Top 10 education issues facing Georgia

This is my live account from  the Georgia Partnership on Excellence in Education daylong media symposium Friday featuring education movers and shakers

First up is Dr. Dana Rickman, policy and research director for the partnership, on the Top Ten Education Issues to Watch in 2013.

Please note that all these comments are from the speakers today, not from me. (I did add a few comments, but I clearly designate them as mine.) I am writing as folks speak and may miss a typo but will go back during the breaks and clean this up.

Top 10 issues, says Rickman:

Race to the Top: Halfway through implementing grant. Where do we stand?

Elevating low performing schools. Will require high performing  teachers and leaders.

How do we pay for k-12 eduction? (”I don’t know,” says Rickman. “That really is the answer to that question.”)

Help wanted: Hiring 250,000 new graduates. Where are they? Only 42 percent has a college degree; State needs 250,000 more graduates.

Early learning: What this issue focuses on is high quality learning from the zero to age 3 population.

Stem: Promoting the sciences and math for both workforce and economic development. Fastest growing job fields in state and nation. What is Georgia doing to promote STEM learning?

Waiver from No Child and what it means.

Technology; the next generation of learning. How is technology being used in classroom?

Flexibility and choice.

Final issue: Demographics; Changing face of Georgia public schools. Tremendous demographic shift within Georgia. For all these reforms to be successful and for education continue to improve from birth through work, we need to pay attention to those demographic shifts, says Rickman.

Rickman says her major concern is the growth of children living in poverty in Georgia. The key to economic development is a strong education system. Children in poverty undermine a strong education system as they are harder to educate, need more resources.

Rickman is now delving into a few of these issues, starting with the state’s waiver from No Child Left Behind. (Georgia is among 33 states that earned already earned waivers. Seven more state waivers are pending.)

Under AYP, proficiency goal was all students proficient by 2014. No longer under that mandate. Now, the goal for Georgia is to reduce the number of non-proficient student within six years.

There are four performance categories of schools, three of which only apply to Title 1 schools. The categories include reward schools, which are high performing or show the greatest gains among cohorts. Second category is priority, which means the school falls in bottom five percent and has one of these three liabilities: low graduation rates, lack of progress or received a school improvement grant.  A focus school is also only Title 1. Schools have to be in bottom 10 percent and either suffer low grad rates or a wide achievement gap

The last category is alert and applies to all schools: This is calculated by grad rates and test scores lower than the stage average.

Rickman also went through the state’s new career ready performance index, which has many moving parts.

The state has a complex, holistic formula to rank schools that includes student achievement, progress, an achievement gap closing score, an exceeding the bar score. The states also assigns ratings for financial efficiency and the school climate.

“It is very complicated but what the state was trying to do is get away from good school, bad school, pass, fail,” says Rickman, “and use this as a learning tool for the districts and the schools.”

Jumping in is Dorie Turner Nolt, the assistant director of communications for the state Department of Education. (She is the former education reporter for the Associated Press and covered Arne Duncan and Race to the Top.)

Nolt said the complexity and shadings within theses ratings will be channeled into an easier-to-understand format for parents.

Morris News Service reporter Walter Jones just asked Rickman what parents can do if they are not happy with their school. She says she recommends parents join the PTA and get involved and try to push change. Another reporter asked now what parents can do if they have gotten involved and are still unhappy. (These reporters come across the state so I don’t know all of them.)

Rickman says parents can choose another option for their child. She says there are choice options now in Georgia.

Now, she is being asked what the penalties are if schools don’t make the grade. Are there punishments?

Rickman said the response will not be punishment, but intervention by the state for schools in trouble, whether Title 1 or not.

My former AJC colleague Maria Saporta just asked about the impact of kids in poverty.

Rickman warms to this topic as she says it is pivotal to the future of education in Georgia.

–60 percent of our kids in public schools qualify for free and reduced lunch, a 10 percent increase since 2007. That is going to have a big impact because of the resources required to bring poor kids up to speed.

–56 percent of students in k-12 are non-white. “We have a diverse,  increasingly poor population that our schools are trying to educate.” She says investing in early education for low-income kids brings a $7 return for every dollar spent. She says schools need more bilingual teachers.

Overall, Rickman says she is pleased with policies that the state has put in place. But says we have to keep an eye on the shifting demographics, as these kids present greater needs and we have to see what teachers ought to have to address these students. She is now done speaking.

Now up is Race to the Top update, presented by Dr. Susan Andrews, Georgia Department of Education.

She is talking about the online resources for teachers, including standards and student performance.

She is explaining that the DOE Office for School Turnaround was created to provide concentrated effort at the school level to help priority schools, which are those identified as lowest achieving –  defined as the lowest 5 percent in state in achievement or having less than a 60 percent high school graduation rates.

On how to create great teachers and leaders: “We expect more authentic assessments, more project-based learning. We expect teachers to differentiate because of the differences in ability and achievement levels of their students. We have to train them to do this. This is a new way to teach school.”

State intends to measure how much a student grows while in a teacher’s classroom. Based on student growth and observations, teachers will be rated exemplary, proficient, needs development or ineffective. (See earlier blog on problems with this teacher evaluation measure.)  Once they are evaluated, top performing teachers will receive bonuses through Race to the Top.

Principals will do two 30 minute observation sessions of each teacher. There are also four 10-minute walk-throughs where principals are looking at one or two standards in action. If principal does not see enough evidence when he or she visits the classroom, then the teachers will have an opportunity to provide documentation that they are meeting the standard.

For first time: Value-added piece will be added to teacher evaluations. If teacher teaches tested subject, CRCT or EOCT, then they will have a student growth percentile that says “Here is where that student scored on prior test and here is where that student scored today.”

