Archive for the ‘election2010’ Category

Can schools pay their bills with more flexibility?

One of the most pungent commenters on education issues in the state is former Henry County superintendent Herb Garrett, who is now executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association

In response to the prospect of more school cuts and the pledge of Gov.-elect Nathan Deal to grant schools more flexibility rather than more money, Garret said, “We’ve been getting some flexibility now for several years and Georgia Power just won’t accept flexibility as payment for electric bills.”

The relentless cuts to education come at a time when the state and feds are making unprecedented demands on schools to educate more students to higher standards. Can those goals be met with the larger class sizes and diminished resources that have resulted from the deep cuts to education spending in Georgia?

That is the question facing our schools today. And it has a new urgency now that Deal says state finances are so bad that he predicts even deeper cuts to education.

Here is the …

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Should parent affluence influence how schools are funded?

I am sharing a post from Tuesday because it raises a question that I have yet to resolve in my own mind: Should school funding formulas take into account that some schools get more support from their parents, local businesses and neighborhoods?

If a school system knows that parents at certain schools can rally and raise money for new playground equipment, band instruments or classroom supplies, should more tax dollars go to the schools that receive no financial help from parents?

I can argue both sides. Deny the parent-active school money and it appears the school is being punished for having involved parents. Keep funding equal across schools no matter the parental contributions and you end up with uneven resources as the schools without active parents get less.

Many of you will maintain that the solution is simple: Push the parents at all schools to get involved, raise money and support their schools. But that is easier in communities with higher household incomes and …

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Two new faces on DeKalb board. Congrats and good luck.

District 7 school board member Donna Edler

District 7 school board member Donna Edler

The DeKalb school board gets new leadership with the election of two newcomers in today’s runoff elections.

Nancy Jester defeated incumbent Jim Redovian in District 1 by capturing 55 percent of the vote, while certified public accountant Donna Edler defeated  Zepora Roberts in District 7 by winning 72 percent of the vote.

Runoffs — especially runoffs during terrible rainstorms — hinge on motivated voters. Apparently, Jester and Edler had enough of them.

Edler, in particular, won by a commanding margin, suggesting that District 7 voters craved change after many years with Roberts at the helm.

Both Edler and Jester were impressive at public forums and demonstrated great capacity for detail. Each has children in the system and has been an involved parent in her local school.

District 1 school board member Nancy Jester

District 1 school board member Nancy Jester

Jester and Edler will need every bit of intellect and stamina they have as they are joining the DeKalb school board at a …

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UGA’s student editor proves dangers of drinking

The Red & Black, the independent University of Georgia student newspaper, is reporting on one of its own today in a story about college drinking. This is a tough break for the student/editor involved.

He had to be a talented editor to rise to his top leadership position. I am sorry that he made his big mistake at such a high profile forum and with the current and next state governor present.

But I suspect this is a lesson that Daniel Burnett will never forget. (Take a look at my colleague Jim Galloway’s take on this.)

Also on the Red & Black web site are two other items about drinking, including one about a student who kicked in the door to an apartment. I am not sure how to get the message that drinking, if done at all, ought to be in moderation.

According to the Red & Black:

Daniel Burnett, editor in chief of The Red & Black, has submitted a letter of resignation stemming from an incident in which he was asked to leave the University President’s Box during Saturday’s …

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Dad of first-year teacher: Why 50 kids in the class?

Any words of advice for new teachers confronting impossible class sizes besides run for your life?

Any words of advice for new teachers confronting impossible class sizes besides run for your life?

I received an e-mail from a parent of a first-year teacher that I thought I would share. I’ve eliminated any identifying information.

The teacher has been getting good evaluations thus far but the father has been surprised at the unnecessary challenges she has faced. First, she arrived at her new classroom to find no supplies. Nothing. So, she bought her own. Money eventually became available for supplies, but it was well into the school year.

But the father says supplies aren’t his first chief concern:

“It is the number of students that are in the classes.  Our General Assembly had the brilliant idea to balance the budget on the backs of students and teachers.  Not only did they not fund the entire school year, they removed the caps on class sizes.  My child has between 50 to 60 students in each class.

It is impossible to teach in those circumstances, especially when you …

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DOE chief of staff: Too many school systems hostile to Christians

I reported the other day that new school chief John Barge chose his new leadership team, including chief of staff Joel Thornton, who is now president and CEO of the International Human Rights Group and a former classroom teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School and Model Middle School in Rome.

