Parent trigger on agenda today. Is the bill fatally flawed?

A Senate committee takes up the parent trigger bill today.

Originally, House Bill 123 allowed a majority of the parents or teachers in a failing school to petition the school board for a complete overhaul of a the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model. The bill specifies that the parents can remove school personnel, including the principal, or mandate the complete reconstitution of the school. In a feature unique to the Georgia bill, even parents of high performing schools can apply for their schools to convert to a charter school.

But House Bill 123 underwent dramatic change in its move from House passage to Senate consideration. The Senate eliminated any mention of teachers in failing schools being able to petition for a management overhaul. The Senate version limits that power to parents.

I asked the bill’s sponsor, House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, for a comment.

“We’ll see what the Senate committee does with my bill.  I obviously like giving teachers a greater voice since I put it in the original bill. If the Senate decides to modify the bill, I told the teacher reps that I would work with them on other ways to accomplish this,” he said.

Two education activists sent me this essay in opposition to the bill. Latasha Walker is an advocate for arts in education. Parent Annette Davis Jackson is executive director of the Ken Ford Foundation, a music education corporation.

By Annette Davis Jackson and Latasha Walker

The General Assembly is back at work fixing education. Its latest solution is known as the “Parent Trigger” bill.  The “trigger” is a mechanism by which parents in a low performing school district can petition to fire everyone or convert to a charter system.

Sounds innocent, right? Unfortunately, House Bill 123 does nothing to fix Georgia’s educational system. Rather it sacrifices our children, punishes public school families and firmly places the state in the homes of Georgians.

While the bill is well intended, no amount of spin can explain away the four fatal flaws of this bill. We are parents of three public school children, grades 6, 7 and 8.

Allow us to explain why these flaws make HB 123 bad law for families:

Over the last decade, the Georgia Assembly has reduced public school funding by more than a billion dollars. Approximately two-thirds of all school districts are open for less than the norm of 180 days. Teachers across the state are furloughed regularly. Funding is so anemic that in places like Floyd County over 100 certified and administrative staff are being laid off.

All of this means more students with fewer teachers and even fewer resources. Now, via HB 123, the Legislature wants to take even more resources and shift even more costs to taxpayers.

The first fatal flaw in HB 123 is that it is an unfunded mandate. This legislation adds more rules and regulations and increases our financial burden.

The bill states: “The local school system may provide transportation for students in non-Title I schools. In any year in which the General Assembly does not appropriate funds for the provision of transportation to non-Title I students, the parent or guardian shall assume responsibility for the transportation of that student.”

Translation:  Good luck getting your kid to school. Supporters say that will only happen if the General Assembly does not fund transportation.  For those of us with children in packed middle schools, remember that Georgia just raised the classroom size caps because the state cannot afford more buildings and more teachers. How long do you think it will take before the General Assembly cuts even more funding for transportation? Perhaps GDOT can authorize more HOT lanes and toll booths across the state to fund school bus routes.

The second fatal flaw is that HB 123 gives the state the power to dictate to communities what reforms they can implement. For Republicans, this type of government intervention runs contrary to their very philosophy. For Democrats, the issue is not government intervention, but the lack of funding provided to implement the types of interventions outlined.

Rather than encouraging local solutions or funding the full 180 day school year for every district and ending furloughs, HB 123 limits unhappy parents to two options: Convert to a charter  or pick from an already created list of reforms.

The third fatal flaw is that HB 123 fails to protect certain groups of parents. The bill prohibits harassment  of those who are involved with petitioning to change the school management or become a charter school. This is fair and the right thing to do for all sides. But in its silence about the other side, those who don’t want the changes,  HB 123 implies it is OK to harass parents and families who do not support a petition. It is foolish to think that harassment is a one-way street, particularly when the subject is emotionally charged.

The fourth fatal flaw is that this bill does very little to fix the problems we know exist. We know that it takes at least a few years before any reform can fully take hold, yet this legislation authorizes a potential shift after only one year. We know that high student-to-teacher ratios are bad for teaching and even worse for learning, but the caps on classroom sizes are only going higher.

