Trying again: Here is the Arne Duncan response to former Mayor Franklin’s plea for him to enter CRCT fray

Here is U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s response to former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin who sought his help to shore up the battered reputation of APS in the wake of the state CRCT erasure probe.

I am sorry for the mishap earlier that led to the blog disappearing, but it crashed when I attempted to insert the letter into it.

So, the Duncan letter is now in this Google doc.

In essence, Duncan uses the letter to stress how much Beverly Hall has boosted NAEP scores in APS,  but he says the probe into  CRCT erasures needs to go forward to ensure the integrity of student performance measures.

59 comments Add your comment

Larry Major

October 21st, 2010
10:54 pm

Hey, great letter. Mr. Duncan shows exceptional whatever – and in case I forgot to mention it, you look very nice today.

So, what happened at the Charter Schools Commission meeting in the strategy session?

Maureen Downey

October 21st, 2010
11:06 pm

@Larry, Not much. Lots of talk with hired consultant — paid for by a grant — to develop a vision statement: “A better educated Georgia;” a mission statement: “Building a better educated Georgia through the authorizing, supporting and holding charter schools accountable for high quality.”
A few side comments about Gwinnett winning Broad but not embracing charters.
Some discussion about the need not to make any reference in any statements about maximizing revenues, which would play into the criticism that commission has a motive to approve more schools since it gets more funding with each additional schools it approves.
I do plan on writing up tomorrow.
Maureen.

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Atlanta mom

October 22nd, 2010
12:08 am

I absolutely agree, this investigation needs to go where it needs to go. But, does anyone know, Grady High School (an APS school) just won the Empire State mock trial tournament? This is so sad, because there is so much good going on in APS. Unfortunately, there is so much bad going on in APS. It is hard to be an APS parent

shirley

October 22nd, 2010
6:35 am

Secretary Duncan has answered my letter of two months ago and called me to talk about it. I appreciate that he considered my concerns and am satisfied he and his staff will monitor the situation as might be appropriate. In teh meantime, congratulations to APS, students, parensts and faculty for gaining the Secretary’s praise for stellar achievements on the National Assessment of Eduational Progress. ” Atlanta students have recorded notable gains in reading and mathematics on separate National Assessment of Educational Progress. In fourth-and eighth -grade reading, Atlanta’s results have increased 14 points from 2002. This is more growth than any other participating urban district.”
I join “Atlanta mom” in congratulating Grady High School for winning the Empire State mock trial tournament. Having launched the Mayor’s Youth Program in 2005 to assist with APS graduating college and workforce bound seniors, I know there are many successes in APS. The glass is more than half full and according the Secretary’s letter, he recognizes the accomplishments too.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

October 22nd, 2010
6:46 am

I’m sorry, but as a city resident, taxpayer, and father, to keep emphasizing “the many good things happening at APS schools” is nothing more than a PR whitewash. These are the types of things I look at when faced with the prospect of sending a daughter to an APS high school next year: 45.1% of APS high school students missed 10 or more days last year, and Maynard Jackson HS ranked 315th in SAT scores in the state of GA, which ranked 48th in the nation. I’d have to think the latter had a lot to do with the former.
I greatly appreciate all your efforts, Ms. Franklin, but I’d rather you used your estimable reputation to get APS to roll up its collective sleeves and get to work.

Ernest

October 22nd, 2010
7:26 am

Atlanta Mom, I feel you pain being an active DeKalb parent myself. Congratulations to the students at Grady HS for their achievements.

The investigation needs to move forward.

catlady

October 22nd, 2010
7:38 am

Perhaps the Secretary could bring to bear the power of his office to find out exactly how each student was selected to be part of NAEP? When our school/students were included, it was NOT random.

catlady

October 22nd, 2010
7:43 am

PS If the Secretary were REALLY interested in the kids who were advanced a grade who should not have been, he needs to look at the entire state! What did the AJC find–that something like 86% of kids failing the test in the gateway grades were SENT ON ANYWAY?!! In my school it was about 99%!!! How about forwarding to him the results of the AJC investigation from last year?