For teacher teaching in non-tested subjects — 70 percent of courses in a school , including art music, AP class, IB classes, foreign language are in the non-tests category — state is now developing pre and post tests for those courses. They are called SLOs, Student learning objectives.

State is dealing with findings from pilot information on teacher evaluations. This year will be a hold-harmless year for value-added measures. In 2013-2014, state will have student surveys and value-added impact. In 2013-2014, state will have that whole piece. The following year, the bonuses will begin.

Now Andrews is talking about the companion evaluation system to measure leader effectiveness.

This is for building-level leadership. Principals will be rated on eight standards. They must meet all eight of those standards. They also have to develop two unique goals tied to their own school improvement plan. Every staff member, including cafeteria, custodians,  completes a climate survey on the principal. Principal will choose which groups will rate assistant principal. Principal evaluations will look at student attendance. Also, look at how effective principals are in retaining effective teachers.

“We know that teachers leave leaders first. So, we want to see how effective principals are in retaining those effective teachers.”

Also, state will look at student performance piece for principals. Looking at how the achievement gap between bottom 25 percent and rest of students in the schools is being closed.

So, now, we have both teacher and leader effectiveness measures.

“Race to the Top is not driving the work. The work is driving Race to the Top. These are initiatives we wanted to do. We didn’t have the money to do them. Race to the Top gave us the money.”

Greatest challenge with Race to the Top is moving from piloting, refining, implementing  to sustaining.

In the Q&A, I asked Andrews about the Gates Foundation report released this week advising that outsiders do some of the classroom observations to prevent bias, and that districts, pressed for time, consider video reviews of teachers in the classrooms.

My main question: Do principals really have the time to do these observations?

Her answer: It make take a culture shift but principals have to realize that their top priority, along with ensuring their school buildings are safe, is instruction, and they must make time for these teacher observations. No, DOE has not considered bringing in outsiders to observe teachers or using videos of teachers. But DOE is still discussing how best to do this.

Now up: Education Policy – Kristin Bernhard, Governor’s Education Adviser

Bernhard is full of good news only about education and her boss.

Gov. Nathan Deal is restoring 10 days of pre-k, which she casts as a raise for those teachers. (Me: Those teachers may feel it is a restoration of some of the salary they lost when Deal cut pre-k by 20 days.)

“We are interested in improving student achievement in STEM fields.”  She cites a speech by Gov. Perdue where he noted that Georgia only graduated one physics teacher that year.

She cites the UTeach Programs under way in some Georgia colleges to identify and direct science majors to teaching. “We are a long way from those days. I think we have over 100 students enrolled in those programs,” she says.

She says high-definition networks are enabling college professors to teach science classes to rural students through the Innovative Fund.

Bernhard says she has every reason to believe that the new charter schools commission, restored by the November constitutional amendment, will be up and running by March.

She says we have seamless articulation from technical colleges and four-year schools as part of Deal’s Complete College Initiative. She said Deal was inspired by Florida’s Take Stock in Children program, and has replicated it here. Kids selected in middle school are asked to sign contracts that they will work hard. If they have satisfied the contract and worked hard by the end of high school, they are given $2,500 from the state to attend college.(You can read about the program here.)

Deal has set higher goals for college completion rates to get those 250,000 more college graduates needed to fill the jobs of the future in the state, most of which will require education beyond high school.

Deal’s Higher Education Funding Commission has recommended fundamental changes in how public campuses are funded. Now, college funding will depend in large part on how many students finish rather than how many enroll.

HOPE: Deal is adding 3 percent to HOPE Scholarship awards this year. But tuition has gone up more than 3 percent. “What a student got last year will increase by 3 percent in terms of this year,”  says Bernhard.

NOTE from me: My AJC colleague Nancy Badertscher has asked a series of tough questions, attempting to find news in what thus far has been pretty surface and pretty news-free. She pressed Bernhard as the governor’s budget and his funding plans for k-12, but Bernhard said that Deal would be the one to unveil his budget

Now up, Education Funding – Herb Garrett, Executive Director, Georgia School Superintendents’ Assn.

Garrett is the anti Bernhard speaker. He is sharing the bad news.

Cuts thus far to k-12: $6.6 billion. “It is like the national budget deficit. Those numbers are so big that they don’t mean anything to anybody anymore.”

One pressure on the state budget will be the $28 million needed to fund state charter schools, those charter schools that the state has adopted and agreed to fund.

Garrett raised the issue of  the new title fee for cars that replaces the ad valorem taxes, part of which went to fund schools. “There is supposed to be enough money to give back the money school systems lost on ad valorem taxes. That should be a wash. But I will promise you that the individuals that trade cars under the oak trees, those casual sales going on in Georgia for a million years that we haven’t taxed, aren’t going to be happy. When that person goes to get that title, then they have to pay the fee on the fair market value of that car.”

Garrett predicts that angry car buyers — it is a pretty hefty title fee buyers will now have to pay for any car purchase, even from private owners  — will be calling their legislators, and some lawmakers may get cold feed and back off the fee. If so, school systems could lose out.

Garrett said the private school tax credit — taking $50 million a year from the state coffers  — will be an issue this year as some lawmakers are seeking to double it. Garrett wishes there was more sunshine as to who gets this tax credit.

Since 2008, individuals and corporations have claimed about $170 million in tax credits through the program. The program had a $51.5 million cap this year, but the program was so popular that the money ran out in mid-August.

He is talking about the PARCC testing consortium, which is developing the test that Georgia will use to measure the Common Core.

“One of the things that nobody is talking about is the anticipated cost of that test. Last number I heard is $15 per student. We’ve got legislators who already think we spend way too much on testing and I can promise you that is nowhere close to $15.”

Also, Garrett says the $100 per child given to charter systems may be a problem now that bigger systems — including Fulton — are becoming charter systems. With Fulton, that $100 per child turns into an extra $10 million a year for the state.

