Can we simultaneously fix and flee public schools?

artchangeCan we simultaneously fix and flee public schools?

I wondered about that question after meetings with Georgia’s last Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, and House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta. The men sat down with the AJC recently to discuss education issues in the state.

In many areas, the two leaders — both noted for their interest in education — see eye to eye.

“Just because a child is born in Schley County and not Forsyth County, you cannot constitutionally justify that child is going to receive an inferior education just because of an accident of birth,” said Barnes.

Speaking to AJC reporters a week later, Lindsey said much the same thing. “The fact of where a child is born should not determine whether they are going to have a future or not. Wherever a child is born, we have to concentrate on how to get them the education they need.”

Where the two leaders disagree is over the fundamental definition of public education: Is schooling a collective concern funded and governed by the community, or a private decision best left to parents even when some public dollars may be involved?

“What made us different as a people is that we did not ration education,” said Barnes. “We decided every child will receive an adequate education, and it became the key to social mobility. When you weaken the public school system, you destroy the fabric that holds us together.”

But the public school system isn’t working for many children, said Lindsey, citing the overall state high school graduation of 69.9 percent. “If my children brought home success records like this from school, it would be time for serious changes. It should be same for the Georgia’s education system.

“One thing I have learned in nine years is that no matter how dysfunctional a government program is or how bad a problem is, there is always going to be somebody who has a vested interest in the status quo,” said Lindsey.

The tensions between these views have fueled the ongoing debates in the General Assembly over whether Georgia ought to be increasing its investment in the traditional public education system or embracing alternatives, including independent charter schools, vouchers and privatization.

In recent years, the latter position has prevailed in the Legislature, which has focused on devising exit plans out of the school down the street.

The General Assembly has approved vouchers for special needs students to apply at private schools. It fought all the way to the state Supreme Court for the power to approve and fund charter schools over the objections of local school boards. When it lost in court, the Legislature won voter approval to change the constitution through a November referendum.

Legislators enacted a scholarship tax credit program — now under fire for blatant abuses — that subsidizes private-school tuition. Thus far, the program has diverted $170 million from the state treasury.

Lawmakers are now considering a constitutional amendment — spurred by parents in Dunwoody — that would allow newly formed cities to break with their county systems and create their own neighborhood schools.

In an argument that could eventually lead to vouchers, Republicans maintain that the “money should follow the students because it’s their money.”

But few households pay enough in property taxes to cover the $8,000 a year it costs, on average, to educate a student in Georgia. So, do the education dollars paid by all taxpayers belong to the students or to the community?

While Lindsey avoids the pejorative”government schools” rhetoric of some of his GOP colleagues, he said, “Parents should be able to adapt education dollars to fit with their child’s needs.”

At the same time, he cautioned that Georgia can’t write off public schools, which still serve 93 percent of the state’s children.

“I am a great believer in public education,” Lindsey said. “I am a great believer that APS needs to succeed. These are the kids who are most in need of public education. That’s their shot. For the most part, those parents don’t have the choice of Westminster or Paideia.”

But Barnes contends that the Legislature’s deep cuts to public education — cuts that have forced all districts to raise class sizes and 65 percent of them to abbreviate their school years to less than 180 days — are sabotaging the schools and feeding public discontent.

“Instead of improving public education,” said Barnes, “they just decided to tank it.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

159 comments Add your comment

southern opinion

March 15th, 2013
1:14 pm

Money is not needed! Public education is considered a free education. While not really free it is not valued because it is considered “free”. Throwing more money will not make it more valued. Parents at schools where tuition is required make sure they get their money’s worth. Their input is welcomed because they are part of the financial support of the school. In my mind the following makes sense:
1. fine parents for their child’s discipline referrals
2. charge up front for textbooks – then refund when textbooks are returned
3. let teachers pay the sub ($80) but still use earned days of leave
4. cafeteria breakfast and lunches paid for out of food stamp allotment

If you could only see the expensive clothes and tennis shoes worn by some who get “free” food at school.

Just A Teacher

March 15th, 2013
1:20 pm

@ Chamblee Dad . . . Yes, I did, and you are very welcome. I love working with my Nerd Team, and they don’t take offense when I call them that because they know it is a term of endearment. OK. One more class to teach before I head out, but, if anyone is interested, the details of the competition are on the GHSA web page and admission is free.

AJC isn't me

March 15th, 2013
1:25 pm

As virtually all the above anti-reform arguments come straight off the teachers’ union website, here’s a response (from Ann Coulter) on why public sector unions shouldn’t be listened to:

Government employees should never, ever be allowed to organize.