Attentive Parent

October 22nd, 2010
7:43 am

Not to mention as we noted this summer the NAEP report itself showed APS had excluded Hispanic students from participating in NAEP as if it had none in any significant percentage.

Anyone know the actual percentage?

Also although the trend in scores was positive, the actual scores were still too low to be a point of pride.

Dr NO

October 22nd, 2010
7:43 am

“Honorable Shirley Franklin” Thats a laugh. Directly or indirectly Franklin, Duncan and Bev “cupcake” Hall are all in cahoots together. Im just surprised Andrew Youngs name acting as “puppet Master”

All bogus and BS.

Attentive Parent

October 22nd, 2010
8:07 am

I found my notes from this summer.

NAEP tested 1300 4th graders in APS and 900 8th graders. Although the trend was positive since 2002, the scores for APS remain below the overall scores for Georgia.

APS 4th graders in 2009 tested at the 36th percentile nationally and 8th graders at the 33rd percentile.

Hispanics were insufficiently tested at both graders to be a reporting group.

As also discussed this summer the reading test was changed fairly dramatically for the 2009 test to keep trends from declining nationally.

Also Tom Loveless from the Brookings Institution has looked at the 2009 NAEP and reported on how little traditional mathematics is tested now on the math NAEP.

So the idea that APS must have real gains because of its NAEP trends is quite weak.

If ever a test was designed to be manipulated it is NAEP. The school systems have a lot of control over who takes it as their representative and there is extensive documentation on how the content of the main NAEP is being manipulated.

“OK. Move on. Nothing to see here.”

Burroughston Broch

October 22nd, 2010
8:21 am

This is just another cake of FORMER Mayor Franklin unsuccessfully trying to pull a PR feint. As Professor Marvel said in “The Wizard of Oz”, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

She would have some credibility had she provided what she promised – how’s the Pothole Posse working for you?

An advocate for public education change & choice

October 22nd, 2010
8:42 am

@ Catlady and Attentive Parent – When I read the Sec. Duncan’s letter in responce to Mayor Franklin, I immediately thought of the numerous detailed comments you have made regarding what’s really inside of the APS NAEP test score spin doctoring. Thanks once again for presenting this information which in my view allows one to balance the claims hurled at us.

APS Teacher

October 22nd, 2010
8:51 am

“Stellar achievements”? Ha! Good one.

Attentive Parent

October 22nd, 2010
9:02 am

Maureen-

When we had the summer discussion on these points you contacted someone, Charlotte?, at NAEP for comment and we never heard back.

Remember our discussion about APS using NAEP as an affirmative defense?

Here it comes once again but I believe that NAGB never got back to you as there is no real refutation to these facts.

Is that correct?

T. S. Cobb

October 22nd, 2010
9:03 am

To use Grady High School as a benchmark for the APS is disingenuous at best.

another concerned parent

October 22nd, 2010
9:14 am

APS, Franklin, and Secretary Duncan should be be very careful congratulating themselves on NAEP results- as others have pointed this is the next card to fall in this fiasco. Secretary Duncan has used Beverly Hall as a shining example in the past. He may regret even showing this amount of support for her once all of the facts come out about her organization. I am surprised he made any public comment on such a local issue.

What's Best for Kids?

October 22nd, 2010
9:46 am

So if Arne Duncan is against promoting children who do not pass, why is it that schools do promote children who do not pass? I keep hearing that the feds will take money from the counties, but that does not seem to be the case, given his letter.
Anybody else sense that he is talking out of both sides of his mouth?

