Archive for August, 2010

State enters DeKalb mess, but is the help needed? Can’t county deal with its own school problems?

There are a lot of bright people in DeKalb. Can't they come together to repair the schools and overhaul the management?

There are a lot of bright people in DeKalb. Can't they come together to repair the schools and overhaul the management?

I am not sure that hearings at the Capitol are the answer to any school system’s dysfunction, although they do help draw public attention to the issue.  Two DeKalb legislators, both of whom are smart and have good track records, are assembling a committee to review events in DeKalb schools and where the state’s third largest school district is headed.

I think that Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) and Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) will offer some wisdom, but the responsibility for improving DeKalb schools belongs to the duly elected school board, educators and parents of the county. And there is plenty of talent in DeKalb County, and there are some strong school board members.

They need to hire a good superintendent, clean house, as posters here and my own reporting have convinced me that there is too much nepotism in DeKalb, and then get back to the …

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A wrong budget document pushes New Jersey to 11th place and out of the running for Race to the Top funds

A New Jersey newspaper is suggesting that a careless error on that state’s Race to the Top application cost it the 10th place ranking that would have won the Garden State $400 million.  New Jersey ranked 11th, narrowing missing being among the 10 winners to receive the coveted grants yesterday.

The 10th place winner, Ohio, scored 440.8 in the competition, in which awards went to those states scoring 44o or higher. New Jersey scored 437.8. But an incorrect budget document docked New Jersey 4.8 points. Without that error, New Jersey would have scored 442.6, putting it ahead of not only 10th place Ohio but ninth place North Carolina, which scored 441.6.

Of course, it may well be that careless mistakes marred all the applications and all states lost points here and there from minor errors, but the Star-Ledger is citing this blooper as a critical deal breaker for the state.

From the Newark Star-Ledger:

After making a high-profile bid for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal …

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APS professional development day: Grading papers in a coffee shop when mishap sends wrong teachers to training

APS had early release today  for teacher training, and APS teachers – elementary school teachers and middle and high school science teachers — showed up at the Carver campus under the impression that they were going to have professional development in science.

But many were instructed to return to their schools as the training at that site was apparently for high school teachers only.

According to teachers, they received notices this week at school telling them that the training was mandatory, but arrived at Carver to find a hand-lettered sign on the door that the 1 p.m. training was only for high school teachers. An APS official was also on hand, advising baffled teachers to return to their schools as their principals would have alternative plans for their afternoon.

But teachers called me from a coffee shop where they were grading papers late in the afternoon because their principal was not at the school and they did not get any e-mails as to what they were supposed to do …

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A gulf between teachers and the public on what works best in our schools, including merit pay and end to tenure

A new survey shows a gulf between the broader public and teachers on the best ways to improve America’s schools. (It is a gulf we often see here on the blog between parent posters and teachers.)

The fourth annual survey  by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and Education Next found that while the public supports merit pay for teachers, teachers strongly oppose it. (And we clearly see that on the blog.)

Conversely, while the public opposes teacher tenure,  teachers favor it.  And teachers are more opposed to the federal Race to the Top program, from which Georgia just won $400 million yesterday.

As usual, Americans think that public schools are bad, except their own.

Among the noteworthy findings:

-  Only 18 percent of survey respondents give public schools an “A” or a “B.” More than one-quarter of respondents give the nation’s schools a “D” or an “F.”  Only 28 percent of teachers give the nation’s schools an “A” or a “B,” …

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In worrying about middle school girls showing too much “hide,” are we seeking out problems that don’t exist?

When I was a kid, I often tagged along with my cousin Nancy and her pal Peggy. Although they were five years older than me, they would sometimes indulge my hero worship. On one such occasion, I walked down the street with Nancy to pick up Peggy as the two of them were going to a junior high dance. (I was allowed to come over only to ooh and ahh over their ensembles) As the very tall and very slim Peggy walked out to her front porch in her dress, her dad stopped her, telling her that her dress was far too short and should be just above the knee.

Why, a petulant Peggy asked him, did he always complain about her skirt lengths and not those of her older sister Ellen, who was a lot shorter with a much rounder profile.

“For one thing, I can’t even tell where her knees begin,” her dad replied. “There’s a lot more of you showing.”

I thought about that exchange when my own very tall and slim 11-year-old came home from sixth grade and told me that the principal said her skirt was too …

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With our $400 million Race to the Top grant, Nathan Deal comes full circle. Now, the grant is “a victory for Georgia.”

