Archive for June, 2010

Why would Memphis or any school system reinstate corporal punishment?

Since discipline seems to be on a lot of people’s minds today, I am bringing up a regular topic of mine — the inexplicable attachment to corporal punishment by schools.

Memphis is considering lifting a 5-year-old ban on corporal punishment in its schools.

Why?

At a board meeting this week, Memphis City Schools Board Commissioner Dr. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr.  introduced a resolution to restore corporal punishment.  The Memphis board will discuss at a meeting next month.

There is already resistance. At DetentionSlip.org, an effort is under way to launch a boycott of Memphis if corporal punishment is reinstated. (Here is a link to a national effort to ban corporal punishment in all public schools through federal legislation.)

UPDATED: I decided to see how often corporal punishment is used in Georgia. One hundred of Georgia’s 191  systems used corporal punishment in the 2008-09 school year, according to reports that they submitted to the state Department of Education. In total, the …

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Would voucher proponents support public tax dollars going to a school founded on atheism?

When pro vouchers lawmakers in the Georgia Legislature talk about using public money to send children to private religious schools, they are usually envisioning Christian institutions.

But what if parents took taxpayer dollars and enrolled their children in a school that advocated anti-American or anti-Christian beliefs?

What if a cult leader decided to create a school – a David Koresh type  – and have his followers use public money in the form of vouchers to fund it. That would be legal under the voucher philosophy that parents can use their taxpayer-funded vouchers to send their children to the school of their choice.

Here is a story out of England that raises a very interesting scenario  — public money for a school that would disdain organized religion. Would lawmakers here defend such schools? Would the public embrace vouchers if the money went to schools that taught ideas outside mainstream Georgia?

I doubt it. I think the outcry at the Capitol would be loud enough to be …

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Can’t blame McDonald’s or schools for children’s eating habits. Or can we?

Interesting news story today about the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group, threatening to file a lawsuit against McDonald’s, saying that the fast food chain’s marketing of its Happy Meal toys “has the effect of conscripting America’s children into an unpaid drone army of word-of-mouth marketers, causing them to nag their parents to bring them to McDonald’s.”

Blaming McDonald’s for obese kids is akin to blaming schools. I have disagreed on this issue with some of my food writer friends who believe that schools ought to be teaching nutrition through what they serve in the lunchrooms and that schools play a key role in childhood obesity.

I don’t think McDonald’s is the parent here. Nor are the schools. If parents don’t want their kids to eat french fries, say “no” when the kids ask to go to McDonald’s. If parents don’t like the calorie counts of school lunch options, pack a lunch for the child.

I remain leery of expanding the …

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A letter to the new superintendent: Georgia has “the lowest level of expectations…Get in the driver’s seat.”

Get Schooled reader Mary Jessie wrote a letter to new state school superintendent Brad Bryant that I thought made some good points, so I am sharing it here. Mary is a former teacher and administrator and has worked in APS and Fulton schools. She served as president-elect, president and program chairperson of the Georgia Association of School Personnel Administrators from 1996-2002 and is now an education management consultant.

I think she plots out a great plan of action for Bryant and for whomever the voters elect in November.

Dear Mr. Bryant:

Last week when Gov. Perdue appointed you as Interim State School Superintendent, he gave you what Dr. Mark Wilson, principal of Morgan County HS calls, “the power to act.” I don’t have to tell you how challenging this will be; however, I hope that when you accepted the appointment, you already possessed the knowledge that something is very wrong with education in Georgia and that you have a vision for what education should be and is …

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Check out how your system fared on CRCT. Scores are now online.

The state has released system-wide CRCT scores. The AJC has them for you online.

DOE says individual school results will be released by July 8.

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Latest poll: School superintendent race close in GOP; Martin leads Dems, but run-off is possible

For political junkies, here is a new poll that shows Roy Barnes coasting to victory next month and John Oxendine in a possible run-off with Karen Handel or Nathan Deal although he has twice their numbers  at this point.

The poll also shows a too-close-to-call race in the GOP primary for school superintendent and Joe Martin in the lead in the Democratic side. (The poll says Martin — with 40 percent of the votes now — could be in a run-off with either of the two Democrats, suggesting that Brian Westlake and Beth Farokhi need to focus on each other. Undecideds in the race are 30 percent. )

Take a look. I am surprised at some of the low numbers for some of the gubernatorial candidates. The poll suggests that this a race between Barnes and Oxendine. I think we know what education will look like under Barnes because he has a track record. I have no idea what education would like under Oxendine.

Do you?

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Interim school superintendent Brad Bryant begins other job: Independent candidate in November.

The AJC invited the candidates for state school superintendent to answer four questions, which appeared in the weekend newspaper and here on the Get Schooled blog. (Look back a few entries and the candidates are listed one by one.) Newly appointed interim superintendent Brad Bryant declined, saying that he was not yet officially on the ballot as an independent candidate as he had to first collect 44,000 signatures to earn a spot.

He is now in search of those signatures. See the e-mail that Bryant is sending out to supporters that serves both as a resume of his achievements and a call to arms:

Friends:

As Kay and I celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this week, we are so very thankful for your friendship. The last week has been extremely exciting because it confirms what the two of us already knew – that Georgians across this state are passionate about providing our children with a great education. We look back at our adult lives and are proud that education has been a …

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Advice to APS and Dr. Hall: Be open, decisive and angry

Here is a good piece by former AJC editor Hank Klibanoff offering some sound advice to APS Superintendent Beverly Hall in the ongoing investigation of possible CRCT tampering. (The results of that probe were scheduled to be released today, but are being delayed a few weeks.)

By Hank Klibanoff

There’s not much mystery about what we’ll soon hear from the panel investigating possible cheating by teachers and administrators at Atlanta public schools on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. It’s going to be ugly.

The only question, given her track record in these moments of public embarrassment, is how Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall will respond. Based on recent behavior, Hall could miss an opportunity to restore confidence in APS with strong words and concrete action. I have a little history with Hall, and some advice.

About three years ago when I was managing editor for news at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hall and I met at a breakfast arranged by …

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Will a new delay in the release of APS CRCT report add to suspicions about the probe?

Not sure what to make of the announcement that the much-awaited report on possible CRCT test tampering in Atlanta schools is being delayed, possibly for several weeks.

I agree that accuracy is important but wonder whether the delay will intensify suspicions- especially here on the Get Schooled blog where Dr. Hall has many vocal critics –  that the findings are being massaged to shift blame from APS leadership.

According to Kristina Torres in the AJC:

Gary Price, chairman of the independent panel formed to look into irregularities on state standardized tests at city schools, said last week the committee would release major findings and recommendations Tuesday, although he said then that the full report would not be complete by today. But on Monday, a statement from Price indicated that even the summary isn’t ready.

He did not offer a specific timeline for release of the investigation’s results but said the group’s investigators need more time to complete their work.

“We do not …

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Birthplace of charter schools tightens controls and increases accountability of sponsors

One thing that remains murky to me is how accountable the state Charter Schools Commission – which a Fulton County judge recently ruled is constitutional – is for the schools that it approves over the objections of local boards of education. The commission is here in Atlanta, but it is approving schools across the state.

As the authorizer of the schools,  how is the commission held accountable if one goes bad or if parents are unhappy and can’t go to the local school board to complain since the local folks had nothing to do with the school’s approval?

At a media briefing earlier this year, Charter Schools Commission member Jennifer Rippner surprised me when I asked whether parents of  students in a commission charter school could ultimately turn to the charter commission with complaints that they felt were not being dealt with by the school itself or its board of directors.

Her answer was “yes,” raising the possibility of unhappy parents trying to track down the seven …

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