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Inside Ed
Education news and issues
Former Western High principal charged with stealing $61K from school

The former principal of Baltimore's storied Western High School was indicted Monday on charges that she stole more than $61,000 from the school system — most of it from a fund meant to pay for student activities such as the prom.

A Baltimore grand jury indicted Alisha R. Trusty, 38, on 10 counts of felony theft and one count of misappropriation by a fiduciary. A new principal has been appointed at Western, but a city schools spokeswoman declined to say whether Trusty was still on the system's payroll.

"Public school principals are trusted and relied on by the school system, students and parents to always act in the best interests of their students," State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said. "Betrayal of that trust by a principal who steals student activity funds is a particularly reprehensible offense that cannot be tolerated."

Western is the oldest all-girls public school in the nation. It routinely places all its students in college. Several years ago, it was designated a National...

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9 city schools to receive $386,000 gift to stem dropouts

Nine Baltimore schools on Thursday will celebrate a gift of more than $386,000 for a program aimed at lowering student dropout rates in the city.

The gift, from AT&T, is funding "peer group connection programs" created by the Center for Supportive Schools, a dropout prevention institute at Princeton University. It comes as more city students are electing to stay in school: Dropout rates decreased from 23 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2013.

The programs are in the form of a for-credit class for juniors and seniors, who each spend time each week with a pair of freshmen, counseling them and giving them "a sense of connectedness and belonging," said Margo Ross, the center's director of development.

The money was donated this summer and has either created or expanded programs at Academy for College and Career Exploration; Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women; Carver Vocational-Technical High School; Coppin Academy High School; Digital Harbor High School; Mergenthaler...

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Counting the hours of testing for students? Add kindergarten and Advanced Placement tests.

We tallied the number of hours of mandatory testing in every grade in area schools, but there were several tests that lots of students take that were left out that can add significantly to the totals.

In high school, most Maryland students take at least one or more Advanced Placement tests. While no one is complaining about those tests, they are high stakes. A student's score on the tests can make a difference in college admissions.

There's also the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, a new state test that has kicked up some frustration on the part of teachers in the past several months.

We haven't included this test in the total number of testing hours because the state says it can't predict how much time it will take for teachers to give the test. State officials say teachers can administer it by watching a student or groups of students interact while working on a specific task.

But teachers and school administrators are reporting back that they are spending 45 minutes or an hour...

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Debate rages over how many hours Maryland students should be tested each year

Even as public school systems in Maryland and other states prepare to give longer and more challenging standardized tests this spring, a national debate has erupted over just how many hours students should be tested in a year.

Teachers unions deride the growing emphasis on testing as a mania that is hijacking American education. In Florida, parents are rebelling against new tests and threatening to keep their children out of testing. And national education leaders, who for years believed schools would improve if they were held accountable for test scores, are looking at whether testing has become too onerous.

"I think what you are seeing across the country is this backlash against state testing," said Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, who believes there may be moves in coming years to reduce federally mandated testing.

This year, an eighth-grader in the Baltimore area will spend from 14 to 46 hours taking tests, depending on which school district he or she is in....

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Missing grant payment, potential conflict of interest cited in UMES audit

A state legislative audit released Friday found that the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore could not account for a $25,000 grant payment made to its foundation, prompting the auditor to refer the matter to the criminal division of the state attorney general's office.

The Office of Legislative Audits, which reviewed the university's finances from 2010 to last year, also told university officials to contact the State Ethics Commission about a possible conflict of interest stemming from a business relationship between the foundation and a company owned by a UMES employee who also worked with the foundation.

The audit found that UMES allowed two university managers working with the foundation "to exercise virtually complete control over the grant transactions for both entities."

University system guidelines state that while a university's employees can work with its foundation, they cannot represent both in negotiations.

In addition to citing UMES for a lack of accountability over...

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Arundel high school students get sobering lesson in justice

Far removed from the personalities and courtroom drama depicted on television, local students recently witnessed the captivating and sobering realities of the criminal justice system firsthand.

About 100 students from criminal justice classes at Old Mill and Arundel high schools convened at the Robert F. Sweeney District Court Building in Annapolis on Thursday to spend the morning watching court proceedings and speaking with members of the judicial system.

The three-hour session was the latest installment of Schools in the Court, a program of Anne Arundel County District Court that teaches students about the legal system while delivering cautionary tales about the importance of making good decisions.

"It's the first time most of our students have had an interaction with our court system, and we like it to be in this setting. It's positive and eye-opening and a really nice, risk-free environment where they can ask questions," said Maureen McMahon, assistant superintendent of Anne...

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