Friday, January 29, 2010

Newnan: The Carnegie Adds Early Literacy Station™ to its Early Childhood Collection

The Carnegie announces the acquisition of the Early Literacy Station (“ELS”), a computer workstation loaded with more than forty-five educational software titles for kids ages 2-10. The Early Literacy Station offers children a safe, standalone computer not connected to the Internet that is age-appropriate, engaging, and academically relevant for children. The ELS is located in the Children’s Room and it has a colorful keyboard, tiny mouse, and touch screen capability to promote easy learning and discovery.

The Early Literacy Station’s educational software covers seven curricular areas: reading, math, science, social studies, writing, arts & music, and reference. The system is designed to attract and educate toddlers through early elementary school ages.

Early Literacy Station educational software titles include: Millie’s Math House, JumpStart PreSchool, Just Grandma and Me, Stellaluna, Stationery Studio, SpongeBob SquarePants Typing, Kidspiration, Encarta Kids, Encyclopedia Britannica-Kids, Kid Pix, Reader Rabbit Phonics…plus 30 more top-rated titles!

The Early Literacy Station has an imaginative interface that encourages exploration. Many of the software programs contain disguised learning activities that expand the child’s experience through games and extension activities.

“The Early Literacy Station is an invaluable resource for our toddlers to 5th grade patrons,” says Media Coordinator Amy Mapel. “The kids are having fun, and many times they don’t know they are learning!”

Early Literacy Stations are used in over 40% of the public libraries across the United States and Canada. Elementary schools, Head Start centers, After School programs and Childcare facilities are adding the Early Literacy Station to their curriculum. For more information about the Early Literacy Station English or Bilingual Spanish editions, or to learn about the AWE’s ELF Child-safe Browser, visit AWE, Inc. at http://www.awe-net.com.

About AWE, Inc.
Since 1995, AWE, Inc. has been redefining access to safe, easy-to-manage, cost effective educational technology for children to use at Libraries, Schools and Childcare organizations. AWE develops products that solve the critical issues associated with access to appropriate, safe, dependable and effective educational content through technology, enabling schools and libraries to focus on education and information, not technical support and content selection. Early Literacy Stations are available in English Language and Bilingual Spanish editions.

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GaDOE to Offer FREE Online High School Graduation Test Remediation

State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox today announced a free online remediation course for high school students to help them pass the science and/or social studies portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT). Registration for the courses begins Monday, February 1, 2010.

FreeOnline ExPreSS (Exam Preparation for Science and Social Studies) will be offered by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) online to all high school students and certificate of attendance recipients who were unsuccessful on or who have not yet taken the Science and/or Social Studies GHSGT.

The GaDOE offered the ExPreSS program last summer in schools throughout the state and saw tremendous results. Students in the program had an overall retest pass rate of 68 percent; more than double the previous year's pass rate on GHSGT retests in science and social studies.

"With the success we saw in our ExPreSS program over the summer, we knew we needed to offer it again and make an online version available to even more students," said Superintendent Cox. "FreeOnline ExPreSS will also help financially-strapped school districts that may not have the resources to provide extra help to high school students in preparing for the GHSGT."

FreeOnline ExPreSS creates an online opportunity designed to help students prepare for the science and social studies GHSGT. Science and social studies are the two GHSGTs that Georgia students fail most often. It will offer self-paced units based on the instructional plans created for the summer ExPreSS Program.

Students can create their own registration account using their Georgia Testing Identifier (GTID) number. Detailed instructions for creating this account and locating their GTID number will be provided on the ExPreSS website (click here to visit).

The summer Project ExPreSS program is scheduled for June 14-25, 2010. To get more information, please click here.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

USAID awards $3 million to Georgia State for joint master’s program with Indonesian university

Indonesia's next generation of fiscal policy experts will earn dual master's degrees in applied economics at Georgia State University and Gadjah Mada University in the province of Yogyakarta on Java Island. Georgia State was awarded $3 million by the United States Agency for International Development-Indonesia toward the program, which will begin this year.

As many as 30 staff members of the Fiscal Policy Office at the Ministry of Finance of Indonesia - the country's fiscal policy think tank - will earn dual masters of science degrees under the cost-sharing agreement in a program developed by Georgia State's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies' International Studies program.

Prior to their arrival in Atlanta, Indonesian students will attend a rigorous one-year English language-intensive master's program at Gadjah Mada designed by the Andrew Young School in conjunction with one of its alumna, Artidiatun Adji. Adji directs the graduate program in economics and business at Gadjah Mada and she will lead the new program.

"Our school has been involved in Indonesia since its 1999 transition to democracy, and involved in its fiscal reforms since it decentralized its government in 2001," says Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, International Studies program director and a Regents Professor in the Andrew Young School at Georgia State.

Andrew Young School Dean W. Bartley Hildreth said, "This program highlights the global reach of the Andrew Young School and the draw of its world-class faculty. Our experience confirms that these partnerships advance a new group of leaders into roles that help build the policy infrastructure in their own country."

In 2002, the Andrew Young School started its first USAID-funded Indonesian masters program, awarding degrees in applied economics to 55 Indonesian students, including civil servants. They returned to work in Indonesia, building the country's fiscal capacity and enhancing its economic performance.

Seven remained at Georgia State to earn doctoral degrees in economics, including Adji. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia's Minister of Finance, was an Andrew Young School visiting scholar in 2002.

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Bainbridge College President Tom Wilkerson To Retire In December 2010

Robert Watts, chief operating officer of the University System of Georgia, announced that he has accepted the retirement decision of Bainbridge College President Tom Wilkerson, effective December 31, 2010. Dr. Wilkerson has served the University System of Georgia in this role since 2005.

“President Wilkerson adeptly guided Bainbridge College during a time of change on the campus and in the community,” Watts said. “Dr. Wilkerson’s leadership has proved instrumental in preparing Bainbridge College for growing enrollment with the completion of the Kirbo Center, construction of the Student Wellness Center and expansion of the college’s Early County site in Blakely.”

Wilkerson, recently elected as president for 2010 of the Southern Association of Community, Junior, and Technical Colleges, is no stranger to the University System of Georgia. He has held administrative positions and taught at South Georgia College in Douglas, Dalton College, Middle Georgia College in Cochran, and at the University of Georgia.

At South Georgia College, he was vice president for academic affairs and professor of speech from 1984 until 1997. While there, he was heavily involved in two programs in Douglas/Coffee County that foster high-school completion and participation in post-secondary education.

He also accepted several additional leadership opportunities within the USG during his tenure at South Georgia. In addition to serving on the Executive Committee of the Regents’ Administrative Committee on Academic Affairs, he chaired ad-hoc committees charged with developing guidelines for the assessment of two-year college majors and developing policies and procedures for academic services and distance-learning technology.

Before joining the faculty of South Georgia College, Dr. Wilkerson served as chair of the Division of Humanities at Dalton College from 1974 until 1984. He assumed that role after serving as a speech/English faculty member, teaching remedial English, English composition, literature, humanities and public speaking at the college from 1969 until 1984.

He began his career in higher education at yet another USG two-year institution, Middle Georgia College, where he chaired the Department of Speech/Drama during the 1968-69 academic year.

Wilkerson holds undergraduate degrees from the former Augusta College (now Augusta State University) and Georgia Southern College (now Georgia Southern University). He earned both his M.F.A. in speech and drama and Ed.D. in speech education from UGA.

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UWG Preview Day Set For Sunday, January 31

Prospective students and their families are invited to Winter Preview Day at the University of West Georgia on Sunday, January 31, from 1 to 5 p.m. Located just 45 minutes from Atlanta, the 100-year-old institution boasts a student enrollment of more than 11,000, a beautiful 645-acre campus and state-of-the-art facilities.

