Entries in Education (39)


Houston Family Spends $1.5M on College for Five Daughters

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- It’s graduation day -- a day that’s getting quite familiar to Marc and Beverly Ostrofsky of Houston.

Friday, they’ll attend two graduation ceremonies, one for their daughter Shelly, 22, from Washington University in St. Louis and another for their daughter, Mary Grace, 18, from Kincaid High School. Mary Grace will head to Boston University. Kelly, 22, graduated last Sunday from Duke University. Tracy, 20, is a sophomore at University of Denver. The oldest, Maddy, 23, graduated from Berklee College of Music last year.

So what’s the cost of putting five daughters through college? Ostrofsky told ABC News $60,000 to $70,000 a year, “easy -- that’s really conservative,” Beverly Ostrofsky said.

In total, the family will spend about $1.5 million on college after taxes and that’s not including graduate school. One daughter informed Marc that she now wants to seek her PhD. Marc is the best-selling author of Get Rich Click, and a multi-millionaire from Internet businesses.

“We’re fortunate that we can take care of it,” Beverly said. “We decided a long time ago we didn’t want the girls to take out college loans, so that was our commitment to them.”

Marc and Beverly married five years ago, blending their respective daughters into one big family of college-ready girls and creating a prime illustration of the rising cost of college for families with multiple children. The Ostrofsky family said their advice to parents is to start planning and saving from the day children are born.

Beverly said they wanted their daughters to have a choice of where they wanted to go to college, but having their children spread throughout the U.S. created another expense -- flying all of them home for holidays and visits. Just this week, Marc flew to North Carolina for Kelly’s graduation, then to St. Louis for Shelly’s graduation and hopes to make it back just in time to Houston for Mary Grace’s graduation Friday night.

Though the greatest expense is room and board, the family also picks up the tab for many other miscellaneous expenses such as food, clothing and three of the girls have cars.

“I’ve got five daughters so let’s put a separate line item for shoes,” Marc said. “At one point we had four different colleges going at the same time. It’s a little bit hectic.” Marc added he also picks up the cost of other activities such as sorority participation and athletics such as snowboarding.

With the last child leaving home for college, Marc says he and Beverly are going to “take a breather.”

“It’s like wipe the sweat off the brow now -- it’s time think about what can mom and dad do,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First-Grader Suspended for Singing "I’m Sexy and I Know It"

ABC News(DENVER) -- A Colorado elementary school student was suspended from school this week for singing a lyric from a popular LMFAO song, “I’m sexy and I know it.”

Those six little words from the Los Angeles rap-influenced duo earned first-grader D’Avonte Meadows a three day dismissal from Sable Elementary in Aurora, Colo.

“I only just said the song,” Meadows told Denver’s ABC7 News. “I’m sexy and I know it.”

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School officials said D’Avonte was suspended for sexual harassment after he sang and the line to a female classmate who was standing in a lunch line. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time he’d serenaded this girl with this particular lyric.

Aurora School District’s Media Relations Specialist Paula Hans, said in a statement: “Aurora Public Schools is committed to providing equitable learning for all students. We have policies and protocol in place to prevent any disruption to the learning environment. Due to privacy laws, we are unable to discuss appropriate disciplinary consequences about a specific student.”

District policy, as outlined in the student handbook, states that sexual harassment “must have negative effects on the learning or work of others.”

D’Avonte’s mother, Stephanie Meadows, told ABC7 News that her son had had disciplinary problems before this week’s infraction.  Last month, she said, he was sent to the principal’s office for singing the same song to the same girl.

This time, however, he was “shaking his booty” near the girl’s face, Meadows told ABC7 News.

“I’m going to definitely have to sit with him and see if he understands exactly what the song means,” Meadows told ABC7 News.

But Meadows still doesn’t believe her son’s recent actions justify suspension for sexual harassment.

“I could understand if he was fondling her, looking up her skirt, trying to look in her shirt. That, to me, is sexual harassment,” Meadows told ABC7 News. “I’m just, I’m floored. They’re going to look at him like he’s a pervert. And it’s like, that’s not fair to him.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ariz. Girl, 15, to Graduate College, Then High School 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COOLIDGE, Ariz.) -- A 15-year-old Arizona girl will don two different caps and gowns in May, but the first won't be at her high school graduation.

