Phillips Academy Andover looks more like a college campus than a traditional high school. Of course, it is one of the nation’s most prestigious college-prep boarding schools.
It’s also where one graduate of the Knowledge Is Power Program in Oklahoma City will head this month to continue her studies.
Alexis Walker was accepted to the school in Andover, Mass., which happens to be my husband’s hometown. He attended the town’s public high school, but he still showed me the boarding school from the outside during one of my visits.
A few interesting facts he shared with me about the campus: It’s where high-profile people like Presidents George W. Bush and John F. Kennedy, Jr., as well as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick went to school. It’s also where Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe is buried.
Four of Walker’s classmates also were accepted to selective boarding schools, KIPP spokeswoman Mautra Jones said.
From left to right: Annetta O’Leru, Karice King, Kadijah Newton, Christian Walker and Alexis Walker.
-Annetta O’Leru, St. George’s in Newport, R.I.
-Karice King, Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Ill.
-Kadijah Newton, Chatham Hall in Chatham, Va.
-Christian Walker, The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn.
The students all received scholarships worth $35,000 or more per year to attend. Jones said 29 students have received almost $2.5 million in scholarships to boarding and private high schools since 2006 when KIPP graduated its first class.
You’ve heard of the “Party School” rankings that list college campuses reputed for wild, drunken debauchery.
But have you heard of the “Stone-Cold Sober Schools” ranked by Princeton Review?
Here are the top 20 tee-totaling colleges, based on a survey of 120,000 students.
1. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
2. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.
3. U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn.
4. College of the Ozarks, Point Lockout, Mo.
5. Grove City College, Grove City, Pa.
6. U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
7. U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.
8. Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.
9. Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif.
10. Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.
11. U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
12. Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga.
13. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, Mass.
14. City University of New York-Queens College, Flushing, N.Y.
15. Webb Institute, Glen Cove, N.Y.
16. Berea College, Berea, Ky.
17. Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Ga.
18. City University of New York-Baruch College, New York.
19. Simmons College, Boston.
20. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Do you have any schools to add, to either category?
Less than 1 percent of public school students in Oklahoma attend charter schools, and Oklahomans make up less than half a percent of the nation’s total population of charter students.
But there were still 4,708 students enrolled in charters here last year — more than 4,000 students to whom charters do matter.
That figure is according to the new Annual Survey of America’s Charter Schools by The Center for Education Reform.
Jeanne Allen, the center’s president, calls the results “educational for the uninitiated, solace for the skeptics and fodder for the fans.”
So whether you find this information to be educational, solace or fodder, here are some highlights:
- -There are 1.2 million students in about 4,100 charter schools nationwide. There are about 4,700 students in 15 charters in Oklahoma.
-Demand is growing, based on the size of wait lists that grew 33 percent over the previous year. However, growth dipped for the first time ever due to caps in some states.
-Charter schools operate with less public funding than regular schools.
-About 40 percent of charters serve majority-minority populations.
-A sampling of state data shows charter schools consistently outperform their conventional counterparts. (Locally, Dove Science Academy, a charter school in Oklahoma City, has the highest API score in the state.)
And while the report did not draw the conclusion that all schools should be able to close the racial achievement gap because charter schools are raising minorities’ performance, others have used this type of data to make that argument.
That thought reminded me of something a presenter said at the Hechinger Institute seminar I attended earlier this month in New York.
Professor Douglas Ready said that there is a selection bias in play, that the low-income, single-parent, minority children in the charter schools are not the same as the low-income, single-parent, minority children in traditional schools.
Their parents are in some way different in that they found reason and time to take a proactive stance in enrolling their children in such a school, Ready said.
Share your thoughts on charter schools in the comment section below.
DARE — To Keep Kids Off Drugs!
I had the shirt with the slogan splashed across the front in bright red letters.
I had the round black button that said the same thing.
I can still hear the stern voice repeating it in commercials.
Because in the fifth grade, I was a graduate of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in a Texas school.
My husband, who’s from Massachusetts, also remembers going through the program when he was younger, and went on to be a DARE student teacher.
I reported on the program in today’s Oklahoman, and on the controversy over whether it’s effective.
Did you go through DARE? Did your children? Most importantly, do you think the program does what its name claims: help keep kids off drugs?
Oklahoma State University has launched a new marketing campaign with a catchy slogan: INNOVATE – CREATE – EDUCATE – GO STATE.
Frankly, all those “ates” have me craving some Hideaway Pizza or Eskimo Joe’s cheese fries: all things I shouldn’t CONTEMPLATE.
OSU says the new tag line builds on the momentum created from “the STATE’s university” campaign launched several years ago.
What do you think? What other slogans would you NOMINATE for OSU or any other university?
Let me know here.
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
When New Yorkers say that 90 degrees is sweltering, I’ll no longer look at our weather map of triple-digit temperatures and scoff.
Here, we go from an air conditioned house to an air conditioned car to an air conditioned workplace.
In New York City at an education seminar this past weekend, I went from an air conditioned hotel to a subway station more appropriately referred to as a sauna, then up the stairs to conquer a few more blocks of pavement before reaching my air conditioned destination.
All with my laptop bag on my shoulder. So heat is all relative. This is one of the things I learned at the Hechinger Institute’s seminar for new education reporters.
Lifestyle differences aside, I learned an incredible amount about reporting on education. I was an eager student for three days, absorbing everything I could from the speakers and taking copious notes for everything I could possibly need to review later on.