One of the elephants in the room, he says, is  raises. State employees and teachers haven’t had raises for years.

State vs. local in school funding:

“It’s fact that responsibility for paying for the cost for public education has been shift dramatically from the state to local systems The numbers don’t lie.”

Prior to 2003, the overall split in school funding between state and local dollars was 60/40 on average, 60 percent state dollars and 40 local dollars raised through property taxes.

(Garrett: That ratio varies from system to system depending on how much local money districts put into their schools. State money represents only 33 percent of what Fulton spends, while Ben Hill County’s state share represents about 80 percent of its school spending.)

Now, that ratio has shifted, with local money slightly outpacing the state share of education funding. To understand why that matters, Garrett said each school funding percentage point shifted from the state to the locals represents more than $100 million dollars.

That is why districts have raised school taxes. Average school millage rate across state was 15. Now, it is 16.1.

(From state web site: The tax rate, or millage, in each county is set annually by the board of county commissioners, or other governing authority of the taxing jurisdiction, and by the Board of Education. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value. The average county and municipal millage rate is 30 mills; the state millage rate in each county is 0.25 mills.)

But 41 school systems levy 18 mils or more. Of those 41 systems, 11 levy 19 mills or more; 11 others levy 20 mils or more. There is a 20 mil cap except for a handful of systems that got their voters to approve a 25 mil cap.

Questions: What does Garrett think of Law proposing to arm principals in schools?

Qualifies that he is answering for himself and not for the Georgia Superintendents Association:

“Having a person in school with a gun and minimal training, what could go wrong? I would never recommend that to a board of education.” As he listened to the proposals to arm administrators, Garrett says he went back to his own days as a principal and school chief and started putting names and people to the idea.

“Even with training, I just can’t see some folks ever being in that position to be able to do that.”

Police have said that if there is an armed school administrator and officers come roaring, how do they know if that person is on their side? Garrett says the situation could be confusing and dangerous.

“Unless it is a uniform officer that nobody has enough money to pay for, I am not sure how to do that,” says Garrett.

Now up, Georgia’s 2013 Teacher of the Year Lauren Eckman:

Her theme is the changing classroom and changing schools. She has a prepared and passionate speech, which essentially says the old ways won’t work with students. Content is no longer delivered as much as it is discovered. There is an app for everything.

“Education is no longer one size fits all, which, if we are honest, is really one size fits none.”

In answering questions, she says she is excited about Common Core; “I like the clarity of them. I like the depth of them. They really get into the nitty-gritty and into the good stuff in each of our subjects.”

Asked about the new teacher evaluation system, Eckman says she like the new system better than Class Keys which “told us so much, it told us nothing.” The new method gives teachers more feedback, more meaningful insights in what they must improve.

She also says that in her travels she has met many teachers who are positive and committed. She has not seen low morale.

Eckman says that the state is about to graduate its first class of high school school students who are truly digital natives, raised with all the new technologies and at ease with them. When these digital natives go to college and become teachers, they will bring their expertise to the classroom and be able to share it with veteran teachers, she says.

Dr. John Barge, State Superintendent of Schools, could not make it as he had to go to Washington. Chief Academic Officer Mike Buck stepped in and went through all the trend lines showing Georgia schools are improving. He stressed that Georgia is not where it should be, but is headed in the right direction.

He was elaborating on the career pathways, in which kids pick a high school concentration in 8th grade. (Me: That seems awfully early to me for children to declare that they want a health concentration. Public school students will pick a potential job to pursue in one of 17 broad career categories, known as career pathway clusters. Teachers would start talking to students about potential career opportunities, starting as early as fifth grade. I think focusing on a career option in 8th grade narrows children’s perspective.  It is still unclear based on what Buck said here that who will serve as the kids’ career advisers. Apparently, it will be teachers who will have to carve out time.)

What’s Ahead for Education in the 2013 Legislative Session – Rep. Stacey Abrams and Rep. Ed Lindsey:

Abrams: My goal is make certain education doesn’t suffer in the budget. We have never funded education fully.

“Too often,  we concentrate so fixedly on a single measure that we ignore the comprehensive needs. The fact is that charter schools, while a good option, are not a panacea. They overall serve students as well as traditional public schools. We should not get so caught up in the over-hyped nature of the debate that we ignore the fundamental responsibility we have to educate children.

Other concern: The tax credit to attend private schools, which she called a pseudo voucher program, is now viewed as an entitlement by the public.

“It would be hard to get rid of it, but we need transparency so we are making certain those dollars aren’t being used to discriminate against students. Because of the way law was constructed, can’t get data we need on those dollars,” she says.

Lindsey:

Charter school vote was really a vote on status of public education in Georgia. “With a 67 percent statewide graduation rate, the status quo is both morally and economically unacceptable. I agree charter schools drowned out all other discussions in the recent political election, but I never believed charter schools are a panacea or a silver bullet.”

Pre-k is important. Need a vigorous curriculum in pre-k programs. Many others just serve as daycare centers.

Lawmakers are taking questions.

Lindsey and Abrams are disagreeing on whether Legislature has cut education. Lindsey says the money per student was actually higher, but delivered in targeted programs rather than block grants.

Parent Trigger:

Lindsey addresses why his bill allows even a high performing school to convert to a charter school by parental will

“It creates an additional avenue of communication directly from the parents to the school board, which I think is critically important.”

Lindsey also wants teachers to be able to initiate a takeover of a school and a charter conversion.

He says there is a check and balance in his bill as the school board has the discretion to accept or reject the parental petition.

Why include high performing schools in the bill?

“Every parent ought to be encouraged in their child’s education. I find it interesting that parents may actually spend more time talking to their school board about the quality of their child’s education.”

