Archive for the ‘Cherokee’ Category

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 …

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Sen. Chip Rogers on public education in Georgia. (Maybe for the last time as a senator?)

In August, I asked state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, to write a piece about his stand on public education. Rogers had sent me a note saying that he felt he was wrongly being cast as anti-public schools on the blog.

His piece arrived a month ago, but it was so long that I planned to run it over the holidays when people have more time to read. But with the news that Rogers is expected to announce that he’s stepping down from the state Senate, I am sharing it now.

These may be his final words on education in Georgia, at least as a state senator.

By Sen. Chip Rogers

Imagine for a moment if the recent summer Olympic Games had resulted in the United States earning fewer medals than Kazakhstan, Belarus, Iran, or Jamaica. If so, one could expect justifiable outcries to entirely reform our Olympic program. Surely, no American would accept the United States being ranked 25th in Olympic competition?

Yet, this is exactly what is happening right before our eyes in …

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Cherokee County SAT scores: Highest in state followed by Fulton, Oconee, Decatur and Forsyth

cherokee

Cherokee County sent out a release on its 2012 SAT scores, which, for all three testing areas, are the state’s highest.

The Cherokee County School District has posted the highest SAT district average score in the state of Georgia for 2012, based on an analysis of statewide data released on Monday by the state Department of Education and the College Board.

While internal analysis had shown the CCSD score, a 28-point increase from the 2011 average total, was the highest in the District’s history, a review of the scores across the state reveals CCSD to have the highest district-wide average as well, with a total score of 1587.  The next closest district average for 2012 is 1580 (Fulton County).

“Congratulations to the students, parents, teachers and administrators on making Cherokee County School District No. 1 in the State of Georgia,” said Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo, Superintendent of Schools.  “What is important about this distinction is that it shows our …

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Does charter school funding leave taxpayers holding the bag?

Regular Get Schooled blog readers know Cherokee businessman John Konop as an astute commenter on the economics of education. He’s also a great debater as he focuses on the facts and does not get carried away with politics or ideology.

And he posts under his name, which signals that he stands behind his comments.

Konop has sparked debate in Cherokee County over questions on the funding of a charter school there and who gets stuck with the bill. Konop raised these issues with the Cherokee County School Board at a recent meeting.

Here is a followup letter he sent board member Michael Geist:

Dear Mr. Geist,

According to a recent newspaper article, it seems you are still very confused about why you’re getting so much negative feedback about the lack of fiscal controls in the charter school amendment that you support. I will once again clarify the issues by explaining how the Cherokee Charter Academy (CCA) was funded and how the current charter school amendment fails protect tax …

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Are school budget cuts leaving teachers “overstressed, overburdened and overwhelmed”?

The AJC has a good story on shrinking school budgets. The question is how these deep cuts will affect the classroom and student learning.

According to the AJC story:

In their budgets for the 2013 fiscal year, which began Sunday, many of the biggest school districts cut their teaching staff, which will drive up the number of students in each classroom. Most also imposed furlough days, meaning teachers will lose time for planning lessons or hold class fewer days.

Among metro Atlanta’s biggest school systems, only Fulton County escaped significant cuts. That’s because Fulton curbed spending in prior years, shaving about $200 million since 2009. The rest of metro Atlanta’s big school districts — Atlanta and the systems in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties — slashed around $150 million collectively, cutting at least 2,000 teaching positions.

The loudest uproar was in DeKalb, where about 500 teaching positions and 600 support positions were eliminated as part …

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Not true that urban schools fail all students: Intown white high school students outperform suburban counterparts.

Jarod Apperson, a Midtown reader, sent me an interesting analysis of Georgia SAT scores, similar to one that I ran a few years ago, showing that white students in metro schools outperform suburban counterparts.  Except he went a bit deeper.

Here is why he compiled the data and what he hopes we learn from it:

Since my analysis has some newer data and focuses on specific schools, people might still be interested in it.  I think the fact that North Atlanta is the No. 3 public school in the state for white high school students could be a strong talking point for APS school chief Erroll B. Davis trying to get more middle-class families to stay in the public education system.

It’s a narrative that’s not heard enough.

To answer your question about how I came to look at this, I became interested in education reform a few years ago when I read a book by Paul Tough called “Whatever it Takes.”  I’ve always felt that excellent public education was the best way to create economic …

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Who’s No. 1 in the class? Some local schools don’t care.

Some local schools aren't ranking their graduates so there is no valedictorian. (AJC/file photo)

Some local schools aren't ranking their graduates so there is no valedictorian. (AJC/file photo)

In a subscriber-only story recently, the AJC looked at the trend away from naming valedictorians. (I can’t link to the AJC piece as it did not run online. But next week, the op-ed page will have a pro/con on this topic that will run online.)

I have written a lot about this in connection with the recent Georgia flaps about who won the No. 1 slot in various high schools.

In this news story, AJC reporter D. Aileen Dodd writes about why a few schools, typically private, have moved away from naming valedictorians while most still hold onto the tradition.

She wrote:

These schools, mostly private and some public, say they buck the tradition so students will be motivated to get good grades because that’s what they should do as scholars, not to attain the rewards of a high rank.

The prevailing philosophy in education, however, is to reward students for hard work. The title of …

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Cherokee provides view of natural tensions over charter school amendment

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the tensions in Cherokee between the school system and the legislative delegation and the board redistricting legislation that resulted. You can find quite a few posts on the issues if you search Cherokee.

It will be interesting to see whether the school system’s opposition to the state charter school amendment will have any impact on voters in November.

Here is a good summation of the Cherokee situation from the AJC’s Jeffry Scott:

For 10 months a battle has raged in Cherokee County over charter schools. A bill passed by the legislature putting a charter school amendment on the ballot November has done little to clear the smoke or diffuse the heat.

It has just ignited new opposition in the county and given rise to the prospect that the debate and battle could expand across the state, say opponents of the amendment that would give Georgia the power to create charter schools without local school board approval.

Over the last year …

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Payback to Cherokee schools by local lawmakers: Will governor provide the knock-out punch?

The chair of the Cherokee County Board of Education is asking the governor to veto House Bill 978, which is one of the most surprising and invasive pieces of local legislation this session. I am uncertain why a GOP-led body would violate its less government/local control mantra to meddle in a county with a darn good school system.

This bill has already drawn fire from SACS, the accrediting agency that oversees Cherokee schools.

I doubt Cherokee will get much help from Nathan Deal, who often takes a see no evil, hear no evil posture with the Legislature, but this bill does strike at the heart of much of what the governor professes to believe about the rights of local voters to decide their representation.

HB 978 has been described as payback to the Cherokee school board for nixing a charter school application, which again surprises me as there were legitimate concerns about the project.

I think the lesson here is that politicians of any party will violate their own foundational …

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Teacher absenteeism: Are mental health days on the rise?

Teacher absenteeism can adversely affect students. (AP Images)

Teacher absenteeism can adversely affect students. (AP Images)

The AJC has an interesting piece this morning on absenteeism among metro Atlanta teachers. The story by education writer Ty Tagami and database specialist Kelly Guckian is subscriber only and will not appear online so I can’t share a link. But I can provide a summary.

The AJC analyzed metro Atlanta attendance data for the past three years and found that teachers in nearly all districts missed on average more than 10 days due to illness, training, personal leave or jury duty. Sickness was the most common cause.

The story examines whether “mental health” days are increasing because of class size, diminishing respect and increasing responsibilities and accountability.

“It used to be that teachers only worried about teaching,” said Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators. “Now, they have to worry about paperwork, evaluations, test scores, data management, keeping your …

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