We know that many rural school districts are suffering under the strain of the recession to meet their basic budgets, yet this legislation will shift even more money away. There’s plenty to fix that will improve our educational outcomes, yet they are ignored in favor of a something untested that has no track record of success.

We have to do better by our students. Georgia can and must improve its graduation rate and that means being willing to push the boundaries. The question is what boundaries are we pushing?

Rather than demanding that our teachers and our schools do more with less of everything, perhaps the solution is simple: Restore the full school calendar and incentivize high performing teachers.

While these solutions can and should be debated, the flaws of HB 123 are clear. This bill is about punishment rather than reform, state intervention instead of state support.

The government should not dictate which reforms are going to work best. We cannot protect one group of parents and not the other. Last, we simply cannot ignore the problems that now exist and can be fixed. We need solutions, but we do not need HB 123.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

78 comments Add your comment

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2013
1:27 am

“Last, we simply cannot ignore the problems that now exist and can be fixed. We need solutions, but we do not need HB 123.”
================================================

When will Georgia’s legislators acknowledge that, perhaps, educators know more about educating the masses of students in Georgia than do legislators? Could it be that hubris keeps them from recognizing this simple truth?

Bernie

March 21st, 2013
1:29 am

Get ready Folks for the good Georgia Republican Legislature Ole Switcheroo. They Lied to you to get Your Vote and support of the Parent Trigger Legislation. Now, the real Plan will soon be unveiled. Surely, it will not be anything you expected or desired. Bubba and his Republican friends, do not care about any of your children.

The Legislator’s PRIMARY GOAL is to REDUCE the amount of MONEY, the State of Georgia spends on Education. If anyone tells you other wise, you are only being woefully NAIVE in your understanding of the Legislator’s true thinking and plans.

The State of Georgia has never been a STATE that has ever seriously invested in the Education of its Children.

It Never HAS and it Never Will. History has proven that fact time and time again. Many of you give these Clowns the benefit of the doubt. They can never be Trusted to Do the Right Thing or Do as promised. This is Georgia…and the South. Rural people make the LAWS in Georgia and a Quality Education for all Students is seen as a Threat to their way of Life. That is the prism of how Education is viewed in their Eyes.

South Georgia Retiree

March 21st, 2013
7:30 am

Sadly, we can only look at the damage being done to public education, as Mary Elizabeth and Bernie observe above. It doesn’t get more serious than this, seeing our legislators, Governor and other leaders dismantle our public schools. It’s simple to see that we’re on a course back to a different time in state history, when good old boys and race dominated politics. The future of our children started slipping away more than 10 years ago and now is almost sealed—no increases for public education and this current drive to permit groups who know little about education to take over schools.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
7:38 am

I sure hope Mr. Lindsey can see this as part of a pattern of the state subcontracting out responsibility. They’ve subcontracted out accreditation and now they’re creating loopy incoherence to try and imitate market quality, except through a convoluted attention-suck process that will just keep things in one of many little spinning whirlpools they’re managing from their state coctail bar.

Bottom line is families and children in Georgia have no assurance of any kind of an equitable equal opportunity fair-playing-field system of education. If Lindsey had some cojones, he’s sponsor a bill for equal funding for every school. But likely he has little interest in living in a civilised country and prefers one of those picnics where the avaricious mob the table to see who can get to the good stuff first. If do not know these words and know them well, that is because I was educated in Georgia before you turned everything into a salt barrel good times lottery. It’s okay, though, Lindsey. Uneducated people will work for nothing and call you, “sir.”

dc

March 21st, 2013
7:54 am

And for those who don’t like these bills, their alternative suggestions appear to boil down to 1) MORE MONEY, 2) Let the schools employees (teachers) run the school, 3) Blame the parents when students don’t perform (since it’s clearly way to hard for a teacher to make a difference with kids who have a bad home life)

Yeah, those ideas will fly. Especially the more money one, since the doubling of funding per student over the past 30 years has had such wonderful results…………….seriously?