The recommended check-in time for Winter Preview Day is 1 p.m. and takes place in The Coliseum. A welcome session follows at 1:30 p.m. with an introduction by Director of Admissions Bobby Johnson along with welcoming remarks by UWG President Beheruz Sethna and Student Ambassador Leviell Waits.

After the welcome session, the Academic and Department Fair will be held from 2 - 3:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. The event will spotlight various departments at the university as well as many of the university’s student activities, organizations and departmental services.
There will also be an opportunity for visitors to tour the campus from 2 - 3:30 p.m. Several residence halls will also be open for viewing from 2:30 - 5 p.m. Visitors may tour the residence halls by shuttle or by walking. The residence halls open for viewing are Arbor View Apartments, Bowdon, Downs, Strozier, Tyus and Watson Halls, and the University Suites. Our new Athletic Complex and Greek Village will also be open for viewing.

Information sessions for prospective students and their families will be held at 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. in the TLC. First Year Programs, Financial Aid, the Honors College, Residence Life, and a parent session with President Sethna and the Advanced Academy of Georgia are some of the topics and programs that will be represented.

Guests may also visit the Office of Admissions, located in Mandeville Hall, and the University Bookstore from 3 - 5 p.m. The bookstore carries hundreds of clothing items, posters and UWG souvenirs.

To conclude the day’s activities, students and their families are welcome to dine in the Food Services Building (Z-6) beginning at 5 p.m. The award-winning campus dining service costs $6.75 per person plus tax for an all-you-can-eat meal that includes a wide variety of pizzas, stir fry, deli sandwiches, meats and vegetables, salads and desserts.

For more information or to pre-register, call the Office of Admissions at 678-839-5600 or go to www.westga.edu/admiss/index_1067.php. Students and their families may also register at The Coliseum starting at 12:30 p.m.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gwinnett Federal Credit Union Establishes Eirst Scholarship for Georgia Gwinnett College Education Majors

Gwinnett Federal Credit Union has established an annual $5,000 scholarship fund for Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) students majoring in early childhood education, special education or another major leading to teacher certification.

“This is the first scholarship established at GGC that specifically benefits students within the School of Education,” said Cathy Moore, dean. “We are deeply appreciative of the Gwinnett Federal Credit Union’s generosity. An investment in education majors is unique in that it ensures an ongoing impact on the youth of our community, as our students will spend their careers teaching others.”

This also is the first scholarship established at GGC by a business in the financial services sector.

“Gwinnett Federal has a long standing commitment to supporting education. We currently fund $58,500 in student and adult career scholarships in support of local school systems,” stated Marshall Boutwell, President & CEO of Gwinnett Federal Credit Union. “With the addition of Georgia Gwinnett College to the local landscape it was the logical and right thing for us to do.”

Students receiving the Gwinnett Federal Credit Union Scholarship must maintain full-time status and a specified minimum grade point average. The scholarship will cover full tuition and fees, and will be renewable for up to four years. Preference will be given to students who demonstrate financial need.

“As a young institution, we have a critical need for scholarships and other funds that support students, programs and other needs not funded through state budget, tuition or other forms of income,” said Gordon Harrison, president of the Georgia Gwinnett Foundation. “We applaud Gwinnett Federal Credit Union for being one of the first to pledge their support. It is through gifts such as this that Georgia Gwinnett College will become the model institution this community expects and deserves.”
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Opinion: Save our schools from No Child Left Behind

By John Konop

Our high schools are facing skyrocketing drop out rates, declining test scores, and limited tax revenue (because of the recession). No Child Left Behind's one-size-fits-all education model, with its unfunded mandates from the sate and federal government, has been a massive failure by any measurement.

Georgia has unfortunately followed No Child Left Behind's lead and established a one-track-fits-all philosophy, which forces all students into a college-bound curriculum. The result: students with an aptitude for vocational/tech curriculum are demoralized (and dropping out in greater numbers) and college-bound students are not challenged by an increasingly watered-down curriculum aimed at accommodating everyone (including students who would be better served by a vocational/tech curriculum).

A common sense approach

The solution to these problems requires only common sense and familiarity with an already proven approach. For example, Macon, GA, has developed a multi-track (college-bound and vocational/tech) system based on each student's aptitudes. By putting vocational students and college bound students on different tracks, the school has realized amazing results.
From Macon.com: "…the immediate benefits from the career academy include lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates, and a more skilled labor pool in the county, [school administrator Carpenter] said. The Newnan school's web site states the county's dropout rate has fallen by half since it opened, and the graduation rate for students in dual enrollment programs is 98 percent."
HB-215
Georgia State Representative Steve Davis has proposed a bipartisan bill (HB-215) to promote this multi-track concept. The bill will provide separate tracks for high school students (a college-bound track and a vocational/tech track) using joint enrolment programs with local colleges and technical schools to support honors and vocational programs.

HB-215 would 1) increase graduation rates, 2) provide our local economy with work-ready students who will increase tax revenues, and 3) decrease the money governments spend on welfare and crime. It will also lower the overall cost of education by better utilizing college and technical school resources, many of which have surplus capacity.
Act now

Please contact the new Speaker of the House David Ralston, who promised to put Georgia's kids before lobbyist interests. Hold him accountable by demanding that he bring HB-215 to a vote. And please forward this e-mail to your friends who care about the quality of Georgia schools.
E-MAIL AND/OR CALL: david.ralston@house.ga.gov --or-- 404.656.5020
Click here to read more and to add a comment.

From: Control Congress, a multi-partisan, issue-oriented political forum that brings together the Left, Right, and everyone in between.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Smart Ways To Pay For College

(NAPSI)-Experts say investing in a college education is a smart idea--even as tuition costs continue to rise.

A study from The College Board showed that in one year, the average full-time worker in the U.S. with a college degree earned 62 percent more than a full-time worker holding only a high school diploma. And while tuition rates have risen consistently over the years--The College Board reports that the average four-year private institution now costs more than $26,000 a year to attend--there are a number of programs to help students cut those costs.

For instance, there is more than $168 billion in financial aid available to students, as well as a host of scholarships. The key is to learn which programs a student may qualify for and how to apply. Here's a closer look:

Saluting Scholarship

The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) Scholarship Program provides financial assistance for college expenses through a competitive selection process. It's available to MOPH members, their spouses, widows and lineal descendants and spouses, and widows and lineal descendants of veterans killed in action or who died of wounds.

The annual program requires submitting an application along with a topical essay, grade transcripts for recent high school or college academic work, letters of recommendation, evidence of extracurricular activities and community involvement, and a small application fee.

The MOPH also presents the Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, U.S. Navy SEAL Memorial Scholarship Award. Lt. Murphy was the leader of a U.S. Navy SEAL Team who was killed in action during a covert counterterrorism combat operation in Afghanistan.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and his family established a scholarship foundation in his name. You can learn more about both scholarship opportunities at the Web site www.purpleheart.org.

Scholarship 101

Many college scholarships require applicants to have completed community service, to have participated in extracurricular activities and more, throughout high school. So it's smart for parents and kids to start thinking about scholarships before their senior year.

Also, there are a number of scholarships directly linked to a student's particular interest. If, for example, a child has a particular love of music, there may be a scholarship available to help him turn his hobby into an educational experience.

Smart Savings

It's also wise to put money aside to help cover tuition costs whenever possible. Many states offer 529 college savings plans, some of which allow you to save pretax money to be used for specific educational costs. The plans often offer an automatic payroll deduction option, helping to make saving easier.

Free Resources

Remember to speak with guidance counselors, college counselors, financial aid officers and other higher-education experts about paying for college. The library and Internet also offer information on scholarships and financial aid. A little homework can go a long way.

For more information, visit www.purpleheart.org or call (703) 354-2140.


