Mondays with Arne: Consensus and conversation with Georgia educrats

Just returned from Part 1 of U.S. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan’s  listen and learn whistle stop in Atlanta where he met with 20 representatives from education, state agencies, nonprofits and the business community at Tech High, an APS charter school in the shadow of the Gold Dome.

(The superintendents of Atlanta, Clayton, Decatur and Gwinnett were among the guests, as were a few top teachers and principals.)

Among the clear themes of the hour-plus discussion:

National standards are coming. All the speakers want them. Duncan said the problem would be selling the standards, noting that the conventional wisdom in Washington has been,  “Republicans don’t like  national and Democrats don’t like standards.” He said he can only be a cheerleader in this contest; it will fall to states to champion the standards.

Seated at his side was U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who said the greatest obstacles to passing No Child Left Behind, of which he was a sponsor, were the national standards and assessments. “It almost brought it to its knees,” he said, agreeing that it will be a challenge to win passage now of core standards. (Georgia is aboard; our governor is one of the leaders among his peers on the issue.)

Sitting in a charter school, Duncan was asked about the role of charters in the ambitious federal reforms. Duncan said the issue was not good charters, but good schools:

We need more good schools. Good charters are part of the answer. Bad charters are part of the problem.  We have both now and everything in-between.

In the context of more public charter schools, Duncan also called for the same education choice for poor families that affluent parents have always enjoyed:

What works for wealthy people would work for poor families as well. Poor families often had one choice and that choice has not always been great.

But Duncan said the bar to win charter school status has to be set very high. Then, there has to be real autonomy and true accountability.  He also said that successful charters can’t be content to be islands of excellence, but must become beacons to show other schools how to succeed. He did not get into the details of replicating school successes; the scaling up has always been a problem.

At one point, civic leader Tom Bell related the struggle to launch Atlanta’s Drew Charter, telling Duncan how it took more than two years because of the resistance of teachers and APS administrators. A few minutes later, APS Superintendent Beverly Hall prefaced her comments to Duncan by noting that Drew encountered its problems under the previous regime in Atlanta, not hers.

(Hall was commended by both Duncan and Isakson. The senator mentioned her in his introductory remarks, calling both Hall and Duncan “the real deal.” Duncan later called her an inspiration.)

As usual, people were exceedingly polite. I kept hoping someone might ask Duncan to glance around the Tech High auditorium – covered holes in the walls flanking the stage and a clock stopped at 12:03 — and ask about adequate school funding.

I am heading now to a meeting between Duncan and Grady High students. Let’s see if the teens are more direct in their statements.

29 comments Add your comment

Larry

December 14th, 2009
12:53 pm

Yeah, the Georgia Charter School Commission exhibited major head swelling at their meeting this morning because Duncan & company visited a charter school. I can’t really blame them.

After the gloating, they approved seven and denied 21 applications, which should spawn some interesting comments.

jm

December 14th, 2009
12:58 pm

amen. APS handicaps charter schools, which is an abomination. Furthermore, parents in Atlanta should be able to send their child to any school of their choosing in the system, similar to Charlotte. We need charter schools, real and more magnet schools especially for science and math, and we need to give parents the choice of where to send their kids within APS. Only then will APS get better….

Mac

December 14th, 2009
2:02 pm

Wonder what his take was on IE2?

what if...?

December 14th, 2009
3:00 pm

What if we dissolve the APS and let them just join the Fulton County system? What if we then let students attend any schools within that system? I can see that a lot of people living in the norther Fulton County pushing for creating a separate county up there…

Attentive Parent

December 14th, 2009
3:21 pm

Maureen,

Are you familiar with the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program? Its effectiveness and Duncan’s insistence on defunding it.

And you simply quote him about how poor children should have what wealthy children already have in their schools.

In education apparently, if the rhetoric sounds good, the reality is ignored.

jennifer

December 14th, 2009
3:33 pm

I predict more direct questions from the students at Grady. I have seen their student leaders in action – it gives me great hope for this next generation of students.

Hope Alvin was listening about the choices for the poor with regard to public educational options. He can save face now by dropping Ivy Prep from his vanity lawsuit which is under the guise of taking a leadership position for other districts in the state. I am quite sure he wishes that school would just go away. quietly.