Teachers, you have got to become part of the solution, or you will continue to get steamrolled. And “more money” isn’t part of the solution. Everyone in this entire country has had to do more with less….you MUST figure out how to do the same, and do it effectively, or other folks alternative approaches will win out.

Mountain Man

March 21st, 2013
8:00 am

“Last, we simply cannot ignore the problems that now exist and can be fixed. We need solutions, but we do not need HB 123.”

But we ignore them every day! And the problem is not just money (maybe not money at all – just where it is spent). We ignore the problems of attendance, discipline, and social promotion (I guess everyone has seen the AJC article on a principle resigning after being accused of forcing teachers to change students’ grades – just not on this blog). These are the REAL elephants in the living room. I keep asking “how do you teach math to an empty desk?” but no one will answer (not even the great Mary Elizabeth – she just mouths platitudes like “if you make it interesting, the students will attend”). Then I discover that the laws that the legislature created to keep kids from being “socially promoted” at 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades are being actively subverted by principals and are not being enforced – practically NO students are being retained no matter how badly they did on the CRCT.

This parent trigger bill is simply a show bill – what is the likelihood that 60% of parents are going to sign a petition?

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
8:05 am

Mountain Man, Where are you going to put all these “retained students?” You want 17 year old wolves sitting in the same classroom with little dewey-eyed 12 year olds? Okay. Everybody retained that needs to be retained. Now what? How are you going to manage then? I await your “system design” reply.

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
8:15 am

@ mountain

I agree. the more I dissected this bill, the more it reeks of political shell games. does nothing, but looks pretty to the low info voters.

IMO the reality is as a society we don’t want solutions-just the appearance of them.

as for retained students – if it takes three tries to get to the next grade level, they don’t need to be in traditional school. they either need to be in special ed or out the door.

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
8:19 am

said it before and say it again. after 6th grade, school should be optional.

by then they know how to read, have been exposed to basic math and science. anything beyond that is wasted on the MTV generations – unless they themselves want it.

allow or remove kids beginning in the 7th grade, and most of the problems in school relating to students will disappear

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
8:25 am

I was reading through online reviews of some of the Georgia schools where I have taught (and noted the subject score areas elevated per years I had taught in the subject areas) and this is my take-away from reading these reviews:

- repeatedly, schools rate as 1 out of 5 stars on a national level
- student / family comments about bullying
- student / family comments about “slow motion learning” and electives and extras (including “gifted” programs) going away and what was left for electives and extras being “crowded”
_______________

Has anyone noticed that the rich people and corporations have stopped paying taxes?

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
8:26 am

@ mountain

despite the mountains of evidence that school administrations are corrupt to the core, to the low info posters and the politically motivated (see the top posters) nobody actually wants to do anything about it.

they either want to continue to rail at teachers for things we can’t control, or make themselves feel better by promoting a political POV. neither do anyone a damn bit of good, but hey…..

its not like they were about solutions in the first place

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
8:28 am

allow or remove kids beginning in the 7th grade

So these will become experts at climbing in and out of house windows while the adults are gone to work? Are you going to buy them a hammer, chisel, booty bag and step-ladder as a send-off?

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
8:29 am

I would love Dr. John’s take on this mess, but since he was hounded outta here by the sort of personal attacks I wouldn’t permit in my living room ……

guess we’ll never know

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
8:33 am

PS Competing schools in different parts of town essentially have the same conditions, one out of five rating, parent / student comments, and reviews. I was checking this out because one principal is getting politically favored, while the other is getting the snot kicked out of them. I expect the better principal is getting the rough treatment, as I have seen the three best principals I have worked for each get completely railroaded by the local “school board” establishment and their seedy network.

presschkr

March 21st, 2013
8:33 am

@ bootney farnsworth “I agree. the more I dissected this bill, the more it reeks of political shell games. does nothing, but looks pretty to the low info voters. IMO the reality is as a society we don’t want solutions-just the appearance of them.”

You hit the nail on the head. This bill is a political ploy for certain Republicans lining up to run for statewide office. If they get any form of this bill passed, making Georgia only the 8th state to pass such a bill, they will score big points and political support from the national school reform groups like ALEC. That means big campaign contributions.

