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A Mosque That Was Burnt Down Responds to Hate With Love

The son of the imam turns the other cheek in response to hateful social media comments.

Just two days after the fatal shooting at Chapel Hill, which killed three Muslim students, the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston was set on a fire, reportedly on purpose.

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Laid Off Finance Manager Finds Her Calling Teaching Middle School

Danielle Coulanges left the fast pace of New York City behind to teach French in Houston and she's not looking back.

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Getting laid off is never an easy pill to swallow, but for former New York City financial services manager Danielle Coulanges, it proved to be the push she needed to finally pursue a meaningful career: teaching. Coulanges used part of her severance package to go back to school and earn a teaching credential. Now Coulanges has found her calling teaching French to middle schoolers in Houston.

Coulanges is part of a hot trend of new teachers who are career changers. Like former USA Today sportswriter Steve Wieberg who recently left the paper to become a high school English teacher in Missouri, she's in her late fifties.

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KIPP's Graduation Rate Stats Spark Charter School Debate

Data from the charter school network shows a higher college graduation rate than for students attending regular public schools.


The debate over charter school effectiveness roars on thanks to new data from national charter network, KIPP. On Thursday they released a report showing that of the 209 students who attended the first two KIPP schools in New York and Houston 10 years ago, only 33 percent have gone on to earn a college degree. The results are way below KIPP's ambitious goal of 75 percent of students graduating from college, but the national college graduation average for students from predominantly low-income black and Latino student schools is a mere 8.3 percent. And, in the general population, only 30.6 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 to 29 have earned a college degree. By comparison, KIPP's first class has done great. But, does this mean that all charter schools—or all 99 KIPP schools nationwide—are high performing, and regular public schools should be converted to charters? Not exactly.

Every charter is different, but there are some commonalities. Many have cohesive school cultures around student achievement and work to invest and motivate the entire student body around academic goals. They also usually have much longer school days—KIPP students attend from 7:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m. and have mandatory Saturday classes. Charters often require that teachers be available to kids after hours. KIPP teachers are required to carry a cell phone, give the number to students, and be available till late in the evening for student and parent questions. And, most charter school teachers aren't unionized. Principals have the power to hire who they want instead of just being assigned a teacher by the school district, and they can fire a teacher immediately for any reason.

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Are 1000 Teach For America Teachers Worth $8 Million?

Teach For America's presence in Texas may be in jeopardy thanks to the state's $20 billion budget shortfall.


Teach For America's presence in Texas may be in jeopardy thanks to the state's $20 billion budget shortfall. Lawmakers seeking to slash programs have commissioned a study that will look at the effectiveness and retention rates of almost 1,000 Teach For America (TFA) teachers across the state. The question they hope to answer: Are those TFA teachers worth $8 million dollars?

Teach For America teachers commit to teach for two years in the state's most difficult to staff, lowest performing schools. The $8 million investment-$4 million for each year of the commitment-funds TFA's 5 week training program as well as ongoing support of the new teachers. Individual school districts then pick up the cost of salaries and benefits.

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Houston Gets Private Electric Car Charging Network

Texas might be getting the most innovative and practical electric car charging system in the United States. Surprise?


Houston, Texas, may end up being the first American city with a great electric car charging infrastructure. A company with the phonically awkward name of NRG Energy is rolling out "the world's first privately funded comprehensive electric vehicle ecosystem."

The system (or "ecosystem," in their overwrought marketing speak) is called eVgo and it employs a very interesting business model. NRG is going to install between 50 and 150 high-speed chargers in public places—think shopping centers and the like—by the end of 2011. They'll also be installing chargers in people's homes.

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