Archive for September, 2012

Georgia’s schizophrenic politics of education

Lee Raudonis is a former teacher and former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party. He is a communications consultant and writer for an education publication. He coordinates the STAR program for the PAGE Foundation. (The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia’s outstanding high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.)

This is his first essay for the blog. Welcome.

By Lee Raudonis

I admit it. I am confused. I do not understand the method behind what certainly appears to be the madness of Georgia education policies. O.K., maybe “madness” is too strong of a term to use, but there is no doubt that many educators—and parents— consider our state’s approach to education policy over the past decade to be both confusing and maddening. There is not much doubt that it has been schizophrenic.

Think about it. Early in the new century Georgia was one of the first states to …

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Texas school district changes policy to allow male employees to paddle female students.

There is so much wrong with this story out of Texas, including parents granting permission for their teenage daughters to be paddled in high school, that I am not sure where to begin.

So, I will let you read this Fort Worth Star-Telegram article and judge for yourselves.

As I say whenever these stories appear — and they appear with disquieting frequency — corporal punishment ought to be banned from every school. Today.

Here is an excerpt of the story by Bill Miller of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

SPRINGTOWN, Texas — School board members voted Monday night to change school district policy to allow opposite gender employees to administer corporal punishment to students, but only with written permission from parents.

Also during the meeting, which included emotional addresses from some parents, the board made it policy that a same-gender school official must be on hand to witness, and parents can only request one paddling per semester.

The vote came after two female …

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Another view on charter amendment: Goal in Georgia ought to be cooperation, not competition.

Here is a piece from Jim Arnold, a frequent contributor to this space. Per my comment yesterday, I am going to start running more of the many commentaries that I’m receiving on the Nov. 6 charter school amendment vote.

Yesterday’s piece urged support of the amendment.  This essay argues the opposite.

Arnold points out something I learned after my first year on the AJC editorial board — people want schools to solve many varied problems. As the editorial writer who wrote about education issues for the AJC, I met with groups who wanted schools to teach character education, civics and the Bible. I met with folks who wanted schools to educate kids on head injuries, safe sex and allergies. I met with proponents of more recess, art, music, PE, drama and foreign languages.  I met with parents who wanted longer summers and shorter summers or longer school days and shorter days. I met with advocates who wanted to abolish pre-k or who wanted to expand it to 3-year-olds.

There was a …

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The joke is on the mean kids who elected an outcast to homecoming to mock her

The story about the outcast winning homecoming as a joke and turning the tables on her tormenters is getting a lot of mileage on Facebook as a real-life version of  “Carrie” with a much happier ending.

The ending is not quite happy enough for me as little is being said about whether the kids who did this — and it had to be a sizable number — learned anything.

High school students in a rural Michigan farming town decided it would be a kick to elect an unpopular girl to homecoming court, a girl who did not seek the honor or ever dream of it. So word spread to cast a vote for outcast Whitney Kropp.

Whitney was excited with her win — until she discovered that the joke was on her. But the town of West Branch refused to stand by and see the mean-spirited brats get the last laugh. Businesses stepped in to ensure that Whitney goes to homecoming this weekend in style. A Facebook campaign has brought her thousands of good wishes.

I have no problem with the town elevating and lifting …

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“Charter school amendment is the epitome of small government.”

Many folks are submitting opinion pieces on the Nov. 6 charter school amendment vote. I am going to start running these pieces as the vote draws nearer.

Here is one in favor of the amendment from Virginia Galloway, state director of the Americans for Prosperity, a group formed in Georgia in 2006 “to promote economic freedom, less taxation, spending and regulation at the local, state and federal level.”

By Virginia Galloway

The State School Superintendent claims that he is conservative and is opposing the Charter School Amendment on Nov. 6 because it creates bureaucracy. I’m a firm believer in limited government and work hard against the encroachment of big government policies on our daily lives. And if you’re like me, you know it happens all too often.

But the simple truth is, the charter school amendment is the epitome of small government because it ultimately gives parents more power and freedom to choose the best education for their children.