The need for a union comes down to this question: Do you have a boss who wants you to work harder for less money? In the private sector, the answer is yes. In the public sector, the answer is a big, fat NO.

Government unions have nothing in common with private sector unions because they don’t have hostile management on the other side of the bargaining table. To the contrary, the “bosses” of government employees are co-conspirators with them in bilking the taxpayers.

Far from being careful stewards of the taxpayers’ money, politicians are on the same side of the bargaining table as government employees — against the taxpayers, who aren’t allowed to be part of the negotiation. This is why the head of New York’s largest public union in the mid-’70s, Victor Gotbaum, gloated, “We have the ability to elect our own boss.”

Democratic politicians don’t think of themselves as “management.” They don’t respond to union demands for more money by saying, “Are you kidding me?” They say, “Great — get me a raise too!”

Democrats buy the votes of government workers with generous pay packages and benefits — paid for by someone else — and then expect a kickback from the unions in the form of hefty campaign donations, rent-a-mobs and questionable union political activity when they run for re-election.

duh

March 15th, 2013
1:43 pm

Education has been in a rapid decline since 1964.

Mountain Man

March 15th, 2013
1:45 pm

“That requirement did not come from the local schoolboards. That requirement came from politicians within the gold dome.”

Madge from Accounting – are you saying that GEORGIA LAW forces schools to give diplomas to students who have not mastered basic studies? And forces teachers to give passing grades? I would like to see a citation for that Law.

Private Citizen

March 15th, 2013
1:48 pm

Can we simultaneously fix and flee(ce) public schools?

Freedom Works

March 15th, 2013
2:10 pm

“I’ve come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us… I began to wonder, reluctantly, whether it was possible that being in school itself was what was dumbing them down. Was it possible I had been hired not to enlarge children’s power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy on the face of it, but slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to *prevent* children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior.”

– John Taylor Gatto
Former NY State Teacher of the Year

Freedom Works

March 15th, 2013
2:26 pm

“It’s absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety; indeed it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does…”

– John Taylor Gatto

“By preventing a free market in education, a handful of social engineers – backed by the industries that profit from compulsory schooling: teacher colleges, textbook publishers, materials suppliers, et al. – has ensured that most of our children will not have an education, even though they may be thoroughly schooled.”

– John Taylor Gatto

living in an outdated ed system

March 15th, 2013
2:40 pm

@Mary Elizabeth – I am not a right wing elitist – you do not know me. I am an expert in organizational behavior and disruptive innovation theory. It sounds like you are an accomplished teacher, which I applaud. But I have studied organizations and how they navigate the “life cycle.” Education has a life cycle to, and it is failing to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Mary Elizabeth

March 15th, 2013
2:52 pm

@ mountain man, 1:13 am

“Yes, but how did the STUDENTS do? When you left, were 100% of the graduating students reading at the required level for graduation?”
=====================================================

The students fared very well who were directly registerd in our reading program. Students increased their verbal SAT scores in my Advanced Reading class up to 200 points after two quarters of instruction. That means that if their math SAT scores, as well as their verbal SAT scores, increased by 200 points, the student’s total SAT score increase would have been 400 points. That would have made a difference in making a 1300 on the SAT as opposed to making a 900 (by the scoring criteria of SATs in the 1980s and 1990s). That 400 point increase would have made a difference in the calibre of college a student could have attended. In the Personalized Reading classes, students who were behind grade level often advanced enough to take Advanced Reading in the following year or the year thereafter. Moreover, sometimes juniors who had achieved their goals in Advanced Reading would take Personalized Reading, as seniors, in order to continue to advance their reading skills far into the college-level range before they entered college.

The fact that we had the largest reading program in the state of Georgia, at one time, gives testimony to the quality of our program because all of our reading courses were elective courses. Students, for the most part, were not required to take these courses but they chose to register for our reading course as their electives – over the 16 year span that I was at this school – because they had heard of the excellent results that they could expect from having taken our courses. Word of mouth travels rapidly among students and among parents.

Please read my 10:42 am post (3/14/13) to a poster/teacher by the name of “Ella,” in the link provided below, to understand the degree of care and skill that I used to ensure that all of my students were correctlly placed in my classes so that I, subsequently, had very few failures, as a result of my exercising these preliminary steps.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2013/03/13/here-are-bios-of-the-six-new-dekalb-board-members/?cp=7

In terms of the success rate for the entire school of 1800 students and 100 teachers, I had very good results in working with teachers to help their students’ reading skills improve so that they could be successful in their classes. That goal was a work-in-progress when I retired in 2000, and that goal had more years needed to see the 100% criteria for students graduating from high school that you were asking about, but I was working toward that goal when I retired. To that end, I had been named a “Wal-Mart Teacher-of-the-Year” for my efforts two years before I retired and I was awarded, by the Wal-Mart Foundation, a monetary stipend to further develop my program. The “Dual Textbook Program” that I developed with that stipend for incoming 9th graders was very successful and the school received a grant from the state of Georgia in the amount of $25,000. to expand my “Dual Textbook Program” in my high school the following year – the year after I retired. I was still trying to get teachers to see the value of teaching every student where he or she is functioning, at point in time, when I retired.