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Friday, January 22, 2010

High School Students Can Send Experiments Flying With NASA

/PRNewswire/ -- NASA is inviting student teams nationwide to design and build an experiment or technology demonstration to be sent to the near space environment of the stratosphere, an altitude of 100,000 feet. The Balloonsat High Altitude Flight competition will launch on a NASA weather balloon May 25-27 in Cleveland.

To participate, student teams in grades nine through 12 must submit a research or flight demonstration proposal to NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland by Friday, Feb. 19. Teams of four or more may pursue a wide variety of topics in this competition, including science and weather observations, remote sensing and image processing. A panel of engineers and scientists at Glenn will evaluate and select four top-ranked proposals by Friday, March 5.

The top four teams will be awarded travel expenses and up to $1,000 to develop their flight experiment or technology demonstration. Teams will participate in three flight days to release, track and recover their experiments. In addition, students will tour Glenn facilities and present their findings at Glenn's Balloonsat Symposium. All participants visiting NASA must be U.S. citizens.

NASA will host an informational webcast about the competition Jan. 27 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. EST. A link to the webcast and additional information about Balloonsat High Altitude Flight is available at:

http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/balloonsat

This and similar education programs help NASA attract and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to the agency's future missions. NASA's student Balloonsat competition is sponsored by Teaching From Space, a NASA Education Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Educational Programs Office at Glenn and the Ohio Space Grant Consortium.

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Educators descend on State Capitol to highlight effects of budget cuts

Teachers, educational support professionals, and education leaders are coming from Savannah and Toccoa and Valdosta and Dalton and places in between to tell the stories of how education cuts are affecting their schoolchildren and classrooms throughout the state. “We want to send a message to our legislators about how our children and classrooms are being affected and how they would further be affected by additional paring of the education budget.” said GAE President Jeff Hubbard.

Saturday, January 23, 2010 – 1 p.m.
Steps of the State Capitol (Washington Street side)
Invest Today or Pay Tomorrow Rally

Buses will be leaving from various points around the state to join us at the Capitol. Below are the scheduled departure areas, times, and local media contacts.

Augusta Area
Big Lots, 3232 Wrightsboro Rd, Augusta
Departure time: 9 am
GAE Contact Deede Chatelain - 706-831-1052

Dalton Area
Dalton (Wal-mart at 8:30 am)
Cartersville Stop (Wal-Mart at 9:30 am)
GAE Contact Tana Page - 678-7795250

Savannah Area
Chatham County Assn. of Educators,
714 MLK Boulevard,
Savannah 31401
Departure time: 7 am

Statesboro Stop (Chevron at Hwy 301)
Departure Time: 8 a.m.
GAE Contact Joe Bell - 912-238-1752

Valdosta Area:
Wal-mart,
340 Norman Dr., Valdosta
Departure time: 7:30 am
GAE Contact Leeann Turano -229-438-1700

Macon Stop (Macon Mall/Lower Food Ct.)
Approximate time: 9:30 am
Albany Area:
Albany Mall (Dillard's Parking Lot)
2601 Dawson Road, Albany 30717
Departure time: 7:30 am
GAE Contact Rosa Ward - 229-438-1700

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Gateway to College National Network Receives $13 Million to Expand Programs

/PRNewswire/ -- The Gateway to College National Network has received $13 million in grants from four leading foundations to expand a program that transforms high school dropouts into college-ready students.

Now in operation in 27 colleges in 16 states, these new investments will allow Gateway to College to expand into 15 new community colleges and to make the program a model for colleges serving students who need remedial academic help.

Without a program like Gateway to College, national statistics suggest only 19 percent of dropouts will get a diploma within eight years of their expected graduation date. Through dual credit, Gateway to College graduates earn not only a high school diploma, but also have an average of 41 college credits by the time they complete the program; 90 percent indicate that they will continue their educations in college. These are remarkable statistics when you consider that the average student entered Gateway to College with a high school GPA of 1.6.

The grants announced today include $7.28 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $3.8 million from the Foundation to Promote Open Society, a sister organization of the Open Society Institute, and nearly $1 million each from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Kresge Foundation.

Ensuring that more young people in America have the opportunity to complete college is crucial to our country's economic growth and stability, as the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2016, half of all U.S. jobs will require college-level skills. Between 2005 and 2007, the average high school dropout earned $18,800 a year, while the average community college graduate brought home more than $34,500.

"As a nation, we can't afford to write off any of our young people," said Laurel Dukehart, Executive Director of Gateway to College National Network. "We have to do everything we can to reengage them and help them earn the high school and college credentials they'll need to become successful adults."

In addition, the Gateway to College model will be adapted to serve 18 to 26-year-olds who need to hone basic skills in reading, writing and math. The Gateway to College National Network will work with nine colleges to pilot the new program, called Project DEgree.

Gateway to College's success is due to a combination of intensive academic and non-academic supports, and can be an important model for community colleges nationwide which are struggling with sky-high remedial rates. Nationally, as many as two-thirds of all community college students enter with inadequate academic skills.

"Gateway to College offers at-risk youth an opportunity to thrive," said Mimi Corcoran, director of the Open Society Institute's Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation. "By providing a responsive education in a flexible environment, this program helps underserved students excel at school and beyond and aims to break the cycle of poverty."

The Obama administration has called on states and education leaders to help the United States lead the world in percentage of college graduates by 2020. Until recently, education reform efforts and national policies have focused on increasing access to college, but have done little to help students graduate with credentials that employers value. Programs like Gateway to College are taking the important step of helping students succeed by developing individual college graduation plans, teaching time management and stress management skills along with note taking and communication skills.

"With our business leaders warning us that good-paying jobs require a college degree, we have to drastically improve the number of students completing college," said Hilary Pennington, Director of Education, Postsecondary Success & Special Initiatives at the Gates Foundation. "Scholarships and tuition assistance aren't enough. Schools must look to programs like Gateway to College to improve the services they offer and to give students the support they need to finish what they start."

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Georgia Racing to the Top

State submits application for unprecedented federal grant opportunity

Governor Sonny Perdue today announced that Georgia has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Education for the first round of federal “Race to the Top” grants. Georgia stands to receive up to $462 million over four years to implement its plan if selected.

The Race to the Top fund is a $4 billion grant opportunity provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to support new approaches to improve schools. The fund is available in the form of competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and reform, specifically implementing ambitious plans in four education reform areas:

· Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;

· Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;

· Recruiting, preparing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and

· Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.

“I applaud Education Secretary Arne Duncan for encouraging states to take bold steps forward in these four areas, and I believe Georgia is in an incredibly strong position to compete and win this race. The goals of Race to the Top are very well aligned to the direction Georgia has been moving in education policy,” said Governor Perdue. “Through strong partnerships with diverse districts around the state, Georgia will be able to further develop innovative ways to continue improving student achievement.”

Georgia’s application was prepared through strong partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Office of Student Achievement, the Georgia Department of Education and education stakeholders. Four working groups and a fifth critical feedback team consisting of teachers, principals, superintendents, higher education faculty, non-profit and informal education organizations, state policy makers, and members of the business and philanthropic communities developed the ideas for inclusion in the state’s application.

Recommendations focus on strengthening traditional and alternative preparation programs for teachers and leaders, supporting teachers more effectively in the classroom, evaluating teachers and leaders with consistent and objective criteria that inform instruction, and rewarding great teachers and leaders with performance-based monetary bonuses.

The application also calls for Georgia to adopt and implement common curricular standards and internationally-benchmarked assessments that indicate Georgia’s ability to compete within a globally-connected economy.

Twenty-three local school districts have signed on to partner with the state in implementing Georgia’s Race to the Top plan. These districts, which make up 41 percent of public school students in Georgia, include: Atlanta, Ben Hill, Bibb, Burke, Carrolton, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, DeKalb, Dougherty, Gainesville, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Jones, Meriwether, Muscogee, Rabun, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Valdosta and White.