I want to share a few interesting notes with you.
Oklahoma singled out
First, Oklahoma got a shout-out in a session about prekindergarten.
Albert Wat with Pre-K Now cited the Sooner State in his presentation for having at least 70 percent of eligible students enrolled statewide. We’re one of only three states (Georgia and Florida are the others) to enroll more than 50 percent of all 4-year-olds.
He specifically talked about Tulsa, where a study showed that all races of students gained from one year of enrollment, and noted that Oklahoma pre-K teachers are paid equivalent to K-12 teachers, which he said doesn’t often happen.
A few degrees of separation
There was another Oklahoma tie in the presentation about academic rigor, even if by a stretch.
One of the two presenters was Jerry Weast, superintendent of Montgomery County Schools.
If that school district sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the last place John Porter worked before moving from Maryland to Oklahoma for his abbreviated tenure as superintendent of Oklahoma City schools.
Working in uni(s)on
Another highlight was hearing from Randi Weingarten, who was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers just five days earlier.
Weingarten advocated for “real collaboration” — politically and practically.
Politically, that means doing reform with teachers, not to teachers, she said. And practically, she’d like to see a collaboration of services that put after-school enrichment, medical clinics and parent help in the school building.
‘Physicians of the mind’
During the Q&A afterward, I asked Weingarten what she thought the union’s role is in recruiting enough teachers in the first place.
“In this instance, money does matter a lot,” she answered. After boosting starting teacher salaries in New York City by more than $5,000 in 2005, the hiring halls were filled and the number of uncertified teachers fell from 17 to 2 percent, she said.
Teachers want to be treated as professionals in their quest to better the lives of their students and the institutions in which they work, she said, adding that “teachers are physicians of the mind.”
I’m thankful for the opportunities I had to learn from and network with experts and colleagues across the nation, and I can’t wait to start putting all my newfound story ideas and tips to work.
It was all made possible by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Columbia University’s Teachers College, which is supported by various philanthropies, including the well known Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Oh, and I’m also thankful I won’t have to wait in underground, un-air conditioned subway stations again any time soon.
I wrote a story for Monday’s paper about what Vinita’s Hall-Halsell Elementary School is doing to maximize the time in the school day.
Hall-Halsell Principal Cathy Williams provided a local perspective on what other schools can expect from time reform efforts in the coming year. But what about a national perspective?
“Oklahoma is part of a growing national movement to rethink the way that time is being used in schools,” said Leigh Hopkins, national network director for the National Center on Time & Learning.
“When you look at time reform as a whole — a longer school year or a longer school day — there are examples of more than 1,000 schools across the country that have added more time in one way or another,” she said.
The Boston-based center developed the free, online and exclusive-to-Oklahoma time assessment tool that Sooner schools must use this year.
Hopkins said the result of such efforts is that test scores go up, teachers have more time to work together, outside organizations forge stronger partnerships and parents are happy because their children have time for more electives and experiences.
Hopkins also was a part of presentations on the subject this month at the State Department of Education’s annual leadership conference.
The teachers and superintendents who attended seemed receptive to the plans, she said.
Added Hopkins: “We actually had a few people come up to us and say, ‘It’s about time.’ ”
Do you think it’s time for a change? Share your thoughts with others here on NewsOK’s Education Station.
Oh, and speaking of time, I’ve been away for a few days at a seminar in New York for education reporters. Check back for my next posting about the highlights of my trip, from the subway to the speakers.
During each school board meeting, Springer wants time set aside for a “superintendent’s report” – which he says he’ll use to tell the public about what he’s been doing around the district. Springer said he requested this time and received unanimous support from the board members.
“We need to be transparent,” Springer said, during his first report to the board. “We want to cause everybody to rally around the students. . . My politics, my agenda is to make sure every child gets a quality education.”
School board chairman Al Basey applauded Springer’s work during his first six days in the superintendent’s role, calling him “the greatest advocate of employees and kids we’ve ever had in our district.”
As Springer was introduced during the meeting, he received a lively applause from parents and community members in the audience.
Springer appeared enthused about his new role – describing with excitement the various things he’s done during his brief time with the district: media interviews, visits to schools and speaking at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
As several parents and family members of Classen SAS students spoke about the administration issues at the school, Springer sat attentively and seemed interested and responsive in the parents’ feedback.
** Also featured on NewsOK’s intern blog.
A school district in southern Mississippi has banned teachers from texting or communicating with students through Internet social network sites such as MySpace.
Lamar County school board members say casual contact between teachers and students is unprofessional.
What do you think? Is this a good policy, or do you think these methods of communications are OK? How do you think teachers and students should communicate in this high-tech era?
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
And he’s packed some good tunes for the ride.
Benton is driving his 2008 Mustang Bullitt along Route 66 from Chicago to Malibu.
His goal? To explore expectations Americans in the heartland have about education, especially higher education.
Benton is board chairman of the American Council on Education, an advocacy group that hopes to influence both government and public opinion.
He’s bound to get lots of opinion on this trip. About education, about Route 66, about his car and certainly about his eclectic choice of music. Songs include “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts, the musical score from the movie Gettysburg and “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream.
Here’s hoping he finds lots of sunshine on his way through Oklahoma tomorrow. I’ll be talking to him as he heads into Oklahoma City for a reception at the Skirvin Hotel with Pepperdine alumni.
In the meantime, you can check out his travel blog at http://www.pepperdine.edu/route66
Susan Simpson, Education Writer