Abrams: We don’t have adequate structures in place to manage our charter schools. Florida faced issues with its for-profit charters. If we are going to make it easier to do this, we have to make certain that we create adequate protections the day after.

Lindsey: Warns about the forces of the status quo throwing up roadblocks to innovation.

Q: Couldn’t the parent trigger bill divide schools?

If parents are not happy with the conversion to a charter school, their child would be able to move to a different school under the bill.

Bottom line, Lindsey says  his bill fosters parent involvement.

Would Lindsey support doubling the private tax credit?

Lindsey says he shares both Abrams’ concerns about the lack of data and transparency around the tax credit and her questions about whether safeguards are in place to ensure the tax credit is truly helping poor kids go to private schools. “Certainly, before I would vote to increase the threshold, I would like to see those additional things put in place.”

Abrams: Doesn’t imbue the November charter school vote with the same significance as Lindsey does. “We can’t over-read that election. That said, there is not a member of the Georgia General Assembly who can say we do our best by the children of Georgia, that education in Georgia is where it should be.”

Lindsey: Disagrees that people didn’t understand the ballot question on charter schools. “If it fooled the voters, it should have fooled all the voters around the state. If you start drilling down, it wasn’t logical that a 58 percent vote in favor of this amendment was because voters were fooled…we had a full and robust debate around this.”

Guns in school:

Lindsey says it should be a local decision. Many schools already have armed officers.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

164 comments Add your comment

Georgia Dad

January 11th, 2013
11:05 am

People talk a good game about education.It’s just talk. Most parents are more interested in their kids being football stars and cheerleaders than actually being good students. Schools only want to “graduate” their students. How can so many schools not offer basic physics classes when technology is the key to our future? There would be an uproar if a school cut back on its football budget yet nobody complains when science classes can’t do experiments because there are no supplies.

catlady

January 11th, 2013
11:08 am

Anyone talking about the systematic diversion of tax monies to private schools and schools you have to “apply to?” (charters)???

Anyone talking about mission creep?

Anyone talking about behavior-related issues?

Georgia Dad

January 11th, 2013
11:08 am

If a highschool does not have enough students to fill 1 physics class, then that school system from elementary school to highschool has failed.

Teacher-Parent

January 11th, 2013
11:19 am

I don’t see anyone discussing the latest teacher evaluations that showed most teachers ARE effective. Instead of celebrating this fact the article states that the evaluation system must somehow be flawed for so many teachers to be rated as effective. WHAT??? Could it be that maybe the teachers ARE effective and it is a different side of the equation that is not? Hmmm.

Complete waste of time

January 11th, 2013
11:21 am

I have been a teacher for 17 years and all of this is a waste of time and effort. Fund education, leave us alone and we will teach. This constant obsession with buzzwords; differentiation, etc…. is just ridiculous. In 52 minutes with class of 32, “who because of inclusion are on about 10 different levels” I am going to be able to be all things to all students and increase everyone’s test score? This is where the money in education is wasted, on one program after another. The money spent on consultants, and all these administrative positions created to run them are the problem.

Isolated Pockets of Excellence

January 11th, 2013
11:37 am

“Looking at how the achievement gap between bottom 25 percent and rest of student is being closed.”

So, does this mean that principals will be punished if teachers teach the better students well, and will be rewarded if the teachers hold the higher performing students back?

paulo977

January 11th, 2013
11:50 am

Teacher-Parent…” Instead of celebrating this fact the article states that the evaluation system must somehow be flawed ”
_____________________________________________________

Amazing isn’t it? We are just hopeless!!!

over it last year but still here

January 11th, 2013
11:55 am

No one’s talking teacher retention at all. Teachers are leaving in droves (good and bad teachers) because of the crazy requirements placed on them. It makes no sense to me how teachers are required to be educators, book keepers, parents, social workers, life coaches and baby sitters. The respect is gone and the pay is deplorable. To top that, most parents have blown so much smoke up their kids butts making them think they’re better than they actually are which causes sooo many problems when that child does finally fail.

Georgia Dad

January 11th, 2013
12:02 pm

How is it possible that so many highschools do not offer drafting and physics. Sad part is that the parents do not know that their kids are getting a second rate education. They offer anatomy “so you can be a nurse”, if you want to be an engineer your out of luck.

Fred in DeKalb

January 11th, 2013
12:10 pm

**Rickman says her major concern is the growth of children living in poverty in Georgia. Key to economic development is a strong education system. Children in poverty undermine a strong education system. They are harder to educate.**

While I question what she meant by saying that poor children undermine a strong education system, I wholeheartedly agree that they can be harder to educate, especially if there is not parental involvement from the home. I tried explaining this to Dekalbite many times yet they would never acknowledge the truth about this reality. Add to that, wanting to evaluate teachers partially based on the standardized test scores of these students should also raise questions.

Please ask Dr. Barge about his thoughts of efforts like those in North DeKalb who want to take commercial rich property to create their own school district. It’s ludicrous to think that citizens that had little to do with years of investment in that infrastructure believe they should be able to take it from those that have invested in it along while starving the rest of the county of those tax revenues. I guess they don’t care about the impact of this initiative on educating poor children in the rest of the county.

Michael Moore

January 11th, 2013
12:19 pm

Another study early this new year in Educational Researcher, that has received no press to my knowledge, studied 5,553 Minneapolis public school children regarding socioeconomic status and entering literacy and math scores. This study also looked at how entry-level scores and socio- economic status predicted later achievement. There is really nothing new here that already hasn’t been ignored by our state leadership, but it is not something our state leadership wants to hear. Poverty clearly affects school success. Blaming teachers is a lot easier to do than to blame the kind of society we’ve created in our state.

Waste of time

January 11th, 2013
12:33 pm

Maureen, why was post deleted?

