821 Peachtree Street, Prattville


For more information, contact the Governor’s Press Office at 334-242-7150.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Sorry for the long drought between postings- I took about three days of comp time last week after a very long tough stretch covering the special session in Montgomery.

Some stories I'm working on

- A new candidate has emerged in the race for Anniston City School board. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but I am meeting with someone today to find out more.

- What have changes in the graduation requirements meant for our area seniors? Odds are more are graduating than previously thought thanks to a credit-based diploma.

- A possible story about a curriculum expansion in Jacksonville...

And I'm just getting started. If anyone knows about any good education stories out there, give me a holler.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From an e-mail

Here's what some folks are saying about yesterday's session....

Dysfunctional Senate Kills Ed Budget

Special Session Coming Soon

CLAS Legislative Update

May 20, 2008

Monday the Senate wasted an entire day as Alabama and Auburn lobbyists dug in and killed the education budget. The big universities wrote some big checks to hire lobbyist Joe Fine and even after the House added $25 million in additional appropriations and $25 million in conditional appropriations, the big universities wanted more. Even though Alabama funding for higher education is near the top of the nation, and K12 funding is near the bottom, the big universities wanted more. About 10pm Senate Rules Committee Chairman Lowell Barron tried to get a vote on the budget. After 12 hours of mindless babble by those supporting the big universities, Barron tried to call the question. They needed 18 votes to stop the filibuster and get a chance to vote on the budget—but they fell short by one vote. Those Senators who failed to vote for the budget were Beason, Bishop, Dixon, Erwin, French, Glover, Holley, Marsh, Means, Pittman, Preuitt, Singleton, Smith, and Waggoner. Four members of the Senate did not vote and in so doing doomed the Education Budget. They were Brooks, Butler, Orr and Penn. If any one of these Senators had just voted to stop the filibuster the Budget would have had a chance. It was an ugly end to an ugly session with a disappointing performance by many senators.

Almost every senator claimed he wanted a budget but when the vote was needed only 17 stepped up and voted to do their job—pass a budget. The heroes were Barron, Bedford, Benefield, Coleman, Denton, Figures, Griffith, Lindsey, T Little, Z Little, McClain, Mitchell, Mitchem, Poole, Ross, Sanders, and Smitherman. Once the vote failed to stop the filibuster, Senator Jim Preuitt took control of the microphone and threatened to have the bill read at length. This stalling tactic guaranteed the death of the budget. Preuitt then dragged the proceedings until midnight discussing trivia and those who were “unwilling to compromise”.

The last ten minutes of the session Senator Hank Sanders got a chance to make a few comments and he cut right to the heart of the matter. “I am embarrassed by the way this Senate has let down the children of our state. Higher education always threatens to kill the budget if they don’t get what they want,” Sanders explained to a gallery that had been packed all day with members of the education family. “There is arrogance in paying $44 million to a coach and then killing the entire education budget because you want another $25 million, “” Sanders chastised.

Now the Governor will have to call a special session to get the education budget, and hundreds of non tenured teachers will get pink slips this week and next.

Dr. John Draper
CLAS Executive Director
Montgomery, Alabama
800 239 3616

Education budget and other stories

The Senate failed to pass the $6.3 billion budget over a disagreement about additional funding for colleges and universities. This will put most local school systems in a bind, because they'll have to pink-slip teachers that are non-tenured, and they will inevitably seek other work in Georgia, Mississippi and Florida.

So the question is not really, are you in trouble but, how much trouble are you in? For school system's already facing budgetary woes (Anniston springs to mind) this won't help them at all. Other schools like Oxford will absorb the shock but will still have to crunch the numbers and make it all work, the Oxford Superintendent of Education told me this morning.

Based on what I've read this morning, there's no clue when there will be a special session to work all of this out.

In other non-news stories, I got a nice tour of Oxford Elementary this morning where all of the classroom doors are open and the principal seems to know every child by name.

Donoho School had an event for their ArtShare program. Even though I can't get to the story, I'll be happy to post some pictures.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Follow-up thoughts from Valdosta

I enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the office (ok, flee the office) and go down to Valdosta for Dr. Bill Meehan's interview. I learned a lot about what issues are facing regional universities as they try to fill their niche.

And Meehan was in fact staying across the hall from me. We chatted informally for half an hour Tuesday night and I got a better sense of his thoughts on Alabama education v. Georgia education.

No idea when we'll know more about whether he gets the job- but I will keep you posted.

I should do a story about this .....

CHICAGO (AP) — American children take anti-psychotic medicines at about six times the rate of children in the United Kingdom, according to a comparison based on a new U.K. study.

Does it mean U.S. kids are being over-treated? Or that U.K. children are being under-treated?

Experts say that's almost beside the point, because use is rising on both sides of the Atlantic. And with scant long-term safety data, it's likely the drugs are being over-prescribed for both U.S. and U.K. children, research suggests.

Among the most commonly used drugs were those to treat autism and hyperactivity.

In the U.K. study, anti-psychotics were prescribed for 595 children at a rate of less than four per 10,000 children in 1992. By 2005, 2,917 children were prescribed the drugs at a rate of seven per 10,000 — a near-doubling, said lead author Fariz Rani, a researcher at the University of London's pharmacy school.

The study is being released Monday in the May edition of the journal Pediatrics.

By contrast, an earlier U.S. study found that nearly 45 American children out of 10,000 used the drugs in 2001 versus more than 23 per 10,000 in 1996.

There are big differences that could help explain the vastly higher U.S. rate.

A recent report in The Lancet suggested that the U.K.'s universal health care system limits prescribing practices there. The report also said direct-to-consumer ads are more common in the United States. These ads raise consumer awareness and demand for medication.

While drug company ties with doctors are common in both the U.S. and U.K., Vanderbilt University researcher Wayne Ray said U.K. physicians generally are more conservative about prescribing psychiatric drugs. Ray co-authored the U.S. study, published in 2004.

The new U.K. study, involving 1992-2005 health records of more than 16,000 children, is the first large examination of these drugs in U.K. children. It found the increase was mostly in medicines that haven't been officially approved for kids. They were most commonly prescribed for behavior and conduct disorders, which include attention deficit disorder.

Side effects including weight gain, nervous-system problems and heart trouble have been reported in children using these drugs and there's little long-term evidence about whether they're safe for them, the study authors said.

