Entries in Learning (6)


Boy Strip-Searched at School, Mom Outraged

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C.) -- A North Carolina mother is furious after an assistant principal strip-searched her 10-year-old son after he was accused of stealing $20 from a classmate.

Clarinda Cox told North Carolina TV station WRAL that the assistant principal at Union Elementary school, Teresa Holmes, ordered her son, Justin, to remove his shoes, jeans and shirt, leaving him in his boxers and a T-shirt.

No one from the school contacted her about the accusations or the search. She said she found out about the incident when her son came home and appeared upset, Cox said.

Holmes acknowledged searching the boy on June 1, but in a statement she said that when $20 fell from a female classmate’s pocket in the cafeteria, “seven or eight” students saw Justin dive to pick it up.

“I walked up to Justin and told him that if he had the money it would be better to just give it to me because if not I would have to search him. Justin said that he did not have the money and to ‘search me,’” Holmes also said in the statement.

Holmes said she called a male janitor to witness the search in her office. Justin was made to remove his shoes, socks, jeans and shirt. The items were checked thoroughly before they were returned to him. She also acknowledged running her hands “outside of the waistband of his boxers.”

“At this point, I knew that Justin did not have the money. I sat in front of him telling him that I was sorry that I had to search him. I again explained that as a school administrator, I had the authority to search him because two teachers thought he had the money as well as seven or eight students,” she wrote.

In the statement she also accused Justin of having told “some lies” in the past. The $20 bill was later found on the floor of the cafeteria, although Holmes wrote that it hadn’t been there when she and Justin left to go to her office.

In the statement, Holmes said she encouraged Justin to “build a good name” for himself, and that the witness also “added some words of wisdom” for the boy. Holmes also wrote that she hugged Justin.

ABC News could not reach school officials or Clarinda Cox for comment on Tuesday evening.

In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer newspaper, Cox said Justin had helped the girl pick up the $20 that she had dropped. The girl later said the money was missing, Cox told the newspaper.

A Sampson County school district spokeswoman told WRAL that Cox should have been notified of the search, but maintained that Holmes was within her rights to search Justin, even though she “may have been overzealous in her actions.”

video platform video management video solutions video player

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Girl, 8, Gets ‘Catastrophe Award’ for Most Homework Excuses

ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The mother of an 8-year-old Arizona girl who was presented with a “Catastrophe Award” for apparently having the most excuses for not having homework believes her child was humiliated by her teacher.

Christina Valdez said her daughter, Cassandra Garcia, came home one day from class at Desert Springs Academy in Tucson, Ariz., with the paper award.

The document, which looks like a colorful card, contained the following message: “You’re Tops! Catastrophe Award.  Awarded to Cassandra Garcia. For Most Excuses for Not Having Homework.”

The teacher signed the card “Ms. Plowman,” added the date – May 18, 2012 – and even included a smiley face.

The teacher announced the award in front of the entire class, and the other students laughed at her daughter, Valdez said in a Thursday interview with ABC TV affiliate KGUN-TV in Tucson.

When she contacted the school to complain, the principal “blew me off,” Valdez added. “She said it was a joke that was played and that the teachers joke around with the children.”

But Valdez told KGUN that she didn’t find any of it funny.

“I think it’s cruel and no child should be given an award like this. It’s disturbing,” she said, adding that she was not aware her daughter had a problem with homework, and that the girl had been enrolled in an after-school homework assistance program.

Desert Springs Academy’s principal declined to comment to a KGUN reporter, the affiliate reported.

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


Arne Duncan Feels ‘Very Badly’ for Kids in Rick Perry's Texas Schools

United States Department of Education(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, has taken aim at Texas Gov. Rick Perry for what Duncan describes as the abysmal quality of education in the state’s public schools.

“Far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college," Duncan tells Bloomberg TV’s Al Hunt of Texas in an interview set to air Friday. "I feel very, very badly for the children there."  

Texas ranks 43rd among states for high school graduation rate, according to the Legislative Budget Board’s 2010 Texas Fact Book.  Slightly more than 61 percent of students graduate each year.    

“You have seen massive increases in class size. You’ve seen cutbacks in funding. It doesn’t serve the children well. It doesn’t serve the state well. It doesn’t serve the state’s economy well. And ultimately it hurts the country,” he says.   

Duncan attributes the conditions to Perry’s policies during his decade-long tenure as governor, including a more-than-$4-billion cut to public school funding in the state’s most recent budget.

Perry, who's long been an outspoken critic of federal education standards, has rejected participation in Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, which he has said “could very well lead to the ‘dumbing down’ of the rigorous standards we’ve worked so hard to enact.”

Perry spokesman Mark Miner criticized Duncan’s comments, telling Bloomberg, “The president’s secretary of education may want to do a little more homework before commenting on education in Texas.

“Under Governor Perry, Texas has been a national leader in adopting college and career-ready curriculum standards that will ensure Texas students graduate prepared to succeed in college and the workplace,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


College-Bound Students Not Prepared in Basic Subjects

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Only one in four college-bound high school graduates is adequately prepared for college-level English, reading, math, and science, according to report released Wednesday by the ACT college admissions test.

Some 28 percent of the members of the high school class of 2011 failed to meet readiness benchmarks in any of the four core subject areas.

"ACT results continue to show an alarmingly high number of students who are graduating without all the academic skills they need to succeed after high school," the report stated.

The study also revealed a wide "achievement gap" between racial and ethnic groups.

  • In English, 77 percent of white students and 76 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 47 percent of Latinos and 35 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Reading, 62 percent of both white and Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 35 percent of Latinos and 21 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Mathematics, 71 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 54 percent of white students, 30 percent of Latinos and 14 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Science, 41 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark versus 37 percent of whites, 15 percent of Latino students and 6 percent of African-Americans.
  • Some 41 percent of Asian-Americans met the readiness benchmarks in all four subjects, compared with 31 percent for whites, 11 percent for Latinos and 4 percent for African-Americans.

"There's still a significant and an actually growing gap both at incomes levels and at racial/ethnic levels in the achievement of those benchmarks," said Jon Erickson, interim president of ACT. "This is a national imperative and a national concern."

Readiness was defined as a student having a 50 percent chance of getting a B or a 75 percent chance of getting a C in first-year courses English Composition, College Algebra, Biology, and social sciences.

There was some good news in the report. The percentages of all students meeting the benchmarks in mathematics and science increased from 2010 to 2011 by 2 percentage points in math and 1 percentage point in science. They remained the same for English (66 percent) and for reading (52 percent)

More than 1.6 million 2011 high school graduates -- 49 percent of the entire national graduating class -- took the ACT exam.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Students Slacking in the Geography Department

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Geography is more than just maps -- and the majority of U.S. students need to spend more time learning that.

That was made clear as the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) on Tuesday released the results of its Nation's Report Card: Geography 2010. According the the NAEP, about 30 percent of U.S. students scored at or above the "proficient" level in 2010.

"Geography is a rich and varied discipline that, now more than ever, is vital to understanding the connections between our global economy, environment and diverse cultures," said David P. Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP.

Representative samples of nearly 7,000 fourth graders, 9,500 eighth graders and 10,000 12th graders were tested. While fourth graders showed improvement since 2001 -- the last time the test was administered -- eighth graders' scores remained flat, and 12th graders showed a decline from 1994.

The good news: scores for the lowest-performing students in grade 8 increased and test performance improved for black and Hispanic students in grades 4 and 8.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio