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Williams-Bolar case misrepresented

By John Published: January 31, 2011

The national attention that the Kelley Williams-Bolar case is getting is missing a basic fact that our newspaper has reported more than once:

Williams-Bolar has said she enrolled her daughters in Copley-Fairlawn schools because she was concerned about the safey of her West Akron neighborhood, not because she was unsatisfied with Akron Public Schools.  ABJ courts reporter Ed Meyer has reported this more than once in his coverage, including this section where William-Bolars' attorney Kerry O'Brien explains her concerns in court:

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APS State of the Schools Thursday/Family Reading Festival Saturday

By John Published: January 31, 2011

Just a reminder of some upcoming events:

Akron superintendent David James delivers his third annual State of the Schools luncheon address to the Akron Press Club on Feb. 3. Details from the press release:

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Akron fifth-graders waltz to top of competition

By John Published: January 30, 2011

John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Most high school biology teachers lukewarm on evolution

By John Published: January 30, 2011

Wired Science laments a recent survey of public high school biology teachers that finds few strong advocates for evolution, the cornerstone of modern biology and medicine.

Such teachers ''may play a far more important role in hindering scientific literacy in the United States than the smaller number of explicit creationists,'' wrote Penn State political scientists Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer, the poll's architects, in a Jan. 28 Science paper.

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Mysterious aid from company secures defeat of Revere levy

By John Published: January 30, 2011

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Former board member wins case

By John Published: January 29, 2011

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Former Cuyahoga Falls school board member Kellie Patterson sued the board in 2008 for violating Ohio open meetings laws and won in Summit County Common Pleas Court last April.

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Mad Hot Akron

By John Published: January 28, 2011

Here's a video that goes with a story I'm writing about two dozen Akron fifth graders competing Saturday at 4 p.m. in a ballroom dance competition at Cuyahoga Community College.

 The students from Leggett and Crouse elementary schools have been participating in the Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio program, which teaches social development skills through ballroom dance.

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Williams-Bolar clear to work at Akron Public Schools

By John Published: January 28, 2011

Barring action from the Ohio Department of Education, Kelley Williams-Bolar will keep her job as an educational assistant for special needs students at Buchtel High School, according to a district press released issued this morning.

On Jan. 18, Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 10 days in jail after a jury convicted her of two felony counts of tampering with records related to the enrollment of her two daughters in Copley-Fairlawn schools in August, 2006. She was released Wednesday after serving nine days of her sentence.

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Urban League thanks leader

By John Published: January 27, 2011

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Lack of self-control in early childhood predicts adult problems

By John Published: January 26, 2011

At the risk of posting some "no duh" research, this long-term study of 1000  New Zealand children in a ScienceDaily article confirms what many a kindergarten teacher has suspected: the kid who can't control his impulse to stab his neighbor with the scissors probably will find himself in court early and often as an adult.

Two Duke University psychologists led the international team, which found that children as young as age three who scored low on tests measuring impulse control were more likely to have problems with health, finance, drug addiction and criminal behavior by age 32.  

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Less than half of students proficient in science

By John Published: January 25, 2011

Christine Armario
Associated Press

The nation's students are still struggling in science, with less than half considered proficient and just a tiny fraction showing the advanced skills that could lead to careers in science and technology, according to results from an exam released Tuesday.

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Practice tests more effective than other study methods

By John Published: January 25, 2011

Here's two takes on a study of memory and learning published online in Science on Jan. 20 that shows that students remember more from actually taking tests than they do from more elaborate pre-test study routines such as "concept mapping," which involves drawing diagrams with bubbles showing relationships among different ideas.

Take one from Science Daily:

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Riedinger renovations on horizon

By John Published: January 25, 2011

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Akron's Riedinger Middle School which has been empty since it was closed in 2009 because of falling enrollment will have students once again after the district spends$2.5 million on a new roof and other repairs.

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Confidential survey to aid educators in Summit

By John Published: January 23, 2011

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Summit County's seventh-graders are telling educators this month how they feel about their schools, their academic abilities, their relationships and themselves.

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Nurture matters more than nature with poorer families

By John Published: January 22, 2011

Jonah Lehrer writing in the Wall Street Journal talks about a study of twins showing that parental actions and choices have more of an influence on a child's early intelligence than genetic factors in poor families. As you move up the socioeconomic ladder, the reverse is true: genetic factors have more of an influence. Twins were studied at age 10 months and again at two years, long before they show up in kindergarten.

The opposite pattern appeared in 2-year-olds from wealthy households. For these kids, genetics primarily determined performance, accounting for nearly 50% of all variation in mental ability. (The scientists made this conclusion based on the fact that identical twins performed much more similarly than fraternal twins.) The home environment was a distant second. For parents, the correlation appears to be clear: As wealth increases, the choices of adults play a much smaller role in determining the mental ability of their children.

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Kenmore freshmen find college boost

By John Published: January 20, 2011

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Revere won't take any chances

By John Published: January 20, 2011

By Jody Miller
Special to the Beacon Journal

BATH TOWNSHIP: The Revere school board has decided to go ahead and place two identical issues on separate ballots.

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Adios All-Day Kindergarten?

By John Published: January 17, 2011

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a Republican-sponsored bill would elminate the mandate for all schools to offer free all-day kindergarten. Many districts  have been putting off this requirement in the former governor's evidence-based model for school funding by seeking one-year waivers. This bill, if passed, would eliminate the mandate and allow districts that charge tuition for full day kindergarten to continue charging.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said he hopes the legislation to undo much of former Gov. Ted Strickland's evidence-based model will "send a strong message from Columbus that there is mandate relief and cost savings on the way as (district officials) plan for the next school year."

