Monday, November 30, 2009

Gang turf wars on Twitter?

The city's street gangs are becoming tweet gangs. Manhattan's young thugs have turned to Twitter, and the cops who track them are fast behind, the Daily News has learned.

It's old-school crime meets new technology: attacks being plotted - and thwarted - 140 characters at a time. One investigator recently warned parents and teens that the bastion of OMG and LOL has been infiltrated by violent crews waging turf wars.

A boy shot in the leg weeks earlier on Lenox Ave. may have been targeted because of a battle the Original Young Gangsters crew started on Twitter. "It's horrible," NYPD Lt. Kevin O'Connor of Manhattan North's gang intelligence unit told a forum in Harlem.

A basic search of the social-networking site for OYG or Jeff Mob, the gang based in the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem, yields shout-outs and throw downs. "I knoe bitches from oyg that would dead mob yah s--t in harlem," one girl wrote in a series of tweets aimed at drawing out a rival for a fight.

Investigators are monitoring the traffic in hopes of sweeping up gang bangers before the bloodshed - and searching Twitter after attacks for clues. "It is another tool ... just like old phone records," a police source said. "We can go through them [messages] to track these guys."

Harlem pastor Vernon Williams, who runs Perfect Peace Ministry Youth Outreach, said his staff uses Twitter, MySpace and instant messaging to keep track of 4,000 at-risk teens. A week ago, Twitter helped the volunteers stop a street war after they saw the Get Money Boys, based in the St. Nicholas Houses on W. 127 St., exchanging threats with Goodfellas and The New Dons, based just a few blocks north.

"They were threatening to go and hurt two people," said Williams, 51, who sent staff out to find the tweeters.

An NYPD spokesman and the Manhattan district attorney's office declined comment on the phenomenon, and Twitter did not respond to e-mails.

Gang members who grew up in the digital age are blasé about their tweeting. One 15-year-old in the 28 Gunnaz gang said it's just like any other "form of communication," except that the world can listen in on the conversation.

That feature can actually fuel disputes. A heated exchange between rivals on the service can turn into a full-fledged beef when others get wind, he said.

A 15-year-old nicknamed Lil V, who belongs to The New Dons, says Twitter is useful for "settin' up the fights" and making plans.

He seemed aware that the cops or anyone else could follow them - and said the gang takes precautions, using lingo gangsters from an earlier era wouldn't even understand. "We got our own page," Lil V said. "Our page is private."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reclassification of juniors to avoid taking the PSAE

Rich East High School in Chicago has seen state test scores for its 11th-graders improve by a stunning 37 percent during the last two years - a gain so impressive that regional education officials asked the Park Forest school to host a seminar to help others emulate its success.

There's only one problem: Rich East did not give the Prairie State Achievement Exam to about 40 percent of its juniors last school year. And it excluded the ones furthest behind academically.

It's not the only school to keep the most underachieving students off the books, according to a Tribune analysis of new state Report Card test data.

School districts statewide are using a loophole that allows them to define what constitutes a "junior." By ratcheting up the credit hour requirements, schools are disqualifying thousands of third-year high school students from taking the 11th-grade exam that is the primary tool to hold the schools accountable for student achievement.

Many then take the test as seniors, but their scores are not used for state and federal No Child Left Behind accountability purposes. In fact, the state does not even track how well seniors perform on the test.

School officials say that giving students more time in class better prepares them for the exam.

A Tribune analysis found that 20 percent of Illinois sophomores didn't officially advance to junior-level status last year and, therefore, never took the exam.
Officials with the Illinois State Board of Education have known for years that schools were reclassifying juniors. But the practice became so pervasive last year, state officials said they launched an investigation. They will not provide any details of what they uncovered, saying they will present their findings to the state testing review committee this month.

"This is not an appropriate way to engage in the accountability system," said Joyce Zurkowski, who oversees student assessment for the Illinois State Board of Education. "This is an accountability test, and it's the gauge of how ready students are. By keeping out the kids who are most at risk, you are not being held accountable."