"This highlights the need for long-term safety investigations and ongoing clinical monitoring," they said, "particularly if the prescribing rate of these medicines continues to rise."

One of the most commonly used anti-psychotics in the U.K. study was Risperdal, a schizophrenia drug that is sometimes used to treat irritability and aggression in autism. Its side effects include drowsiness and weight gain.

Thioridazine, sometimes used to treat hyperactivity in attention deficit disorder, was frequently used early on. Its use decreased after 2000 when a U.K. safety committee warned of heart-related side effects, the authors said.

Reasons for the increases are uncertain but may be similar to those in the United States, such as an increase in autism cases and drug industry influence.

In both countries, the issue isn't simply how many children are getting these drugs, said Dr. David Fassler, a University of Vermont psychiatry professor. "The more important question is whether or not the right kids are getting the most appropriate and effective treatment possible," he said. Fassler wasn't involved in the study.

Dr. William Cooper, a Vanderbilt pediatrician, said the study shows the drugs are being used "without full understanding about the risks."

"I find it really interesting that we're now seeing increases in other countries besides the U.S., which suggests that the magnitude of this issue is global," said Cooper, also an author of the 2004 U.S. study.

On the Net:
American Academy of Pediatrics:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More from Valdosta

I toured more of the campus and spoke to students at Valdosta State University, who were an incredibly friendly and obliging bunch. Everyone was very helpful and had real insights into what was going on- rare when you do man-on-the-street type interviews. Jax-State University President Bill Meehan had his first public forum and I was glad to hear the depth of the questions the faculty asked. They obviously have a vested interest in who gets the job here.

No clue as to what his chances are- today was "dead day" where students were out of class and preparing for final exams. So there wasn't as much student representation as I think some were hoping.

Interesting side note; Dr. Meehan and his wife are staying right across the hall from me in the hotel here. I haven't knocked on the door to verify this, but suspect it will help me if I need to do some late night fact-checking. :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Valdosta State University trip

Dan, this is the artist rendering of the Student Union –let me know if you need photos of anything else on campus

Valdosta State University, like other schools in Georgia, is preparing for an influx of students. The collge expects 16,000 students by 2020 and is in the middle of a $263 million expansion project. It's a bit bigger than Jacksonville State University already and will continue to grow for the next decade or so.

Here's some pictures a took today, as well as a complete rundown of expansion projects at the University from their communications office. VSU building...

Students celebrate last day of classes.

Pictures of new dormitory

The following is an overview of the 3-phase construction ($263 million) In 2004 VSU revised its master plan and embarked on an aggressive campus transformation that includes additional degree programs at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels; major partnerships with local governmental entities, school systems, and the medical community; and a total projected $263 million in capital construction projects, with $47 million from direct state appropriations. The capital construction projects are divided into three phases, all designed to improve campus life and increase density and quality of service. Phase I began in 2004 and was completed by fall 2006. It represented a $36 million comprehensive housing plan that provided new construction of Centennial Hall East and West and total renovation of three existing residence halls. The new residence halls incorporated study areas, classroom space, and music practice areas to enhance the university’s living-learning environment.
With Phase I, the economic impact on two of the residence hall renovations (Patterson and Lowndes) and the Palms Dining renovations generated to a total economic impact of $6.7 million and created 104 new jobs in the Valdosta-MSA.
Phase II began in July 2007 and represents $150 million in projects, including two new residence halls on main campus and renovation of an existing residence hall; an athletic field house; two multi-level parking garages, a new student health center, and a student union. The student union will become the university’s newest signature building and its grand architecture will be visible to students and visitors entering the campus. The student union will complete the Phase II project list, and its design incorporates the current and future facility needs of a growing university, as well as recognizing the academic, cultural, recreational, and social needs of current and future students. The new 120,000 square foot facility will feature a ballroom with seating for 800; theater seating for 350; meeting room space, offices for student organizations, a new bookstore, food court, and administrative offices. Phase III of the transformation will represent one of the most significant advances in VSU’s history, and directly responds to the state of Georgia’s critical need for more healthcare professionals. The new $45 million Health Sciences and Business Administration facility establishes a partnership with South Georgia Medical Center and the region’s medical community that will represent a tremendous economic impact on South Georgia and provide the needed facilities to increase educational opportunities within various health-related areas of study. In addition to this state-of-the-art facility, an additional $30 million in residence halls, dining facilities, and related infrastructure will bring the total cost to more than $75 million. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON CAPITAL PROJECTSResidence Halls (Phase II)Demolition of Hopper Hall began July 2007 and will open in August 2008 with four levels, 513 beds, office space, multi-purpose rooms and even a 24/7 diner. Summer of 2008 will bring the demolition of Georgia Hall, another 200-bed, all-female residence hall. The new Georgia Hall will be an attractive 486-bed facility with additional options. Historic Reade Hall will retain its bed number, yet transformed to an honors hall with expanded footage for public gathering space. Both Georgia and Reade will begin serving students in 2009. Ambling University Development Group has been selected as the developer for all three residence hall projects. This group was also responsible for the renovation projects of Lowndes and Patterson as well as the construction of Centennial Hall. Ambling will use the architectural firm Niles Bolton Associates to design the new Georgia and Hopper Halls and IPG Architects and Planners for the renovations of Reade Hall.
Parking Decks (Phase II)Construction on two multi-level parking decks, one located in the current Oak Street lot and the other in the current Sustella Street lot behind the Student Recreations Center, will begin at the close of the fall 2007 semester. The Sustella Street lot will boast offices for Parking and Transportation, a rental center for Campus Recreation, and a substation for University Police, and Auxiliary Services. The team of Tim Haahs and Cooper Carry, along with local architectural firm McCall & Associates will perform the design work on the parking structures. Student Health Center (Phase II)Farber Health Center serves VSU students with a medical staff consisting of a physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurses, a medical technologist, a pharmacist and office staff. The group of qualified professionals will be able to expand their services with a new facility that will be constructed on Georgia Avenue, next to the current International Programs building. The brand new, state-of-the-art facility will offer 27,185 square feet — a significant increase from the current 6,900 square feet. The highly technical facility will improve the healthcare needs of VSU’s increasing student enrollment. Lott and Barber Architects will serve as the architecture team for the project that will begin at the close of fall semester 2007 and open for the spring term 2009 Student Union (Phase II)The existing union is home to The Loop Pizza Grill, Student Life, the on-campus newspaper and many other offices. It is located in adjacent to the University’s old gym, which houses several athletic offices. Both of these buildings will be demolished and replaced with a new 120,000 square foot student union that will provide an impressive visual presence from Baytree Road for those approaching from Interstate 75. It will hold offices for Student Life, Student Government, Campus Activities Board, the Spectator and the Dean of Students, and it will feature a large ballroom, auditorium, new bookstore, students’ lounge and food court with national known concepts. Ellis Ricket & Associates will collaborate with WTW Architects on the design of the student union project.Athletic Facilities (Phase II)Construction will begin on a new athletic practice facility in November and is expected to be completed by early fall 2008. The first phase will include a parking area and building to house coaches’ offices, a conference room, video editing stations, classrooms, a break room, two computer labs, locker rooms, training rooms and much more. The second phase will establish two football practice fields and a practice soccer field. Health Sciences and Business Administration Facility (Phase III)In looking to address a shortage of professionals in the healthcare industry, VSU is working to establish a health sciences facility that will improve the education of various health-related areas of study. It will be located on North Campus and house a variety of health related departments including the College of Nursing, Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, Communication Disorders, Exercise Physiology and Sports Medicine. The College of Business will also share the new building. This project has an anticipated cost of $47 million that has been endorsed by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, and now awaits state appropriations funding. The total for the North Campus expansion is $72 million with $47 in state funds for the Health Sciences and Business Administration facility and the remainder in student services facilities (housing, dining, etc).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blogging from Valdosta