November

October 22nd, 2010
10:21 am

Atlanta mom

October 22nd, 2010
12:08 am
I absolutely agree, this investigation needs to go where it needs to go. But, does anyone know, Grady High School (an APS school) just won the Empire State mock trial tournament? This is so sad, because there is so much good going on in APS. Unfortunately, there is so much bad going on in APS. It is hard to be an APS parent

I will keep my suggestion in the forefront as long as this fiasco is allowed to continue. There is a certain faction in the APS that is dragging down the whole system….the good and the bad. Those factions should be separated and renamed. The Schools on the south side should all be formed together as a complete school system and would/should be called “SAPS”. The school on the north side of Atlanta should do the same and the complete school system would/should be called “NAPS. This way, each would be responsible for their own actions without bringing the other faction into the fray. It’s the only viable solution to a problem, that if left to the devices of the present BOE and the APS Administration will only continue to suffer. Strong leadership is needed and for the past thirty five years that kind of leadership has been sorely lacking. Remember to vote on November 2nd :)

Shar

October 22nd, 2010
10:59 am

My son graduated from Grady’s magnet program, with honors, and his college readiness was inadequate, to say the least. Grady’s mock trial and debate teams have been good for a long time, due to the extraordinary dedication of the lead teacher and the support of parents and the law firm that coaches the kids. The mock trial group follows the example of Grady’s other small centers of achievement, like the journalism and the fashion design groups, with completely focussed teachers and high levels of parent or other outside support. Sadly, this format has little or nothing to do with the rest of the school.

However, those pools of excellence are picked out and held up as “good going on in APS”, which is misleading both for APS and for Grady. The principal, Vincent Murray, is utterly worthless and is too dumb to hold a pencil, but his job has been protected by the fact that every other high school is worse than Grady. Counsellors are overwhelmed and ineffective, teachers are often well-meaning and sometimes quite extraordinary, but the lack of supervision and support and the cripplingly wide range of skill levels among the students often result in disorganized and ineffective classroom performance.

Picking out one program and suggesting, as does Ms. Franklin, that it offers proof of APS’ progress is simply lying. APS high school students disappear off the rolls at frighteningly high rates, as the AJC’s investigation showed and which APS once again tried to dismiss as a data glitch. Those that do graduate are overwhelmingly unprepared to succeed in whatever next step they take, be that academic or career, and they do not have the benefit of effective counselling to help them identify their options and choose a productive path. They are at the bottom of the national barrel academically, and no fluff piece about the tiny handful of mock trial students will change that.

The kids in mock trial are motivated students who are eager to spend many hours of their own time practicing and studying for competition. These are the kids who will do well regardless of where they are in school. The unprepared, disinterested or just plain ‘misplaced’ (read: dropped out) students are the truth of Beverly Hall’s APS, and they are the ones that she – and Shirley Franklin – would most like to distract us from. They are the majority of APS, and we have let them down shamefully.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

October 22nd, 2010
11:04 am

School officials have too much at risk from standardized testing to be allowed to conduct it.

new math is not working

October 22nd, 2010
11:37 am

Drop math I-IV, go back to algebra I, geometry, Algebra II…. Too many worthless trainers and coaches getting paid and not having to work with a single child. If the school does not spend the grant money it receives. they lose it so all these meaningless positions are created. I teach math in APS and I am fed up with this city and state and will be leaving at the end of the 2011 school year to move to California. High school transformation is also a complete failure.

No Wool Over My Eyes

October 22nd, 2010
12:36 pm

@ SHAR — Well said. I couldn’t agree with your more.

@ NEW MATH IS NOT WORKING — Ditto. Spent some time with several MS and HS math teachers recently. They all stated emphatically that this Math I-IV experiment is so full of holes that students will need to be tutored or provided supplemental math material to be somewhat competent in mathematics. How sad, but true. We have heeded that advice and provided supplemental material for all three of our kids for over four years. In fact, our eldest is working on his second online math course from Johns Hopkins University. Parents need to wake up and see the issue for what it really is: a hail Mary by the state to try and manufacture achievement gains. Won’t happen, however, as other states have seen the light and returned to traditional math and PSAT scores are not looking promising. Can’t wait for those SAT scores to come in this year.

Maureen Downey

October 22nd, 2010
12:43 pm

@No Wool, Last year’s much-anticipated PSAT math scores were virtually unchanged. Why do you suspect this year’s will drop?