The state will work closely with these systems to implement the ideas contained in the application. Fifty percent of the funds awarded to Georgia will be distributed to the local partners to meaningfully enact the Race to the Top reforms. The state will study the effectiveness of these practices to identify and scale up those that prove to be effective.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that round one winners will be announced in April 2010. Forty states and the District of Columbia submitted Race to the Top applications.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation selected 15 states, including Georgia, to benefit from technical assistance for RT3 application development. The states were selected based on how well poised they are to win Race to the Top based on progress in education policy and reform. Georgia partnered with The Parthenon Group, a consulting firm based in Boston, which specializes in part in education reform.

Georgia’s entire application can be viewed at http://gov.georgia.gov/00/press/detail/0,2668,78006749_154885747_155733684,00.html.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Georgia State accepts first-ever early admission class for fall 2010

In a sign that the institution is becoming more competitive, Georgia State University accepted for the first time an early admission class for fall 2010.

The 1,307 undergraduates had an average high school grade point average of 3.51 and an average SAT score of 1167.

Georgia State is a first choice of an increasing number of students in Georgia,” said Timothy Renick, GSU’s associate provost for academic programs. “This is a way of accommodating their interests and letting them know they have a seat and we want them to come here.”

The early admits have until April to confirm they are coming to GSU. Of the 1,307 students, 166 were made initial scholarship offers in December – another first for the university. These students had GPAs of 3.85 and SAT scores of 1333.

"Our reputation is getting better and by adding the residence hall, more clubs and organizations, we’re becoming a viable traditional institution,” said Scott Burke, director of undergraduate admissions. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in the quality of students applying to us early, which is a very positive sign.”

GSU is also setting records for enrollment for spring 2010. More than 29,000 students have registered for more than 350,000 credit hours, an increase of about 8 percent over last spring. And with almost 1,900 incoming students, Georgia State hit an all-time high for the number of new students admitted for spring semester.

“We are growing much faster than other research institutions in the state of Georgia,” Renick said. “I think students are attracted to our programs, our campus and what we have to offer.”

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ashworth College and Montgomery Job Corps Partner to Deliver Accredited High School Diploma Curriculum to Area Youth

/PRNewswire/ -- Ashworth College today announced that it has been named the exclusive provider of high school text books to Montgomery Job Corps. Ashworth, a leader in distance education, offers a wide range of flexible career-focused diploma and degree programs.

The Alabama Montgomery Job Corps affiliate and its national parent organization assist local youth, ages 16 through 24, to improve their quality of life through vocational and academic training. In combination with hands on career training, participating students complete core classes to fulfill graduation requirements.

"Our high school diploma programs have been developed to specifically address the needs of working adults and non-traditional high school students which makes Ashworth a natural fit," said F. Milton Miller, Ed.D. and Ashworth Vice President, Education.

"We're excited to be working with the Montgomery Job Corps Center. They are committed to teaching young people the skills needed to become employable which can include completing their high school education," Miller added. "By helping these students earn a high school diploma, together we will be giving them significant career advantages, compared to not having a diploma or a GED."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, high school graduates can earn as much as 23% more per year compared to someone who did not receive their high school diploma.

Ashworth offers an extensive high school curriculum which includes high school correspondence courses and high school online diploma programs in general and college preparatory studies, vocational high school and a broad range of single high school courses.

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Board Approves Recommendations On Regents Testing Policy

In the future, University System of Georgia (USG) students may be given a different assessment of learning than the current Regents’ Reading and Writing Skills Requirement, known commonly as the Regents’ Test. On January 12, the Board of Regents approved a change to its current policy requirement (Policy 3.7) that will allow an institution to petition the Board for an exemption to administering the Regents’ Test.

The policy change, which will only allow exemptions for institutions that satisfy the Board’s criteria, follows the October 2009 approval of a new core curriculum for the USG. The new core curriculum requires all USG institutions to develop learning outcomes and assessment measures in multiple subject areas, a requirement that could make the current Regents’ Test redundant.

Under the new core curriculum, to be fully implemented across the state by 2012, student learning assessments will be required in the following areas: communication, math, humanities, the fine arts, ethics, the natural sciences, technology, the social sciences, United States and global perspectives, and critical thinking.

“One of our goals in developing a new core was to make learning outcomes and assessment integral throughout the curriculum,” said USG Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Susan Herbst, “The Regents’ Test was, and still is, an important assessment tool. We will continue to use it as well as other measures to assure that our graduates are prepared to take their place as members of a global society.”

In order to be granted a waiver to giving the Regents’ Test, institutions must demonstrate that they have in place a rigorous learning assessment program that uses methods superior to the Regents’ Test. Herbst said that initially only a limited number of institutions will be allowed to stop using the Regents’ Test. Additional institutions will be added, as they implement the new core curriculum and demonstrate the effectiveness of their assessment measures.

Over the past five years, the Board of Regents has been evaluating the effectiveness of the Regents’ Test, which was first required in 1973. Today’s decision is the culmination of that process.

“The Regents’ Test was first adopted at a time when student assessment was just not being done nationally,” said Herbst. “At that time, Georgia was out in front of other public higher education systems in requiring a System-wide assessment of student learning. Today’s action, and our adoption of a new core curriculum this past fall, only strengthens our historic commitment to providing both transparency and accountability for good student outcomes.”

The approved changes will go into effect on a rolling basis. If an institution applies for and receives an exemption, they may eliminate the Test as soon as is possible and appropriate during the academic year.

More information on the USG’s new core curriculum can be found at: http://www.usg.edu/academic_programs/cpr/implementing_the_new_core_curriculum/

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

HHS Accelerates Head Start Quality Improvements and Submits Impact Study on 2002-2003 Head Start Programs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced plans to strengthen the Head Start and Early Head Start programs as part of an Administration-wide effort to close achievement gaps and promote early learning through the first eight years of life for the nation's most vulnerable children. These quality improvements respond to growing
evidence on what works in early learning policy and practice, and incorporates Congressional mandates from the 2007 reauthorization of the Head Start Act.

"Head Start is a key part of the Obama Administration's strategic focus on early learning," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announcing the new initiative. "The program provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition and social services to low income children and families. "Still, for Head Start to achieve its full potential, we must improve its quality and promote high standards across all early childhood programs."

A Congressionally-mandated study on the impact of the 2002-2003 Head Start program was submitted to Congress on January 13, 2010. The study measured the cognitive and social/emotional development, health status and behavior of approximately five thousand 3 and 4 year olds who were randomly assigned to either a control group or a group that had access
to a Head Start program.

"These results make it clear that we need to build a more coordinated system of early care and education, and to focus on key improvements to teaching and learning in the early grades," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Through our collaboration with our partners at
HHS, we have begun to tackle this challenge by identifying the key elements of high quality early learning programs, and studying what works to improve and sustain outcomes once children reach school."

The study showed that at the end of one program year, access to Head Start positively influenced children's school readiness. When measured again at the end of kindergarten and first grade, however, the Head Start children and the control group children were at the same level on
many of the measures studied.

"Research clearly shows that Head Start positively impacts the school readiness of low-income children. Now we must increase its effectiveness and continue to provide the support that our children, from birth to eight, need to prepare to succeed later in school and in life," Secretary Sebelius said. "The President has looked to HHS and the Department of Education to develop a coordinated and seamless plan to get children off to great starts, and to help families and
communities to break cycles of poverty."