I'll be leaving bright and early tomorrow morning and head toward Valdosta, Ga., the setting for Jacksonville State University President Bill Meehan's two days worth of public interviews. Expect semi-regular updates and photos about the trip. I'll also be working to knock out some of my other assignments later in the week as well.

If anyone knows where I can get any good food down that way, holler at me on my comments section.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back from the meeting

Joan Frazier is now the permanent superintendent of Anniston City Schools.

In a 4-1 decision the board voted to give Frazier the top job.

And, contrary to my earlier 'spider sense,' there was very little acrimony involved. Vivian Thompson voted no, but there was no heated debate. At the end, some of the parents even gave her a round of applause.

There were some people in that room who weren't happy who talked to me after the meeting, however.

You may think that, being a journalist, we're only happy when people start throwing furniture around at these public meetings. In fact the opposite is the case; we often expect the worst and are pleasantly surprised when the opposite happens.

Tonight was one of those cases.

Spidey sense tingling

Some of you may have read this story about tonight's Anniston Board of Education meeting. Based on some of the rumblings I'm hearing from the community, it should be a hot one.

If the board selects Interim Superintendent Joan Frazier as its permanent superintendent (something similar to what happened 10 years ago with Jan Hurd- which is another story) there are people who are not going to be happy about it. Parents have already expressed frustration that they feel out of the loop on what's going on in their schools. Picking a new leader without involving them in the discussion probably won't make them feel any better, according to one parent I spoke with this morning.

Councilman Ben Little is sending a letter to the school board saying the same thing.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. in the central office at 4804 McClellan Blvd.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Get real paid

I offer this because I couldn't find a place for it in tomorrow's story. Former Anniston Superintendent Sammy Lee Felton, through his attorney, sent the following letter to the Anniston Board of Education regarding how they would pay him the remainder of his contract, which is up next year. It includes an interesting turn of phrase, which I've placed in italics.

BOE Attorney's Response- By letter dated February 8, 2008, a copy of which is attached hereto and incorporated herein as Exhibit “B,” Dr. Felton, through counsel, made demand on the Board for payment of the severance pay due under paragraph 8(f) of the contract in the following terms:

How I want to get paid. There are three outstanding
payments: the February, 2008 pay check, 30 days unused
annual leave, one years salary and benefits.

(1) The February 2008 Paycheck. This payment should be
made by direct deposit to Dr. Felton’s account (that account
into which his checks have been going each month) with all
normal, customary deductions being made and with a check
stub forwarded to him as is normal and customary.

(2) The 30-day annual leave. The payment of the 30 day
annual leave is customary. See, Thursday, May 17, 2007
ACB minutes “Reimbursement for Unused Annual Leave.”
See also, Thursday, July 19, 2007, ACB minutes “Payment of
Annual Leave.” Dr. Felton’s annual leave is to be paid with
only the required deductions withheld and deposited to his
account via direct deposit with a check stub forwarded to him.

(3) His one year salary and benefit should have no
deductions. He will assume responsibility for all taxes. His
salary and benefits include the $9,300.00 employer
contribution to PEEHIP, his retirement benefits including the
11.75% retirement match. His is also due his professional
organization dues and the ordinary and necessary expenses for
attending the professional meetings for the year. You have in
the Board’s records of this historic cost data. The total due
him for the one year salary and benefits without including the
professional dues and convention reimbursement or items (1)
and (2) above is $157,849.11. After establishing professional
dues and necessary expenses for attending professional
meetings for one year, add the amount to the $157,849.11.
This payment should be made by direct deposit with a check
stub forwarded to him.

Please see that these payments are made promptly

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bill Meehan could leave JSU

That's the word- Dr. Bill Meehan, who's been with Jacksonville State University for decades and president since 1999- is entertaining a move to Valdosta State University.

We have the story for free on our Web site.

So what do you think? Should Bill Meehan stay if he gets the offer or should he go? How do you pesonally feel about him leaving?

Please post your thoughts in our comments section.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm back, I'm back

Back from my honeymoon and I'm ready to roll.

While I was away, I received some feedback from my story about Anniston City Schools. (Subscription required.)

Here are two letters I received.

I joined IBM in 1960 and worked for them for 33 years. During the 1960's and 1970's
we could not build new plant sites fast enough to meet the growing demand for computer products.

When opening new plant sites there were several relevant priorities. At the top of the list was the quality of the local school system. Teams from our corporate headquarters would send out employees to investigate the proposed locations.

Anniston is my hometown and after retirement from IBM, I moved back here. In my days of the 1940's attending Anniston High School, it was one of the best state school systems. I was shocked to see how the school system had degraded to one of the worst in the state based on exit exams.

As long as this condition exists, Anniston will struggle to reestablish it's economic vitality.

Van Allen

I enjoyed the article on Sunday. I hope you keep hammering at this issue.

I have 25 years experience as a teacher, coach, administrator in Public Schools. I retired in 1996 and went to work for an educational computer software company. For nine years I traveled to about 20 states, installing student administration software, and training users in the schools and school district offices. I say this to hopefully gain a little credibility.