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New "Mind, Brain, and Education" program in Texas

By John Published: January 17, 2011

A new master's program at the University of Texas at Arlington is the latest effort to bridge the gap between discoveries in neuroscience and teaching practice.

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Copley wins residency fight

By John Published: January 17, 2011

Copley-Fairlawn school district is almost entirely self-funded and does not enroll students who don't live in the district. My colleague Ed Meyer has been writing about an unusual criminal charge brought against a mother who did enroll her children in Copley.  The district hired a private investigator who secretly shot video to provide evidence that she was living with her, not with her father in the Copley-Fairlawn district.

The jury returned its verdict on Saturday:

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Diploma bubble?

By John Published: January 14, 2011

On the one hand, we have an oversupply of college graduates, according to this report, "From Wall Street to Wal-Mart: why college graduates aren't getting good jobs," by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

Here's two takes on the possibility of a student loan bubble:

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Mark your calendars (Revere, APS, This City Reads)

By John Published: January 14, 2011

The Revere School district is holding its mid-year community meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to talk about the renewal levy on the Feb. 8 ballot and other issues. The school board meets from 5 to 6:30 p.m. followed by the community meeting at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium (3420 Everett Road).

Akron superintendent David James delivers his third annual State of the Schools luncheon address to the Akron Press Club on Feb. 3. Details from the press release:

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New respect for lemur learning

By John Published: January 12, 2011

Wired magazine has a fascinating story about how lemurs, once regarded as not-so-bright, have been observed teaching each other through example,  which is a way to transmit culture. This social learning ability that humans take for granted may have developed at least 63 million years ago when simian primates such as gorillas, chimpanzees and humans split off the evolutionary family tree from the prosimians such as lemurs. Click through on the link above for the whole story and some great lemur photography (courtesy of Daves Portfolio photostream on Flickr).

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Vegetables come together for better lunches

By John Published: January 12, 2011

Akron Beacon Journal food writer Lisa Abraham writes about the fresh veggies on offer in the salad bar at Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts in today's Akron Beacon Journal.

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Mayor encourages teens to give back

By John Published: January 11, 2011

John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Ohio school board fires teacher in crosses case

By John Published: January 11, 2011

Associated Press

MOUNT VERNON, OHIO: An Ohio science teacher accused of burning the image of a cross on students' arms has officially been fired.

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School board re-elects leaders to second term

By John Published: January 11, 2011

The Akron Board of Education decided Monday to retain its current leadership for a second year.

The Rev. Curtis T. Walker Sr. was elected to a second one-year term as president. Jason Haas will serve again as vice president.

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Babies learn words the same way adults do

By John Published: January 10, 2011

Science Daily reports on new research about how babies learn language. Babies, even those too young to talk, use the same brain structures adults do to learn words, contrary to the idea that learning begins primatively and evolves into the mechanisms and processes adults use.

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Easy come, easy go?

By John Published: January 7, 2011

The Frontal Cortex blog at Wired has an interesting post about a psychology experiment in an Ohio school district that showed that making fonts slightly harder to read in a variety of classes improved long term learning and retention. The basic idea, called disfluency, is that the harder the brain works to grasp something, the more deeply it's ingrained and the easier it is to retrieve later. Changing the font a little in this experiment added that little extra bit of challenge that made the learning more memorable. The authors of the study, published in Cognition, say the trick to choosing the best font is to find the line between more-difficult-to-read and illegible.

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"If you see the words 'brain-based,' run"

By John Published: January 6, 2011

Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel Willingham offers, via the Washington Post's education blog, The Answer Sheet, three brain facts every educator should know:

Here's the last one, which mentions a peer-reviewed journal I've been subscribing to for the last year and quoted for a story about spatial reasoning.

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There's a mouse for that

By John Published: January 6, 2011

Here's a recent story from Science Daily about research into a how a gene mutation may lead to autistic disorders. To study this mutation, scientists had to genetically engineer a mouse to experiment on.

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Infants observed understanding different viewpoints

By John Published: January 5, 2011

When I  interviewed a primatologist and a cognitive neuroscientist for a story I did last month about bullying and empathy, we discussed what scientists call a "theory of mind" -- the understanding that someone else has different thoughts and emotions than our own, a key component of empathy.

One of the classic tests for theory of  mind is the "Sally Anne test" in which a child is shown a scene with two dolls or puppets, Sally and Anne. A toy is placed inside a basket in the room with both Sally and Anne present. When Sally leaves the room, Anne moves the toy to another box. When Sally returns to the room, where will she look for the toy? Children who don't  grasp theory of mind yet will assume Sally has the same information they do and will look for the toy in the new location where Anne moved it. Children who pass the test understand that Sally still thinks the toy is in the basket where she left it and will look for it there, thus taking Sally's perspective.

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More levy talk at next Green board meeting

By John Published: January 4, 2011

    Green school officials are inviting the public to discuss levy options at the regular school board meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
    The meeting will be at the Central Administration Building, 1755 Town Park Boulevard.
     On Nov. 2, voters turned down a five-year, 6.7-mill operating levy that would have provided $4.8 million annually and would have been the first new operating money for the district in 11 years.
     The district faces a $3.5-million shortfall for fiscal year 2011, which ends June 30.

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APS open enrollment starts today

By John Published: January 3, 2011

General open enrollment for Akron Public Schools begins today and runs through Feb. 4.

Open enrollment applications are available now at all Akron schools; at the Akron Board of Education, located at 70 N. Broadway; and online at www.akronschools.com/enroll. Applications must be submitted to the open enrollment office (330-761-2810) by Friday, February 4, by 4:30 p.m.

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Ohio State president ready to fight for higher education in state budget

By John Published: January 3, 2011

COLUMBUS: Ohio State University President Gordon Gee is making the case for higher education ahead of what's likely to be a tough state budget fight this year.

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