But Trigger bills have yet to work successfully in any state and have yet to help a single student. These bills cause incredible turmoil and chaos in any school that attempts to use it. And they offer no help to public schools, their students or their families.

But watch out, because unlike other states’ trigger bills that are available only to “low-performing” schools with the unlikely idea that this legislation might help those schools, this bill allows parents to pull the trigger on ANY school in the state. Does this remind someone of the demands a certain public school in Buckhead that the parents want take over? And who is their Republican representative, Mr. Lindsey?

More political shell games!

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
8:34 am

newsflash:

they already are experts at breaking the law.

they are the unsavable, and likely will end up in jail or on welfare anyway. getting the one who don’t want to be there and should not be there will protect the ones who do.

remember, no one is forcing kids out who want to stay, or forcing the animals to stay except social engineers and bleeding hearts. the kids and their families make this choice

enough with the drama – deal with reality

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
8:38 am

@ presschkr

I don’t think it so much a republican thing as it is a political lady of the evening thing. if the democrats were in power (IMO) they would be doing something similar which fit their agenda.

neither party gives a damn about actually educating kids – just how to use education to push their agenda of the moment

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
8:44 am

one thing I really wish would happen. that the idiots under the gold dome would just fess up that they want out of the state supported education business altogether and do it already.

this death by 10,000 cuts is both annoying and insulting. hell, even the low info voters know the legislature is trying to end education as we know it. just do it already

DekalbParent

March 21st, 2013
8:45 am

I must agree with bootney. After 6th or 7th grade there is no point in trying to teach a student that isn’t interested in learning. Let them go and classroom distractions are gone.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
8:51 am

bootney, If I have not made it clear enough, I am some stunned by your enthusiasm to abandon 12 years olds (7th graders). You must be a college teacher? because you seem a little out of touch with children and who and when is ready to be an adult and have the means to “meet the world and shake it’s hand.” Seriously, as an adult and educator, no wonder the kids are in a bad way when the adults have so little interest in both providing for the kids and shepherding them. Abandonment is your idea of governance? May I call you “cut’n'run bootney?” You run from the crops when the bad weather hits and leave the crops to rot in the field? Seriously, though. There are real governance issues that should be addresses. I have often noted the current generation of adults seems to want to build restaurants and bars for themselves, but anything for the kids is forgotten. Gives meaning to “a lost generation.” And from reading Serf’s Collar weblog, it appears their is really determination nationally to make these same kids dumb as a rock and occupied with “emotion” and “feelings.” Looks like a loss x2 for the young people from the general populace.

Maureen Downey

March 21st, 2013
8:51 am

@bootney, Not sure any legislator wants to end public education — more than 93 percent of Georgia’s kids attend public schools. But many do want vouchers. What hampers the pro voucher lawmakers is that rural Georgia has not bought in as there are few private school options there so vouchers don’t resonate. Many argue that the market would respond, but that has not been the case with the for-profit charter school industry, which has focused its attention in urban and suburban communities where there are more students and more money. And the for-profits have the same problem in many rural areas that public schools have — finding good staff.
Maureen

KIM

March 21st, 2013
8:52 am

Consider this: back in the 90s a wealthy, nice parent lady had a $6,000,000 pocket of money after the sad death of her husband and needed to do something nobel with it. It resulted in a law that forced schools to have parent/community advisory committees–formed and run in accordance with the law (micro management at its worst). While I certainly support parent/community advisory committees and think any smart principal would have one, it harks back to a time in history where states were forced by the feds to do things a certain way. Maybe an extreme coomparison, but it illustrates how well-intended, uninformed people can steer a boat in the totally wrong direction. Gov. Barnes’ three inch notebook of how to reform a school (A+ School Reform) was a collossal failure, as has been the local school advisory council. Fortunately it has morphed into a discussion only. But you have to meet a certain # of times, dictates where you can meet, as well as the protocol. Can you believe it? In the local school advisory committee…the original design wanted parents to recommend people for principal. Good grief. What a waste of $6,000,000. And the law doesn’t go away.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
8:54 am

These bills cause incredible turmoil and chaos in any school that attempts to use it. And they offer no help to public schools, their students or their families.