There are school districts worse than Anniston’s, but it is not a statement of fact to say that all inner city schools are not achieving their potential. In some places, the result of integration and the migration from the cities to the suburbs has left a decaying city with poverty the root cause for poor performing schools. In other locations, through the right leadership, the inner city schools succeed at providing a successful learning environment. It’s all about leadership.

I believe that Anniston’s problems started in the early 70’s when the white flight started. Anniston, over the years, has reinvented its school system several times. Again, in my opinion, the failure was ineffective leadership, both at the school level and within the school district office.

I don’t believe the Anniston City School system can survive the latest failure to provide a learning environment. Part of it is the failure of the school board to set the policies necessary to bring Anniston out of the abysmal public perception it currently has.

The Calhoun County School System has excess capacity. I think the City School Board should petition the federal judge with jurisdiction over the city’s schools to dissolve the city system, close those segregated schools and merge the schools with the county.


Retired Educator

I'd appreciate other reader's thoughts and comments on this issue.

Monday, April 14, 2008

JSU trustees raise tuition

Updated 1:45 p.m.

Tuition for Jacksonville State University undergraduates will go up 12.4 percent beginning this fall, after the JSU Board of Trustees approved the hike at its Monday morning meeting.

The board also approved an 11-percent tuition increase for graduate students and a $50 per-credit-hour charge for distance-learning courses. Residential housing costs will rise 15 percent and the school’s application fee will increase from $20 to $30.

JSU President Bill Meehan said the increases are necessary because of proposed higher education budget cuts being considered by the Legislature. He said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley had proposed a 13.4-percent cut for JSU, which would reduce its funding by nearly $6.6 million.

“We would not be able to meet operating costs without raising tuition,” Meehan said. “We really did not have a choice in this matter.”

The tuition hike means that the cost per credit hour for undergraduates at JSU will rise from $169 to $190. Meehan said the increase will cost less than $85 per month for a student enrolled for 16 semester hours in the fall and spring semesters.

JSU has not raised tuition in two years.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Saks, Alexandria high schools compete in NASA moonbuggy race

Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

ALEXANDRIA — Saks and Alexandria high schools have been rivals in football, baseball and basketball for generations. Now the rivalry has been taken to the moon and back.

Both schools built "moonbuggies" for NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race. The schools not only competed against each other but against more than 50 other teams from North America and Europe.

John Moore, the gifted specialist from Calhoun County Schools who organized the teams, said the racers cheered for each other, but there was an obvious desire to come out on top.

"There was some camaraderie there, even though both schools wanted to whip each other," Moore said.

In the end, Alexandria probably had the edge taking the "Most Unique Buggy" award, but both pedal-powered rovers limped across the finished line with bent or warped rims.

But just finishing was enough to put both local teams above much of their competition. Of the 56 buggies that entered the competition only about 30 reached the finish line, according to Moore.

The simulated craters and obstacles on the course were designed to test the buggies by punishing and at times mangling the steel.

"We were praying just to get over the first one and we were proud of that," said Alexandria junior Morgan Cox, who drove the buggy. "Then we just kept on going."

Full story (paid)

Video: Moonbuggies in Alexandria

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Trantham finalist for teacher of the year


A third-grade teacher at Alexandria Elementary School has been named one of the top four educators in the state, and more awards could be on the way.

The teacher, Amber Trantham, is among the Alabama State Board of Education's "final four" in the teacher of the year running.

The field of 147 nominated teachers was narrowed to 16 in March, with the final four announced Monday.

Trantham and the other finalists will go through a last round of interviews before the winner and alternate are announced on May 7 in Montgomery.

Oxford High School math teacher Deedee Adams also made the state's top 16 list.

Trantham on Monday said that the announcement was a huge honor, considering the quality teachers all over the state. She said the judges seemed to be most interested in her work with students before and after school, and she thinks that is what has pushed her to the top.

"All teachers do the things in the classroom," she said. "We're all completely committed from eight to three."

Full story (paid)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Randolph, Talladega, Clay school closing early for storms

Updated 1:42 p.m.

Several local school systems are dismissing students early this afternoon due to concerns about bad weather.

All Randolph County and Talladega County schools will dismiss at 1:30 p.m.

Clay County schools will dismiss at 1:45 p.m.

Calhoun County and Jacksonville City schools officials said there were no plans to dismiss early. Cleburne County officials said they were considering early dismissal when contacted at 1:30 p.m. today, but had not made a decision.

Storms that caused havoc in Arkansas and elsewhere are moving east through Alabama today and were expected to reach east Alabama by mid-afternoon.

The Star is working to contact other local school systems.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wellborn student earns national merit scholarship


It's a first, as far as June Bentley can tell.

The social studies teacher at Wellborn High School, who has been teaching for 13 years at the school, thinks senior Erica Bell is the only national merit achievement scholar the school has ever had.

Bell is at least the first in recent memory.

"She just looks intelligent," said Bentley, who is teaching Bell economics this year.

On Wednesday Bell was one of 21 public high school African-American students in the state to be recognized for the scholarships, which range from $500 to $10,000 per year, according to a press release.

Full story

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Nightmare or Dream Come True? Computer bug eats Ind. students' grades

I can remember a few times wishing this would have happened to me. I am a little skeptical because this story did come out on April Fool's Day. -aj

Computer bug eats Ind. students' grades

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- A computer malfunction wiped out a month's worth of grades at three high schools and one middle school, giving struggling students a second chance but dismaying others.

The Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp. announced on its Web site that the malfunction occurred during spring break.

Students at Harrison High had mixed reactions, depending on how the second semester was going for them, senior Ibrahim Dughaish said Monday.

"Some are really upset because they worked hard for five weeks," but others saw it as a reprieve, he said.

"My son is an honor roll student and I prefer him keep his grades. He works hard for them," said parent Teresa Hayes.

Full story

Monday, March 31, 2008

Programming note

I will be out of the office starting April 2 because I am getting married on Saturday. There probably will be few or no education blog updates until April 16- but remember, we try to provide information about area schools and educational organizations in one handy index. So I hope you'll take advantage of it if you need it- its on the left-hand side of the blog under the links section.

Hope everyone took note of the the story that ran in today's paper about the state tests.

These are important, ya'll. Like a permanent record, how we'll the kids do on the test sticks with them and the schools.