Today, I work toward that same end by sharing my educational experiences and expertise on this blog.

Mary Elizabeth

March 15th, 2013
3:07 pm

@ living in an outdated ed system, 2:40 pm

Please read my 2:52 pm post, and you will see that public education can be very innovative and effective in adjusting to today’s “rapidly changing world.” Moreover, having been an educational leader and teacher for most of my 35 years in public education, I do not share your contention that “the life cycle” of public education is over.

However, I do agree that public education needs to be improved. That is why I continue to post on this blog and why I have developed a personal blog, “MaryElizabethSings,” part of which is focused upon sharing ways in which public education can be improved, especially in today’s “rapidly changing world.”

Mary Elizabeth

March 15th, 2013
3:13 pm

CORRECTION to my 2:52 pm post. Insert the word, “secondary. ”

“. . .we had the largest SECONDARY reading program in the state of Georgia. . .”

Chamblee Dad

March 15th, 2013
3:19 pm

@duh “Education has been in a rapid decline since 1964″ I’m assuming that you are referring to the 1962 decisions prayer in school decisions by the USSC – Engel v. Vitale & Abington v. Schempp?

If so, hard to argue with someone who has God on his side. Next you’ll be telling me teaching evolution, plate techtonics (sea salt on mouyntain tops? how can that be?), standard particle physics (including Higgs Boson), 4.5 Billion year old earth, & 13.7 Billion year old earth (based on big bang theory) are other reasons our schools are bad & our civilization doomed to eternal damnation?

Starik

March 15th, 2013
3:22 pm

If you have a kid in high school today fixing the schools, in DeKalb particularly, won’t help. Turning the thing around will take time, if it’s even possible. Flee.

Mountain Man

March 15th, 2013
3:22 pm

Mary Elizabeth – I do believe that you were an excellent teacher and educational leader. I am curious to how you would (did) solve the problems I constantly blog about. For example: how did you handle attendance issues? How did you handle discipline issues? I think you and I have sparred repeatedly over the socil promotion issue, but I remain confused about how you handle it: you say that students should be grouped by ability (retained if necessary?) but then you never specifically state that students should be retained if they fail to master the curriculum.

Mountain Man

March 15th, 2013
3:24 pm

“I’m assuming that you are referring to the 1962 decisions prayer in school decisions ”

“As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in school.”

Madge From Accounting

March 15th, 2013
3:26 pm

Madge from Accounting – are you saying that GEORGIA LAW forces schools to give diplomas to students who have not mastered basic studies? And forces teachers to give passing grades? I would like to see a citation for that Law

Google No Child Left Behind.

Madge From Accounting

March 15th, 2013
3:33 pm

You can also go to this website and read Georgia Standards.

http://archives.gadoe.org/_documents/doe/legalservices/160-4-2-.11.pdf

Good luck to you.

Freedom Works

March 15th, 2013
3:37 pm

“Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents….”

– John Taylor Gatto

“Who besides a degraded rabble would voluntarily present itself to be graded and classified like meat? No wonder school is compulsory.”

- John Taylor Gatto

Chamblee Dad

March 15th, 2013
3:42 pm

Hey Mountain I know you are Dalton guy, were you in elementary school there? I remember at Brookwood ES we did a school prayer every morning upuntil maybe 4th grade, 1974 or so. You remember that if you were there?

We also had a prayer before every home football game – but they were very careful to rotate it to ALL religions – Baptist, Methodist & occassionally Presbyterian (liberal whackjobs – my church back then). “We pray no one gets hurt . . . and the Catamounts win! Amen”

Freedom Works

March 15th, 2013
3:56 pm

Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.

- John Taylor Gatto

If you haven’t read what he has to say, then you are likely coming at this fundamentally-failed system with the wrong viewpoint. Education has never been the goal of this system or the people who created it (despite the well-intentioned folks who give their lives in service of it).

OriginalProf

March 15th, 2013
4:11 pm

@ Freedom Works. Paul Goodman said all the same things in “Growing Up Absurd” (1960), only much more colorfully and succinctly.

Mary Elizabeth

March 15th, 2013
4:22 pm

Mountain Man, 3:22 pm

I don’t have a lot of time to continue writing on the blog this afternoon. But I will say a few brief words in response to your questions.

