Archive for August, 2010

We won! Now what?

UPDATE Tuesday at 10:45

The U.S. Education Department says at least four states will receive money in the second round of the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” school reform grant competition.

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

We find out today if Georgia won a Race to the Top grant. We are among 19 finalists and made our case a few weeks ago to a review panel in DC.

Given our third place ranking in the first round, I would be surprised if we don’t win one of the education improvement grants. Ed Secretary Arne Duncan is supposed to announce the winners at 1, but news always seeps out earlier so expect word around 11. Georgia is hoping for $200 million or more.

I exchanged e-mails with the governor’s spokesman who says they have not received any heads-up but are hopeful.

If we win  and we elect a governor and state school chief in November who are leery of federal …

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When a public school complex costs $578 million, have we lost our minds? Give me a state-of-the-art teacher over a state-of-the-art building.

Here is one view of the nation's most expensive school campus, the $578 million Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools  in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Here is one view of the nation's most expensive school campus, the $578 million Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The AJC has quite a story about the new $578 million public school complex opening next month in LA.

When schools are cutting days and teachers, this seems a terrible moment to unveil an architectural wonder of a campus. Yes, I think children deserve to learn in comfortable settings, although I don’t know of any research that shows kids learn more in so-called “state-of-the art” classrooms. The more important investment to me would be “state-of-the art” teachers.

Keep in mind that this is a k-12 setting that will house 4,200 students. There are three schools – elementary, middle and high school — located on the single campus.  But even then, you are still talking nearly $200 million per age group. I also don’t like the large size of the complex; I would rather drop my kids off to a smaller-scaled school …

Continue reading When a public school complex costs $578 million, have we lost our minds? Give me a state-of-the-art teacher over a state-of-the-art building. »

Facebook and teachers: Still a potentially dangerous combination for your career

facebook (Medium)While ex Barrow County teacher Ashley Payne still awaits her day in court over the Facebook page photos of her trip to Europe that landed her in hot water with her principal and to a resignation that she maintains was coerced, other teachers continue to get in trouble over their social networking sites.

Among the latest casualty: A Massachusetts school administrator  resigned at the end of last week after posting on her Facebook page that the parents in her upscale town were  “arrogant” and “snobby.” June Talvitie-Siple was the program supervisor for science and math at Cohasset High School until school officials found out about the comments.

The 30-year veteran also posted that she was, “so not looking forward to another year at Cohasset Schools.” And she called students  “germ bags.” Unlike Payne who limited her Facebook page to her friends, Talvitie-Siple had not restricted the wall of her Facebook page. Parents spotted the comments and alerted the superintendent who …

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A correction worth noting: Mayor Shirley Franklin helped THOUSANDS of kids go to college

I wanted to share this note that I received from someone involved with the Mayor’s Youth Program:

As do others, I have questions about Shirley Franklin’s letter, but you’re more than right about her helping Atlanta high school seniors.   The only thing that needs correction is that she helped thousands, not just hundreds, go on to college through the Mayor’s Youth Program, and raised millions of dollars of private money to do so.   She also met with each one of these students personally to give them guidance and encouragement.   For whatever reason, the media gave very little coverage to these truly amazing efforts, and the Mayor was never one to blow her own horn.   Mayor Reed has decline to be involved in the program, which is a tragedy, but I can’t think of any other public official who would exhibit the kind of commitment to this program that she did.   Thanks for weighing in on this on the blogs.

I wanted to share this because I think anyone who did …

Continue reading A correction worth noting: Mayor Shirley Franklin helped THOUSANDS of kids go to college »

Perdue names former AG Mike Bowers and former DeKalb DA Bob Wilson special investigators in APS/Dougherty CRCT mess

Official word that the governor has tapped a dynamic duo — one Democrat and one Republican — to look into the CRCT investigations done by Atlanta and Dougherty.

Perdue appointed former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson and former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers as Special Investigators to look into testing irregularities on the 2009 CRCT administration at Atlanta Public Schools and Dougherty County School System.

According to the official release:

Governor Perdue told the State Board of Education on Wednesday that he would take this step after the reports submitted by Atlanta Public Schools and Dougherty County School System were deemed to be incomplete.