Looking forward to round two feedback.

jm

December 14th, 2009
4:06 pm

Beverly Hall doesn’t deserve much credit for the test score improvement. The removal of the housing projects basically bailed APS out of bad test scores. Hall should be thanking AHA a thousand times over. Only when real improvement and competition is introduced in APS can we hope that it will improve. The state could help by requiring better and more equal funding of charter schools.

Glenn Dowell, Ed.D.

December 14th, 2009
4:20 pm

Just a quick blog to say that the draconian Kathy Augustine did not make the top three cadidates for Superintendent of Schools in Birmingham, Alabama. I spent every waking hour talking with major community stateholders in Birmingham, informing them that they do not want this woman running (ruining) their school district. Much of the information I shared with them centered on the school environment that she and Hall have created in Atlanta, where the pychophantic Board of Education believes that they work for Hall rather than the reverse. I am sure that Hall, too, wants to leave Atlanta before the next round of student test scores are made public. KEEP RUNNING, KATHY AUGUSTINE-BIRMINGHAM DID NOT WANT YA!!!!!

Glenn Dowell, Ed.D.

December 14th, 2009
4:21 pm

Just a quick blog to say that the draconian Kathy Augustine did not make the top three candidates for Superintendent of Schools in Birmingham, Alabama. I spent every waking hour talking with major community stateholders in Birmingham, informing them that they do not want this woman running (ruining) their school district. Much of the information I shared with them centered on the school environment that she and Hall have created in Atlanta, where the pychophantic Board of Education believes that they work for Hall rather than the reverse. I am sure that Hall, too, wants to leave Atlanta before the next round of student test scores are made public. KEEP RUNNING, KATHY AUGUSTINE-BIRMINGHAM DID NOT WANT YA!!!!!

Michael

December 14th, 2009
5:40 pm

For you to take credit for Kathy Augustine withdrawing her name from the Birmingham job is ridiculous. She withdrew before they eliminated anyone and the fact is that she was the most qualified for the position.

Get a new agenda

EducationCEOn

December 14th, 2009
6:52 pm

I can’t believe Wilbanks had the unmitigated gall to show his face, especially in the presence of a Democrat! I guess he wanted to see if Blacks lived in other parts of Atlanta since he was not sure if they lived in Idaho. If there is a such thing as karma, justice, etc..by some miracle his contract will not be renewed. Gwinnett needs a leader serious about closing the achievement gap for students in the subgroups. Look closer at the data..just because a school makes AYP does not mean the subgroups (especially students with disabilities) makes AYP.

James

December 14th, 2009
8:46 pm

What would happen if every student was given a $9,000 voucher to be spent at the state approved educational institution of their choice? Presumably 80%+ would stay at their current home school. A precious few might move – would that be the end of the world?

Thank you Glenn Dowell

December 14th, 2009
9:12 pm

Thank you Glenn Dowell, for putting a higher priority on being exceedingly truthful on behalf of what’s best for children, than on being exceedingly polite at the expense of the truth.

Dr. John Trotter

December 14th, 2009
10:19 pm

Dr. Dowell: I am glad that you too are familiar with the game…not the NFL or NBA game, but the game of superintendent swapping (more salacious than perhaps wife swapping). If a superintendent is a dog in one district, then having that superintendent to pack his or her suitcases and move 500 miles from their last “house of ill repute” will not make that superintendent pure as the driven. A crazy a_s superintendent is a crazy a_s superintendent, no matter what zip he or she resides in. These gypsy superintendents are educational hirelings at best and educational harlots at worse. Glenn, I heard that you had been burning up the lines to B’ham. Now I see why. You must have worked with the folks in Atlanta, eh? Keep givin’ heck, Dr. Dowell! (c) MACE, 2009.

Glenn Dowell, Ed.D.

December 14th, 2009
10:48 pm

Michael………

Logic is being taught in most colleges and universities today. It was placed in the curriculum because graduates enetering the job market were unable to use deductive reasoning which in some instances could negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Obviously you missed the course if you attended a post-graduate institution. SO HERE’S THE LESS YOU MISSED:

AT KATHY AUGUSTINE’S AGE AND STAGE IN LIFE IT IS INCONCEIVABLE THAT SHE WOULD APPLY FOR A JOB AND WITHDRAW HER NAME. LOGIC WOULD INDICATE THAT THE WITHDRAWAL WAS PREDICATED ON HER NOT BEING CONSIDERED WORTHY ENOUGH FOR THE POSITION.