To strengthen the impact of Head Start, HHS is in the process of:

* raising program performance standards
* increasing program accountability by only renewing grants for
high-quality, constantly improving programs
* improving classroom practices by providing higher quality training for
classroom teachers, staff and program directors and improving technical
assistance to grantees looking to improve their programs
* convening a research advisory committee to gather insights from the
Head Start Impact Study and other relevant research
* partnering with the Department of Education to collaborate with early
childhood education and ensuring continuity of quality programs

"Head Start has been changing lives for the better since its inception," said Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, Carmen R. Nazario. "Now we are raising the bar with the Head Start program to make sure it does all it can to expand children's vocabulary, develop math skills,
and help them engage with teachers and other children in ways that enrich their lives and prepare them for school and beyond. We will work to ensure that the advantages children gain in the program are sustained in the years ahead."

Nazario went on to explain how the Administration has begun to ramp up efforts to improve the quality of all early childhood programs, with a focus on those serving low income families. One key element to this integrated effort will involve the Early Learning Challenge Grant program now under consideration in Congress. The program, which would be administered jointly by HHS and the Department of Education, would challenge states to develop innovative models that promote high standards of quality in all early childhood settings - including Head Start, child care centers and public and private preschools. Funds would be granted to states already making progress on reform and excellence, allowing them to bring their models to scale. Grants would also go to states that show promise, but need additional assistance to launch a standards-based, outcomes-driven system.

Established in 1965, Head Start promotes school readiness for children in low income families by enhancing their social and cognitive development through educational, nutritional, health, social and other services. Head Start, and the more recently launched Early Head Start,
have provided services to 25 million children and currently serve nearly a million children each year.

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Regents Approve Changes To Student Fee Policy

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) today (January 12) approved five major revisions to its mandatory student fee policy; changes that give clear direction of the purpose of such fees and how such fees are developed, approved and applied.

First, the regents inserted a statement on the philosophy behind student fees: “student fee revenues are to be used exclusively to support the institution’s mission to enrich the educational, institutional and cultural experience of students.”

The four additional revisions are:

Student-fee advisory committees should be comprised of at least four students to encourage broad participation in the fee process (the current policy required 50 percent student committee membership);
An institution’s five-year plan for each of its auxiliary-enterprise operations should provide for adequate reserves (associated with mandatory student fees) for the continued viability of the programs;
Board approval is required for any fee or charge that is mandatory for all full-time undergraduate students or all undergraduate students in a specific degree program. All other elective fees will continue to be approved by USG presidents; and
Specific course fees for supplementary materials shall be approved by USG presidents (this is a clarification of the definition of course fees).
“Student fees enrich the college experience for students by funding programs and services that help to build relationships between students and their institution,” Usha Ramachandran, vice chancellor for fiscal affairs, said in presenting the proposed mandatory fee revisions to the regents. “Mandatory fees also help our campuses meet the high expectations students have for certain levels of service.”

The revisions were prompted by an ongoing effort within the University System to review and update all Board policies. Other areas previously reviewed and updated include business and ethics policies.

Mandatory fees are fees charged to all students at an institution and which cover the cost of specific services provided for students that are outside the academic programs covered by tuition. For example, such fees cover student activities, technology, intercollegiate athletics programs, healthcare, parking and transportation, and new facilities. In Fiscal Year 2009, mandatory student fees across the USG totaled $280 million. Many of the fees cover the System’s auxiliary services, which must be self-supporting and cannot be funded through state appropriations.

All mandatory student fees go through an inclusive development, vetting and approval process, Ramachandran said. Such fees begin with an institutional student-fee committee, followed by a request for the fee from the institutional president to the regents’ staff. Following staff review, fees that pass muster are recommended for approval to the chancellor, who then brings them to the full board for regents’ approval. No mandatory fee can be charged without final regents’ approval.

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Chancellor Davis: University System Cannot Continue Business As Usual

University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr., in his annual “State of the System” address to the Board of Regents today (January 12), evoked the challenges the first board faced in 1932 and said that to progress, the System cannot continue to do “business as usual.”

Davis called for a three-level response to the challenges posed by $323 million in budget cuts, record student enrollment and the end of $147 million in federal stimulus funding in 2012. “First, we will unleash the collective brainpower of this great System,” Davis said in outlining the three points. “Second, the Board of Regents will develop and set the key principles that will guide our institutions in their work and third, we will encourage our institutions to experiment with new ways of accomplishing our mission.”

With the creation of University System in the midst of the Great Depression, Davis said, “Gov. Richard Russell Jr. reinvented higher education in Georgia.” He said that that first board understood the need to invest in the future, despite the short-term economic crisis, and that the same philosophy holds true today.

The response to the economic situation, Davis said, must include an evaluation of the current academic model coupled with a back-to-basics approach. “It is going to be challenging to pay more attention to basics while at the same time calling for expanded innovation,” he said.

Institutional presidents must be given greater freedom to innovate and to collaborate with one another, Davis said. One of the areas of renewed focus will be on institutional missions. “I would prefer to see more institutions sharpening, honing and tightening their missions rather than seeking to expand them based upon institutional aspirations versus true state need,” he said. This may mean that some activities cease in order to align missions with reduced resources, Davis said.

Davis called upon the board to approve a set of principles that will be developed to guide the institutional presidents. “This work must begin immediately, as it is the most important step,” Davis said. He noted the development of principles would be a focus of subsequent board meetings this year.

These principles also will help direct innovation at the campus level, especially Davis said, among faculty. “We have over 40,000 minds out there that can address our challenges. Our faculty in particular have the capacity to blaze new ground,” he said.

The chancellor also gave a glimpse of some of the expected outcomes of this new approach to public higher education, which include best practices, some of which can be implemented System wide and some, which will be unique to an institution. He cautioned that along with some “stunning successes” would come some failures. “Remember, at one point Babe Ruth not only held the record for home runs, he held the record for strikeouts as well,” Davis said.

The full text of Davis’ remarks can be accessed at http://www.usg.edu/chancellor/speeches/chancellors_state_of_the_system_address_2010/

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Another 5,000 Charters Needed: Parental Demand for Charter Schools Surges 21% in One Year

/PRNewswire/ -- As more low-income and minority parents seek to remove their children from traditional public schools that chronically underperform, waiting lists for America's public charter schools have grown dramatically, a report released today reveals. According to The Center for Education Reform (CER), an average of 239 children are waiting to enter each charter school in America, demonstrating a 21 percent surge in parental demand for charters over last year.

Because laws in most states either limit the number of students who can enter charters, prohibit multiple authorities from authorizing the creation of charters, or limit the number of schools themselves, demand for charter schools now dramatically outpaces supply, the Annual Survey of America's Charter Schools 2010 indicates. In fact, 65 percent of U.S. charter schools have waiting lists, up from 59 percent in 2008, and some schools' waiting lists are more than three times the size of the schools themselves. The average charter school size is 372 students and it is estimated that the number of students on waiting lists would fill another 5,000 charter schools.

In Texas alone, it is estimated that 40,000 children are on waiting lists for charters schools. In Boston, the number is 8,000. As state lawmakers finalize applications this week for a share of the federal government's $4.3 billion "Race to the Top" education fund, reformers are hoping that legislators will expand access to quality schools for families.

"We frequently talk about the problems plaguing America's education system," said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform. "Charter schools and school choice demonstrate what's working in American education. When provided with good choices, parents make informed decisions and select the best schools for their children. Lawmakers should listen to their constituents and expand access to charter schools by allowing multiple authorities to create schools, ensuring fiscal equity, allowing schools to operate with more freedom, and lifting arbitrary caps on the number of schools permitted to open."

Data indicates that low-income and minority families make up the bulk of the parents seeking entrance into charters -- meaning that new charter schools would primarily benefit low-income children and children of color. Already, more than 54 percent of students in charters are classified as poor, half of America's charter schools serve student populations where 60+ percent of the children are poor, and children of color comprise 52 percent of charter school attendees.