Michael J. Bowers: Michael J. Bowers former Attorney General of Georgia, is a Partner at Balch & Bingham LLC. He joined the firm in September of 1998, concentrating in general civil litigation. He became Partner in January of 2000. Georgia Trend Magazine named Mike as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians …

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GAE endorses Roy Barnes for governor over Nathan Deal. I guess teachers have forgiven him after all.

Roy Barnes has won the GAE endorsement, which helps his case with teachers.

Roy Barnes has won the GAE endorsement, which helps his case with teachers.

The Georgia Association of Educators  announced it was endorsing Democrat Roy Barnes for governor.

The 43,000 member teacher organization is bound to get heat for the endorsment; it has already endorsed Democrat Joe Martin for school chief.

This endorsement gives Barnes the clout to say that he has made amends with teachers. I think it will go a long way to help his campaign.

What do you think?

Here is the official GAE statement:

The 43,000-member Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) today released its list of endorsements for Georgia’s statewide November general elections. Newly-elected GAE President Calvine Rollins says her organization’s recommendations were once again based on candidate interviews and profiles that indicated their willingness to work for the betterment of Georgia’s public education system. “These are challenging times for our public schools and they will need strong and creative …

Continue reading GAE endorses Roy Barnes for governor over Nathan Deal. I guess teachers have forgiven him after all. »

Youngest kids in kindergarten more likely be diagnosed with ADHD. Are we confusing immaturity with hyperactivity?

A lot of parents believe that their children are better off being the oldest in kindergarten and first grade rather than the youngest, and there is increasing research on academic achievement that supports that instinct. Now, there is another reason to be concerned about having the youngest child in the class: A misdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Two studies find that the youngest children in kindergarten classes are the most likely to be referred for ADHD testing and prescribed medications, largely because they are younger and more immature than older classmates.

Over the years, I have heard arguments on both sides of this debate. I have had parents tell me that the schools are pushing them to medicate their sons for simply being high-octane little boys. Some of those parents have resisted and their boys grew out of the frantic stage and fared well in school.

However, I have also had teachers complain to me that parents refuse to see that their kids are …

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Beverly Hall: System has shown progress. Welcomes Perdue’s probe. (I think she plans to ride this out.)

A few of you have sent me e-mails asking where if the blog from the AJC sit-down Thursday with Dr. Hall since I had already posted the session with Gov. Perdue. I had brought my computer to the Perdue meeting and took my notes directly into the blog, but had used a notebook for the 90-minute meeting with Dr. Hall so it was slower going. The AJC has helped me tremendously by transcribing the session from a recording that was taken.

So read it over and tell us what you think. I am aware that several of you are getting irritated with all the APS and cheating discussion here and am going to take a break from it except for significant news. I will post the name of the investigator appointed by the governor as we are expecting that any minute. And I will report those findings when they come, which will probably be in a few months.

But barring that, I hope we can talk about some other topics, as I have dozens of e-mails from readers with great suggestions.

As to the meeting  between …

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Sally Wylde: A force of nature who will be missed by many children

Sally Wylde understood the power of nature and art and integrated both in her creation of a community garden in Decatur that has become a learning tool for countless schools. Here she is with the students  from the Global Village School in Decatur.

Sally Wylde understood the power of nature and art and integrated both in her creation of a community garden in Decatur that has become a learning tool for countless schools. Here she is with the students from the Global Village School in Decatur.

I am sad to report the death of Sally Wylde, founder of the Oakhust Community Garden in Decatur and a dedicated friend of education and children in Georgia. Long aware of her good works, I met Sally when she and I were both in Leadership DeKalb. (Leadership DeKalb honored her with its Distinguished Leadership Award in 2005 for founding the Oakhurst Community Garden.)

She died today of cancer with her husband, children and grandchildren around her in Massachusetts where she always spent her summers.

She had moved to Georgia to attend Candler School of Theology from the coast of Massachusetts where she was an artist and teacher for 30 years. Through her studies and in her own transition from wild, open spaces to a densely packed urban …

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Beth Farokhi won’t run DOE, but she will run Galloway School in Atlanta

The private Galloway School in Atlanta has appointed Beth Farokhi as interim head of school for the 2010-2011 school year.

Dr. Farokhi comes to Galloway after a career as an administrator at Georgia State University and an unsuccessful run for state school superintendent. In July, Farokhi lost the Democratic primary for school chief to Joe Martin.

Continue reading Beth Farokhi won’t run DOE, but she will run Galloway School in Atlanta »