Waste of time

January 11th, 2013
12:34 pm

Sorry, I didn’t see it.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
12:37 pm

Dr. Susan Andrews, Georgia Department of Education.

She is talking about the online resources for teachers, including standards and student performance.

To create great teachers and leaders: Way we expect more authentic assessments, more project-based learning, Expect teacher to differentiate because of differences in ability and achievement levels of their students. We have to train them to do this. This is a new way to teach schools….

Principals: Will go in and do two 30 minute observation sessions. There are also four 10-minute walk-throughs where principals are looking at one or two standards. If principal does not see enough evidence when he or she goes in, then teacher as opportunity to provide documentation that he or she is meeting the standard.

Reading this is making my crazy-in-the-head. So the Dr. from the State thinks that “online resources” are their state standards? And the pressure on principals for attention on teacher evaluations?

I think they left out the part about eyeglasses for kids and books and software for the classes. They left out the part about teachers spending their own money to provide curriculum materials to students that the state or district should be providing in a sequential organised manner. But the state isn’t doing this. They still want to ramp up pressure on evaluating teachers and talk this lingo about “a new way to teach.” The nerve of these people.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
12:44 pm

Repost with italics for quotes. This denial of resources and the state and districts basically refusing to do their own due diligence providing course materials, combined with their continued “serious” “harassment” of teachers who have to work overtime on their own to make materials to teach with, it makes me very upset.

Dr. Susan Andrews, Georgia Department of Education.

She is talking about the online resources for teachers, including standards and student performance.

To create great teachers and leaders: Way we expect more authentic assessments, more project-based learning, Expect teacher to differentiate because of differences in ability and achievement levels of their students. We have to train them to do this. This is a new way to teach schools….

Principals: Will go in and do two 30 minute observation sessions. There are also four 10-minute walk-throughs where principals are looking at one or two standards. If principal does not see enough evidence when he or she goes in, then teacher as opportunity to provide documentation that he or she is meeting the standard.

Reading this is making my crazy-in-the-head. So the Dr. from the State thinks that “online resources” are their state standards? And the pressure on principals for attention on teacher evaluations?

I think they left out the part about eyeglasses for kids and books and software for the classes. They left out the part about teachers spending their own money to provide curriculum materials to students that the state or district should be providing in a sequential organised manner. But the state isn’t doing this. They still want to ramp up pressure on evaluating teachers and talk this lingo about “a new way to teach.” The nerve of these people.

Message to Dr. Andrews: “Standards” are not online resource materials. Unless you think a recipe = providing groceries. There is a difference and you need to get real about your duty to coordinate resource materials per course and stop leaving teachers hung out on a clothes line having to spend their own money and cheesy pay-websites like “edhelper” just to be able to survive. Dr. Andrews, you’re playing a role in the Doll House, just like in the Heinrik Ibsen story. But in the story, the person breaks free and sees the light of day.

HS Math Teacher

January 11th, 2013
1:04 pm

Relating to the speaker whose topic was the poorly performing schools in rural Georgia:

If a child in grades 3 through 8 fails a math or language arts class, AND does not pass the CRCT, then he/she should not be placed into the next grade level for those particular classes, unless there are extr-ordinary circumstances that affected the child’s progress, such as a death of a parent, or divorce.

Differentiated learning takes on a broader meaning at these poorly performing schools. As there are different types of learning styles, there are different levels of competency in a single classroom due to social promotion of children in lower grades. To me, it’s obvious that this is the most significant problems schools in rural Georgia have. Social promotion ends up hurting the more talented kids, and the ones who struggling to succeed beyond their grade level.

HS Math Teacher

January 11th, 2013
1:06 pm

correction: “the most significant problem & “and the ones struggling to succeed…”

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
1:09 pm

How do we pay for k-12 eduction? (”I don’t know,” says Rickman. “That really is the answer to that question.”)

I can answer that. It’s called EFFICIENCY and relevant decision making. To quote a post here: This is where the money in education is wasted, on one program after another. The money spent on consultants, and all these administrative positions created to run them are the problem.

That and using teacher time and wearing down teachers with indoctrination sessions / training on these trendy programs that seem to change every year. Brilliant and concise! Leave teachers alone and provide them materials!!! Right now you are harassing teachers and denying materials. Stop signing onto federal initiatives that come with conditions. Turn down this money, this fake-named “award.” It’s poison@! Oh yes, the latest has given you the tools to thin the work force and move-off the higher paid master teachers and replace them with fresh graduates. Well them, stop making yearly step increases and have the same teacher salary for everybody and stop removing your master teachers and setting up new hires for the same treatment, having career cancelled when you become an experienced teacher. The time is now. Make relevant policy that actually serve teachers and economic efficiency. I’d rather have a career than elevated pay and then the rug pulled out from under me, like what has happened to so many professionals in Georgia.

sissyuga

January 11th, 2013
1:11 pm

I’ll help you with the fifth issue. How about approving a cost of living increase by our “lovely” General Assembly and restore full funding to school systems so I can get a step increase? Why would a man or woman major in education with all of the teacher bashing and lack of funding? There are so many more lucrative fields of work to major in.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
1:16 pm

the most significant problems schools in rural Georgia have. Social promotion

I think the single important factor for rural (or urban?) poor kids is having eyeglasses. I would support an easy to access voucher program covering the kids for eye exam and provision of eyeglasses. Maybe it could be done partnering with WalMart or a collective of vision treatment providers, @ negotiated rate.

Colonel Jack

January 11th, 2013
1:20 pm

@Private Citizen … “Oh yes, the latest has given you the tools to thin the work force and move-off the higher paid master teachers and replace them with fresh graduates. Well them, stop making yearly step increases and have the same teacher salary for everybody and stop removing your master teachers and setting up new hires for the same treatment, having career cancelled when you become an experienced teacher.”