Surprisingly, charter schools have achieved their popularity not through big budgets that let them spend lavishly (in fact, the average charter school receives $3,468 less in state and federal funds than the traditional public school), but by offering programs, services, and teaching formulas that parents want but can't find in traditional public schools.

For example, about 54 percent of charter schools allow for the possibility of performance pay programs for teachers, an incentive system that parents favor. Charter schools are also more likely to be smaller than traditional public schools and offer more instruction time -- other factors that increase demand. Interestingly, 76 percent of charter schools offer a specific instructional theme -- with more than a quarter of the schools specifically designed to prepare students for college.

"Good charter schools offer a refreshing lack of bureaucracy and red tape, allowing these schools to serve students, teachers, and the community in more effective ways," said Kevin P. Chavous, a distinguished fellow at CER.

In addition to demonstrating the demand for charters, the survey highlights both the operational and financial realities faced by the country's more than 5,000 charter schools. CER's Annual Survey of America's Charter Schools 2010 is the only national overview of the day-to-day operations of charters, as reported directly from the schools themselves. The survey is based on a comprehensive analysis from responses provided by nearly 1,000 out of America's 5,000 charter schools.

To read the survey or for more information, visit http://www.edreform.com/

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Governor Perdue Announces Plan to Transform Teacher Pay

Also unveils health insurance proposal, renews call for school board governance bill

Governor Perdue discussed a range of issues including education, water, transportation and health insurance reform today at the annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast hosted by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce at the Georgia World Congress Center.

At the breakfast, the Governor outlined a proposal to enhance the way Georgia compensates its teachers by adding a performance-based pay option to the existing salary system. The compensation model would award salary bonuses based on classroom observation and student growth, enabling effective teachers to be eligible for much higher salaries much earlier in their careers. Under the current system, teachers only receive salary increases for years spent teaching and for advanced degrees earned.

“Our current system only incentivizes the degree, not the degree to which students learn,” said Governor Perdue. “We must encourage our best and brightest to enter the teaching profession and must reward effective teachers in order to retain them in Georgia classrooms. Student achievement must be our driving force, and our compensation model must reflect that focus.”

The proposed legislation will preserve the current salary structure but will allow current teachers to opt-in to the new performance pay system when it is fully implemented in 2014.

New teachers and those opting into the pay system will not be eligible for automatic supplements for advanced degrees, but will be eligible for higher bonuses based on classroom observations and the degree to which their students have grown academically. In a recent survey of 20,000 Georgia educators, 80 percent said these were the components on which teachers should be evaluated. The bill will enable those already enrolled in advanced degree programs to complete their studies and remain in the current pay scale.

This proposal is part of Georgia’s Race to the Top application, a competitive federal grant that offers as much as $400 million for Georgia schools. Twenty-two local school systems have committed to teaming with the state on the application to implement innovative education policies, including a pay-for-performance plan.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt the pay-for-performance system by 2014, using the experience of the Race to the Top systems to develop a plan that will benefit teachers and students statewide.

With the news of Warren County’s loss of accreditation, the Governor also renewed his call for school board governance legislation to ensure that every student has the benefit of responsible leadership at the school system level. The legislation will standardize board ethics policies and board training, clarify the law delineating the roles and responsibilities of superintendents and board members, create minimum qualifications for board candidates, and give the state the ability to find responsible citizens to serve on school boards when existing members fail to serve the interests of their students.

“It is incredibly frustrating to watch the fallout from a dysfunctional school board undermine earnest teachers and jeopardize their students’ potential,” Governor Perdue said. “That’s why we brought this legislation last year, and now we find ourselves in a similar situation with yet another school system facing loss of accreditation.”

In his remarks the Governor also unveiled a health insurance reform proposal that will allow individuals to buy health plans that have been approved for sale in other states. Currently, consumers can only purchase individual plans that have been specifically approved for sale in Georgia, which limits their ability to find the best plan for their specific needs.

“With sweeping insurance mandates from Washington on the horizon, the time has come to open up the individual insurance market and allow consumers to find the plan that best fits their needs,” Governor Perdue said.

The Governor also discussed water and transportation issues facing the state, updating attendees on the progress of the tri-state water negotiations. As negotiations continue, the Governor will introduce legislation to encourage conservation and make more efficient use of Georgia’s natural resources.

Governor Perdue highlighted Georgia’s new statewide strategic transportation plan that will remove the politics of asphalt and concrete planning and focus instead on a comprehensive investment strategy. The plan is a direct result of last year’s sweeping transportation governance reform bill.
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The Home Depot Pledges $1 Million for Student Scholarships and Grants for Building and Construction Trade Schools

/PRNewswire/ -- The Home Depot®, the world's largest home improvement retailer, today announced $1 million in funding for its 2010 Pro Trade Scholarship Program. The Home Depot has more than tripled a $300,000 scholarship fund it first established in 2009 to support students attending professional building and construction trade schools.

This year's program will not only support individual students, but also the schools they attend. Specifically, $1,000 scholarships will be available to 500 trade school students to help them offset the cost of tuition, books and tools for their chosen trade. The schools of the scholarship recipients will receive additional funds for classroom tools from The Home Depot Foundation through matching gifts of $1,000 for each scholarship awarded to one or more of their students.

"Professional contractors are important customers of The Home Depot, and their future is vital to the American dream of home ownership and economic growth," said Chris Waits, vice president of The Home Depot Sales & Services. "Now, more than ever, we want to help our current and future pros build successful businesses."

Scholarship applications will be accepted through April 30, 2010 online at www.homedepot.com/tradescholarship, and are also available in a downloadable Spanish language format. The scholarship program is open to all students nationwide who are currently enrolled in a building and construction trade school program at a vocational/technical school, college or university. Winners will be selected based on a combination of academic performance, leadership and work experience.

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Legislators Should Make Education Reform a 'New Year's Resolution' for the New Decade, CER Says

/PRNewswire/ -- State legislators looking to make a lasting impact in the new decade should introduce a package of education reform legislation that will improve quality educational options for children, enhance the teaching profession, and promote and protect the US and its citizens by becoming an international leader in student achievement, according to the nonprofit Center for Education Reform.

The Center today encouraged legislators to adopt its list of "10 Steps to Education Reform in 2010" as their individual legislative New Year's Resolutions.

"As 2010 begins, the Center for Education Reform is keeping score again -- this time of state legislatures and whether they work to pass 10 critical reforms," said Jeanne Allen, The Center's president.

At the conclusion of the year, CER will rate each state on their attempts to pass legislation and their success at creating new laws that would:

1. Increase the ability of higher education, mayors and other independent
entities to authorize charter schools so more children have access to
quality public school options.
2. Eliminate arbitrary and unnecessary caps on the number of charter
schools that can operate in a state and on the number of students who
can attend charter schools.
3. Close the gap between the funding for traditional public schools and
public charter schools.
4. Allow charter schools to operate with operational autonomy and teacher
freedom -- freeing these schools to innovate and develop new best
practices that serve our children.
5. Develop a school voucher program or a scholarship tax credit program to
provide private school choice for children with special needs.
6. Begin the process of creating data systems that allow teachers,
principals, district officials and state officials to link student
achievement to teacher performance.
7. Protect teacher's paychecks by prohibiting automatic deductions of
union expenses that aren't related to collective bargaining.
8. Create a teacher merit pay pilot program that allows great teachers --
ones who improve student achievement -- to receive extra pay in
recognition of their hard work.
9. Increase pay for teachers willing to teach high-needs subject areas and
in high-needs schools.
10. Develop meaningful alternative routes to teacher certification for
talented mid-career changers who want to become teachers.


The Center also encouraged candidates for political office to use the "10 Steps to Education Reform" as a model for education campaign platforms.

"These 10 reforms would make a significant difference in the quality of education provided to children, and it is essential that lawmakers act quickly to make real education reform -- not reformist rhetoric -- a priority for the new decade," Allen said.

