Archive for July, 2010

Stuck in the middle again. I go back to middle school Monday when my twins start sixth grade.

I am going back to middle school.

It's back to middle school for me Monday, when my twins begin sixth grade. I am not looking forward to it.

It's back to middle school for me Monday, when my twins begin sixth grade. I am not looking forward to it.

My twins begin sixth grade Monday, going to the same middle school that my older two children attended.

I found middle school the weak link in my children’s k-12 education, which opened with a fantastic elementary school and concluded with a strong high school experience.

Middle school was another story, in part because their school went through a series of principals in six years, each bringing a short-lived flurry of changes that destabilized the school and the teachers.

The school boasted some wonderful teachers, but the overall experience was a disappointment and the atmosphere off putting.

Parents often felt they were entering a prison under lock down when they visited the school during the day, half expecting to be checked for  contraband themselves.

I know that many people argue that middle school is of small importance because …

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Georgia math students stymied by accelerated pace and complex concepts expected in high school

One of the most well-informed group of posters on this blog has been parents and teachers concerned over the state’s new methodology for teaching math. I am eager to hear their comments on the statewide End of Course test results for Math II.

According to the AJC:

Only 52 percent of the students who took the End of Course Test for Math II in May passed, the state recently reported. Many students in metro Atlanta schools who took the tests squeaked by with barely passing grades, earning modest average scores of C’s and D’s for their districts.

The freshman class, meanwhile, fared somewhat better on the Math I End of Course Test, with 64 percent passing.

The benchmark scores reflect what several educators and parents have been saying all along: The new math curriculum, souped-up to get teens competitive for college, is leaving some students in the dust.

Tamela Cosby, an Atlanta Public Schools high school teacher, said only 20 percent of her ninth- and 10th-graders passed the …

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President Obama’s education speech today: Status quo is “morally inexcusable… economically indefensible.”

President Obama said we can longer accept the status quo in education

President Obama said we can longer accept the status quo in education

In a speech today at the National Urban League Centennial Conference, President Obama described education as “the economic issue of our time.”

Here is part of the speech. (Please read the entire speech, if you can):

It’s an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have gone to college.  It’s an economic issue when eight in 10 new jobs will require workforce training or a higher education by the end of this decade.  It’s an economic issue when countries that out-educate us today are going to out-compete us tomorrow.

Now, for years, we’ve recognized that education is a prerequisite for prosperity.  And yet, we’ve tolerated a status quo where America lags behind other nations.  Just last week, we learned that in a single generation, America went from number one to 12th in college completion rates for young …

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Is it worth screaming over a demon mascot? Isn’t Demons better than the Chipmunks?

UPDATE AUG. 9: Warner Robins police say they’ve charged pastor Donald Crosby with picketing without a license for protesting Warner Robins High School’s “Demon” nickname and mascot. Police spokeswoman Tabitha Pugh says 36-year-old Crosby was arrested on Monday after police told him he didn’t have a permit, as required by the city.

Crosby and supporters set up the protest outside the school on the opening day of classes because of their opposition to the nickname. He says his son attends the school and he doesn’t want him exposed to the name’s connotations

Original blog:

The crusade to rid Warner Robins High School of its demon name and mascot seems as silly to me as an effort I once read about to ban devil costumes from school Halloween parades.

I understand the concerns of the pastor leading the effort but don’t believe that cheering on their football team iby exhorting “Go demons” is going to lead Warner Robins High students astray.

Mascot fervor seems to depend on the …

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Maybe, you did learn everything you needed to know in kindergarten — if you had a strong teacher

 A new study suggests the benefits of quality kindergarten are much greater and far-reaching that believed.

A new study suggests the benefits of quality kindergarten are much greater and far-reaching than we knew.

In response to Atlanta attorney Emmet Bondurant’s controversial opinion piece calling for a greater slice of the lottery funds for pre-k and less for HOPE, many posters countered that early childhood education is a waste of money. After reading the more than 200 comments, Bondurant plans a response to his critics, but I thought this New York Times column also addresses many of the points he made.