Nathan Deal has come full circle. He wouldn't accept Race to the Top if we won. Now, the grant is going to be critical to our education success here in Georgia.

Nathan Deal has come full circle. He wouldn't accept Race to the Top if we won. Now, the grant is going to be critical to our education success here in Georgia.

Before we won Race to the Top this morning, I would have described Nathan Deal’s attitude toward the federal grant program as skeptical. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago — Aug. 3 — that Deal announced he would turn down the fat wad of federal cash.

But now that we have won, Deal is darn near delirious with joy. Here is his official statement on the award, which was announced earlier today:

After today’s announcement that Georgia has won a Race to the Top grant, Republican nominee for governor Nathan Deal reiterated that he would continue Gov. Sonny Perdue’s implementation of the program as governor in close consultation with our state’s educators – and conduct periodic reviews to assure that the program is meeting its goals on behalf of Georgia’s children.

“As governor, I will convene teachers, parents, elected …

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Arne Duncan: Will follow Race to the Top progress in Georgia. “If any state does not implement well, we will simply stop funding them.”

 U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited an Atlanta classroom earlier this year. We may be seeing more of him that he is giving Georgia $400 million.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited an Atlanta classroom earlier this year. We may be seeing more of him now that he is giving Georgia $400 million.

In discussing Race to the Top with reporters via conference call today, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave the standard “everyone was a winner” speech.

But not everyone was a winner.

In this second round, 35 states and Washington, D.C., applied for the $3.4 billion in grants and 10 won, based on points assigned by a panel of experts.

Georgia ranked 8th in points, a big drop from Round 1 where the state ranked third, but still high enough to win $400 million.

This is where Race to the Top gets interesting. Georgia is about to elect a new governor and a new school chief. GOP school chief candidate John Barge is not a fan of Race to the Top or of federal involvement in education.

On this blog, he said, “I believe that, constitutionally, the federal government has no role in education. It is best administered by state …

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Not everyone is celebrating: Critics say Race to the Top won’t bring real reform

Amid the local applause over Race to the Top now that Georgia entered the winner’s circle, I thought I would serve up a contrary view of the federal grant program.

From Neal P. McCluskey, associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute:

So the much ballyhooed Race to the Top program – $4.35 billion out of nearly $110 billion in federal education stimulus and bailouts – is over, with today’s announcement of ten round-two winners. Who knows for sure how the winners were ultimately determined – point allocation was highly subjective – but it’s hard to be impressed by the list: the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.

New York? Recent revelations about dumbed-down Regents exams hardly make it seem like a paragon of honest reform. Hawaii? How did last years’ school-free Fridays help them stack up so high? Maryland? Fostering charter …

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Perdue: Now, the real race begins to put the $400 million to work for Georgia students

Gov. Perdue is thrilled that Georgia won a Race to the Top grant.

Gov. Perdue is thrilled that Georgia won a Race to the Top grant.

As you might imagine, the governor is thrilled to win Race to the Top, telling us last week that while he hated the Obama administration’s health care initiatives, he “loved them on education” because they reflected his own priorities. That shared vision just paid off big for Georgia with the news we won a $400 million Race to the Top grant.

(The other winning states are: District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.)

Congrats to Gov. Perdue, former Superintendent Kathy Cox and their team. They did this through sheer grit. This really was Perdue’s race to win. He led the effort. He used his people and he pressed the feds. He developed a relationship with the Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

I am not sure this $400 million negates the billion in state cuts to education over the last eight years, but it doesn’t hurt.

One interesting fact about …

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Georgia wins a Race to the Top grant. Are we winning $400 million in innovation or interference?

Georgia won a Race to the Top grant. Waiting for a statement from the governor and DOE and participating in a 1 p.m. media call with the U.S. Secretary of Education. I will add details as I get them. The grant is expected to be around $400 million, although I have not gotten DOE confirmation of the amount yet.

Other winners of a slice of the $3.4 billion remaining in the grant fund are  District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island. There were 19 finalists for this second round.

From US DOE:

“We had many more competitive applications than money to fund them in this round,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “We’re very hopeful there will be a Phase 3 of Race to the Top and have requested $1.35 billion dollars in next year’s budget. In the meantime, we will partner with each and every state that applied to help them find ways to carry out the bold reforms they’ve proposed in their …

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