Bingo. With friends like Lindsey, who needs enemies?

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2013
8:54 am

@ Mountain Man, 8:00 am

“but no one will answer (not even the great Mary Elizabeth – she just mouths platitudes like ‘if you make it interesting, the students will attend’).”
==============================================

The statement, above, is blatantly a lie. Shame on you, Mountain Man, for thinking that you could simply type that falsehood about my previous words to you and get away with it. I had taken the time and effort, on March 15th, to give you an in depth response to your inquiry of me and, in return, you have deliberately misrepresented my response as a shallow, single thought. You have disappointed me in how you have so cavalierly and deliberately misrepresented my response to you. Below is what I had originally posted to you regarding students’ attendance problems:

“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.”

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2013/03/15/can-we-simultaneously-fix-and-flee-public-schools/?cp=3

Bertis Downs

March 21st, 2013
8:55 am

the Parent Trigger, while it seems harmless enough and has been said to me to be “no big deal– it won’t affect your schools over in Athens” is a big step in the wrong direction.

A local Chamber of Commerce president recently remarked that companies come to communities where the public schools are strong. And we all need to understand that businesses want to locate where ALL children are well educated, not where a few select ones attend some sort of special school– and how likely are they going to locate in communities where the public schools are in turmoil and chaos over parent triggers and the like?

Let’s focus for a moment on what do we need to do to make our public schools work for all children in Georgia? Our schools need collaboration and cooperation, not chaos and confusion. We need durable alliances, not division and distraction. Done right, isn’t education really a shared responsibility between teachers, students, parents, and communities?

As a recent opinion piece in the Savannah paper noted: “The parent-trigger law forces change and disruption upon schools that are apparently already disrupted. These laws fail to consider any other, perhaps even better, options for residents (not just parents of students and teachers) that could actually work toward a solution.”

Exactly. Teaching and administering a modern school is hard enough these days– lots of internal and external forces make it so. Adding this latest stick to the arsenal of outside groups like Parent Revolution to come into Georgia towns and neighborhoods and start gathering signatures or ginning up attendence at local meetings to convert a school to a charter with outside for-profit management– does anyody really think this is a way to run a railroad, or a school system? I don’t.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
9:03 am

What hampers the pro voucher lawmakers is that rural Georgia has not bought in as there are few private school options there so vouchers don’t resonate.

I think there is more to it. Where I live, there are a ton of private schools. Word on the street is “anyone who can afford to sends their kids to private school.” It seems more like there is an “arrangement” set in stone. The private school crowd like to keep it simple and uninvolved. They probably do not want the public school kids gacking out their private schools. They make a trade-off, in keeping quiet and paying their own way, the private school crowd do not have to deal with the public school crowd, the poor kids, the low-information kids, the behavior problem kids. Whether for cultural, economic, or religious reasons, there seems to be a consistent double system occuring: public and private, and within the public schools, the political caste runs their little “private academies” within the public school system. This is the tell-tale sign, and the “data” is out there: the few “high performing” public school academies for the political caste (i.e. private school using government money and no tuition), and then the rest of the schools with the 50% rating. So it is really like there are three school systems: private, public “academy” school, and general public school, the last one is where there is little resource, raggedy books, reduced services, and management mayhem and little governance of the few leveraging the school structure for a pay-off for 10-50 people per district? who use the schools like a mule to get their $100k salaries and completely mess over any professional who does not bond with their not-so-little mafia enterprises.

Three distinct systems.