CER is currently the only independent national organization that scores each state on its charter school laws. CER's Charter Laws Across the States book is now in its eleventh year and, in December, received coverage in more than 100 publications. Based on the feedback of Charter Laws fans, the Center plans additional scoring reports on additional education reform topics for 2010.

The Center for Education Reform drives the creation of better educational opportunities for all children. CER changes laws, minds and cultures to allow good schools to flourish.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Obama's stimulus bill includes huge student aid investments

(ARA) - The Obama administration has set forth an extensive bill designed to get the economy out of the recession and moving again. This $70 billion bill has a large portion directed towards students and investing in their education.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.) said, "Our short-term task is to try to prevent the loss of millions of jobs and get our economy moving. The long-term task is to make the needed investments that restore the ability of average middle income families to increase their income and build a decent future for their children." The financing for continuing education will help people get the skills and knowledge they need to get jobs in the future, thus boosting the economy.

According to the summary of the bill released by the House Appropriations Committee, the bill would provide the following additional funding for student aid.

* Pell Grants: $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350 for the 2009-2010 academic year.

* Federal Work-Study: $490 million to support undergraduate and graduate students who work.

* Student Loan Limit Increase: Increased limits on unsubsidized Stafford loans by $2,000.

* Student Aid Administration: $50 million to help the Department of Education administer surging student aid programs while navigating the changing student loan environment.

The bill also provides funding that will benefit higher education institutions, including:

* $20 billion for school renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades and energy efficiency improvements: $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education.

* $1 billion for 21st century classrooms, including computer and science labs and teacher technology training.

* $79 billion in state fiscal relief to prevent cutbacks to key services, including $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities distributed through existing state and federal formulas, $15 billion to states as bonus grants as a reward for meeting key performance measures, and $25 billion to states for other high-priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include education.

"These kinds of incentives from the government don't come along very often," says Janet Hill, financial aid and education counselor at ClassesAndCareers.com, a free online education service. "If people have been thinking of going back to school, now would be the time to do it. If they are hurting financially, they can easily get the money they need to get a degree." These benefits are set to expire after the 2010-2011 school year and are available for campus and online colleges.

Thanks to a growing number of online education options, degree-seekers can take advantage of President Obama's stimulus bill without leaving their jobs. Sites like ClassesAndCareers.com have helped nearly 500,000 degree-seekers get their stimulus money and enroll in online universities.

"We help people learn how to take advantage of this bill," says Hill. "All they have to do is visit our form and fill it out. We guide them through the rest."

Anyone interested in going back to school can visit www.OnlineSchools247.com to see if they qualify. They simply fill out the form and an education advisor will help them get their share of the stimulus money and find the best degree program for them. Or, call directly at (888) 361-6349.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Georgia Southern University Named One of Top 100 Best Values in Public Colleges by Kiplinger

Georgia Southern University has been named one of the Top 100 Best Values in Public Colleges by Kiplinger, a leading publisher of personal finance and business forecasts. This is the second year in a row that Georgia Southern has appeared in the rankings.

“Georgia Southern University remains committed to providing our students with exceptional academic opportunities,” said Georgia Southern University President Brooks Keel. “We are very pleased that Kiplinger has again chosen Georgia Southern as one of the most outstanding values in the country. Now more than ever, it is important for parents and students to know that they are receiving the most for their educational investment.”

Georgia Southern University was one of only four Georgia schools to be ranked in 2010. Kiplinger bases its rankings on outstanding academic quality, affordable tuition and the availability of financial aid. Student/faculty ratios and on-time graduation rates are also factors.

“Record numbers of students continue to apply to Georgia Southern University. We offer a nationally-ranked College of Business Administration and the only College of Information Technology in the Southeast. Our nursing and education programs have been recognized for years as leaders in Georgia,” said Keel. “Our students also have the opportunity to interact with professors and conduct research alongside faculty. This kind of learning experience is one of the many things that makes Georgia Southern unique and helps us to stand out from other colleges and universities in the country.”

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Teach For America Offers Hispanics the Opportunity to Have a Positive Impact in Their Community

/PRNewswire/ -- Teach For America, the prestigious national team of teachers, announced today that it will soon end their selection period for new teachers for the 2010-2011 school year. The final deadline for submitting applications is February 19, 2010. Those interested can obtain information about requirements and present their applications online at www.teachforamerica.org.

Teach For America is a non-profit organization whose goal is to eradicate inequality in education through the recruitment and training of professionals and outstanding recent college graduates from all backgrounds and professional areas. The organization offers them an excellent opportunity to help their communities while at the same time allowing them to obtain a full-time job with a competitive salary, health benefits, financial support and training in different areas to ensure their success as educators and offer them the tools to become leaders and highly qualified professionals inside or outside the field of education. Additionally, becoming a member of Teach For America carries great prestige. BusinessWeek's 2009 ranking of "Best Places to Launch a Career" Teach For America came in at #7 and for the third year in a row was the top ranked non-profit organization.

Teach For America seeks individuals from all origins who have demonstrated leadership skills, high achievement in academic and extracurricular activities as well as in their work and family responsibilities. They will dedicate themselves to teaching in public schools, both in urban and rural areas, for a period of two years, offering the students in these low income communities, such as Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Chicago and Dallas, the opportunity to receive a high standard of education that is comparable to that found in schools in higher-income communities.

This 2009-2010 school year, Teach For America placed more than 4,000 new teachers in public schools in low-income communities across the country, representing the largest incoming corps in its history. They are now teaching in 35 urban and rural regions in over 100 school districts in 27 states and the District of Columbia. Some 7.3% identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, which represents an increase of over 1.3% compared with the previous school year.

Although students in low-income communities have the potential to reach the same academic levels as those students in more affluent communities, they confront additional challenges associated with growing up in poverty. On average at a national level, nine year-old students who live in low-income communities are academically three grade levels below students who live in high-income communities. Only 50% of these low-income students will graduate from high school, and those who do, on average, perform on an eighth-grade level. Only one in every 10 of these students will obtain a college degree. This considerably affects Hispanic students, who are three times as likely to live in low-income communities.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mercer: Henry County RAC Registration Extended Because of Weather

Because of inclement weather, hours for the on-site registration/orientation for the Henry County Regional Academic Center have been extended to Friday, Jan. 8, and Monday, Jan. 11, from 1 p.m. until the start of the classes that evening.

The original hours set for the registration were from 3-7 p.m. on Jan.. 7.

For more information, contact Stephen Jenkins or Crystal Frazier at (678) 547-6100 or kaseric_ss@mercer.edu.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

GSU to offer transatlantic degrees in international economics and modern languages

Georgia State University and the University of Venice were recently awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Education and the European Union to offer a transatlantic dual degree program for undergraduates in international economics and modern languages.

The degree program will be administered by Georgia State's College of Arts and Sciences and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, as well as the University of Venice, Ca' Foscari. The two institutions plan to award dual degrees to program graduates.

Next fall, the first cohort of students will begin the dual degree program that aims to train economists who are "culturally and linguistically fluent," said Richard Keatley, GSU lecturer for modern and classical languages and program co-director.

"Transatlantic degree programs are the wave of the future," Keatley said. "Graduates will have a year of experience in their own field in the European Union. When they'll complete the program, students will have two diplomas, which will allow them to work in the two largest market places in the world."

Six Georgia State students and six students from the University of Venice, Ca' Foscari will be selected to participate each year, for a total of 24 students over the four year course of the grant. Each student will receive a $12,000 stipend to pay for their education and travel expenses.

Undergraduates will spend more than a year abroad learning language and cultural perspectives, including a semester in France at the Université de Versailles, a third, non-degree-granting institution.

