Archive for the ‘School boards’ Category

Can parents trust the state with control of their schools?

charterartMany people in DeKalb and other counties are losing faith in the ability of local education leaders to responsibly manage their schools.

Can they trust state leaders to govern more responsibly?

That’s a question more Georgia parents may be asking if Gov. Nathan Deal wins greater control over local schools systems. And that, reports the AJC’s Greg Bluestein and Ty Tagami, is Deal’s intent.

In 1989, New Jersey became the first state to take over a school district. Now, the majority of states have some legal mechanism to seize control of a troubled district. But research suggests that state intervention does not always solve problems.

That’s because a state bureaucracy can be even more sluggish and unyielding than a local one. And states don’t always have the money or the staffing to turn around struggling systems.

So, while states may come in and rearrange things, they don’t necessarily dramatically improve them as recent takeovers in Philadelphia and Roosevelt, N.Y., …

Continue reading Can parents trust the state with control of their schools? »

Cherokee school board: Shades of DeKalb in silly exchange between new board member and school chief

I was beseeched by several readers to look at the video of Thursday’s Cherokee County Board of Education meeting. The readers contended that new board member Kelly Marlow tangled with Cherokee Superintendent Frank Petruzielo over a minor issue and wasted a lot of time.

After watching the video, I have to agree that time was frittered away on what seemed a minor point on the dues being spent by the district — approved in the budget last year — for the Georgia School Boards Association.

And the audience seemed to concur, applauding in the video when an exasperated Petruzielo finally said, “I can’t imagine we are spending really this much time on something this inconsequential, particularly with the kinds of issues we just talked about in the work session that are so consequential to the future of this system.”

Marlow ran for the office as a watchdog and a reformer, and that is the role she clearly intends to fulfill even at the cost of creating discomfort.

I happen to like …

Continue reading Cherokee school board: Shades of DeKalb in silly exchange between new board member and school chief »

Shorter summers short teen’s chances to earn money

Do shorter summers hurt the ability of teens to earn college money from such jobs as lifeguarding and camp counselors? (AP Images)

Do shorter summers hurt the ability of teens to earn college money from such jobs as lifeguards and camp counselors? (AP Images)

As a parent in a metro district that returns to school Aug. 1 under a “balanced calendar,” I read this Sunday AJC essay by Roswell parent Vicki Griffin with a personal interest.

While Griffin wrote the column to address the issue of lobbyist fees, she mentions her son’s experience in protesting his school district’s dwindling summer breaks.

That is a growing issue as more systems move to modified year-round or balanced calendars in which students have shorter summers and more breaks throughout the school year. Some states have essentially blocked short summers by legislating that school cannot start earlier than late August.

In fact, North Carolina passed a law that specifies school start dates: Start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather related calendar …

Continue reading Shorter summers short teen’s chances to earn money »

DeKalb’s Eugene Walker intends to pass hat to pay for continued legal fight over school board suspension

With the unanimous vote of the newly reconstituted DeKalb school board this week, any suspended board members who want to fight their ouster were set adrift. They now have to front their own legal costs in court.

Former school board chair Eugene Walker intends to do just that.

But he is seeking donations to defray his legal battle. In a post on this blog about the importance of challenging the state law, Walker explained, “If this unconstitutional act is to stand, then what is next? It will only be a matter of time before another constitutional right will be taken away by another wayward and self-perpetuating politico under the guise of the greater good. Minorities should not feel secure if contrived allegations from anonymous sources with hidden agendas can go to private agencies and to have their civil rights stolen away. This cannot and shall not be allowed to stand.”

Ronald Carlson, a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia law school, told the AJC’s Ty …

Continue reading DeKalb’s Eugene Walker intends to pass hat to pay for continued legal fight over school board suspension »

Cobb faces drastic actions to cope with school budget crisis. Considers some online high school classes.

computer (Medium)Georgians can grasp just how grave the underfunding of education has become when they read about what’s happening in Cobb County, long considered one of the state’s top school districts and among its most stable.

Tonight, the school chief proposed shifting many high school classes into online courses, cutting five days from the school year, eliminating transportation to several thousand students and giving district staff five furlough days to address an $86.4 million deficit.

This is occurring in one of more affluent counties in the state, a county that lured new residents on the reputation of its schools.