1. ATTENDANCE. I was on the phone with parents and counselors about this if it became an issue. I tried to care for my students and let them know that I cared for them, personally. I tried to keep my courses relevant to their needs, interesting in delivery, and challenging for them without the course being so difficult that they could not master the work. I had first insured, through my preliminary diagnostic analysis, that all of my students were properly placed from the beginning days of my classes. If attendance were a problem beyond that, I knew that it probably had to do with social/evironmental/psychological reasons. I would refer those students to the Student Support Team in my school for extra looking into. That need, however, was rare in my Advanced Reading elective course.

2. DISCIPLINE. Same techniques and approaches that I listed for attendance worked for me with discipline. In addition, as I have previously stated, I worked with the administrator on my hall and asked him if he would back me up in the first couple of weeks of the school year with the students whom I might send to him (regardless of the number). I told him that he would probably have very few discipline referrals from me for the rest of the year, if he would do so. He agreed, I think, because I had already proven myself to be a seasoned teacher in that school over the years. So, at the beginning of each school year, if a student or two would not curb the tendency to disrupt the class after repeated warnings from me, then I would “march” :-) the student out of my class to the administrator’s office down the hall and asked that student to take a seat in the administrator’s outer office. The administrator would then later deal with that student as he could. The secretary kept an eye on the student. If the administrator could not see the student that period, the student would go to his/her next class and be called into the administrator’s office later in the day. Students were caught off guard at my “chutzpa” in marching them out of my classroom and down the hall to the administrator’s office. No other teacher that they knew was so bold as to do that so immediately. Little did they know it had all be “prearranged.” Students – I learned over the years – quickly learn the “understood but not spoken educational fact” that a teacher can only send so many discipline problems to the office before the teacher is seen as the problem, not the student. As a result, many teachers will absorb disrespectful behavior from students rather than address it forthrightly by sending them to the office – and the students know this. That only makes their discipline problems worse, because they are allowed to be disrespectful to teachers – their immediate authority figures. And we know the difficulty many adolescents go through in learning how to interact well with authority figures – often because of their backgrounds as well as their ages.

I must also say that I believe that if my students had not also known – and seen for themselves – that I was dedicating myself and my talents to them with such effort because I sincerely cared for each one of them and because I wanted all of them to succeed, that my disciplinary approach could have backfired on me. It was the combination of compassionate care and high expectations of respect – given by me toward every student under my care, as well as the expectation that I also should receive respect from students – that made the difference. Also, keeping my students motivated and interested in my courses’ content helped to keep discipline problems at bay. I also well knew that if I had had misplaced students in my Advanced Reading classes, that that, in itself, would have created discipline problems – but I did not have misplaced students – all were on their correct instructional level – because I had prepared beforehand to have any misplaced student reassigned to a course in which he or she was prepared to function with success.

Mountain Man, I had planned to answer the rest of your questions, but I simply do not have time to do so this afternoon. I will answer your questions later regarding the continuous progress of academic advancement by students.

Chamblee Dad

March 15th, 2013
4:26 pm

@Freedom What do you think of a Montessori classroom that addresses many of these concerns, supplemented by home-schooling in the form of exploring the world with the encouragment & sometimes participation of a Dad who home-schools himself everyday?

Mary Elizabeth

March 15th, 2013
4:27 pm

Correction: “been prearranged”

Middle School Teacher

March 15th, 2013
4:42 pm

It is absolutely a correct statement to say that public schools can’t be “fixed” by giving them more money; however, they can be vastly improved if someone would bother to actually investigate where that money is being spent. That DeKalb County personnel managed to siphon so much construction dollars is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. County purchasing departments, far removed from the classrooms, make purchases of expensive items the teachers don’t want and the students don’t need. I once saw over 20 boxes (unopened) full of brand new text books that were purchased then discarded because someone (or some department) changed their minds about what book was going to be used. BRAND NEW books were trashed – and that was just one school. Quite simply our state legislators, under the guise of “local control” refuse to inspect what they expect and bloated central offices and cronyism is keeping large sums of money out of the classrooms entirely. Don’t give us more money – require that the money given is actually spent (and spent wisely) on students.

janet

March 15th, 2013
4:51 pm

Where you start in life does matter. But it is only a gauge of how hard you will have to work to achieve… not a limit on HOW FAR you can go. Some have to work harder than others because they were born into poverty. Others, born into privlege, have to work less hard to achieve. That’s life. This idea that everyone has to have exactly the same of everything is crazy and will never be attainable.