FOR THE RECORD, I DONOT CARE WHAT YOU BELIEVE, THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT I PUT MY “2 CENTS” IN WITH A LOT OF FOLKS IN BIRMINGHAM AS DID A LOT OF OTHER FOLKS WHO BELIEVED THAT SHE WAS NOT THE BEST CANDIDATE.

QUESTION TO YOU MICHAEL: HOW DID I KNOW THAT SHE WAS NO LONGER BEING CONSIDERED? THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT SHE DID NOT GET THE JOB AND BIRMINGHAM DID NOT WANT HER.!!!!!! LET’S SEE HOW APS PUT A SPIN ON THIS.

Glenn Dowell, Ed.D.

December 14th, 2009
10:50 pm

Michael………

Logic is being taught in most colleges and universities today. It was placed in the curriculum because graduates entering the job market were unable to use deductive reasoning which in some instances could negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Obviously you missed the course if you attended a post-graduate institution. SO HERE’S THE LESSON YOU MISSED:

AT KATHY AUGUSTINE’S AGE AND STAGE IN LIFE IT IS INCONCEIVABLE THAT SHE WOULD APPLY FOR A JOB AND WITHDRAW HER NAME. LOGIC WOULD INDICATE THAT THE WITHDRAWAL WAS PREDICATED ON HER NOT BEING CONSIDERED WORTHY ENOUGH FOR THE POSITION.

FOR THE RECORD, I DONOT CARE WHAT YOU BELIEVE, THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT I PUT MY “2 CENTS” IN WITH A LOT OF FOLKS IN BIRMINGHAM AS DID A LOT OF OTHER FOLKS WHO BELIEVED THAT SHE WAS NOT THE BEST CANDIDATE.

QUESTION TO YOU MICHAEL: HOW DID I KNOW THAT SHE WAS NO LONGER BEING CONSIDERED? THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT SHE DID NOT GET THE JOB AND BIRMINGHAM DID NOT WANT HER.!!!!!! LET’S SEE HOW APS PUTS A SPIN ON THIS.

Glenn Dowell, Ed.D.

December 14th, 2009
10:56 pm

THANKS DR. TROTTER…..WE MAKE DISAGREE ON A LOT BUT YOU ARE RIGHT ON THE MONEY WHEN YOU CRITICIZE BEVERLY HALL AND HER CABAL OF MISCREANTS.

ABCs of logic

December 14th, 2009
10:57 pm

Logic is why there is the saying, the handwriting is on the wall. Logic is why the convenient phrase personal reasons was invented, so that candidates who are clearly eliminated from contention can bow out gracefully.

Dr. John Trotter

December 14th, 2009
11:00 pm

Dr. Dowell: It’s all part of the game. If you are not going to be selected, they let you know ahead of time so that you can “withdraw” your name and try to save face. I am sure that “Michael” is probably not “Michael.” “Michael” may even be “Kathy.” Oh the games that our educrats play. They are indeed ruining the public schooling process. It’s all about the cheddar. (c) MACE, 2009.

Ima Jarrell

December 14th, 2009
11:19 pm

Y’all don’t even know who I am. I was the Atlanta superintendent before John Letson who was before Alonzo Crim who was before J. Jerome Harris who was before Benjamin Canada who was before Lester Butts who was before Betty Strickland who was before Beverly Hall. I got things done. Know what I mean? And I did it without a lot of fanfare and without a lot of cheating going on and without bodyguards and drivers and fake national honors by fellow superintendents from the Broad Institute which self-perpetuates incompetence and in-breeding. Yeah, my nickname might have been “I’m a barrel Jarrell” but I knew how to honorably run a school system where teachers were respected and esteemed and students were required to behave. I worked for the school board, not vice versa. I would have been honored to have a sagacious and prescient educator like Dr. Dowell on my staff. It appears that Ms. Beverly Hall wants sycophants on her staff. Hey, what ever happened to that bright and intelligent young man who started teaching at Price High School? I think his name was Dr. Norman Thomas. Did Beverly Hall run off him as well? It seems that all the bright educators in Atlanta have been run off by this Jamaican-New York cabal of eduthugs. Hey, Thelma, are you still allowed to frequent the Taj Mahal on Trinity?