Georgia State students interested in the International Economics and Modern Language transatlantic degree program would apply during their sophomore or junior year. Once accepted, students would need to satisfy graduation requirements of the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents and the Italian National Certifying Board, as well as pass language certification exams in Italian and French.

GSU's proposal for the joint degree program was one of 25 selected this year for funding by the federal ATLANTIS program. ATLANTIS is jointly administered by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture. It provides grants for up to four years to add a European-United States dimension to international curriculum development and related student exchange.

Georgia State began the offering the International Economics and Modern Languages (IEML) degree program in fall 2006. It was designed to provide students with the analytical tools to do economic research, consulting and policy analysis on global issues, along with the language skills needed to work with the United States' major trading partners.

To date, only three language options have been available to IEML majors: French, German, and Spanish. The ATLANTIS grant adds Italian to the existing program and makes it financially easier for students to add a study abroad component to their degree program, said Shelby Frost, GSU associate professor of economics and program co-director.

"In today's world, it is increasingly important for economists to have a worldwide perspective," Frost said. "Globalization is the new reality and people that understand the global economy stand a much greater chance of making better policy decisions to improve our world."

For more information, please visit http://aysps.gsu.edu/BA_IEML.html.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sallie Mae Helps Students Pay for Spring Semester in Record Loan Disbursement Day

(BUSINESS WIRE)--As students welcome the new year and prepare to return to college, the Sallie Mae loan originations team is hard at work making sure that students have the funds they need to fulfill their education dreams. Yesterday, Sallie Mae disbursed 251,415 loans to students and families, a company record.

“We don’t want students to stress over how long it takes to get their loans”

“We take great pride in serving the needs of so many students and their families,” said Renee Mang, senior vice president, loan originations. “Students count on this money to be delivered on time and with the counseling they need to succeed, and they know they can rely on us.”

Sallie Mae is the largest private sector originator of federal student loans, serving nearly 4 million students and families annually. The company’s 600-person loan originations team is based primarily in Panama City, Fla., with supporting functions located in multiple locations across the country.

“We don’t want students to stress over how long it takes to get their loans,” said Jo Branda, disbursements supervisor, Sallie Mae Florida. “It is always a pleasure to be able to help our student customers. This is an exciting time for them, and it is exciting for us to help them.”

Separately, Congress is considering structural changes to the federal student loan programs. The company supports the President’s call for reform and continues to advocate for reform that would have service providers compete to provide quality service to students not only in loan servicing, but also in loan origination, and would enhance default prevention success by requiring servicers to share in the risk of loan default.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Upcoming Events at Clayton State University

Clayton State University has re-opened for 2010, although classes for the spring semester (not that it feels much like spring) won’t start until Monday, Jan. 11.

Clayton State Schedules Welcome Back Week for Students, Jan. 11-14

The Clayton State University Department of Campus Life is ready for the new year. Specifically, Campus Life has the schedule for its traditional “Welcome Back Week” for students in place.

Welcome Back Week will start with the first day of spring semester classes, Monday, Jan. 11, when Campus Life and the Clayton State Customer Service Team will hold another Clayton State tradition, the Ask Me! program. Ask Me! volunteers in bright orange T-Shirts will welcome new and returning students back to campus, assist with campus navigation, and distribute information about upcoming events. Ask Me! will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12.

Also on Tuesday, Jan. 12, the Campus Events Council will be making free Las Vegas Name Tags from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Main Street in 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

The Las Vegas theme will carry on to Wednesday, Jan. 13 with a fun-filled night in Las Vegas in the Student Activity Center ballroom. It’ll be a night of games, prizes and refreshments from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On Thursday, Jan. 14, Campus Life will hold its Student Involvement Fair from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Student Activity Center ballroom.

Clayton State Graduate Studies Open House, Jan. 12

The Clayton State University School of Graduate Studies will celebrate the new year on Tuesday, Jan. 12 by holding its first informational open house of 2010.

The open house will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 101 of the University’s Harry S. Downs Center on the main campus in Morrow.

The Graduate Studies open houses are now providing information on the new Master of Archival Studies program. In addition, prospective graduate students will have a chance to learn more about the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Master of Arts in Teaching English, Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics, Master of Business Administration, Master of Health Administration, and Master of Science in Nursing. The Clayton State School of Graduate Studies holds open houses on the second Tuesday evening of each month.

LEAD the Way Seminar and Service Learning Project for MLK Day of Service, Jan. 14

The Department of Campus Life will sponsor its first monthly LEAD the Way Seminar for the Spring Semester on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 at 6 p.m. in the Student Activities Center Ballroom C.

Eddie Yongue with Keep Clayton Beautiful will be the featured speaker to discuss the leadership needed in the community to preserve our natural habitats and vegetation and how these efforts impact community economic development.

Then students will have an opportunity to make the MLK holiday weekend a “Day On, and Not A Day Off” by volunteering with Trees Atlanta to plant trees and upkeep gardens in the city of Atlanta on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010.

Lianna Williams to Sing at Naturalization Ceremony, Jan. 15

The regional Department of Homeland Security Immigration Office was so impressed with Clayton State senior Voice Performance major Lianna Wimberly Williams’ performance at their recent naturalization ceremony at the National Archives at Atlanta that they’ve requested that she perform for their next mass naturalization ceremony, Jan. 15, 2010, at the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta.

Mezzo-soprano Williams, a Jonesboro resident, is one of the Clayton State music program’s most accomplished singers; performing in the Clayton State Opera and as a soloist in campus events and in concerts with the Clayton State Chorale, singing at the People’s Inaugural Gala Weekend and Ball in Washington, D.C., and being chosen by competitive audition for the fall 2007 Georgia National Association of Teachers of Singing master class.

Bernice King and Alejandro Mayorkas, the national director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service from Washington, DC, will be the speakers at the Jan. 15 ceremony at the MLK Center. Clayton State Staff Accompanist Alexander Benford will accompany Williams on the keyboard.

Clayton State’s 10th Annual Martin Luther King Commemorative Event, Jan. 21

Clayton State University’s 10th Annual Martin Luther King Commemorative Event will run from Monday, Jan. 18, 2010 to Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010 as will be highlighted by a showcase of talent and reflections on this year’s theme; “Dr. King’s Legacy: Where are we now? Where are we going?”

This year’s keystone event will take place on Thursday, Jan. 21 and will feature the Second Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Rally and March and the Showcase. The March (sponsored by the Tau Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and the Clayton State Department of Campus Life) will take the campus community along a historical journey and will reflect upon pivotal points during the Civil Rights movement. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the James M. Baker University Center Quad and will proceed to Spivey Hall where the Showcase will be held starting at 7 p.m.

Clayton State Homecoming, Jan. 30

The 2009/10 academic year is a special one for Clayton State University, as the University is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and the celebration will continue into January with a special Anniversary Homecoming.

Clayton State will have its Homecoming on Saturday, Jan. 30, as the Laker basketball teams will square off against Flagler College in Peach Belt Conference action at the Athletics & Fitness Center. The women’s game will tip-off at 1:30 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 3:30 p.m.

Black History Month, Feb. 1

The annual Black History Celebration at Clayton State University will begin on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010. The Department of Campus Life is currently in the process of organizing the calendar of events for this celebration.

Visiting Writers Reading Series Returns, Feb. 2

On Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m., the spring 2010 Visiting Writers Reading Series will open with novelist Patti Callahan Henry reading in room B10 of the Lecture Hall.

Henry is a New York Times bestselling novelist. She has six novels with Penguin/NAL ("Losing the Moon," "Where the River Runs," "When Light Breaks," "Between the Tides," "The Art of Keeping Secrets," and "Driftwood Summer").

Hailed as a fresh new voice in southern fiction, she has been short-listed for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and has been nominated for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Fiction Novel of the Year. She is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups where she discusses the importance of storytelling and anything else they want to talk about.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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