The bureaucracy Barge …

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Georgia SAT scores rise as national scores falter a bit

From DOE:

The SAT scores of Georgia’s 2012 senior class increased seven points as the nation’s scores decreased two points, according to the College Board’s 2012 SAT report.

Increases were seen even as the rate of students taking the test increased by one percentage point to 81 percent, compared to the national average test-taking rate of only 31 percent. Georgia has the seventh highest participation rate in the nation. States with higher participation rates typically see lower average scores on the SAT and often see dips when the number of students taking the exam increases.

This year Georgia also saw the largest and most diverse group of graduating seniors in state history. Of the state’s 2012 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 47 percent were minority students, up from 46 percent in 2011 and 39 percent in 2007.

Georgia’s students scored 1,452 on the SAT, a seven point increase from 2011. The national average was 1,498, a two point decrease from 2011.

“I’m …

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Higher education is missing a critical element: A higher purpose

Robert Maranto is the 21st Century Chair in Leadership at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. He has taught at ten colleges and universities, and produced 11 books, including “The Politically Correct University.”

He has written essays for us before and we are delighted to share another one from him:

By Robert Maranto

For the hundreds of college towns across America, like mine, it’s back to school time. Confused first year students and their parents snarl traffic and ask directions at every street corner. Our local economy depends on that spending.

For 18 million students, higher education offers a bit of everything, with dozens of majors, programs, certifications, clubs, institutes, study abroad opportunities, counselors, clinics, sports teams, Olympic swimming pools, rock climbing walls, bike paths, restaurants, and deans and deputy deans of every variety. Our local economy depends on that employment.

Unfortunately, the one thing higher …

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A thank-you letter to Chicago teachers from some Georgia colleagues

I have published two pieces by the Teaching Georgia Writing Collective, which is a group of educators, parents and citizens who engage in public writing and public teaching about education in Georgia. The group had its impetus in Athens and includes UGA professors.

The collective defines its goals as:  1) empowering educators to reclaim their workplace and professionalism, 2) empowering families to stand up for their children and shape the institutions their children attend each day, 3) empowering children and youth to have control over their education, and 4) enhancing the education of all Georgians.

Here is a third essay from the group:

Dear Chicago Teachers,

The Chicago Teachers Union strike will go down as a significant event in history when educators stood up against the destructive powers of privatization and for workers’ job security and a strong middle-class in the United States. We want to thank you for standing up for yourselves, for your students, for public …

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Rewriting how we teach writing: Not everyone cares how you feel.

Do we teach children how to emote rather than how to explain in their writing? (AP Images)

Do we teach children how to emote rather than how to explain? (AP Images)

I have judged more than a dozen student writing contests over the years and found that we often rewarded trauma rather than talent. The prize would go to the student writer who survived a house fire or a serious illness. And that was because the writing simply wasn’t strong in any of the entries so we went with pathos.

Many high school and student newspapers today are full of essays and columns rather than news or investigations.  As a college newspaper adviser, I pushed students to write about regents’ meetings or tuition hikes. They preferred to pen opinion columns or movie reviews. They found covering meetings boring and restrictive. And they often were unable to summarize what actually happened at the meetings.

Another challenge was getting them to understand that they can’t rely on anecdotes to build their case. Just because a friend’s car was ticketed unfairly by campus police did not mean that …

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Michelle Rhee joins clergy today in Atlanta for take-back-our schools conference

Michelle Rhee is in town today to host a screening of the new movie “Won’t Back Down,” which is a fictionalized account of a parent takeover of a failing public school via the parent trigger law. (For information on the first real-life application of a trigger law, go here.)

Michelle Rhee is in town today for daylong conference that will feature new film "Won't Back Down."

Michelle Rhee is in town today for daylong conference that will feature new film "Won't Back Down."

Rhee will be part of a panel after the movie that her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, will moderate. Also on the panel will be state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan of Cobb, Tony Roberts of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, and Tonya Moore, third-grade teacher at Stonewall Tell Elementary School.

Rhee is here because her group, StudentsFirst, is co-sponsoring the daylong Faith Leaders National Education Policy Summit in Atlanta, which will focus on the achievement gap, drop-out rates and public education policies. The co-sponsor is her husband’s nonprofit group, STAND UP for Great Schools. The …

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