Principals and assistant principals said parents need to make sure their children:

• Get plenty of sleep (eight to 10 hours, preferably.)

• Eat breakfast.

• Get to school on time.

Just a friendly reminder, though I'm sure most of you knew that. I'm working on a Sunday story about the Anniston Schools and a piece about security at JSU for when I leave.

Take care. See you in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Last night's meeting

If one thing is clear from Anniston's cost-cutting meeting last night it's this: there is no one solution. I've been working on a larger story concerning economic development and how it relates to the schools; the story will also examine what the picture looks like as we approach elections this summer. A letter in today's speakout, by Rose Munford- a concerned parent whose daughter recently graduated Anniston High School- surprised me...

Re "Report details 9 standards violations" (News story, March 15):

This story is very disturbing. What role did the five elected Anniston City School Board members play in the forming of the policies, procedures and overall management of the Anniston City Schools?

Former Superintendent Sammy Felton's management style existed through the majority voting approval of its elected board members. It is unfair for the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges report to document a majority of the findings against the former chief administrator and not hold the Anniston City School Board members equally responsible for the failures in their findings.

The superintendent did not hire himself to his position, nor did he make any decisions, recommendations, policies, procedures or rulings without the approval of the board. Who does the superintendent work for? Is it not for the Anniston Board of Education?

If six of the nine violations of the SACS standards shall be documented against the "chief administrator of the system," it should also reflect that the board be responsible for six of the violations, as well.

What a loss it would be to lose the only public high school in the "Model City." Maybe it is time to start considering merging the Anniston City School System into the Calhoun County School System so that money and our children can be saved!

Rose Munford

I wonder how the other parents feel....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lineville assistant principal killed while hunting

THE STAR- An assistant principal at the Lineville elementary and high schools, who also was a former Ashland City Council member, died in a hunting accident over the weekend, the Clay County coroner said Monday.

Charles Gerald "Gerry" Elliott Jr., 39, was turkey hunting early Saturday when he tried to climb a barbed-wire fence and slipped, Coroner Dale Rush said.

Rush said it looked like a wire came loose and Elliott's shotgun discharged, hitting him in the chest. Rush said officials may never know exactly how it happened.

The details were still under investigation, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Department.

All Clay County schools will dismiss at noon today so students and faculty can attend the funeral, Superintendent Ben Griffin said.

Read the rest of the story here.

Pair of local teachers among finalists for award

THE STAR- Two local teachers are on a short list of finalists for Alabama's Teacher of the Year award, the Alabama Department of Education reported Monday.

Amber Trantham, a third-grade teacher at Alexandria Elementary School and Deedee Adams, a math teacher at Oxford High School, made the department's "sweet 16" list of educators from around the state.

Get reactions from the teachers here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Stories I'm working on

A feature obituary of Lineville High School/Elementary School Assisstant Principal who died in a hunting accident over the weekend.

Also, two local teachers are among a "Sweet 16" list for Alabama Teacher of The Year.

Also, check out this cool link my editor Bob Davis sent me. It shows how Alabama's schools stack up to our neighbors and the nation. I've added the link to our helpful links section in this blog (its on the left-hand side, toward the bottom.)

Education stories

The beat goes on, as they say. Here are a few stories I published last week.

Local school boards working out boundary dispute

THE STAR-Jacksonville City Schools officials say 14-year-old Cody Chapman belongs at White Plains High; the Calhoun County Board of Education, which runs White Plains, says he belongs at Jacksonville High.

Each school system has a different map showing who is responsible for educating the children who live on Scotty Lane.

For now, Cody will have to live with the uncertainty while finishing out the school year at Jacksonville. Jacksonville Superintendent Eric Mackey, who agreed to enroll him in the Jacksonville system for the time being, and County Superintendent Judy Stiefel say they are working on a solution.

Both say it's an uncommon case.

"We've got two months of school left," Stiefel said. "We don't need to be redistricting kids in the last two months of school."

Cody's father, Robert, moved to Scotty Lane on March 1. He said neither White Plains High nor Jacksonville High would agree to enroll Cody, causing him to miss a week of school.

Read more about that here.

No movement in superintendent search

THE STAR-In the seven months after the Anniston Board of Education fired Superintendent Sammy Lee Felton, the board has not begun looking for his permanent replacement.

Interim Superintendent Joan Frazier's contract will be up at the end of June; board elections are in August.

As of Friday there were no clear answers about the board's plan for a search and no explanation for the delay.

School Board President Nathaniel Davis said the board would talk about the job opening at its 6 p.m. Tuesday work session on cutting costs. He offered no reason why the board has not addressed it until now.

Learn more about this issue here.

Calhoun County BOE discusses nonprofit for art

THE STAR-Wendy Chapman, a third-grade teacher at White Plains Elementary School, uses art to help children visualize concepts in science.

Wednesday, the children broke out their Crayolas and drew landforms such as mountains and volcanoes.

"There is not a lot of tie-in for art when it's not connected to what we're studying in class," Chapman explained.

Like other elementary schools in the county, White Plains is left to its own devices when it comes to teaching children about art and music. There is zero instruction in foreign languages, Principal Joe Dyar said.

And like school systems across the country, White Plains and the rest of Calhoun County's schools face twin pressures of limited financial resources and increased need to show their students can perform on math and reading tests.

That often squeezes out such subjects as the arts and foreign languages.

But an idea borrowed from higher education could help expand local elementary schools' offerings.

The county school board used a recent work session to talk about creating a non-profit group to better fund arts, music and language education in the schools.

Hear more about this idea here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Study: 'Flutie Effect' more than a myth

AP Photo

As a big sports fan this is interesting to me. I admit that I never would have hear about Gonzaga, Xavier or Drake if it wasn't for picking them in my March Madness bracket every year. -aj

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Turns out there's some basis for the long-held belief among college admissions officials that the better their schools' teams do in high-profile sporting events, the more applications they'll see.

Until recently, evidence about the "Flutie Effect" - coined when applications to Boston College jumped about 30 percent in the two years after quarterback Doug Flutie's Hail Mary pass beat Miami in 1984 - had been mostly anecdotal.

So two researchers set out to quantify it, concluding after a broad study that winning the NCAA football or men's basketball title means a bump of about 8 percent, with smaller increases the reward more modest success.