Kimberly Koerth will graduate Saturday from Central Arizona College in Coolidge, where she'll receive her Associate's degree. The following Monday, the newly minted graduate will head back to her high school classroom—with a college degree.

The soon-to-be double graduate with a 4.0 GPA won't be a high school student for long though. She's set to graduate in two weeks from the Casa Grande, Ariz. high school.

"It's kind of crazy, but I'm excited for the future and everything," she said.

"I didn't know I could graduate that fast, [but] it was actually really easy and I enjoyed the challenge of college classes," she said. "I don't want to be bored in the classroom."

The teen, who skipped a grade in elementary school, started her college studies at age 12 after teachers said she was ready for advanced math courses that the school couldn't offer.

When she entered high school, the credits she had earned at Central Arizona College were also counted towards her high school studies.

"She's very intelligent and this [situation is] very unusual," said Doris Helmich, president of Central Arizona College. "On occasion we have students who will complete high school and college together, but not to this extent."

The majority of the 100 students in Arizona's Pinal County who participate in the concurrent enrollment program will leave high school with two years of college behind them, Helmich said.

The community college pays the tuition of students who qualify, beginning during their junior year of high school, and it requires them to attend classes on campus. Helmich said she realizes the program isn't for everyone.

"What it does is it takes motivated, committed students while they're in high school through a college program," she said, adding that the school meets with prospective students and parents to determine who would be a good fit.

After hitting two milestones that don't usually happen until after a person has a driver's license, Koerth is ready to aim for another.

She'll be attending Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the fall, where she plans to obtain both her bachelor's and master's degrees through a joint program by the time she is 18.

Even though she's three years younger than most college freshmen, Koerth will be living in a college dormitory, possibly with a roommate. The precocious student said she has no regrets about leaving behind high school at 15.

"Education comes first for me, then volunteering at different service organizations, then fun time," she said. "I know I'll have enough of that in the future."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Jersey Autistic Boy Records Teachers' Alleged Abuse

Courtesy Stuart Chaifetz(NEW YORK) -- A New Jersey dad who suspected something was "horrifyingly wrong" at school when his autistic son began acting violently, had the boy wear a digital recorder and discovered teachers verbally abusing him.

Stuart Chaifetz, 44, described his 10-year-old son Akian as a "sweet and gentle child" with a penchant for acrobatics and a deep bond with his three dogs. So Chaifetz said it was totally out of character when he began receiving reports from Horace Mann Elementary School that Akian was hitting his teacher and a teacher's aide.

"The thing that said to me that something horrifyingly wrong was going on was that he was hitting the teacher and the aide. I have never seen him hit anyone. He's just not a violent kid," Chaifetz told ABC News.

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Akian spent six months working with behaviorists and other specialists who were trying to find the problem. Finally, Akian was put in a controlled scenario that pushed him to his limits and, still, he did not lash out violently.

"I realized that there was something terrible going on in that classroom and I needed to know what it was," Chaifetz said.

Chaifetz put a digital recorder in Akian's pocket on a February school day. Akian is in a self-contained autism class with five other students and the device recorded six-and-a-half hours of audio. When Akian came home from school and Chaifetz listened to the audio, he was shocked by what he heard.

"When I listened to what they had done to him, I just shattered inside," Chaifetz said.

Chaifetz heard the teacher and aide calling Akian names, making fun of him, yelling at him and having inappropriate conversations in front of the children.

"The culture was so dysfunctional that an adult felt she could make fun of a child with a disability and nothing would happen to her," Chaifetz said. "If it wasn't captured on the audio, she probably would still be making fun of my son. That's a bully."

Akian, according to Chaifetz, has a tendency to speak softly to himself. When he was doing so in class, a teacher or aide can be heard saying angrily, "Who are you talking to? Nobody. Knock it off." Akian is also told several times to shut his mouth.

After being scolded several times, Akian begins to cry and the administrator said, "Go ahead and scream because guess what? You're going to get nothing until your mouth is shut."

At another point, the teacher or aide calls Akian a "bastard" when he will not stop crying.

"He's the best human being I've ever met and these people were taking it away because they were crushing his spirit," Chaifetz said. "If I had not spoken out and released that video, it would have been like it never happened, except to Akian because it happened to him and he knows it."

Chaifetz took the audio to school officials.

"They were shocked and horrified as I was and I appreciate the fact that they took immediate action and fired one of the aides in the class," he said. "The problem is that they didn't fire the teacher because of tenure and she was moved to another school."