I do feel for those born into districts with low quality schools. I was one of those kids. I’m not from an urban area, instead from a rural Applachian belt district which can be just as bad if not worse. I scratched and clawed my way out. And today, I feel like at the end of the day, I am responsible for MY kids. And I want better for them. I sold my home at loss in a Title 1 school district in Gwinnett and moved to South Forsyth County to change the trajectory of their future. We are not wealthy and made HUGE sacrifices to do this. Many of my neighbors chose to stay and fight the fight, but I already know the upward battle ahead. It’s not going to just be elementary school, or high school. The competition at the college level and beyond into the job place will blow their minds. It takes a VERY strong willed person to succeed when you start at the bottom. BUT… IT CAN BE DONE! I once read that it takes at least 3-4 generations to escape poverty (assuming those involved are actively trying). My parents are better off than my grandparents who didn’t make past 8th grade. My husband and I are better off then my parents who didn’t graduate high school but was able to make good money as a coal miner. I hope and pray my kids will be better off and better educated than we are because of the choices we made for them.

d

March 15th, 2013
4:52 pm

“The need for a union comes down to this question: Do you have a boss who wants you to work harder for less money? In the private sector, the answer is yes. In the public sector, the answer is a big, fat NO.”

In what world does this person live? Public workers across the state (not just teachers) are being cut, leaving those who are left behind to pick up the slack. Class sizes have increased several times in my 8 years as a teacher. Don’t tell me a larger class size isn’t more work. Insurance premiums have increased year after year after year and furloughs have compounded on top of more furloughs. The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out that if we haven’t had the austerity measures we have had nation-wide, the unemployment rate for February would have been 7.1% instead of 7.7%. Government jobs are very real jobs.

Joaquin

March 15th, 2013
4:53 pm

For a comprehensive analisys of the real problem with the government schools watch “IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America.” http://www.indoctrinationmovie.com

Private Citizen

March 15th, 2013
8:24 pm

This doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, except that a hawk decided to expire at the base of a tree by my back door. They’re beautiful animals. Apparently there are two sizes in these parts, this being the lesser. I could see no signs of trauma on the bird. Weird thing, highly unexpected. http://postimage.org/image/e8963178f/

Truth in Moderation

March 15th, 2013
9:35 pm

@Mary Elizabeth

Thanks for the info on the USPS. I did not know about the forced pre-funded healthcare benefits.
What is really going on is that Wall Street needs NEW money to speculate with. They are now targeting the retirement/pension funds. Just look at what has been going on in California:

“MORE ON UC REGENTS CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The Berkeley Planet reports that since 2003 Gerald Parsky, Richard C. Blum, and Paul Wachter, all financiers themselves have steered UC investments and pensions towards risky private equity and real estate instruments. In order to maintain the appearance of propriety, they got UC to hire private money managers with high fees. Not only were private managers paid handsomely, their investment choices have suffered much more than blue chip stocks and bonds. $2 billion were steered toward risky financial instruments and the losses that UC suffered are negatively impacting its retirement and endowment funds. Blum, once again, reveals himself to be a beneficiary of his regental position: after being appointed to the board in 2002, $745 million of UC money was invested in seven private equity deals involving either Blum or his firm, Blum Capital Partners.”
ht tp://utotherescue.blogspot.com/2010/09/more-on-uc-regents-conflict-of-interest.html
Mr. Blum is Senator Feinstein’s husband.

Ed Johnson

March 15th, 2013
10:02 pm

“Students – I learned over the years – quickly learn the ‘understood but not spoken educational fact’ that a teacher can only send so many discipline problems to the office before the teacher is seen as the problem, not the student.”
–Mary Elizabeth @4:22 pm

Now who would dare suggest them young’uns can’t learn? Don’t you just love ‘em for learning to circumvent the system? Theirs give meaning to the hackneyed screech “All children can learn!”

Why do we think the young’uns are anything but agents unto themselves? As such, they have purpose. And school has purpose. If school cannot get and continually keep those purposes in alignment, well, the young’uns will mess with school and we’ll call their messing with school “discipline” problems.

Private Citizen

March 15th, 2013
11:11 pm

Joachim,
Interesting link to the “Indoctrination” movie, but they have their basic terminology wrong. The movie is equating “socialism” with the removal of Christianity and with the brainwashing of children. Socialism is an economic system for inefficient markets, and it is nothing. It is simply services, for example: roads, schools (K12 and university), public health provided as services in an economically unexploitative way. Socialism has as much to do with brainwashing as changing the oil in your car, in other words, nothing.

What “socialism” would do is remove a lot of profit and executive compensation from: insurance companies, hospital administration, pharmaceutical companies, and lenders who provide student debt for university study. For example, the CEO of United Health (I paid them $50k myself) would be “hurt” by socialism if the health-insurance scam was taken away and replaced with a public health system.