It's impossible to know exactly how many third-year high school students skipped the PSAE last school year because they were not counted as juniors.
But a Tribune analysis shows there were about 167,000 sophomores in 2007-08. By last school year - when this class moved into its junior year - only about 133,000 took the exam, according to the state data.

So 34,000 students - about 20 percent of the original sophomore class - either dropped out, transferred out of state or, most likely, simply were not counted as juniors.

In many cases, the missing students then reappear on state enrollment data as seniors come to their fourth year, according to state data. So, in effect, they were never classified as juniors on state enrollment data.

Traditionally, Illinois high schools have determined what class a student is in based on years in school. In the last five years, however, many districts began basing it on credit hours completed.
More recently, districts ratcheted up the requirements by insisting that students complete specific courses in math, English, social studies and science before they advance. As a result, thousands of students have not advanced as juniors.

How widespread is the practice? In 130 of the state's 660 high schools, at least a quarter of students dropped off the radar between sophomore year and junior test-taking time, according to a Tribune analysis of 2009 test score data.

Tom Truesdale, associate superintendent of Thornton School District 205 in the south suburbs, defended the district's decision to reclassify students. "I don't see this as gaming the system," he said. "We want to make sure students are adequately prepared. The credit hour requirements are used so students can adequately matriculate through the system and be ready to meet graduation requirements."
Read entire article here.

Title 1 schools using stimulus money to pay parents for involvement

Indiana - "It's part of a two-year effort at the South Bend Community School Corp. to tackle one of the most daunting challenges of students who fall behind: How do you get their parents more involved?

Henson is paid with federal stimulus money in the district's new Helping Hands program, which this fall began hiring parents of struggling students in various jobs at 11 of its Title I schools, which contain large numbers of poor kids. For $10 an hour, parents help up to 20 hours a week in the cafeteria, at recess, in the classroom, whatever is needed.

'By osmosis, they will learn how the school works,' says James Husband, program coordinator.

Deeper lessons, though, come from a partner program that's also fueled by stimulus money, Parent University, where parents at the same schools learn to help their children learn.

'We believe parents care; they just don't know how to help,' says Husband, who'd served as assistant principal at Jefferson and Marshall intermediate centers."

Read the entire article here, read about how parents are selected here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I wanna wear my daddy's shoes Part III

What is the real issue here; is it the fact that the colleges and the athletics companies are exploiting players by forcing them to use specific equipment; or is this about Michael Jordan's son acting like a spoiled brat? So Adidas steps aside and Nike will step in and save the day. Just what Marcus wanted.

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- A fight over the shoes Michael Jordan's son will wear at the University of Central Florida has cost the school any future sponsorship with Adidas.

"The University of Central Florida has chosen not to deliver on their contractual commitment to adidas," Adidas spokeswoman Andrea Corso wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "As a result we have chosen not to continue our relationship with them moving forward."

First-year guard Marcus Jordan wore a pair of white Air Jordans during UCF's 84-65 exhibition win against Saint Leo on Wednesday, the Orlando Sentinel reported on its Web site. Jordan has said he will wear only his father's Nike Air Jordan shoes because they hold special meaning to his family.

UCF is in the final year of a five-year contract with adidas that requires coaches and athletes to use the company's apparel and equipment.

"We are disappointed to learn that adidas has chosen to discontinue its relationship with UCF Athletics," the school said in a statement released by spokesman Joe Hornstein. "Once we receive official notice we will be able to further respond."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I wanna wear my daddy's shoes Part II

Marcus Jordan, son of basketball hall of famer Michael, will play in his first Central Florida game while wearing Air Jordan shoes, Bright House Sports Network reported Wednesday.

A source told the network even though UCF has a deal with Adidas, Jordan will wear Nike's Air Jordan shoes against Saint Leo in an exhibition game on Wednesday.

Jordan also wore the Air Jordan sneakers in a team scrimmage on Sunday.

Jordan will wear the Adidas uniform, with the exception of the sneakers. UCF's three-year deal with Adidas is worth $1.9 million for the school. It expires in 2010.