Chaifetz was outraged that the teacher was not fired.

"I don't want her teaching anyone ever again," he said. "She lost her privilege to do that."

The Cherry Hill school district issued a statement on its website regarding the incident, which included the following: "We strongly believe that the district acted swiftly, appropriately and judiciously with regard to the staff in the classroom," Board of Education President Seth Klukoff wrote. "What's more, we are confident that these decisions were informed first and foremost by compassion for the students."

Superintendent Dr. Maureen Reusche added, "Although this is a personnel matter and there are specifics that I cannot legally address publicly, I want to assure our parents that the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district and have not since shortly after we received the copy of the recording."

Chaifetz has not been satisfied with the action taken.

"I'm not at war with the school district. I'm fighting the people that actually did this," Chaifetz said. In the video, he identifies the teacher and aide only as Jodi and Kelly. He said he did not want to release their last names and demanded that they come forward to publicly apologize. He has not heard from them.

"You don't hurt my son and get away with it, but that's what they were doing," he said. "They told me, 'It's a personnel matter and we can't talk about it.' Well, you can't talk about it, but I can. I'm not going to keep this a secret."

An outraged Chaifetz took to the Internet to defend his son and draw awareness to the issue.

He posted a video on YouTube called Teacher/Bully: How My Son Was Humiliated and Tormented by his Teacher and Aide on April 20. The video now has more than 210,000 hits and counting. Chaifetz also created a Facebook page called No More Teacher Bullies and built a website with his story and the audio he recorded. He has found comfort in hundreds of emails and phone calls from supporters all over the world.

He hopes to lobby for legislation to fire any teacher who bullies a student, regardless of tenure or any other union restrictions.

"One part of this was to reclaim my son's dignity. He'll need closure one day," Chaifetz said. "I want him to know that he mattered. He was defended and he was loved."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Honors National Teacher of the Year

Hemera Technologies/ThinkStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama honored Rebecca Mieliwocki as the 2012 National Teacher of the Year on Tuesday, saying she is “the definition of above and beyond.”

“When kids finish a year in Rebecca's class, they're better readers and writers than when they started.  But even more than that, they know how important they are, and they understand how bright their futures can be, and they know that if they work at it, there's no limit to what they can achieve,” the president said at a White House ceremony.

Obama noted that the seventh grade English teacher from Burbank, Calif., has “high expectations” for her students and for herself, but that she also “knows that school can be fun.” The president highlighted Mieliwocki’s enthusiasm and her efforts to engage parents, including hosting family nights and offering class updates on Facebook.

“Rebecca is the definition of above and beyond,” he said. “She throws herself into her work for a simple reason:  She knows that her students depend on her.”

Standing before winners of state teachers of the year awards, Mieliwocki stressed “I am not the best teacher in America.  There isn't one.  All across this nation there are millions of teachers who do the work that I do, and many do it better.”

“What I do have are the qualities that some of the best teachers have.  I have an absolute passion for my work.  I have a bottomless well of belief in my students and their potential.  I have a thirst for getting better at what I do every single day.  And I have a warm and welcoming heart for all students and the unique gifts that they bring to my classroom,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California 14-Year-Old Goes for 2nd College Degree

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- At an age when most teenagers are barely surviving homeroom, 14-year-old Moshe Kai Cavalin is  debating between courses in astrophysics and theoretical physics as he works towards his second college degree.

After first graduating from East L.A. Community College at age 11, Moshe is preparing to graduate from UCLA this year with a degree in math alongside students nearly a decade his senior. In spite of the age difference, Moshe says his fellow students have been supportive after he proved he could do the same work.

“At first they were really curious, what am I doing there?” Moshe told “[Then] they started being like big brothers and big sisters.”

Moshe says now he prefers to spend time with his schoolmates rather than peers his own age. “We talk about [life] and studies and all the material in class,” said Moshe.

However, in spite of his early accomplishments, Moshe says he’s does not want to be solely defined by his intellect.  “Genius is just a word just like IQ is a number,” Moshe told ABC affiliate KABC-TV. “It just classifies [them] at one point and ignores everything else that makes the individual who they are.”

Moshe’s mother, Suichen Chein, said that she realized her son’s need for more demanding material when he started reading college-level books at age two.

“He’s a happy kid and he’s learning so well,” Chien, who chaperons Moshe to class, told  KABC-TV.  "He’s doing a fantastic job by himself.”