Anyway, socialism is not about brainwashing and removing religion or values, just the opposite, as it is usual the “Christian” peoples who care enough to provide services, care for the populace, and not exploit the populace for services.

So, I wonder who is funding that movie you feature, or who produced it? It looks like a slick piece of propaganda using religious fear to support continued financial exploitation through non-socialist services. By the way, if you look at 100 rich countries, 99 of them take care of their people and only one does not. Can you guess who that is? USA.

Private Citizen

March 15th, 2013
11:20 pm

Joachin, Apparently you are one of the two producers of the film. According to the film “about” page, you have worked all over the world. Other rich countries are both “socialist” (their people have health care) and have strong ethics and no brainwashing at school. So, I wonder why you mix it up for the U. S. target audience for this movie? Did someone write you a check to make this film, and provide the concept? -because it is a substantial serving of misinformation. I am not so sure you are a film producer, as much as a “film producer for higher.” This thing seems one step removed from a corporate info-film. http://www.indoctrinationmovie.com/about-us

Private Citizen

March 15th, 2013
11:21 pm

should say -”film producer for hire”

Private Citizen

March 15th, 2013
11:33 pm

Joachim, You list yourself as a “veteran producer/director of documentaries” and speak of where you live and “worship,” however I can find no documentaries produced by you other than the one you are promoting, that list all over the place that you are a “veteran producer/director of documentaries.” Sir, your credentialing does not appear very ethical, as you provide no CV to tell what is the list of prior works. Something does not add up, Joachim. Your bio also says you have provided “multimedia solutions for higher education.” Which mean what, specifically? It sounds like you work for corporate companies that prey on education as a market for profits.

Stating you are a veteran producer of documentaries in a pretty serious claim. I’ll calling you out on it. What other documentaries have you produced?

Private Citizen

March 15th, 2013
11:44 pm

About “Indoctrination” movie to “get you to remove your children from public schools,” Creepy stuff, the publishing company for the book is selling religious goods and books and has an “about us” section that tells you exactly zero about the company, nothing. No person, no history, nothing. http://www.newleafpublishinggroup.com/nlp.php

mountain man

March 16th, 2013
8:54 am

“You can also go to this website and read Georgia Standards.
http://archives.gadoe.org/_documents/doe/legalservices/160-4-2-.11.pdf
Good luck to you.”

Thanks, Madge for the link. I went there and read the standards. It does not address graduation. It does NOT say a child can only be retained once (that I saw). What it DOES say is that in the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades, IF a child fails the CRCT, they MUST be retained unless there is UNANIMOUS agreement to promote by the parents, the teacher, and the principal. Given the number of unqualified students promoted (as gauged by comments of teachers who have received these students) there is a lot of principals and teachers letting students be promoted who have not mastered the subject matter. It seems like these regulations were made to stop social promotion, and they are being overridden by scumbag teachers and primcipals. TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS – I challenge you to defend ANY time you have voted to allow a student to be promoted to the next grade level when they failed the CRCT! WHY would you do that? To get them out of your hair? Political pressure on your job?

mountain man

March 16th, 2013
9:15 am

Madge from Accounting – “Google No Child Left Behind.”

I did and I found nothing that said schools MUST give a diploma to unqualified students. Please copy and paste the exact reference and give the link, because obviously I am too dumb to be able to find it myself.

mountain man

March 16th, 2013
9:18 am

To all those ADMINISTRATORS who regularly post here – another challenge – FOR YOUR SCHOOL – detail the number of students who failed the CRCT in the 3rd, 5th or 8th grades and the percent that were retained (or the percentage that your PROMOTION COMMITTEE voted to promote even while failing, either way). Let’s see some FACTS here and we will shine some light on SOCIAL PROMOTION. Maureen, this would also be a great expose for the AJC – how many unqualified students are being promoted to fail.

