Archive for July, 2010

Gone but not forgotten. Kathy Cox still racks up votes in Tuesday’s primary.

So how many Republicans went ahead and voted for Kathy Cox, the former incumbent school superintendent who resigned too late from the race for her name to be taken off the primary ballot?

Any votes for her are being discarded and will not show up in the tallies. A poster below says that Cox  garnered 47.29% of the votes in Baldwin County. I suspect that may have been the case in other areas where voters were unaware that Cox had resigned her position to take a job with a Washington think tank.

Former state School Superintendent Kathy Cox wasn't in the race today, but was still on the ballot.

Former state School Superintendent Kathy Cox wasn't in the race today, but was still on the ballot.

Consider that 585,000 votes were cast in the GOP primary for governor. (These tallies reflect about 85 percent of the precinct results.)

In the GOP primary for school chief, only, 362, 235 votes were cast, meaning that either a lot of Republicans didn’t bother to vote in the race or they voted for Cox. (John Barge was just declared the winner in a close primary race with Richard …

Continue reading Gone but not forgotten. Kathy Cox still racks up votes in Tuesday’s primary. »

Barge and Martin win. Voters have distinct choice in school chief race now.

Updated at 12:20 a.m. to note John Barge’s victory.

 John Barge won the GOP primary Tuesday.

John Barge won the GOP primary Tuesday.

Former APS school board member Joe Martin handily won the Democratic nomination for school superintendent, while Bartow County school administrator John Barge won a close GOP contest.

Now, voters have a clear choice in November. Nothing shows the differences between the two candidates more clearly than their stands on the federal Race to the Top grant program, which Georgia is competing for this summer:

John Barge:

The current leadership did not help its image recently with their announcement that they would be pursuing $200 – $400 million in federal grant monies through an initiative of President Obama’s called Race to the Top…. I’m sure you will find as many around the state have found, this will put FAR TOO MUCH power in the hands of the federal government to control our school systems.

I have this one question: Is the less than 1% of our total educational budget for a year worth …

Continue reading Barge and Martin win. Voters have distinct choice in school chief race now. »

Any gamblers out there? In race for school chief, I say Joe Martin and John Barge win tonight.

Candidate John Barge

Republican candidate John Barge

I plan to be watching primary returns tonight and will be around blogging later, but here’s my prediction:

Joe Martin wins the Democratic nomination for state school chief and John Barge takes the Republican slot.

That’s the easy part. I make no predictions in the November race. Having heard Barge twice now at debates, I think his anti-feds theme will cost him more votes than it will gain him.

On the other hand, Martin has to fight that “inside the Beltway” veneer as well as the fact that he is in the party out of favor in the state.

Joe Martin, Democratic candidate

Democratic candidate Joe Martin

However, I think Martin could be helped by Roy Barnes on the Democratic ticket. We can discuss this later, but I feel that Karen Handel, the likely Republican nominee for governor at this point, will pay a price for lacking a college degree. I suspect many voters will think twice about voting for a governor who did not graduate college.

Also,  my colleague, Nancy Badertscher, is …

Continue reading Any gamblers out there? In race for school chief, I say Joe Martin and John Barge win tonight. »

Can students call their principal a “big steroid freak” or worse on the Internet with impunity?

Should a teacher have a right to do anything more than steam when a student posts on Facebook or MySpace that she was the worst teacher ever? Can students post photos of their principals with the captions “Big whore” and “big steroid freak.”?

facebook (Medium)Ken Paulson, president of the Newseum and First Amendment Center, is a former co-worker of mine back when I used to work for a newspaper in Florida. He takes on these thorny issues in an op-ed in USA Today.

(He was one of those journalists with a law degree, so he had great depth on legal issues and, as this piece shows, still does. I think law and journalism are a great pairing.)

I am torn on this issue, as I think such postings contribute to a toxic environment in schools, but I also value freedom of speech, even when the speech is idiotic.

I also worry that the kids themselves do not understand not only the injury to their victims from their juvenile rantings, but to their own futures. I know prospective employers who have eliminated …

Continue reading Can students call their principal a “big steroid freak” or worse on the Internet with impunity? »

An insane federal policy; To get grant, school has to fire passionate principal

UGA education professor Peter Smagorinsky sent me this New York Times story under the subject line “insanity.”

It is insanity. It is one of those “destroy the village to save it” situations that seem easily correctable if someone had a functioning brain and five minutes to think about it:

I hope someone in the White House is reading and acting:

BURLINGTON, Vt. — It’s hard to find anyone here who believes that Joyce Irvine should have been removed as principal of Wheeler Elementary School.