"Certainly college administrators have known about this for a while, but I think this study helps to pin down what the average effects are," said Jaren Pope, an assistant professor in applied economics at Virginia Tech who conducted the study with his brother Devin, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

The brothers compared information on freshman classes at 330 NCAA Division I schools with how the schools' teams fared from 1983 through 2002.

Full story

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

stories I'm working on

Tomorrow morning I'll visit McClellan and see an event coordinated by the Calhoun County Extension Office in honor of Earth Day.

Today, I'm working on a story about arts education in local elementary schools. I visited White Plains Elementary School and talked with some of the other principals at other county schools- all of which have been extremely positive, professional and helpful.

Look for that tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two stories dealing with the Felton fallout

Felton sues Anniston Board of Education

THE STAR-Former Anniston schools superintendent Sammy Lee Felton is suing the city's school board for firing him, The Star learned Monday.

According to court documents filed Thursday, Felton alleges he has not been paid one years' salary and benefits to which he says his contract entitles him as severance pay. Felton asks the court to make the school board pay him $250,000, plus additional money for interest, cost and attorneys fees.

The lawsuit says the Anniston City Board of Education gave Felton no reason for putting him on administrative leave last year. Felton's firing came after he and the board could not resolve a dispute over whether to rehire an assistant principal at Anniston High School.

You can read the rest of that story and see a copy of Felton's contract here.

Here's one looking at Felton's recent history with the school board.

Anniston BOE extended Felton's contract after teachers' complaints

THE STAR-In 2005, the Anniston school board unanimously voted to extend Superintendent Sammy Lee Felton's contract.

In 2007, the board fired him.

Last week, interim Superintendent Joan Frazier released a report showing multiple violations of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) standards at Anniston High School. The report says many of the violations were the result of Felton's management style, including a habit of not seeking input from school-level administrators, teachers, parents and the community.

SACS was not the first group to raise such concerns about the superintendent.

Read more of the story and read the SACS report here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Report details 9 standards violations

THE STAR- A report compiled by an independent school-accrediting team details a number of problems at Anniston High School, and says many stemmed from the management style of former Superintendent Sammy Lee Felton.

Interim Superintendent Joan Frazier released the report Friday.

The report, compiled by a review team for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, lists nine violations of SACS standards for high schools.

Read more of that story and read the report here.

And dont' forget about....

Event raised money for Relay for Life

THE STAR-Philip Jenkins, a math teacher at Oxford Middle School, can recite some of it to the Brady Bunch Theme. Hannah Galloway, an eighth-grade math student, can recite it to 60 places, without theme music.

Pi, the mathematical symbol defined as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, begins with "3.14" and trails off into infinity.

But pie, the cream-filled kind, provided a short-term thrill Friday. It was, by no coincidence, March 14, or the 14th day of the third month of the year (think 3.14).

The school divided students into five teams. Each raised money for Relay for Life, an annual event to help fund cancer research, by voting for which teacher they would most like to see hit in the face with a pie.

Read more about that here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Status report

Thanks to all the school employees who helped me with my stories this week; I came down with an illness Wednesday and on Thursday found myself way behind on everything. Your prompt responses and professionalism was appreciated.

I have a story coming out tomorrow about Anniston High School which should interest more than a few people.

Went to Oxford Middle School for their homage to Pi and Pie. It was a lot of fun.

I'll post stories and their links soon...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Saks High School

Had a job shadower follow me today as I interviewed Lisa Amerson, the technology director for Calhoun County Schools. She recently received an award for her work. Expect that story to run later in the week.

The computer lab reeked of mildew from the recent storm damage- but the computers were ok, she said.

I'm also working on a story examining why Anniston has higher legal fees than other local school systems, according to the Alabama School Journal.

Jacksonville and Anniston discuss delayed report cards

As some of you in education circles are aware, the state department allowed the area Superintendents to sign off on every piece of data contained in the massive annual data compilation known as school report cards. Some schools, including Annistion and Jacksonville, were held up- and J-Ville has gotten the state to take their's down because of faulty data. (It was still removed this morning.)

But we have the data and published some of it in today's paper- here's the story.

Anniston, Jacksonville discuss report cards

THE STAR- School report card information for 2006-07 is out for two Calhoun County systems that had delayed release of the cards over one issue: highly qualified teachers.

Both systems disputed the information the state showed them before it printed the cards. The state allowed superintendents in each system to sign off on the cards before they were made public.

Anniston City Schools saw a dramatic gain in the number of highly qualified teachers at its high school and a substantial gain at the middle school.

Jacksonville City Schools Superintendent Eric Mackey says the state Education Department reported inaccurate information on highly qualified teachers at Jacksonville High. In response, the department removed Jacksonville's report card from its Web site.

Both systems initially would not sign off on release of the report cards because they disputed the state's count of the number of "highly qualified" teachers in their schools.

Read more here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Story in today's paper

Schools look at ways to keep teachers in class

THE STAR-Two local school boards are exploring plans to keep teachers in the classroom.

A recent study, which showed a link between declining student achievement and teacher absences, says that one of the plans on the table — paying teachers who do not use personal leave or sick days — can help.

The August 2007 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that 10 days of teacher absences reduces student achievement in math.

The study cites other studies that show the rate of teacher absences drops when schools offer bonuses for not using leave.

Read more here.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Here's a couple of stories that ran over the weekend.

Weaver Elementary School serves breakfast to moms, dads

THE STAR- On Thursday, the school served muffins to the moms. On Friday, it was doughnuts for the dads.

Every parent who visited their kids for an hour at Weaver Elementary School this week said it was time well-spent.

The school celebrated the National Education Association's "Read Across America" event with an open-house for moms and dads. After breakfast the parents visited their children's classrooms.

Read more here.

There's a cool video that went with this next story, with good job of editing by Brandon Wynn, in our online department. It's on the Web page linked below..

'Math in Motion' visits Saks Elementary

THE STAR- Writing about music, as some clever wag once put it, is like dancing about architecture.

But dancing about math may have its uses.

The Children's Dance Foundation of Birmingham performed "Math in Motion" for Saks Elementary School students Friday. The show illustrates such concepts as rhythm and symmetry through dance set to music.

Read the rest of the story and check out the video here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Here's one that'll inspire parents...

I should've gone to Brazilian law school....

Brazilian boy, 8, passes law school entrance exam

AP- Brazil's lawyers have been shocked to find that a boy aged eight has managed to pass the entrance exam to law school.