How are the rest of Georgia districts — few with the financial resources and educated middle-class populace of Cobb — coping with drastic funding cuts to their schools? Never mind bake sales. Are they holding blood drives?

I’m not sure how happy Cobb parents are going to be when word of these proposed economies reach them. Many parents will have questions about the online …

Continue reading Cobb faces drastic actions to cope with school budget crisis. Considers some online high school classes. »

From Canada to Georgia, teachers complain of pressure to change grades to mask high failure rates

testing (Medium)Interesting AJC story on an Atlanta high school principal who resigned after accusations he bullied and intimidated teachers into raising failing grades.

Grade inflation has been in the national news as schools face increased pressure to improve student achievement, an issue Georgia knows well after the CRCT cheating scandals in Atlanta and Dougherty County schools.

Even Canada, held up as a model of effective education reform, has seen complaints from teachers of mounting pressure to alter grades so fewer students fail under a stricter accountability system.

Closer to home, teachers in a Tennessee for-profit virtual school complained of an email that directed them to drop failing grades. In a recent investigation, Nashville’s WTVF/NewsChannel 5 found that a Tennessee Virtual Academy administrator instructed middle school teachers to delete failing grades.

The case has had reverberations nationwide as the parent company of Tennessee Virtual, K12, the nation’s largest online …

Continue reading From Canada to Georgia, teachers complain of pressure to change grades to mask high failure rates »

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.  …

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

So, did you see new DeKalb school board in action tonight? Looked sharp to me. What did you think?

Good questions from new DeKalb Board of Education members at their inaugural board meeting tonight, which I watched online.

The board voted unanimously to end its involvement in the lawsuit challenging the law that enabled Gov. Nathan Deal to oust six members of the board. That vote ends payments to the attorneys in the lawsuit.

It seemed that many folks were at the meeting to cheer on the new board, including the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

The six members appointed by the governor asked lots of questions, all of which were focused, relevant and pointed.

I was impressed with the questions from Deal appointee Thad Mayfield. He was quick in his analysis and offered strong points in the protracted discussion on the financing of portable classrooms and the maintenance of them.

Board member Marshall Orson — one of the three members elected this past fall — requested DeKalb terminate its status as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state. The …

Continue reading So, did you see new DeKalb school board in action tonight? Looked sharp to me. What did you think? »

Parent and Educator Empowerment Act moves from House to Senate. Teacher empowerment erodes along the way.

downeyart0726 (Medium)A Senate subcommittee takes up the parent trigger bill this morning at 8.

As the Parent and Educator Empowerment bill moved from the House to the Senate, one piece apparently was lost in the journey: Teacher power.

According to the legislative update posted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators:

The official name of HB 123, formerly called the “Parent and Educator Empowerment Act” has been changed in a Senate substitute version to the “Parent Empowerment Act.”

HB 123 allows parents to vote to convert their school to charter status. An important portion of the bill which allows teachers to petition their school board to adopt a school turnaround model has been amended in the new substitute version to exclude teachers.

Since the bill has yet to be heard in subcommittee, the reasoning behind the changes is unclear. PAGE has deep concerns about the alterations. Our longstanding position regarding school turnaround and charter schools is that parents, students, and …

Continue reading Parent and Educator Empowerment Act moves from House to Senate. Teacher empowerment erodes along the way. »

Old school boards never die. They blog away. At least in DeKalb.

Old school boards never die. They just blog away.

Neither Nancy Jester, ousted by the governor, nor Don McChesney, ousted by voters, apparently believes that former DeKalb school board members should fade from view.

The two ex DeKalb board members remain vocal about the school district they once led. And both are using blogs to serve up their commentary.

In fact, Jester plans to live blog first meeting of the newly appointed board Wednesday. On her Nancy’s News site, she writes, “I’ll be hosting a live blog comment feed for tomorrow’s DeKalb Board meeting.  The meeting begins at 6pm and I’ll start the live comment feed around 550pm. ”

Jester goes on to tell her fans her latest plans:  In order to continue to advocate for you, I have partnered with the Georgia Charter Schools Association.  I am working as a consultant and strategist to advocate for charter schools and school choice.  I will also be working to develop a board bank of talented and trained citizens to serve …

Continue reading Old school boards never die. They blog away. At least in DeKalb. »