John Mudasigana, one of many recent African refugees whose children attend the high-poverty school, says he is grateful for how Ms. Irvine and her teachers have helped his five children. “Everything is so good about the school,” he said, before taking his daughter Evangeline, 11, into the school’s dental clinic.

Ms. Irvine’s most recent job evaluation began, “Joyce has successfully completed a phenomenal year.” Jeanne Collins, Burlington’s school superintendent, calls Ms. Irvine “a …

Continue reading An insane federal policy; To get grant, school has to fire passionate principal »

DOE released AYP report today. High schools still lagging.

DOE says fewer Georgia schools are in Needs Improvement category after today’s release of the annual Adequate Yearly Progress report.

(The AJC has the results here in easy-to-use form.)

According to DOE:

Just over 14% of schools are in Needs Improvement status this year, compared to 15.4% last year. Thirty-five schools across the state shook the Needs Improvement label by having made AYP for two consecutive years.

“The initial AYP results demonstrate that our schools are more focused than ever and that is translating into fewer schools in Needs Improvement status,” said State School Superintendent Brad Bryant. “However, the academic bar and the graduation rate requirement increased this year, leading to a smaller percentage of schools making AYP, which is something we will focus closely on over the next several months.”

More than 71% of Georgia’s public schools made AYP, a drop from 79% of schools that made AYP last year. This drop is due in large part to the increase in the …

Continue reading DOE released AYP report today. High schools still lagging. »

Check out views of candidates on charter schools

If you are interested in what the political candidates think about charter schools, the Georgia Charter Schools Association has done Q&As with several candidates.

In a nutshell, candidates voiced support of charters and of fairer funding.

Here is the link to the candidates for governor. (Some notables are missing. Only Thurbert Baker responded from the Democratic field.)

Here is the link to the candidates for school chief. (Be forewarned that only Democratic candidates Beth Farokhi and Joe Martin responded.)

Continue reading Check out views of candidates on charter schools »

Truth or dare: Who are you supporting tomorrow and do we dare to hope it matters in the long run to our schools?

Truth or dare:

The truth question first: Who are you voting for tomorrow in the primary and why?

And the dare: Do we dare to think it matters? With the state finances still limping along, does it matter who the governor of Georgia is or the secretary of education?

Continue reading Truth or dare: Who are you supporting tomorrow and do we dare to hope it matters in the long run to our schools? »

As teachers lose jobs and pay, the Georgia economy suffers from their loss of spending power

AJC business writer Micheal Kanell looks at teacher layoffs and furloughs through a wide angle lens in a good Sunday story that questions  the impact on the larger economy.

With fewer teachers in Georgia classrooms and fewer hours for those remaining, is there a toll on the state's economy from the lost spending power?

With fewer teachers in Georgia classrooms and fewer hours for those remaining, is there a toll on the state's economy from the lost spending power?

He also raises the issue of the long-term impact of the recession on education and whether it is deterring would-be teachers from the profession and pushing them into other fields.

I often wonder who will still be standing when all this is over. I have seen friends who planned to teach forever resign because of the combination of salary cuts and increased pressure to reach artificial and, they say, impossible test score targets.

He writes in his story:

The broad outlines of the crisis are clear: Last fall, Georgia had 117,560 certified teachers, according to the state Department of Education. But in classrooms this coming school year, there may be more than …

Continue reading As teachers lose jobs and pay, the Georgia economy suffers from their loss of spending power »

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Personal e-mails sent on school system computers are private. Blow to open records or boost to online privacy?

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this week that personal e-mails sent from teachers’ work computers are exempt from state open records laws.

I know many government employees who do not send any personal e-mails on work computers, fearful that the public could have a right to those e-mails. This ruling would appear to protect such e-mails in Wisconsin.

According to the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

By a 5-2 vote, the court said the Wisconsin Rapids School District is not required by law to release personal e-mails from the work stations of five teachers from March 1, 2007 to April 13, 2007.

In her majority ruling, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote that opening the public’s eyes to private electronic messages would have a negative impact on the state employees.

“Stripping a public employee of his or her privacy in the contents of personal e-mails simply because he or she works for the government might hamper productivity, negatively impact employee morale, and undermine …

Continue reading Wisconsin Supreme Court: Personal e-mails sent on school system computers are private. Blow to open records or boost to online privacy? »