The Bar Association said the achievement of Joao Victor Portellinha should be taken as a warning about the low standards of some of Brazil's law schools.

"If this is confirmed, the Education Ministry should immediately intervene ... to investigate the circumstances of this case," said the association's president in Goias state, Miguel Angelo Cancado.

Joao Victor is still in fifth grade, two levels ahead of normal for his age, but his mother says he is not a cloistered genius. "He is a regular boy," she told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. "He is very dedicated, likes to read and study, but he has fun and makes friends."

The Universidade Paulista, a multi-campus private university, said yesterday that the boy would not be enrolling any time soon: he still has to graduate from high school.

Still, the school said the "student's performance, considering his age and level of education, was good, especially in the essay test, which revealed his good capacity to express himself and handle the language."

"My dream is to be a federal judge," the boy said, according to Globo TV's Web site. "So I decided to take the test to see how I would do ... it was easy. I studied a week before the test."

Brazil requires every student to take an entrance exam before being admitted to college. Each university administers its own test, and the exams from private institutions are usually considered to be easier than those of public universities, which are free and attract many more candidates.

University officials said they could not release figures on the number of people who pass and fail the law school entrance exam.

As a former colony, Brazilian civil law is largely based on that of Portugal with statutes derived from the Romano-Germanic legal tradition, but has been amended to include some precedent-based common law.

Stories in today's paper

Jax State business school top ranked for women

THE STAR- The first thing visitors to Jacksonville State University's business school see is a mosaic profile of a naked man.

He's part of a large mural in the lobby. He drinks from the fountain of knowledge.

Women were once scarce in business schools and the business world.

It's different now, professors at the business school say.

Today many of JSU's top business professors are women, like many of the school's students.

According to a recent report by the Princeton Review, JSU is one of the top 10 business schools in the country providing the "greatest opportunity for women."

Read more here.

Area students take graduation exam

THE STAR- After 12 years in school, it all comes down to one test.

High school students spent the last week taking the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. It's a test that every student must pass before they can receive a high school diploma.

The test is 100 percent multiple choice and covers five subjects — reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies.

It's written at an 11th grade level and given to sophomores, juniors and seniors.

With the stakes so high, the test wears on the nerves of some.

Read more here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Weaver Elementary and other things

I missed the good sausage biscuit breakfast at Oxford High School this morning. Being new to the beat, I couldn't find my way into the cafeteria. By the time I got there the students were being locked down for Graduation Exam testing.

Shot on over to Weaver Elementary and chatted with the parents there about a special "Muffins for Moms" breakfast. I had forgotten, being a grownup with no children, how good it feels when your parents come and see you at school. The parking lot was jam-packed, by the way. I think I parked near a ditch somewhere.

They're doing the "Donuts for Dads" thing tomorrow---mmmmm, donuts.

I am working on a couple of stories for the weekend and Monday- Teacher Absenteeism- how big a problem is it in Calhoun County and how does it affect student preformance? A recent study suggests a definite negative impact- and points out some of the remedies that are being considered by our local school boards.

Tommorrow, I'm going to hang out at Saks Elementary to watch and film a dance troupe. Should be neat.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

State of the work week

Finished my work on a story about opportunities for women in the business college at Jacksonville State University. I appreciated all of the wonderful sources that took time out of their day to help me put it together. The art (the photo, I mean) looks good, too.

I have been told it will run Friday, major disasters notwithstanding.

Did some preliminary work for a Sunday story I hope will run sometime in the next couple of months. It explores the relationship between Anniston City Council and the Anniston City School system.

Tomorrow morning, I'm planning trips to Oxford High School and Weaver Elementary School. The High Schools are taking graduation exams and Weaver will have an event for the parents of the students there.

Another day another field trip.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

OMA meeting and JSU field trip

Every day is a field trip on my job- my first big meeting was with Calhoun County School's Superintendent Judy Stiefel, Board Chairman Tom Young, and their attorney on the open meetings act. I felt some extra clarity was needed because the board has held closed-door meetings, known as executive sessions, for the last two meetings, I think.

There is nothing improper about what the board's been doing, as best I can tell. I just wanted more clarity on the reasons behind these meetings so I will be able to better explain them to my readers. We also talked about a story I'm working on regarding teacher absences and chatted about the roof at Saks High School. (NO, they still don't know what it costs yet. I'll keep you posted.)

Next, I went to JSU's business college where I talked with women students and faculty about the role they play there. The story should run Thursday.

Please feel free to comment or e-mail me at for any news tips or information you may have.

Celebrating Seuss: Children's author's birthday honored by local students

THE STAR-They would read them on a train. They would read them in the rain.

They do like books, Sam I Am. They dig books like "Green Eggs and Ham."

Elementary school students at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School flexed their mental muscles Monday as part of "Read Across America," a national event promoted by the National Education Association. In addition to celebrating their love of reading, children also gave props to the original rhyme meister, Dr. Seuss.

Read more here.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A closer look at AMSTI

Local schools learn new tricks in Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative

The Star- Brigett Vernon's second grade class at Jacksonville's Kitty Stone Elementary learned about balance and weight Friday; but they didn't get it from a textbook.

The school, which is part of the statewide Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative (AMSTI), learned about balance by sitting on their hands and knees. They played with colored blocks and a tiny "see-saw" balanced on a fulcrum.

"They get to make discoveries on their own," Vernon said.

Seven more county schools will soon be making discoveries of their own. This week, AMSTI announced a list of additional K-12 schools that will receive the specialized science and math training.

Read more here.

Oxford BOE met

I just got back from the Oxford school board meeting and found out some exciting news about a building project there.

Of course, you can only find the details on The Star's Web site. So be sure to check the "since this morning" section for a quick update.

On a personal note, there's not enough coffee in the world to make me fully coherent for a 7 a.m. meeting. Makes me glad I didn't chose a career as a farmer...

Friday, February 29, 2008


Seven local schools were recently added to the list of schools participating in the Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative. (AMSTI) I'm working on a piece exploring the program's impact in Calhoun County.

ON Anniston BOE matters, there's a new cost-cutting committee of sorts, trying to figure out how to build up Anniston's reserve account. I'm getting all of the important details from Interim Superintendent Joan Frazier and Board President Nathaniel Davis.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

County BOE meeting tonight

There's a county BOE meeting tonight at 4 p.m. Additionally, the good folks over at Saks High let me and one of our job-shadower candidates tour the storm damage there. There was visible water damage on the ceiling tile and everything was shrouded in a black tarp, in dark rooms.