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 21st, 2013
9:10 am

Considering who the bill’s opponents (above) are, I’d say it passes the smell test quite handsomely.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
9:11 am

Mary Elizabeth, Mountain Man looks at public K12 education like a football enthusiast yelling at the tv set. Yes, his kids played football and he had to deal with the injuries, but beyond that he has “big ideas” and not too much reality. Let’s hope he can keep it real and consider the reality-in-implemetation of some of his assertions. Ha, he seems like the embodiment of the “big idea” mayhem forced upon the school subjects. Let’s you and me see what he says about what he is going to do with all of those kids he is going to “retain” where he has conveniently left of the part about out of age children in the general education classroom. Meanwhile, his compadre bootney seems to think the other children age 12 and beyond can go work on the farm. But bootney missed the memo, “the farm is gone.”

Batgirl

March 21st, 2013
9:11 am

@Mary Elizabeth, remember that in our epic stories, hubris is often the downfall of the hero, so we can only hope!

@dc, if you think it’s so easy to make a difference in the life of a child with a bad home life, come on. Let’s see you do it. My colleagues and I bust our humps trying every day. Teachers teach to exhaustion, differentiating and accommodating in every way they know. We buy shoes and coats, pay for school trips. When kids are living without electricity in the dead of winter, we take up a collection to get the power turned on. We report suspected abuse and neglect, yet sometimes nothing happens. We had a little girl last year who anyone would consider the perfect daughter–sweet, smart, beautiful. However, she had a chronic illness that her mother neglected. Our school reported her mother to DFACS several times as did her doctor. The mother would also put on a good show for the social workers, so nothing was ever done. They moved to another part of the state this year, and we learned two weeks ago that the child had died in her sleep at fourteen years of age. Please, tell me, what else do you want us to do.

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
9:14 am

@ maureen

if they don’t want to abandon public education, they seem to be doing a great job of faking it.
until I see some genuine action aimed at real fixes, not political gamesmanship, I;m gonna politely reserve the right to disagree.

saying the market will just come in and magically fix everything is a flat denial of reality. could it?
possibly. will it over time? maybe. is it a magical cure? no way in hell.

this whole mess reminds me of gas deregulation. all the promises of magical improvement and lower prices. yet here I am with gas bills higher than ever before and paying two entities to do the job one used to do just fine. this concept reeks of lobbyists, not parents and educators

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
9:15 am

Is this “parent trigger” more “death by a thousand cuts” to try and massage things toward more charter schools? Hey Lindsey, if you want to put in charter schools, be direct about it. You do not have to be a sadist. How long do you plan to toy with this psyop stuff before you get to the point, five years from now? You also like driving around on bald tires? I don’t.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
9:16 am

this whole mess reminds me of gas deregulation. all the promises of magical improvement and lower prices. yet here I am with gas bills higher than ever before

I’ve got a natural gas line and that thing is OFF.

Georgia Coach

March 21st, 2013
9:17 am

@bootney Trotter was not hounded by personal attacks. Many of us simply pointed out that he is using Maureen for free advertising, and she apparently doesn’t have the gumption to stop it.

Nothing was said about Trotter that is not absolutely true. He takes $500 a year to protect a teacher, regardless of how incompetent.

totally off topic

March 21st, 2013
9:18 am

Any news about the Hope Grant changes? Will they be in place before the fall classes start and can students fill for it over the summer?

Batgirl

March 21st, 2013
9:22 am

@bootney, I think Dr. John is still here. I had wondered where he went, too, but then I noticed a quirk of Dr. John’s writing in another poster.

@Bertis Downs, yes!

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2013
9:29 am

Mountain Man, 8:00 am

“as for retained students – if it takes three tries to get to the next grade level, they don’t need to be in traditional school. they either need to be in special ed or out the door.”
———————————————————————-

bootney farnsworth, 8:15 am

“as for retained students – if it takes three tries to get to the next grade level, they don’t need to be in traditional school. they either need to be in special ed or out the door.”
———————————————————————-

Private Citizen, 8:05 am

“Mountain Man, where are you going to put all these ‘retained students?’ You want 17 year old wolves sitting in the same classroom with little dewey-eyed 12 year olds? Okay. Everybody retained that needs to be retained. Now what? How are you going to manage then? I await your ’system design’ reply.”
==============================================

