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Sunday, December 7, 2014


Grammy in the Schools:

Recipient and Finalists to Receive Cash Honorariums, with Generous Support and Resources Provided by the GRAMMY Foundation®'s Education ChampionsConverseDisney Performing ArtsFord Motor Company Fundand Journeys
Second Annual Award will be Presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, during GRAMMY® Week

WHO:             A total of 10 music teachers from 10 cities across nine states have been announced as finalists for the second annual Music Educator Award™ presented by The Recording Academy® and the GRAMMY Foundation®. In total, more than 7,000 initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states.
WHAT:           The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in their schools. A joint partnership and presentation of The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation, this special award will be presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception (honoring recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY®Award) on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, during GRAMMY Week.
As announced on the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards® by President/CEO of The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation Neil Portnow, TV and radio host/producer and GRAMMY Foundation Honorary Board Chair Ryan Seacrest, and nine-time GRAMMY winner Justin Timberlake, the award is open to current U.S. music teachers, and anyone could nominate a teacher — students, parents, friends, colleagues, community members, school deans, and administrators. Teachers are also able to nominate themselves, and nominated teachers are notified and invited to fill out an application.
Kent Knappenberger of Westfield Academy and Central School in Westfield, N.Y., was the recipient of the first annual Music Educator Award. Knappenberger was recognized during the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast in a segment featuring Portnow along with nine-time GRAMMY winner John Legend and Seacrest.
One recipient will be selected from 10 finalists each year, and will be recognized for his/her remarkable impact on students' lives. The 2015 winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants. The honorariums and grants provided to the finalists and schools are made possible by the generosity and support of the GRAMMY Foundation's Education Champions ConverseDisney Performing ArtsFord Motor Company Fund, and Journeys.
WHEN:           A complete list of finalists is below. The winner will be announced in February. Applications for the second annual Music Educator Award are currently online; to nominate a teacher, visit The deadline to nominate a teacher for the 2016 Music Educator Award is March 15, 2015. The application process will adjust each year to allow the broad array of effective teaching styles and methods used in the discipline to be recognized and awarded.

First Name      Last Name                  School                                                 City                             State
Steven              Acciani                         Diamond Bar High School                      Diamond Bar                CA
William            Bennett                         Cane Bay High School                           Summerville                  SC
Jared               Cassedy                        Windham High School                           Windham                      NH
Charles             Cushinery                     Ed W. Clark High School                       Las Vegas                     NV
Krista               Fanning                         Caddo Middle Magnet                           Shreveport                    LA
Richard             Maxwell                       Arcadia High School                              Phoenix                        AZ
Debra               Reilly                            Springhouse/Orefield Middle Schools      Allentown                     PA                               
Huber               Smith                            Maplewood Middle School                     Sulphur                        LA
Nancie              Tobison                         Barrington High School                          Barrington                     IL
Danny              Yancey                         Martin Gifted & Talented Magnet School   Raleigh                         NC                                                      
Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @TheGRAMMYs onTwitter, like "The GRAMMYs" on Facebook, and join the GRAMMYs' social communities on FoursquareGetGlueGoogle +, InstagramPinterestTumblr, and YouTube.
The GRAMMY Foundation was established in 1988 to cultivate the understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture. The Foundation accomplishes this mission through programs and activities that engage the music industry and cultural community as well as the general public. The Foundation works in partnership year-round with its founder, The Recording Academy, to bring national attention to important issues such as the value and impact of music and arts education and the urgency of preserving our rich cultural heritage. In recognition of the significant role of teachers in shaping their students' musical experiences, The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation partnered to present their first Music Educator Award in 2014. Open to current U.S. music teachers in kindergarten through college, the second annual Music Educator Award will be presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception during GRAMMY Week 2015. For more information about the Music Educator Award, please visit For more information about the Foundation, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, please like "GRAMMY in the Schools®" on Facebook, follow the GRAMMY Foundation on Twitter (@GRAMMYFdn) and join us on Instagram (@GRAMMYFdn).
Converse Inc., based in N. Andover, Massachusetts, is a wholly owned subsidiary of NIKE, Inc. Established in 1908, the Converse brand has built a reputation as "America's Original Sports Company" and has been associated with a rich heritage of legendary shoes such as the Chuck Taylor® All Star® shoe, the Jack Purcell® shoe and the One Star®shoe. Today, Converse offers a diverse portfolio including lifestyle men's, women's and children's footwear, apparel and accessories. Converse product is sold globally by retailers in over 160 countries and through 87 company-owned retail locations in the U.S.  For more information, visit
Disney Performing Arts unlocks student potential and helps young people make their own dreams come true — whether it's performing in front of an international audience of thousands at Disney theme parks and resorts or honing their craft in enriching workshops and clinics taught by entertainment professionals. Every year, thousands of vocal, instrumental, and other ensembles travel from around the world to participate in Disney Performing Arts programs at the Disneyland Resort in Southern California and the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Disney delivers workshops and performance opportunities that enrich, inspire and often lead to life-changing personal achievement. 
Ford Motor Company Fund & Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. For more than 60 years, Ford Motor Company Fund has operated with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. The award-winning Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches new drivers through a variety of hands-on and interactive methods. Innovation in education is encouraged through national programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. Through the Ford Volunteer Corps, more than 25,000 Ford employees and dealers work on projects each year that better their communities in more than 30 countries. For more information, visit
Drive 4 UR School was developed as a fun, efficient way to help high schools raise money to support their sports and extracurricular activities while engaging with Ford vehicles. Ford dealerships partner with a local high school to conduct a test-drive fundraising event. For every valid test-drive completed, Ford Motor Company donates $20 to the participating high school, up to $6,000. Since 2007, Ford has donated nearly $25 million to high schools nationwide.
Journeys is a leader in the teen specialty retail scene, with more than 800 stores in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Journeys uses fashion savvy and merchandising science to keep in step with the fast-paced footwear and accessories market for 13- to 22-year-old guys and girls. Journeys offers a wide variety of trendy, relevant brands that cater to teens that seek the hottest, new styles. However, the Journeys store is more than a retail environment — it's an extension of the teen lifestyle. From the plasma TVs playing exclusive content and the latest music videos, to the visual merchandising strategy and promotions, to the employees whose image and style reflect the customers' lifestyle and attitude. In addition, Journeys reaches its customers through, a mobile website, catalog, national advertising, strategic cross-promotions, social media and grass-roots events like the Noise Tour. Journeys — An Attitude You Can Wear! Journeys is a division of Genesco Inc.