Moshe’s father, Joesph Cavalin, said that he realized his son’s potential one afternoon, when he was picking him up after class.

“I saw him outside, he was tutoring the mother of another kid,”  Joesph said. “It was fantastic, I almost cried that day.”

Joesph said he decided his son needed to be put in advanced classes after his teachers said Moshe’s academic needs would disturb the other children.

“Why should I be worried about that?” said Joesph. “I don’t worry about the others. I worry about my family.”

Eventually Moshe was enrolled at East L.A. Community College at age 8, but he bristles at the idea that he was forced into his advanced studies.

“Well most people say that my parents pushed me,” said Moshe. “However, I think happiness in childhood is more importantly passed on [through] loving parents and a creative environment.”

As Moshe preps for life after graduation, he says there are a few items he wants to cross off his bucket list this summer including scuba diving and practicing to get his driver’s license. Unfortunately for Moshe–in spite of his two degrees–he will still have to wait until he’s 16 to get his license.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Miami Valedictorian Could Be Deported

ABC News(MIAMI) -- North Miami High School senior Daniela Palaez has a 6.7 GPA, the valedictory nod from her classmates, a brother in the U.S. Army and deportation papers to Colombia.

In a hearing on Monday, a federal immigration judge ordered the 18-year-old Palaez, in the U.S. since she was 4-years-old, to voluntarily leave the country for her native Colombia by the end of the month after her request for a green card was denied.

"Everything I've worked for, it's, like going down the drain in a matter of days," says the aspiring surgeon, who has already applied to a number of Ivy League colleges. "I consider myself an American. [Deportation] would mean I'd leave a country and go back to a country that I don't remember, a country [where] I don't feel at home, and I don't even graduate high school."

Flanked by American flags and backed by chants of "justice for Daniela" from the thousands gathered Friday outside her school, Miami Dade Superintendent Alberto Caravalho upped the ante, saying "over my dead body will this student be deported," to roaring approval by the students.

After the judges' order on Monday, Emily Sell, a longtime friend, began a petition in support of Palaez on Facebook. It already has 5,000 signatures and is picking up momentum, with new signatures coming in at the rate of about 200 an hour.

Palaez was 4-years-old when she arrived in the U.S. with her family from Columbia on a tourist visa. Her residency application was denied in 2010. Her mother traveled to Columbia five years ago to get treatment for colon cancer and now can't return to the U.S. Palaez's brother is in the U.S Army and just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. Her father received permanent residency through Palaez's brother, but she is stuck.

Her departure is now imminent and her attorney is planning to file an appeal that would prevent her removal from the U.S. Right now, Palaez is trying to get a pre-approved student visa, but congressional support is needed to expedite such a request. She has gained the support of three Florida members of Congress, at least two of who plan to write to the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement on her behalf.

Palaez's attorney, Jack Wallace, says it may be years before she is actually deported.

This latest case has renewed calls for comprehensive immigration reform. The proposed Dream Act, a legislative bill that would allow undocumented children to receive permanent residency either by enrolling in college or the military, has stalled despite strong support from President Obama.

There are nearly 200,000 students in Florida alone who would benefit from the Dream Act, which some criticize as promoting illegal immigration.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chicago School Nets $190,000 in Student Fines

Creatas/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Forget watching the clock, chewing gum, or slouching. At the Noble Network of Charter Schools' 10 Chicago campuses students are on their best behavior-- otherwise it will cost them.

"Students tell us by and large they don't like the whole system as most teenagers would, but the proof is in the pudding," said Michael Milkie, CEO and superintendent of the Noble Network of Charter Schools.

Last year, the schools collected an estimated $190,000 to help defray the cost of having teachers stay after school to supervise detention. Students earn demerits for everything from having flaming hot chips, which Milkie said have been shown to being addictive, to having their shirts untucked.

After earning four demerits, the student is sent to a three-hour detention. Admission fee: $5.

"These are schools of choice. We have thousands on the wait list and we do communicate [this policy] really well with parents," Milkie said.

But Noble's unique approach, which it has relied on for the past 13 years, has drawn scrutiny from some parents and eduction advocacy groups who said it's being used to push out students.

"These extremely punitive, nitpicky programs are not the ones that really work," said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the Chicago-based advocacy group Parents United For Responsible Education. "The students need to feel they're not like dogs or 2 year olds. They're actually maturing human beings who need some guidance and not someone to jump on top of them."