AnonMom

March 16th, 2013
9:19 am

I’m sorry to be late to this chain and can’t read all of the comments. As most know, I have strong opinions on this front. After all that we have been through in DCSS, it is impossible for me to believe that it could be any worse to try a voucher or privatization system. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The budget that has been ratcheted up by public education is in the billions of dollars a year. The funds come from local dollars, state dollars and federal dollars. They come from taxpayers at all sources. It seems to me that no agency is watching over how the funds are actually being spent. We have all sorts of mandates over testing that don’t actually relate to what actually happens in the classroom or how the budget is passed or whether the passed budget is actually implemented. There seems to be no consequence for a BOE or school system administrator that fails to implement a passed budget or who fails to hire the best or the brightest for a particular job. There is an incentive built in to choose programs that secure future jobs outside the system with no incentive to look out for what’s best for the child sitting in the classroom. There are no checks and balances in place. It is high time that the dollars being spent are infused at the lowest possible level and are broken into the tiniest little pieces so that it becomes much more difficult (it will never become impossible because it just isn’t human nature) for such diversions away from the child to occur — let the funds flow to the child sitting in the classroom. To me, at this point in time, the best answer is vouchers or privatization. It doesn’t mean that is it a long-term solution — it just means that the current system of a monopoly in the current situation has failed and ht funds coming in at the top has been abused. It is time to stop. The abuse looks too much like a sthat which happens in small third world countries and I’m very afraid that the long-term consequences on our children are not going to be much different.

TeacherMom4

March 16th, 2013
9:28 am

Mountain Man-I have sat through at least 2 retention meetings in which I recommended retention. I was overridden by either parent or principal. In one case the custodial grandmother and I both wanted the child retained. The principal did not and convinced the grandmother to send the child to middle school. Off he went. In the other case, the parents did not want retention. The child was promoted from 3rd to 4th grade, in spite of my and the summer school teacher’s objections. The following school year the parent told the 4th grade teacher that he wished he’s listened to me. It isn’t always the teacher. For some kids retention really won’t help, but for many (mostly those for whom behavior is the issue) it might. But don’t automatically blame the teachers for passing kids on. We aren’t the ones with the final say, in spite of what the law says. The kids know it, too. Threat of retention has no motivational effect because they know it just doesn’t happen.

mountain man

March 16th, 2013
9:31 am

“Mountain Man-I have sat through at least 2 retention meetings in which I recommended retention. I was overridden by either parent or principal.”

TeacherMom4 – the regulations say that the decision of the promotion committe has to be UNANIMOUS – that means you caved and voted to promote – is that correct?

mountain man

March 16th, 2013
9:32 am

(iii) The notice shall include the requirement that the decision to promote the
student must be the unanimous decision of the placement commi ttee comprised of the
parent or guardian, teacher(s) , and principal or designee .

mountain man

March 16th, 2013
9:35 am

Sorry, TeacherMom4 – I am not blaming you alone – the principal is just as much to blame. And I don’t know your circumstances – would you have been fired if you had gone against your principal? As I have said repeatedly, ADMINISTRATORS are the root of our education problems. PRINCIPALS – why are YOU voting to promote unqualified students?

Mary Elizabeth

March 16th, 2013
12:04 pm

@ Ed Johnson, 10:02 pm, 3/15/13

I want to emphasize that I much preferred being “the teacher/instructor” to being “the teacher/disciplinarian.” That is why I wanted to get the disciplinary concerns over and done with in the first two weeks of the school year. I wanted my classes to have a relaxed, not tense, environment for the school year in which all students could learn.

If one or two students have behavioral or emotional difficulties such that they want to control the classroom’s environment by drawing attention to their misbehaviors, then no student can adequately learn for the entire class period. That is why I set my standards for my classes early in the school year. The classroom standards of mutual respect that I established became understood by all my students, and, as a result, we could all moved on from there to academic progress. I had very few disciplinary situations in my classes, as a result.

Over the years, I found that if other teachers allow disrespect by one or two students to continue in their classrooms, then that disrespectful attitude becomes “catching” to some of their other students. Disciplinary concerns then, not instruction, will become the focus of those teachers for most of the class periods.

Above all, I believe that the basic reason I had few discipline problems was simply because the students knew I cared for them and that I wanted to insure that they were able to reach their potential academically in a caring and relaxed classroom environment.

Mary Elizabeth

March 16th, 2013
12:18 pm

Truth in Moderation, 9:35 pm, 3/15/13

Thank you for your words, Truth, and also thank you very much for your information about the use of pension money for risky investments. Appreciated!

Retired teachers in Georgia must be ever vigilant that this situation does not happen to our pension money – the retirement money that we, ourselves, paid into during our active teaching years so that our own money could be prudently invested for us in our old age.

Mary Elizabeth

March 16th, 2013
1:26 pm

@ Mountain Man

Rather than “re-inventing the wheel” of my own thoughts in answer to your academic questions to me, I am going to post, instead, a link to an entry I made in January of this year in my personal blog, entitled, “The Case for Continuous Progress for Students.” The entry is rather long and detailed, but I encourage anyone who is interested in an instructional design in which retention would not be necessary to read this entry. I particularly would recommend that you, and others, read the link, within that entry, called “Cyndie’s Story,” which describes how a fifth grade science teacher adjusted her instruction by subgrouping in her students, especially for those students, like Cyndie, who were functioning below fifth grade level while they were in her classroom. Cyndie did not have to be retained in fifth grade, even though she started out behind her peers, as a result of this wise teacher’s instructional innovation.