Say it loud, my friend. That’s what happened to me. I didn’t suddenly become an “unsatisfactory” teacher. I became a statistic, a rather high-paid one, that had to be eliminated from my system’s payroll.

Come on, Georgia DOE. In all this claptrap you’re spouting … where is the incentive to become a teacher? Who would voluntarily sign up for this foolishness?

Georgia

January 11th, 2013
1:32 pm

You cant expect teachers to fix the structural problems of education. They’re too close to it all. Nobody wants to let the students fix anything either, so that leaves the cafeteria ladies and the janitors. Has anyone bothered to ask them how to fix what’s broken? Lets use the resources we have.

Decaturite

January 11th, 2013
1:34 pm

“Content is no longer delivered as much as it is discovered.” As a parent, I feel that this approach is resulting in a lot of lazy or flawed teaching. Good rhetoric, poor practice. The teachers don’t know what it means, the kids don’t know what they are supposed to do, and the parents have no idea how to help. I realize that rote learning alone is not sufficient for an education but at least some information is being transmitted. That’s more than I can say for the discovery method of teaching the state math curriculum. Smart kids who used to love math are floundering. Creativity is for art; exploration is for research. The kids want to do math.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
1:34 pm

Colonel Jack, THANK YOU. We need to speak up. THANK YOU.

Who would voluntarily sign up for this..? The unknowing! Someone needs to warn the new hires. We need to speak up to a system that is moving master teachers off the payroll and out the door, ruining people mid-career for no other reason than to pay someone else less to fill the post. The need to fix their system and stop railroading dedicated workers. I’d be fine with a standard pay grade and occasional cost of living increases to track inflation. I’d rather have that than get flack myself and watch the best real-teachers around me get hassled and harassed by efficiency technicians (best description I’ve seen for Michelle Rhee) who also have the nerve to do things like use the Danielson “framework” to actually invade people’s professional work and micro-manage them on “how to teach” and write official demerits and demand for retraining because someone knows better and has better skills and integrity than to act like a zombie and do this North Korea role playing being demanded by our very own people here in Georgia.

Old timer

January 11th, 2013
1:50 pm

@ a complete waste of time….wait till you’ve been there 30 to 35 years….it all just gets worse.

Ole Guy

January 11th, 2013
2:31 pm

Remember those “mornings after” when, head in the porceilean god, one swears off booze forever and everafter, only to belly up to the bar that evening. Ah, we 20-something hotshots had all the answers!

These “concerns”, like the aches an’pains of that morning after, are all of your own making; the only answers lie in recognizing your faux pas(s) (polite talk for screw ups) and aggressively addressing those issues.

1) is it no wonder that you are seeking so many teachers? For far too many years, you have done nothing to develop the teacher corps…nothing but wee wee and poo poo upon the very profession whose ranks you now find thining. The teacher of the day/month/year accolades you have cast among the teacher corps are nothing but an embarrasement and an insult to an otherwise highly skilled force. Is it no wonder that those kids who manage to stick it out for four years choose just about any field to start their careers in earnest…any field EXCEPT the education field. WHONHELL IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS WOULD WANT IT? YOU, the educational leadership, are squarely responsible for any and all problems in this area.

2) Your over-reliance on technology, particularly at the earlier ages, has only led to a generation which does not have to think…technology has done all the thinking for them. The very teachers who, under the pressures of following the guidlines of the clueless, are supposed to mold young minds have only been able to wire em up, plug em’in and flip the switches of ignorance. They have been all but forbiden to actually teach; they have been only obliged to follow the cookbook one-size-fits-all approach to educating kids. Not to wonder, however, that these very teachers are, themselves, products of the early years of this feel-good approach to education.

So many of these issues…which are nothing new…are so easily addressed. However, the ways of addressing them are neither pleasant nor politically acceptable. The problems which are crossed the pages of these blog topics are ALL solvable, but not by the laadeedaa snake oil approaches which only cost too much and yield little-to-nothing.

3) Poverty does, indeed, impact on the quality of education which one receives. However, the answers do not lie, simply, in more money. They lie in demanding more out of the kid; they lie in NOT placing, in the kids’ mind, they he/she is somehow of less ability than the well to do/the so-called affluent. The only reason poverty has become such a major stumbling block in education is because YOU have allowed it to become so. In tossing more resources at the issue of poverty, YOU have solidified poverty as a brick wall in the path to education.

All these issues, of course, will never…that’s NEVER…be successfully addressed for one simple reason. THERE IS NO MONEY IN SIMPLY GOING BACK TO THE TRIED AN’PROVEN. THE MONEY LIES IN EDUCATIONAL SNAKEOIL. So good gd luck.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
2:44 pm

“Content is no longer delivered as much as it is discovered.” As a parent, I feel that this approach is resulting in a lot of lazy or flawed teaching. Good rhetoric, poor practice. The teachers don’t know what it means

I know what it means: Official undermining and redirection from solid teaching. Telling kids to “access prior knowledge” instead of teaching them fundamentals. It’s like state-mandated child abuse and a teacher is punished who does not go along with it. Shameful times. People, confront the state and stand up for the profession. Those who know better, do not remain silent! Keep your professional integrity and demand to stop being indoctrinated in methods to undermine your content delivery to the next generation of young adults, disabling young people and substituting fluff and confusion for solid foundation and skills.

kwanza fisher

January 11th, 2013
2:48 pm

Here’s an idea:

Adopt the public boarding schools model.

Dennis

January 11th, 2013
3:12 pm

I want to see our critics in our state legislature and chambers of commerce, including Gov. Deal get into our public school classrooms and teach (or try to).