The column by David Leonhardt also speaks to two issues that come up here a lot: the value of education and the importance of teacher quality. Posters often disagree that we ought to be directing more Georgia teens to college, arguing that kids can do quite well without advanced education and that the value of a degree is slipping in this recession. Not so, says Leonhardt.

There’s also resistance on the blog to the notion that teacher quality matters and we need to improve the …

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APS and Fulton reach pact on poaching student case involving Riverwood high. Awaiting judge’s approval

Thanks to a Get School poster who sent me a note today that the case of the poaching school had been resolved. Back in the spring, Atlanta Public Schools filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court seeking to stop Riverwood International Charter School — a Fulton high school that sits in Sandy Springs just over Atlanta’s northern boundary — from recruiting city students.

The issue in contention was funding since the APS students who moved to Riverwood brought along their funding. In its lawsuit, Atlanta alleged that Riverwood was recruiting and enrolling students from Sutton Middle School and North Atlanta High School, which it maintains violated state law. (Here is one of my first posts on this story for deeper background.)

The tip led to this new AJC story:

Atlanta and Fulton County have tentatively reached agreement to end what Atlanta officials said was the systematic recruitment of students away from city schools.

The agreement comes in response to a lawsuit filed this …

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Gov. Sonny Perdue: Race to the Top is not federal intrusion. Georgia poised to win this time.

The governor’s office issued this celebratory statement today in response to Georgia being named a Race to the Top finalist:

Gov. Perdue is thrilled that Georgia is a finalist yet again for Race to the Top grants.

Gov. Perdue is thrilled that Georgia is a finalist yet again for Race to the Top grants.

Gov. Sonny Perdue today announced that Georgia has been selected as one of 19 finalists by the U.S. Department of Education for the second round of federal “Race to the Top” grants. Georgia stands to receive up to $400 million over four years to implement its plan if selected.

“While like the Oscars it is an honor to be nominated, we look forward to celebrating a win in this race,” said Gov. Perdue. “This grant is an opportunity to further align funding and state education policies with our desired outcome of improved student achievement.  Georgia has again demonstrated our credentials to win a Race to the Top winner and we are ready to begin implementing these reforms with our partnering school districts.”

The Race to the Top fund is a $4 billion grant …

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Georgia is in the race again. We are one of 19 finalists for Race to the Top. Good news or not?

We’re in the running again as expected.

The finalists for Race to the Top grants are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington DC, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

With our strong third-place finish last time, I figured that that Georgia would be a finalist again. However, I still wonder about whether the anti-RTTT feelings in the state will hurt us when the winners are announced in September.

John Barge, the Republican nominee for state school superintendent, is opposed to the federal $4 billion competitive grant program, raising the question of whether the feds will award Georgia the money with the possibility of a critic at the helm of  the state DOE come November. Libertarian  candidate Kira Willis also opposes RTTT. Democratic nominee Joe Martin supports the program overall.

There is a lot of discussion about whether Race to the …

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I hope we are a Race to the Top finalist today. Georgia needs a push to catch up in education.

Bloggers at Education Week have compiled their list of states likely to be finalists today for Race to the Top grants, which will be announced by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at 1 p.m. (Check back later for the results.)

Georgia is on the the Ed Week list.

With our strong third-place finish last time, I agree that Georgia ought to be a finalist again. However, I still wonder about whether the anti-RTTT feelings in the state will hurt us when the winners are announced in September.

John Barge, the Republican nominee for state school superintendent, is opposed to the federal $4 billion competitive grant program, raising the question of whether the feds will award Georgia the money with the possibility of a critic at the helm of  the state DOE come November. Democratic nominee Joe Martin supports the program overall.

There is a lot of discussion about whether Race to the Top is losing its appeal. Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, South …

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The race is on: We find out tomorrow if Georgia is finalist again for Race to the Top grants

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will deliver a major speech on education reform and announce the Race to the Top finalists Tuesday, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Ok Larry, I will bet you lunch on this one. Georgia will be a finalist again. (I am not sure whether we will be a winner come September, as I think our uncertain political climate — we could elect a school superintendent dead set against Race to the Top, if John Barge wins — might hurt us in the final award round.)

We narrowly missed getting grant in round one. We’ll see if our third place finish, after winners Tennessee and Delaware, works for us tomorrow.

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