Teachers union candidates win Jefferson Parish School Board majority |

Teachers union candidates win Jefferson Parish School Board majority |

Teachers union candidates win Jefferson Parish School Board majority

The high-profile battle for control of the Jefferson Parish School Board reached a climax Saturday when candidates backed by the Jefferson Federation of Teachers regained a majority of the nine seats. Melinda Doucet andRicky Johnson, union picks in the 2nd and 7th Districts, defeated business-backed opponents in the runoff elections, putting organized labor candidates in five seats on the board that takes office in January.
Their victories mean that the union achieved the voting bloc that business activists won in 2010. For 2015, Doucet and Johnson join Ray St. Pierre, Cedric Floyd and Marion Bonura. The business-backed slate is comprised of Larry Dale, Sandy Denapolis-Bosarge and Melinda Bourgeois. Mark Morgan, the union-endorsed board president, has emerged as the swing vote. 
The races was closely watched and financed by the American Federation of Teachers, and its president, Randi Weingarten, cheered the outcome on Twitter: "Public schooling won tonite" (sic). The national union funneled almost $650,000 into the races in recent months, with $200,000 of that coming just before the election. 
Business interests, by contrast, contributed $400,000 to their candidates over two years. The spending disparity caused business leaders to charge that the national union was out to influence local politics. 
Money wars aside, the two newly elected union-backed candidates have outlined their stances, to an extent, on key issues. Johnson has indicated that he would push for another collective bargaining contract with the union, after the School Board scrapped that contract in 2012. Doucet said she wouldn't push for collective bargaining, though she said teachers should be better treated. 
Johnson has decried the board's move to close seven schools. Doucet has criticized its accounting practices. 
No matter the politics, the School Board has some important decisions to make next year. Superintendent James Meza Jr. is on the verge of retirement, which means the search for a new leader is forthcoming. And a recent spike in Central American immigrant students has forced officials to find long-term funding and resources, especially for new students struggling to learn English. 
The Jefferson Business Council's executive director, Tony Ligi, who has supported business-backed incumbents, said as much Saturday. "The bottom line, in whatever should happen, is we need to continue to improve the Jefferson Parish school system," he said. "Kids are depending on that." 
Doucet and Johnson are not alone in their criticism of Meza and the School Board's reforms. Some teachers have loudly opposed the rejection of collective bargaining. 
Ligi said that if a union contract is reinstated, he hopes for a "happy medium," chiefly one in which principals still have freedom to fire ineffective teachers. Teachers now work under individual contracts that are up for renewal at the end of each school Teachers union candidates win Jefferson Parish School Board majority |

ALEC clears path for for-profit charter companies to cash in after school closures « Education Votes

ALEC clears path for for-profit charter companies to cash in after school closures « Education Votes:

ALEC clears path for for-profit charter companies to cash in after school closures

by Félix Pérez
Memphis, Tenn., is no stranger to school closures. The Shelby County School District closed four schools in 2012 and 2013 each. And the district, despite a wave of parent- and clergy-led protests and a petition that generated 6,000 signatures, voted last month to close nine schoolsand combine two others.


Sign the petition to tell ALEC to stop cashing in on kids. CLICK HERE ›
At a recent school board meeting, the Rev. Dwight Ray Montgomery said, “If Dr. King were here today, he’d be standing where I’m standing today, unafraid.”
In Newark, N.J., parents and educators are organized and speaking out against a proposal by the state-appointed superintendent to close or consolidate more than a dozen schools.
Last week, special education teacher Marie Blistan, testifying before the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Schools, called the plan “misguided, top-down and illegal.”
The proposal “poses a threat to the very notion of universal public education designed to serve every school-age child in New Jersey,” said Blistan, vice president of the New Jersey Education Association.
Whether in Memphis, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, or Chicago, communities hit by school closures bemoan the loss of a longstanding neighborhood asset. Residents say school board members and local elected officials give short shrift to displaced students, many of whom have to walk long distances through dangerous neighborhoods to reach their new schools, some of which have poor records on academics, discipline and safety.
In Chicago, where some 100 schools have been closed since 2001 and 88 percent of the affected students were black, students commute to their new schools through gang areas using “safe passage” routes designated by the police department.
Aside from the less-than-anticipated savings realized by school districts and the likelihood that many students are moved to academically underperforming schools, critics of school closures take issue with the influx of out-of-state for-profit charter school companies that benefit financially from distressed communities and siphon money from underfunded public schools. In many instances, these for-profit schools are not accountable to parents or school boards, have mixed records of academic success, and are exempted from many of the standards and requirements with which public schools must comply.