Dennis

January 11th, 2013
3:16 pm

“Your over-reliance on technology, particularly at the earlier ages, has only led to a generation which does not have to think…technology has done all the thinking for them.”

Not sure I agree with Ole Guy on everything he says, but this one is dead on target.

Anybody can be taught to use a machine, but what can you do in your head?

cris

January 11th, 2013
3:20 pm

@Private Citizen….A-to-the-men…you are spot on today.

Beverly Fraud

January 11th, 2013
3:27 pm

If you can’t explain why you honor Beverly Hall, do you really have anything of integrity to contribute?

In a word, no

Mikey D.

January 11th, 2013
3:35 pm

Ed Lindsey is lying when he says he doesn’t know how people could say that the charter ammendment could fool people. It was deliberately written to be confusing and vague, specifically so people would vote for it without completely understanding exactly what they were voting for. Reminds me of the old joke… “How do you know if a politician is lying? His lips are moving.”

CJae of EAV

January 11th, 2013
3:51 pm

A Parent Trigger bill is not needed in this state. Existing Charter School law already has sufficient provision for conversion of traditional public schools to a Charter form of goverance if that in fact is the prevailing desire of the collective stakeholders (i.e. Parents & School Faculty in collaboration).

Spedteacher

January 11th, 2013
4:16 pm

I see where Deal wants to get pre-k back to 180 day, what about the public school systems that have four or more furlough days that affect students, not to mention the furlough days that used to be work days for teachers? Furlough are a pay cut for teachers and a loss of instruction for students!

Dennis

January 11th, 2013
4:17 pm

@CJae of EAV; What will happen is this; the charter corporations will send representatives knocking on doors and convencing parents that public schools are bad, the child’s needs aren’t being met, and if the parent will just sign up for turning their local school into a charter school, everything will be just great; the parents will control the school, the kids will become a genius and everything will be hunkadore.

Reality is, the corporate principal’s first required duty will be to turn a profit to the charter corporation. Parents will need to be controlled or removed from the operation of the school.

The kid is second in importance.

Another comment

January 11th, 2013
4:43 pm

@ private Citizen your name is a joke, you are a teacher.

let me ask you why should I the tax payer pay for glasses for these kids who are already eligible for Medicaid, Peachcare and Free lunch. Now we hear that one person got 31 free cell phones issued to himself. These are the same kids who show up with $300 basketball shoes. They belong to the parents who should be jumping for joy for school uniform policies since it keeps your school clothing cost low. But no they want to be have their kids decked out in designer duds.

Make the parents provide the glasses, when the student can’t pass the school nurse administered eye test.

most of us not eligible for Medicaid, Peachcare who buy our own health insurance through ourselves or our employer don’t have coverage for eyeglasses through our health insurance. We don’t have but meager coverage for dental. Medicaid and Peachcare cover far more than my dental does. I have insurance through the biggest employer in the country, that everyone else thinks is gold plated. Well it covered zero on two filing for cavities for my 12 year old in December. So I owe the Dentist $700, which I have two months to pay off. When my child caught pinkeye at school, the school nurse sent her home and would not allow her to come back to school until an Eye Doctor said she could. I asked why not just a Peditrician, schools have allowed that in the past. So I took my daughter to the eye doctor like the school insisted, and she said that she didn’t believe in antibiotics and my child could just be out of school for two weeks. I said the school won’t like that. I finally said just give us a note that we came here. my regular eye doctor was on vacation. But my insurance would not cover this $120 waste of a visit. I had to pay and I am sure the school did not want her to miss 10 days of school.

Parents need to pay for their own children. if they can not take care of them they need to be put up for adoption. We need to stop this culture of I, can keep any child I get pregnant with, I will just get a check. That didn’t occur before the ’70’s people even married couples put children up for adoption because they could not afford them. I know of a couple of different women one who grew up in Georgia and one from West Va; their biological parents gave up for adoption several children as they had them, because they couldn’t afford them. Either they or their siblings were adopted and are greatful that they got a chance at a middle class educated life because parents choice to give them up, instead of keeping them stuck in Poverty.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

January 11th, 2013
4:46 pm

Decaturite-Common Core and education theory generally are pushing the idea that only what is directly experienced by a student or a classmate is permissable. It actually puts most of the focus on social interaction instead of content.

They hate textbooks which are supposedly based on the activities of other people and lectures which are not experiential. Paul Ehrlich has written that all of this is designed to gain “new kinds of minds’ which is quite similar to what former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein said here at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon a few months ago.

The performance assessments being used are likewise about action and not mental activity.

All this emphasis on the physical actually tracks back to Uncle Karl and his desire to have “being” alter consciousness.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/political-primer-101-what-is-the-marxist-theory-of-the-mind-and-why-does-it-matter-in-2012/

It’s about to really matter in 2013. Tragically all these attempts to limit the abstract mind will simply further hamper students who lack access to parents who can remediate or pay for private instruction.

Brandy

January 11th, 2013
4:49 pm

@Maureen,
Have we ever had a teacher of the year who didn’t just spew the party line in regards to education?
I was terribly disappointed by Lauren Eckman’s commentary–they seem to just be a straight regurgitation of the state DOE’s playbook. Does she really believe what she said? Was her speech written for her? Is she even allowed to publicly disagree?

Brandy

January 11th, 2013
4:56 pm

Mary Elizabeth, looking forward to reading your thoughts on all of this commentary.

Attentive Parent–I’m with you and I would still love an answer on why even the high performing schools (the ones getting it “right” and producing successful students by all measures) have to also throw everything they’ve been doing—doing right—out the window in favor of an untested education model.

rural juror

January 11th, 2013
5:03 pm

follow the money

William Casey

January 11th, 2013
5:12 pm

“Once they are evaluated, top performing teachers will receive bonuses through Race to the Top.”