Donna Moore said her son, who is a second-year freshman, has been hounded at the school for everything from not having his eyes on the teacher at a given moment to having his shoe untied.

"He was retained because of detention. He was told his first year that at that time he had hit 33 detentions and had to retake his freshman year," Moore said, adding that it was impossible for students to keep up on school work when they keep being punished.

But Milkie said the school's unique system of fees -- he doesn't call them fines -- has yielded dividends.

Not only is more money now spent on education and less on paying teachers overtime to supervise detention, but test scores have also improved.

The average ACT score across Noble's 10 campuses last year was 20.3. Chicago Public Schools students scored an average of 17.2. The school's scores have consistently climbed since 2003.

Even though Donna Moore isn't happy with the way her son has been treated, she said she plans to keep him in the Noble school system.

"I send him there because there are not really many choices," she said. "It's the decision to deal with the devil I didn't know versus the devil I did know. Now I want to stay and make it better for all students."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Los Angeles School Sex Abuse Scandal Implicates Fourth Staffer

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A fourth staffer at a Los Angeles elementary school is under investigation for inappropriate conduct with a student after the boy's mother went public with a classroom aide's love letters to her fourth grade son.

The Los Angeles Unified School District confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that Areceli Luisjuan, a teacher's aide, was investigated for writing the letters to the boy in 2009. A spokeswoman for the district confirmed that Luisjuan had since been fired, but did not specify when the firing occurred.

Luisjuan, who is described by the Los Angeles Times as a woman in her fifties, allegedly wrote that she liked it when the boy put his arm around her and was sad when she was transferred to another school because she would not be able to see him anymore.

In one of her three letters, the aide wrote, "When you get close to me, even if you give me the chills I like that. Don't tell nobody about this!"

The mother of the boy spoke anonymously to the LA Times, telling the paper that she had brought the letters to Miramonte Elementary School administrators and was told she was making up stories. She took the letters to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, but was told to take up the issue with the school, according to the Times.

Luisjuan was not able to be reached for this story.

News of the allegations comes on the heels of two arrests of Miramonte teachers charged with molesting students and an accusation that a third teacher helped enable the abuse. Outraged parents say the school had a history of ignoring sex abuse allegations.

The school was closed Tuesday and Wednesday as its entire faculty is being replaced and interrogated by school officials. The school will reopen Thursday.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Georgia School Investigates ‘Slave’ Math Problems

Fuse/Getty Images(NORCROSS, Ga.) -- A Georgia school insisted Tuesday there was no “maliciousness” intended when a third grade math quiz asked students to compute the number of beatings a slave got a week and to calculate how many baskets of cotton he picked.

But the Gwinnett County School District has launched an investigation to determine how the offending questions made it onto the students’ homework sheets.

The math homework assignment was given to more than 100 students at Beaver Ridge Elementary school in Norcross, Ga., as part of a social studies lesson, Gwinnett County school officials said. The assignment outraged parents, community activists and members of the Georgia NAACP.

Sloan Roach, a Gwinnett County school district spokeswoman, told ABC News that the students were studying famous Americans and as an attempt to create a cross-curricular worksheet, one teacher used Frederick Douglass and slavery beatings for two of the questions.

Although only one teacher wrote out the controversial questions, another teacher made copies of the assignment and it was distributed to four out of nine third grade classes at Beaver Ridge, Roach said. The school is not publicly naming any of the teachers who are suspected to be involved.

Roach said she agreed that the questions were inappropriate and part of the investigation would be to, “make sure  teachers are writing questions that are appropriate and [sic] respective,” but wouldn’t speculate on what sort of action would be taken against the teachers involved or whether district teachers would be required to have additional training.

“It does not seem there was any intent of maliciousness here, it was just a teacher who wrote some bad questions,” she said. “This was an isolated case involving these teachers at this school and at this grade level.”

Georgia NAACP president Ed DuBose declined to comment, but his office said he has set up a meeting with area superintendent Dr. Gale Hey to discuss this particular matter.

According to Beaver Ridge’s improvement plan for the 2011-2012 school year, one of their objectives is to “increase academic performances in math” for all students, but specifically African-American students.  

Records show that of Beaver Ridge’s 1,261 students, nearly 60 percent are Hispanic, 28 percent are African-American, 5.3 percent are Asian, and 4 percent are white.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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