There is a “system design” alternative to both the social promotion and the retaining of students. It is a continuous progress instructional design. I have tried to get this across many times on this blog, but it is not sinking in, I think. Please remember that I functioned for almost a decade as the ILT in a school that practiced continuous progress, multiaged groupings of students, grades 1 – 7. This instructional design is not based on an abstract theory. I saw it practiced, effectively, for nine years of my 35 year teaching career. I will post, once again, in the post immediately following this one an explanation of the continuous progress instructional design.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
9:29 am

Georgia Couch, On a different level, you seem more interested in scape-goating certain teachers rather than mentoring or building good talent. I am interested in what is your concept of this icon, the “incompetent teacher?” I really want to know. You seem to see yourself as a fire extinguisher to locate and put out “incompetent teachers.” Well and good, but I want to know from you, what is an incompetent teacher? Honestly, you sound like a hit man used to maybe get rid of the old guard and replace them with new young cheap labor. The only reason I say this is that I have seen it done. Either that, or to get rid of anyone who does not fit the local $100k management mafia who usually have less training, test scores, and university level knowledge that these “bad teachers” the spend their time subverting. Therefore, I issue you a gentle challenge. If you are for real, please describe what is an “incompetent teacher.” This is not a trick or game. I really want to know. Thanks.

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
9:34 am

@ PC

allow me to be blunt here. I don’t give a damn what you think of me. less than a damn. agree/disagree/love me/hate me my life goes on just fine. the only people who’s opinion of me matters
to me are my wife and my kids – and in that order.

you think me heartless because I am more concerned about the kids who actually WANT to learn than the ones who don’t? wonderful. I’ll own it. happily and with open arms. you can even say my parents were never married if you wish. knock yourself out.

I respect the concept of freedom of choice, even when I don’t agree with it. (re: Obama). I respect the choice of students and parents who feel school has nothing to offer them at a certain point. I respect the choice of some students to be a burden on society than a contributor. but I will not do anything to prevent the consequences of these choices either.

what I respect far more, however, is the choice of students/parents that their education matters, and they are in it for the long haul. and I choose to wish to protect them as much as possible from the
parasites who would disrupt the kids doing the right thing.

since in this matter you are unwilling or unable to comprehend basic english, I’ll waste my time walking you through this one last time

-no one who WANTS an education will be put out the door. the guards who keep the ones who want to leave will be removed. parent/student choice.

-no one who WANTS an education, but is unable to keep up, will be put out the door. but they will not continue to be mainstreamed at the detriment to others. they will be given the option to join an educational community better suited to their needs, or pursue other options.

frankly, I have no freaking idea why this concept is so difficult for you to understand. I don’t care, but I am puzzled by it.

my desire is simple: I wish to create an environment in which people can, according to their abilities and desires, achieve as far as they can. and I wish to protect it from those who have no ambition to do anything besides ooze along in life.

as far as I can tell, you wish to protect those who have chosen to be the lowest, least productive members of society and inflict them upon those who might excel.

pitiful, but hey….your choice

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2013
9:35 am

“In a continuous progress instructional design, students would advance to their next year-in-school with their age peers, but they would be assigned to the specific instructional levels, in each area of the curriculum, on which they could function even if those instructional levels were below the levels held by the majority of their peers in the same grade/year in school. This is known as a ‘continuous progress’ instructional design. To envision this instructional design, consider that it is similar to advancing up a ladder, but this would be a ladder of the curriculum continuum from first grade through twelfth grade, with each student advancing up the ladder at his or her own individual pace for mastery of the curriculum to be achieved, irrespective of grade level demarcations. Below are the comments which I wrote to another poster who had asked me about this instructional issue.
—————————————————————————–

‘You seem to perceive that the instructional options for students who have ‘failed’ a grade level 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 instructionally below or beneath 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. . . .

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.’ ”

For even more detail about implementing a continuous progress instructional design in schools, grades 1 – 12+, please read the following link, in full.

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

CJae of EAV

March 21st, 2013
9:36 am

This so-called “Parents Trigger” bill (which if my memory serves another of those ALEC model policies being pushed across the country), IS NOT needed in GA.