How much will these bonuses be? $500 is my guess, get real. Will the bonuses be yanked as they were with those “super certified” guys? (Can’t remember the real name of the program.)

My son will graduate in May with two degrees (BS in Mathematics, AB in Philosophy/Logic, 3.7 GPA.) Georgia Southern has employed him as a math tutor since his soph year. He’s developed a cult following among students needing help in math. What are the public schools going to do to recruit a guy like him? He’s watched the system disrespect even great teachers. I think that the bonus would have to be substantial. Ain’t gonna happen. Just keep on floating out the rhetoric de jure and see how that works.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
5:22 pm

Another comment, stay tuned for reply. I’m reading / processing your post. Thank you for keeping it real. THANK YOU. Will check in with you in a little bit.

Grob Hahn

January 11th, 2013
6:47 pm

Saying that MOST parents want thier kids to be athletes and cheerleaders is a complete crock. There are nowhere near enough athletic slots open for such a claim. Most schools can only afford to have a small percentage of students involved in athletics. So this claim is based entirely in BS.

However, I understand where this idea comes from, and it’s not just the parents of student athletes who drive it. The biggest drivers are the people who rely on these programs for a living and administrators who see athletics as a primary source of pride and attention for the school.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if schools promoted their science profile equally? Imagine if a school had a robotics team that was held in the same regard as the football team. With technology getting cheaper by the day this issue is a basic failure on the part of our schools, not the parents. I for one have tried for years just to get schools to consider this discussion. Most seem to shun the idea or just ignore my suggestions.

Sometimes it is very difficult to be involved with schools. So many act like parents just don’t belong, like they just aren’t part of the club unless they’re a football booster. I saw a principal completely reject a middle school model rocketry program because she was afraid the children would learn to make bombs instead. And you wonder why our faith in schools is waning? Welcome to Georgia.
Grobbbbbbbbb

Beverly Fraud

January 11th, 2013
6:51 pm

Her answer: We make pretense about “researched based best practices”, but then when in requires us to do something that actually respects the rights of a classroom teacher (bring in neutral observers) we just decide to make a mockery of our words, much like we’ve made a mockery of the education process.

That’s her real answer. Now what would have been nice is some real</questions like:

How can you talk about everything under the sun except discipline?

And this from the teacher of the year:

“Her theme is the changing classroom and changing schools. She has a set speech, which essentially says the old ways won’t work with students. Content is no longer delivered as much as it is discovered. There is an app for everything.”

The old ways won’t work, or we are no longer willing to work the old way? Have children been genetically modified over the last few years so that their ears don’t work? And if “the old ways don’t work” why is she giving a speech? Why aren’t these “experts” giving hands on activities so Maureen can understand what’s going on? How on Earth can Maria Soporta (sp?) discover any knowledge just listening to content?

Atlanta Mom

January 11th, 2013
6:51 pm

“Content is no longer delivered as much as it is discovered.”
What that really means is my smart kid is reaching a lot of not so smart kids. And they get tired of that after a while, find another two or three smart kids and sit in a corner and amuse themselves.

Maureen Downey

January 11th, 2013
7:03 pm

@Brandy, Actually, the prior teacher of the year was very candid.

At this same event last year, Jadun McCarthy said:

A highlight was Jadun McCarthy, 2012 Georgia Teacher of the Year, who is a fantastic speaker.

“We are being told you need to do more with less,” he said. “That sounds like a great philosophy. But it presupposes you weren’t doing the most that you could with what you had in the first place.”

A Bibb County teacher, McCarthy said his school is in the bottom 5 percent of Georgia high schools, yet he and other teachers in school want their students to succeed.

“For whatever reason, we are not reaching them; they are not learning the way they should. Is that solely the responsibility of the teacher? I read the AJC education blog and it boggles my mind to read that teachers whine, that teachers complain. I know for a fact that is not the case. People tell me teachers should be happy. ‘You get summers off. Christmas vacations off. Teachers need to stop complaining and get a job in the real world.’

“We work in the real world,” McCarthy said. “We are the foundation and basis of what happens in the real world.”

McCarthy said he has students who go to bed with no electricity and who wake up with nothing in their stomachs because they have not eaten since school lunch the prior day.

“People think my job is get this child to read ‘Beowulf,’ to understand Shakespeare, the bard of Avon. This child doesn’t care,” said McCarthy. “This child wants to be in room with heat. This child wants to be safe. There is no test that measures that Mr. McCarthy made a difference in this child’s life because he kept him off the street. Our job goes beyond giving information and knowledge. Our job involves the creation and building up of a human being. ”

bootney farnsworth

January 11th, 2013
7:26 pm

the top 10 primary education issues facing Georgia this year and for the next several

1-Fran Millar,
2-the state seems to think we’re an unnecessary burden they wish to be rid of
3-we don’t trust the state
4-impossibly low morale
5-good ole boy administrations at BOEs
6-bloated admin types
7-stagnant wages
8-public distrust
9-low information parents
10-politicized curriculum

bootney farnsworth

January 11th, 2013
7:32 pm

the top 10 higher education issues facing Georgia this year and for the next several

1-Fran Millar
2-the legislatures’ obsession with all things UGA
3-UGA football is more important than education et al.
4-BOR loaded with political toadies who have little understanding of how education works
5-skyrocketing tuition & textbooks
6-HOPE implosion
7-out of control admin types who can hire and create pet projects without accountability.
8-grade inflated students who are not ready for college
9-politicized curriculum
10-we don’t trust the state,

bootney farnsworth

January 11th, 2013
7:36 pm

issue # 11 for both

the lack of a real, genuine, advocate for faculty and staff as a buttress against the excesses (often illegal) of administrations, and the defacto state endorsed tools of harassment against anyone who attempts to rock the boat.