Maureen

Saddened

October 22nd, 2010
1:36 pm

As an APS teacher, I’m saddened by the actions of my fellow collegues in the CRCT investigation. Sitting on the high school level has shown me that we need to look at the entire picture because when we get the students from the schools with so called improvements in achievement we truly see that results. High school is the last chance for us to fix some of the problems of the students and when they leave us they’re on their own and we typically see poor results. Unfortunately, most of the middle class has chosen to abandon public education and we are seeing the end results. Schools are the most important community resource we have and we should invest heavily into them, not just private. Demand lower class sizes (mine are all sitting at 40), demand that the money set aside be used properly (most of the time it ends up in a discretionary fund because of the red tape), and most of all, just support your children by being involved in their daily educational lives. Most teachers are doing their part (and some are not) but it’s a community responsibility, not the responsibility of political figures who typically have little interest until election time.

Attentive Parent

October 22nd, 2010
1:49 pm

Maureen- We have talked about this vut here we go again. The AP merit schools that also are the schools with the most National Merit and highest SAT scores are the ones that saw the declines on the PSAT. It’s the highest achievers who were hurt the most.

On the math, the State DOE has announced, at least internally, that they intend to return to traditional course names. However, do not cheer yet. They intend for the courses to remain integrated and instruction dominated by the learning tasks in the instructional frameworks.

In other words they want the PR victory of making parents think they are returning to a traditional approach but they do not actually plan to do so. Duplicity reigns-at least under the current DOE.

Also they plan to allow alternative math courses that are more functional to be that 4th year of high school math for those not on a Calculus track.

I’m guessing the answer to my above inquiry is that NAGB does not want to talk about NAEP and APS further. Fine. Stop mentioning it as a defense.

chillywilly

October 22nd, 2010
1:53 pm

The walls at APS are about to come tumbling down. I strongly believe that Wilson, Bowers, The Feds, & The GBI will uncover severe corruption (including the Central Office) which will lead to indictments & more investigations. I believe that Beverly Hall will resign and sneak out of town on the Southern Crescent, disquised as Wonder Woman. CFO Chuck Burbridge will probably take his last weekly flight to Chicago and go AWOL rather than talk about the $1 million invoice and other reported wrong doing in Finance. APS Spokesperson Keith Bromery will throw up his hands and holler. The Magnificent Five Board Members will hold their ground, prevail against The Worthless Four Board Members, and any future legal challenge. Current & former employees will break their silence, tell all to a congressional committee, and cause APS to shut down for a month in order to restore honor. After it’s all said and done, I believe that APS will be hit with a HUGE class action lawsuit. They will probably settle out of court for millions of dollars to prevent the uncovering of MORE dirt that an investigation will surely expose. Those are my predictions. So get yourself a red soda water, some vienna sausages, a moon pie, and sit back and enjoy the ride.

Truth Squad

October 22nd, 2010
2:00 pm

The secretary needs to look at the local systems in GA that screwed great teachers using “Unsatisfactory Performance” evaluations in order to cut their budgets. That’s the sin of omission all the way around. It’s paramount to imprisoning the wrong person for years and then saying “Oops, we’re sorry.”

Sure, there are ineffective teachers who need to go, but some systems, and I know of Cobb, that damaged teachers so that they can’t go to another system, just to cut their budget. As far as I know, no one has cared enough to intercede on behalf of these victims.

iceberg

October 22nd, 2010
2:07 pm

Maureen,

I don’t remember reading about this APS graduate, but this young man is truly outstanding. A friend of mine emailed me this video. He’s a 2010 graduate of Douglass High School. Check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2agV6yggyhk

Maureen Downey

October 22nd, 2010
2:20 pm

@Iceberg, Great video. The AJC did write about this teen, but for a story on teen preachers. I will send video link to the news editors.
Maureen

Truth Squad

October 22nd, 2010
2:26 pm

@iceberg. While I am very proud of Ralph in the video, I feel that he is the exception, not the rule. I don’t know, but I think he has the sound backing of his home and environment. For Doug, he is the exception.