The existing Charter School law(s) on the books already allow for a majority of parents & faculty members of any public school to petition for charter conversion if that’s the consensus. The best of my understanding we don’t have one example in this state where the aforementioned coalition in a failing school leveraged what’s already on the books to drive effective change.

I see no need to clutter the books with additional legislation that fundementally does not add any greater value to what already exists. IMHO, until the existing laws are demonstrated to be ineffective or significantly flawed there is simply no need for this bill. It seems to me this so-called “Parent Trigger” is an end-around trojan horse to remove the teachers/faculty from the equation and make an easier path pick-off the best institutional assets of a given local system and leave the unwanted to their own devices.

concernced

March 21st, 2013
9:38 am

After reading the numerous posts on this Blog I conclude that our government wants to run education but they don’t want the responsibility of actually taking charge. They sit in their meetings thinking of ways to “change” education for the better all the while reducing the amount of money spent on their “changes”. To top it off when things don’t work teachers are to blame. Teachers do NOT get any input into the educational process yet they are blamed when programs don’t work. Seems to me before ANY changes are made to education teachers (who have proven to be great at what they do) need to be a part of the change process. All teachers are not incapable of educating children. Most do a wonderful job. Only a few are making the others look bad. It saddens me to see the state of education and the direction it is heading. Only the children will suffer.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
9:38 am

I don’t give a damn what you think of me.

bootney, it is not about you.

Georgia Coach

March 21st, 2013
9:39 am

@PC I will elaborate after work today. You have asked a relatively fair question.

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
9:40 am

@ georgia coach

you are entitled to your opinion. I am entitled to mine.
and mine is your assertion is full of more poo than a overflowing septic tank.

yes, Dr. John promoted a concept/entity/whatever, but in doing it he did two things you do not
-address specific issues
-advocate specific points.

both of which were usually directly related to the topic at hand.

from what I saw he was routinely shining light on things the status quo would rather see stay in the dark

Public Citizen is a serial bore

March 21st, 2013
9:42 am

Ditto for bootney and Mountain Man. Is there no daytime TV in their cable package?

bootney farnsworth

March 21st, 2013
9:45 am

@ maureen

I just did a quick search on “trigger” systems which have worked as supporters desired. admittedly it was a quick search. I couldn’t find anything which hinted at long term success.

any chance you have any links which deal with the long term success of this concept?

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
9:45 am

ME, Great idea, I just wonder how it works organization in a school with a thousand students? you are certainly correct about this “lock step” business. I can certainly relate to your view, and can take it a step farther, that the whole “grading” thing is somewhat meaningless, although I can see the utility of a once a year standardised test to monitor things. It is a complex topic. The “lock step” might work if it is implemented well. The problem is the complete lack of resources. It is like the ultimate practical joke, all of this regimentation and “high accountability” combined with lack of teaching materials. The one answer I can think of is lots of unregulated small environments, you know, like nurture and education is supposed to me, dignity and identity formation, the exact opposite of the current system with a thousand masters each telling you what to do and how to do it.

Private Citizen

March 21st, 2013
9:47 am

Georgia Coach, hey thanks! and I look forward to your reply.

Maureen Downey

March 21st, 2013
9:54 am

@bootney, This is a brand new, untested concept with only two examples — both districts in California and both only in the early stages. I said in an earlier piece that I wish Georgia would wait and see how these ideas pan out before jumping into the fray.
Maureen

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2013
9:54 am

CORRECTION: In my 9:29 am post I had erroneously posted bootney farnsworth’s words twice – once under Mountain Man’s name. I apologize for that. Here are the words of Mountain Man which he posted at 8:00 am, and which I had meant to repeat in my 9:29 am post:
================================================

“We ignore the problems of attendance, discipline, and social promotion . . .Then I discover that the laws that the legislature created to keep kids from being ’socially promoted’ at 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades are being actively subverted by principals and are not being enforced – practically NO students are being retained no matter how badly they did on the CRCT.”
===============================================

Again, there is an alternative to both social promotion and retention, and that alternative is a continuous progress instructional design within schools.