Several readers sent me a link to Thorton’s own blog, which they found troubling and felt portended a blurring of the church/state dividing line.

I am not sure if we can judge how Thorton will run the state Department of Education based on his blog musings, but after spending some time on Thornton’s blog today, I note that he doesn’t write about what I consider the core questions facing Georgia public schools, teacher quality, curriculum, testing and rigor.

His references to public education deal with the elimination of God from the schools and what he perceives to be a growing hostility to Christianity in schools in America and beyond.

Here are long excerpts from the blog. Take a look …

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School chief elect John Barge unveils his new DOE team

 New Georgia school chief John Barge announced his new leadership team today.

New Georgia school chief John Barge announced his new leadership team today.

Meet the new team at the state Department of Education. It is not quite the same as the old team.

Sounds like superintendent-elect John Barge is replacing Kathy Cox’s south metro cabinet with a north Georgia one.  (Cox came to DOE from Peachtree City. Barge has ties to west and north Georgia.)

Several key folks are gone at DOE, largely due to their perceived alliances.

They include Erin Hames, GaDOE chief of staff, Courtney Burnett, coordinator, external affairs, and Buck Hilliard, GaDOE’s liaison to the State Board of Education. Burnett and Hilliard were close to former Superintendent Cox. Hames was Gov. Sonny Perdue’s policy director and only recently moved to DOE. I understand efforts were made to protect Hames, but they did not work and she was asked to resign.

Barge sent out this e-mail today announcing his inner circle:

Below are brief biographies of the new team members:

Chief of Staff – Joel …

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School chief Brad Bryant to stay at DOE as general counsel

Brad Bryant

Brad Bryant

Update: See later blog on terminations today at DOE. Bryant is staying, but others are not.

The speculation about the fate of interim Georgia school chief Brad Bryant is over. Bryant told me this morning that he will be staying at the state Department of Education as its general counsel.

An attorney, Bryant was the governor’s choice for the state school superintendent’s post after GOP incumbent Kathy Cox decided to drop out of the election and resign to take an advocacy job in Washington. But Cox resigned too late for Bryant to get on the July GOP primary ballot, and he was unable to gather the petition signatures necessary to run as an independent. (The Legislature sets the bar at an impossible height to ward off competition from independents.)

That clearly disappointed Gov. Sonny Perdue who has great respect and a long relationship with the even-tempered and intellectual Bryant. Perdue had  appointed Bryant to the state Board of Education and tapped him to help …

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Race over? Federal aid to schools may dry up

 New Georgia school chief John Barge does not like federal aid, which is probably a good thing since we can expect less in the future.

New Georgia school chief John Barge does not like federal aid, which is probably a good thing since we can expect less in the future.

U.S.  Education Secretary Arne Duncan can’t manage 100,000 schools from Washington. Newly elected state school Superintendent John Barge can’t manage 1,800 schools from Atlanta.

Yet, both men are charged with the task of improving schools that have been resistant and, at times, hostile, to change.

Both profess to believe that poor children and children of color are capable of academic excellence. Duncan witnessed it firsthand through an after-school enrichment program than his mother launched in south Chicago in 1961 and still runs today.

Barge lived it, describing growing up poor with an alcoholic father and few supports; he discovered for himself early on that education could change his life.

How well Duncan and Barge will work together remains to be seen. Barge supports less federal involvement, even calling for an end to Georgia taking …

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Georgia’s math: Kathy Cox says it was a smooth transition

In Washington today, I ran into former state School Superintendent Kathy Cox who misses visiting schools but loves her new job.

In Washington today, I ran into former state School Superintendent Kathy Cox who misses visiting schools but loves her new job.

I am in Washington at the Education Trust conference and just ran into Kathy Cox, who is now here leading the staff at the U.S. Education Delivery Institute, which advises states on reform strategies.

When I mentioned the continued controversy over Georgia’s integrated math, she mentioned something that I thought might interest you.

Cox and her former top DOE aide Stephen Pruitt,a vice president with Achieve, also in Washington, both have children who were taught under Georgia’s new math approach.

Despite critics’ contention that Georgia’s math is incompatible with other states, Cox says her son and Pruitt’s two children are ahead of the game in math in their highly regarded Washington area schools.

In fact, Pruitt’s daughter was jumped a full grade in math by her new school. And his son made a seamless transition from eighth grade to higher level …

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