When we can put forth groups or classes of students as examples, then it becomes noteworthy. As a retired APS teacher and a sub in APS now, I have to say that the high schools (and middle schools) leave a lot to be desired educationally. As a sub, I steer clear of the middle and high schools in APS. Formidable.

dcss failing

October 22nd, 2010
2:45 pm

Maureen said: @No Wool, Last year’s much-anticipated PSAT math scores were virtually unchanged. Why do you suspect this year’s will drop?
Maureen

Because, last year, all 11th graders and some of the 10th graders were still on the traditional math track. This year, some of the 11th graders and all of the 9th and 10th graders are all taking the “new” math.

Dr NO

October 22nd, 2010
3:22 pm

Franklin, Duncan, “Cupcake”, APS BOD, BOE or whatever they are calling themselves this week…crooks and incompetents all of them.

And how are those “homeless contribution” boxes working out that Shirley had installed? I bet they havent brought in as much as the “kick-back” she received. Mmm hmmm…

Ed Johnson

October 22nd, 2010
5:53 pm

@ChillyWilly,

Moon Pie?!!! My God, now you have me salivating while waiting for the ride to begin!

catlady

October 22nd, 2010
7:35 pm

Chilliwilly@1:53: You are a lot more optimistic than I am!

shirley

October 22nd, 2010
9:32 pm

I am not an educator. My mother was. She warned me not to gage intelligence by standardized test scores or the worth of individual student by academic performance solely. Also she warned me education experts would disagree on best approaches and some would focus exclusively on academic performance and standardized tests. She stressed the importance of family and community engagement in the education of children and the teacher’s role in promoting self confidence and a love of learning in their students. She believed every child could and would learn to experience school and life and learn to contribute to the well being of their community in a caring and nurturing school and family. Student academic achievement is important but no more important than a student’s growth emotionally and as a citizen of the world.

Ed Johnson

October 22nd, 2010
10:12 pm

Certain Atlanta school board members and Superintendent Beverly Hall are quick to publicly attest to the fidelity of NAEP results. And that is wonderful, for it rightly obliges them to also attest to all manner of NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) results. In considering the following particular results, keep in mind that TUDA stands for Trail Urban District Assessment, and that TUDA does not stand for Trial Urban Student Assessment. The point is that during this July Atlanta school board meeting, Superintendent Hall suggested NAEP is an assessment of students; it is not. NAEP administers tests to samples of students in order to assess each state, as an education system, and to asses each participating TUDA district, as a more specific education system.

NAEP TUDA average scale scores tell that the Atlanta Public Schools district is, in effect, at least two systems in one. For convenience, let’s call one system “black” and one system “white.” Since it was first given, in 2002, the NAEP TUDA has continually shown the APS “white” system leading or being on par with the leading “white” components of all other TUDA districts. Similarly, since it was first given, in 2002, the NAEP TUDA has continually shown the APS “black” system trailing or being on par with the trailing “black” components of all other TUDA districts. Moreover, based on all NAEP TUDA administrations from 2002 through 2009, five in all, the results show APS having maintained the largest average “black”-”white” gap in every TUDA subject and grade level, without exception. For example, in fourth grade reading, the APS “black” system trails the APS “white” system by 45.2 average scale score points. The next best up from APS, the worst, is District of Columbus Public Schools, where the gap is 34.2 average scale score points. For Los Angeles, the gap is only 9.1 average scale score points.

Nothing about gaps mentioned in the above results must be taken to suggest “closing the gap” is the solution. Gaps are not the problem; the problem is the corporatists’ prevailing style of management that has entered and metastasized within our K-12 public education systems. Why did we allow it? Why do we continue to allow it, as by Gates-Obama-Duncan?

veteran teach

October 23rd, 2010
12:35 am

Shirley,
Your mother was a very wise and masterful teacher. That philosophy of education reduces discipline problems and increases student engagement. The rest is then so much easier to accomplish. Thanks for sharing!