Still no word on what fixing that will cost, but hopefully the BOE will illuminate us a bit at tonight's meeting.

For Friday, I'm working on a story about whether Jacksonville State University could save money by outsourcing some of its personnell. JSU already outsources its food service and book store...what else could be on the table?

Why did some schools get more grant money and others get less?

The Star- The state of Alabama gave out millions in grant money to public schools and libraries this year, but two local legislators say political interests muddied the process.

Additionally, a communication error might have caused some local school systems to apply for less money than they could have received.

Some school systems in other counties got much more money than Calhoun County's local K-12 schools when the state Education Department announced the millions in grants this month.

Read more here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Press Release: Weaver student nominated for U.S. Military Academy

From the Office of Richard Shelby

WASHINGTON, D. C. Wednesday, February 13, 2008--- U. S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today applauded a Calhoun County student who was nominated to the United States Service Academies. The service academies include the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

“Furthering one’s education at our nation’s service academies is remarkable,” said Shelby. “These students have shown exemplary performance in the classroom and in their extracurricular activities. The selection process for the academies is extremely competitive, and I am pleased to be able to nominate a student from East Alabama.”

Service academy nominees must be residents of Alabama and must complete the required ACT and SAT exams. Applicants are also required to provide letters of recommendation, their school transcript, completed medical examination and the required application form.

The following East Alabama student has been nominated:

Elizabeth Allison, daughter of Lacy and Petra Allison of Weaver, and a student at Weaver High School, has been nominated to attend the U.S. Military Academy.

Although Senator Shelby nominated this student, the academy to which she was nominated will make the final selection.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Press Release: More Education Pays Off; As Does Certain Fields of Training

This is from the Census Bureau:

The field of training can sometimes have as dramatic an effect on
earnings as the level of education, according to a series of data tables
the U.S. Census Bureau released today.

Workers who held vocational certificates in engineering averaged about
$3,880 a month, which is nearly the same as those with bachelor's degrees
in natural science. Likewise, those with associate's degrees in computers
averaged about $3,760 a month, which is close to those with bachelor's
degrees in education or social science.

The tables, What It’s Worth: Field of Training and Economic Status in
2004, examine the relationship between field of training for post-secondary
degree holders and monthly earnings. They also present data on the average
years taken to start and complete various degrees and on occupation of
workers by educational attainment and field of degree.

Other highlights:

· Business was a popular field of training in 2004, as 8.6 million
people held bachelor's degrees, 3.9 million earned associate's degrees and
2.7 million received advanced degrees in this field. Those with
bachelor's degrees in engineering earned an average of $5,992 a month.

· People who pursued higher degrees often spent more than the minimum
number of years to complete the degree or certificate. On average,
students took more than a year to complete vocational programs,
more than four years to complete associate's degrees and more than five
years to complete bachelor's degrees.

· Women earned less than men at every degree level. The female-to-male
average monthly earnings ratio for full-time workers 18 and
older in 2004 was 0.71 for women who held bachelor’s degrees
and 0.67 for women with master's, doctorate or professional
degrees. The ratios were not statistically different from one
another at these levels of education

- X -

These data were collected from June 2004 through September 2004 in the
Survey of Income and Program Participation. As in all surveys, these data
are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For further information on
the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard
errors and confidence intervals, go to

Friday, January 11, 2008

Some random (but interesting) facts from the Census Bureau

Detailed tables:

One-Third of Young Women Have Bachelor’s Degrees

About 33 percent of young women 25 to 29 had a bachelor’s degree or more
education in
2007, compared with 26 percent of their male counterparts, according to
tabulations released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The series of tables, Educational Attainment in the United States: 2007,
showed that
among adults 25 and older, men remain slightly more likely than women to
hold at least a bachelor’s degree (30 percent compared with 28 percent).
However, as the percentage for women rose between 2006 and 2007 (from 27
percent), it remained statistically unchanged for men.

The tables also showed that more education continues to pay off in a big
way: Adults with advanced degrees earn four times more than those with less
than a high school diploma.
Workers 18 and older with a master’s, professional or doctoral degree
earned an average of $82,320 in 2006, while those with less than a high
school diploma earned $20,873.

Other highlights:

-- In 2007, 86 percent of all adults 25 and older reported they had
completed at least high school and 29 percent at least a bachelor=s degree.

-- More than half of Asians 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or more
(52 percent), compared with 32 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 19 percent
of blacks and 13 percent of Hispanics.

-- The proportion of the foreign-born population with a bachelor’s degree
or more was 28 percent, compared with 29 percent of the native population.
However, the proportion of naturalized citizens with a college degree was
34 percent.

-- Workers 18 and older with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of
$56,788 in 2006, while those with a high school diploma earned $31,071.

-- Among those whose highest level of education was a high school diploma
or equivalent, non-Hispanic white workers had the highest average earnings
($32,931), followed by Asians ($29,426) and blacks ($26,268). Average
earnings of Hispanic workers in the same group ($27,508) were not
statistically different from those of Asian or black workers.

-- Among workers with advanced degrees, Asians ($88,408) and non-Hispanic
whites ($83,785) had higher average earnings than Hispanics ($70,432) and
blacks ($64,834).

The package contains a series of data tables on educational trends and
attainment levels. Data are shown by characteristics, such as age, sex,
race, Hispanic origin, marital status, labor force status, occupation,
industry and nativity.

The data are from the 2007 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and
Economic Supplement, which is conducted in February, March and April at
about 100,000 addresses nationwide.


Statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling
error. For more information on the source of the data and accuracy of the
estimates, standard errors and confidence intervals, go to Appendix G of

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Boy glues hand to bed to avoid school

This is funny stuff.

On a separate note, Steve has moved on to another newspaper, like he wrote in his post. We are re-shuffling the beats and should be back on track in about a week. In the meantime be sure to check our main page at -aj

MEXICO CITY - A 10-year-old Mexican boy dreaded returning to school after Christmas break so much that he glued his hand to his bed. Sandra Palacios spent nearly two hours Monday morning trying to free her son Diego's hand with water, oil and nail polish remover before calling authorities, police chief Jorge Camacho told The Associated Press from outside the northern city of Monterrey.

"I didn't want to go to school because vacation was so much fun," Reforma newspaper quoted the boy as saying.

Full story