Glenn Dowell, Ed.D.

December 14th, 2009
11:32 pm

iMA jARRELL…..

YOU ARE SO RIGHT. DR. MUNFORD-GLOVER WAS ONE OF BEVERLY HALL INNER-CIRCLE SYCHOPHANTS. SHE WAS A HIGHLY PAID DRIVER WHEN REQUIRED AND ATTENDED TO HALL’S NEEDS. IT IS AMAZING TO ME THAT THE ATLANTA COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS
WHO ARE NOT PAID OFF, DO NOT REBEL AND KICK HALL AND COMPANY OUT OF OFFICE. TO THINK THAT HALL ORCHESTRATED IN HER OWN WAY PRINCIPALS CHEATING ON TESTS AND NOW WANTS THE PUBLIC TO BELIEVE THAT SHE IS A “SAVIOR.”

When you thought you heard it all

December 14th, 2009
11:39 pm

DekalbSchoolWatch reports that in the midst of a fiscal disaster that has lead to teacher benefits cut, bus driver’s pay being slashed, and even with declining enrollment, Crawford Lewis is demanding a raise.

‘“I am going backwards,” Lewis said Wednesday. “I can’t continue doing this. I am not a rookie anymore.”

Can someone bring poor Crawford Lewis a hot meal and a blanket?

Dr. John Trotter

December 15th, 2009
12:11 am

Hey Crawford Lewis: You worse than a rookie; you are a joke-of-superintendent. If the DeKalb County Board of Education does not force you out for the cheating, bullying, and apparent conflic-of-interests in the contruction of school facilities, etc., then members of the DeKalb County Board of Education will suffer defeat. Crawford Lewis, you are a joke, and you want more money? Not. http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

Dr. John Trotter

December 15th, 2009
12:25 am

I repeat without typos…Hey Crawford Lewis: You are worse than a rookie; you are a joke-of-a-superintendent. Sorry about the typos, but I guess that I just reacted so quickly to this reprehensible report that Crawford Lewis actually wants more money! Money follows successful performance, not abysmal performance, right?

Bill Denton

December 15th, 2009
8:53 am

There is a very simple reason why national standards have never worked and will never work – the United States is a very big and very diverse nation. Each of the 50 states has different educational practices, different student bodies, difference cultural norms over education, different tax bases, different economic bases, etc. So, there are 10,000+ variables that would need to be monitored in order to effectively set a standard. A one size fits all approach does no justice to this variability.

[...] Ga. — Seven new charter schools: Is this a good thing? (Atlanta Journal Constitution) Ga. — Mondays with Arne: Conversation with Ga. educrats (Atlanta Journal Constitution) Md. — Don’t expand charter schools (Baltimore Sun) Mich. — [...]

Cobb County Parent

December 15th, 2009
12:37 pm

Hey Dr. Dowell — you think Hall is bad? Attend a Cobb County School Board meeting and see King Fred Sanderson for yourself. You’ll even get a glimpse of our $8 million legal eagle… and finally, you’ll bear witness to the dysfunctional family that is the school board. They think nothing of publiclly dressing down a board member for visiting a HS he is zoned to represent, all because he didn’t ask permission first… yet, two of them visited a HS they don’t represent and that’s okay. I could go on and on. Now… if you decide to speak, you may be lucky to be allotted 90 seconds… or less. If Chairman Abraham and his posse find your opinion offensive to their delicate ears, he will have you personally escorted from the podium by one of the cops. It’s never a dull moment up here.
As for the national standards — that all sounds peachy-keen, but I would suggest everybody read what Kathy Cox and our “No-Friend-of-Education” Governor are trying to commit us to. These standards are a joke. If we were serious about education, we’d ask Massachusetts real nice if they would be willing to sell us a copy of what they’re using. At least we know their curriculum gets results.

[...] Secretary Arne Duncan seemed to have the most fun with the students at Grady High School. (See earlier blog on his session with educators and community [...]

[...] Secretary Arne Duncan seemed to have the most fun with the students at Grady High School. (See earlier blog on his session with educators and community [...]