November

October 23rd, 2010
8:51 am

Ed Johnson

October 22nd, 2010
10:12 pm
NAEP TUDA average scale scores tell that the Atlanta Public Schools district is, in effect, at least two systems in one. For convenience, let’s call one system “black” and one system “white.” Since it was first given, in 2002, the NAEP TUDA has continually shown the APS “white” system leading or being on par with the leading “white” components of all other TUDA districts. Similarly, since it was first given, in 2002, the NAEP TUDA has continually shown the APS “black” system trailing or being on par with the trailing “black” components of all other TUDA districts. Moreover, based on all NAEP TUDA administrations from 2002 through 2009, five in all, the results show APS having maintained the largest average “black”-”white” gap in every TUDA subject and grade level, without exception. For example, in fourth grade reading, the APS “black” system trails the APS “white” system by 45.2 average scale score points.

ED, your post confirms what I’ve been saying for the better part of 2010…..the APS is broken and should be split between the south and north schools (SAPS for the south schools, NAPS for the north schools). This is the only way that this horrible situation will be remedied. The schools in the south part are educating (and I use that word very loosely) a generation of students that, for the most part, will be a non-functioning part of our society. With the split, they will be held accountable for their actions and better teaching and parenting should be the result. It’s not gonna happen overnight, but it’ll happen eventually. The school boards in the SAPS and NAPS should be appointed, not elected. It’s been proven that voters in the City of Atlanta cannot elect competent people.

November

October 23rd, 2010
8:51 am

Oh, I forgot again……Remember to vote on November 2nd :)

waitingtoexhale

October 23rd, 2010
9:47 am

I’m hearing the tipline that has been set up for APS employees is lighting up much brighter like a Xmas tree. We will see.

Angus

October 23rd, 2010
9:49 am

Here you go, November – http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/4981400669/sizes/o/in/photostream/

With this map, you can get your boundary lines exact – surely, you meant to exclude the west side as well.

Shar

October 23rd, 2010
10:34 am

Ms Franklin, your comments are disingenuous. No wise words from a loving mother will change the facts that APS teenagers face upon leaving high school: Inadequate intellectual preparation to participate in any but the most rudimentary parts of our economic system, ineffective preparation for college-level work, and a lack of skill training that might help to compensate for the insufficient academic preparation. And this is the fate of the fortunate half or so who actually graduate. The rest are “lost” in Beverly Hall’s self-serving data dumps.

Grades count. Tests count. Achievement counts. These objective assessments are relied upon by potential colleges or employers by whom APS high school students will be evaluated in their next steps in life. I vividly recall street protests in the late ’60’s by NYU students who demonstrated outside the administration buildings demanding that all grades be abolished in a sign of equality. The next spring they were back, demanding that grades be reinstated because none of them could get jobs or be admitted to graduate studies.

APS students face a world where their skills are interchangeable with those of much cheaper labor in India and Asia, and where the jobs they once would have had have been eliminated by technology. To quote charming aphorisms suggesting that they don’t really need good grades or difficult subject matter is condescending and dismissive. These kids need plans and preparation, not platitudes, and any effort to cover up the blatant betrayals that APS has inflicted upon this vulnerable population is, frankly, appalling.

APS does not need to be excused, it needs to be completely reformulated. Atlanta’s public schools do not deserve to be funded. Our students deserve to be prepared for the world they face, and neither charming sayings nor outright lies change the failure of APS to deliver. Tax dollars should be directed to schools that can help these students to achieve, and it should be done right now before one more child is lost or written off. If private schools and a handful of APS schools are more effective, let’s send all the kids there until the public system can compete in effectiveness.

Kwanza

October 24th, 2010
6:13 am

hey people–it’s clear that you all care so much about educating our children…consider volunteering to help students prepare for the first ever Atlanta Neighborhood Math Competition. We need math coaches so they can compete and represent their neighborhoods! Just trying to encourage a spirit of healthy competition and a culture of education OUTSIDE of schools and in homes and communities. Schools may be what are, but communities don’t have to settle. WE NEED A CULTURE OF EDUCATION! Please email me at cultureofeducation@gmail.com for a volunteer contact form.

Thanks!