You seem to perceive that the options for insuring that students meet with success are limited either to retention or to “social promotion.” There is another option and that option is an instructional design based on the continuous progress of curriculum options in each grade in which students may advance – to their maximum ability to advance – each year in school without being retained. That is not social promotion because students continue to advance academically even though they may be below the “norm” for their peers. They do not become more and more frustrated in grade level curriculum which is too difficult for them for them to master, which “social promotion” would create.

I do not believe retention is the answer for students who are behind their peers academically because those same students would probably have to be retained a second or even a third time, thereby creating a situation in which those retained students would dislike going to school more and more because they would feel more and more inadequate.

If schools continue to have an instructional delivery system in which grade level curriculum is delivered in only twelve lock-step gradients and all students are expected to master that curriculum at the same rate, then the instructional delivery system, itself, is failing the students. Having only twelve lock-step grade demarcations is not instructionally sound. The masses of students in public schools have IQs that range from 80 to 160+. The average IQ is 100. Obviously, all public school students cannot master the same grade level curriculum at the same rate. However, practically all of those students can master the same curriculum without retention – if we, as educators, adjust their rates of learning that curriculum, individually, and allow for students’ differing instructional needs by advancing them yearly to their own specific instructional levels of course work. This means, ultimately, that some students may take longer than twelve years to graduate from high school. This does not mean that they will have been retained or “socially promoted.” The overall school design for instruction and for grade level curriculum in public schools must change and adapt to the realistic population it houses. Public school curriculum and delivery of that curriculum must adapt to the realistic variances among students who attend public schools – without blaming the students, I might add, for their differing needs as they move up the progressive curriculum gradient requirements toward high school graduation.

In addition, I would recommend that 8th grade teachers be trained to be very sensitive to, and aware of, the precise instructional levels that their students are functioning on, individually, when they recommend their students for high school courses for their 9th grade classes. No student should be recommended for a high school course which is over his or her head academically. Perhaps more high school courses should be offered which address lower level academic needs of some students so that students do not need to be retained in eighth grade or in high school. Instead, students can advance in a continuous progress curriculum format, meeting the legitimate criteria for high school graduation in 5 or 6 years instead of only 4 years. Perhaps, too, more applied learning courses in high school, through job internships, could be offered for credit for some students in the earlier grades in high school.

Whatever the case, students will not learn – and they will fail – if they are not correctly placed in every class they take, grades 1 – 12+. That responsibility for the correct placement of students lies with educators, not with the students.

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/the-case-for-continuous-progress-for-students-in-grades-k-12/

OriginalProf

March 16th, 2013
3:15 pm

@ Truth in Moderation and Mary Elizabeth.

Last year, the use of Georgia’s state pension funds for risky investment ventures WERE approved by our legislative Golden Domers, but fortunately they shot themselves in the foot. They may correct this soon. Mary Elizabeth, I hope your warnings will be heeded.

From Atlanta Business Chronicle, April 16, 2012:
Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation that for the first time will let managers of the state employees’ pension fund make “alternative investments” expected to yield higher returns. [NOTE: NOT TRS, pension fund for teachers.] Business groups supported the bill as a way to create more jobs in Georgia by generating more investment capital. This year’s legislation includes safeguards designed to lessen the risk of expanding investments beyond traditional stocks and bonds. Under the bill, the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia [state workers] will not be allowed to invest more than 5 percent of the fund’s assets in alternatives at any one time.

The pension fund for Georgia’s retired teachers still won’t be making alternative investments. Representatives of teacher groups argued successfully to have the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia excluded from the measure.

From AJC, Dec. 30, 2012:
Lawmakers gave the go-ahead for Georgia’s public pensions to start putting money into start-up ventures and other “alternative” investments. Supporters hoped the new law would help rev up the state’s economy by making it easier to attract investment firms and get capital to Georgia’s entrepreneurs.

But someone forgot to release the parking brake on the new initiative, according to some pension experts. Most of the affected pensions haven’t made any alternative investments yet. Critics say the new law makes it difficult for Georgia’s retirement plans to ever come close to putting 5 percent of their portfolios in start-up ventures or other long-term alternative investments, as lawmakers intended.

Mary Elizabeth

March 16th, 2013
3:42 pm

@ Original Prof, 3:15 pm

Thank you, Original Prof, for the detailed information you have shared regarding teachers’ (and other state workers’) pensions in Georgia.

We must continue to be vigilant in watching, closely, what Georgia’s legislators might do, in this regard.