Another Mom

October 24th, 2010
9:33 am

Maureen, as a mom in the north side schools, here’s an issue that hasn’t been discussed yet in these blogs when it comes to testing and school achievement in north side vs. south side schools. When a child is struggling at Smith, Jackson, Brandon, that child’s parents pay thousands of dollars to have them privately tested to see if there is a learning disability. The parents do not wait for the school to go through their long process SST, etc., to have their child tested. If there is an issue, the parents will pay hundreds and thousands more for private tutoring or enroll them in schools that specialize in LD’s (Speech School, Howard, Schenk, Cottage, etc). Essentially, taking that child’s problems off the plate of APS. Additionally, most of the kids starting kindergarten have come out of expenseive private church preschools, most already knowing their letters and many already reading. If the teachers on the north side had to deal with the kids without the advantage of the parents’ resources, I wonder if the test scores would be so high… Same goes for high school and private tutoring for the SAT’s.

Proud Black Man

October 24th, 2010
9:51 am

@ Kwanza

“hey people–it’s clear that you all care so much about educating our children…”

No they don’t, they just want to criticize. If I lived in the A I would volunteer in a minute but unfortunately I am stuck deep in rural GA trying to undue all the damage Mr. Charlie has done to the public schools. But thats another story…;)

Attentive Parent

October 24th, 2010
10:49 am

Another Mom-

I have been raising some of those issues for a few years now. Using the inquiry first math, whole language reading techniques, and science as observation and write up what you see that APS pushes according to its own extensive documentation has the clear effect of making academics more a matter of the circumstances a child is born into.

It is hard to look at these techniques and not conclude that too many politicians and bureaucrats have concluded that there is more money and power in keeping certain racial and ethnic groups aggrieved and poorly educated than in teaching them to read well, write persuasively, and analyze critically spoken and written arguments.

What is so scary to me about APS is not just the shattered lives from cheating and poor instructional techniques. We as a nation are being pushed, at great expense, to implement what is not working well for so many at APS as a national template for K-12 under Common Core.

It’s no wonder Duncan cannot abandon either APS or Beverly Hall. They serve as role models for where they want to take K-12 education. That’s not a doctrinnaire statement. I have read so many of the reports surrounding the implementation of Common Core.

It’s there in black and white. They want to emphasize the social and emotional needs of students first before academics. This is best accomplished by creating a classroom environment that defers heavily to the cultures of the students. As envisioned and described in sickening detail the classroom is not really about moving students forward in knowledge and skills as interacting socially and engaging in group activities.

And if you and the other northside parents get fed up and leave, it’s OK because they still have all that funding from your property taxes. Now though it will get harder to move to another district to escape these bad ideas as the fed DoEd will be dictating what all public schools are to teach and especially how.

Federal plans for education may not have received the attention paid to healthcare, financial markets, or housing policy. It’s there though and about to intrude to an unprecedented degree into virtually every classroom in almost every public school in the US.

I sure hope the next Governor and State School Super are paying attention.

Ed Johnson

October 24th, 2010
11:35 am

Words with which to express profound heartache and sadness over a community that would subject any children, but especially its own children, to an “Atlanta Neighborhood Math Competition” are difficult to come by. It is puzzling why certain adults seem so inclined to abuse child in this way – and child abuse, it is.

Certain communities have lost, and continue to lose, far too many children to the adults’ belief in and practice of “healthy competition.” It is as if “competition” is an instinctual response to any challenge. But competition minimizes a community’s learning and education simply because competition’s purpose is produce as few winners as possible and as many losers as possible. Why would a neighborhood want that? Why is this so hard to understand?

Better were it something innovative, perhaps an “Atlanta Neighborhood Math Collaborative” and all that would mean.

Regrettably, we have a President who believes competition is the way to improve our nations’ public education systems. I say “we” because I voted for the President not knowing any better. Now I do.

Fellow APS Worker

October 24th, 2010
12:05 pm

@chilly willy

So True………GBI came to our school this past week and all I can say is ……..Psalms37: 1 & 2

Where is Dr. Trotter ?