Archive for the ‘Cherokee’ Category

Rancor in the ranks: Should schools continue to name valedictorians?

In a stint as a field day volunteer at my children’s elementary school, I was assigned parachute play in which children held the edges of a giant colorful canvas and then ran under the chute.

A little boy who had already conquered the potato sack races, relays and hurdles eyed the parachute game with skepticism before asking, “How do you win?”

When I explained that the goal wasn’t to win but to have fun, he complained, “It’s not fun if there’s no winner.”

That seems to be a prevailing attitude in public education where we have always ranked students, and now, in the new age of accountability, rank teachers and schools. Teachers in Georgia are about to earn effective or ineffective rankings, as part of the state’s Race to the Top grant.

Colleges have a long history of public rankings and, concomitantly, of inflating their credentials to rise higher in those rankings.

But there is probably no ranking more controversial than class rankings, which is why many private schools have …

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The raw politics under way in state Legislature may give Cherokee school board a raw deal

The Cherokee legislative delegation continues to meddle with the school board, which strikes me as peculiar in a county noted for its public schools.

In a phrase, why mess with success?

Cherokee draws many of its new residents because of its schools. I first saw eight years ago at a lacrosse game between my son’s rec team and a Cherokee-based team. Almost all the Cherokee parents I met were Northern transplants, and they all told me the same thing: They moved to Cherokee for the public schools. (For those keeping score, the players from New York and New England brought great lacrosse skills South with them. Cherokee won.)

I don’t dispute that there are some unhappy Cherokee parents who want more charter school options or who send their children to private schools, including some influential lawmakers. But, by any objective measure, Cherokee schools are performing well.

In its campaign to revamp the school board, the Cherokee delegation won the help of the full House yesterday, …

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SACS to Cherokee legislators: Hands off school board elections and the chairmanship

The efforts of Cherokee legislators to realign the school board may be derailed by the accreditation agency that gives schools, including Cherokee, an important seal of approval.

Loss of accreditation could impede the ability of students from Cherokee to qualify for college scholarships, something that would not sit well with parents in this education-minded county.

House Bill 978 would realign the Cherokee county school board and effectively remove the elected school board chair and vice chair. Now, the school board has seven members elected county-wide who elect their chair and vice chair.

(You can read a condemnation of the legislators by Cherokee school chief here.)

I view this letter from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a rebuke of the lawmakers and a caution to leave well enough alone. We will have to see if the Cherokee delegation sees it the same way.

The letter was sent to Cherokee school board chair Mike Chapman.

February 27, 2012

Mr. …

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Former Mayor Shirley Franklin: Georgia will be beat by states that invest in knowledge economy

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin says the state will fall behind if it does not invest in education.

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin says the state will fall behind if it does not invest in education.

I have been surprised at the opposition toward the education SPLOST on the Nov. 8 ballot in Atlanta,  Fulton, DeKalb, Decatur, Gwinnett, Buford, Cherokee and Henry.

Given the stark reduction in state funds for education and the depressed housing market, schools are in desperate straits, and there would seem to be no more critical time to renew the penny sales tax for construction and capital improvements than now.

Among those who have not signed on — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the business community. In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this year, Reed said the penny — which has helped build or renovate 84 city schools or other buildings in the last 15 years— instead needs to go to a regional transportation plan expected to be put to voters next year.

Reed did not want the school system to seek to renew its SPLOST because Atlanta residents …

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Cherokee to consider ambitious expansion of choice programs in its public schools

In response to a call for greater school choice in his county, Cherokee Superintendent Frank R. Petruzielo has proposed an ambitious academies model that would offer specialized programs in science, technology, fine arts and performance arts, as well as a rigorous IB academy.

These desirable new programs would be county-wide and require students to meet admissions criteria.

Here is a memo Petruzielo sent on the academy programs, which I think parents in Cherokee will find very appealing.  In the case of the science, technology, engineering and math academy, Cherokee could tap its Race to the Top funds, which have the expansion of STEM programs as a stated goal.

In response to Board Member Mike Chapman’s request at the August 18 School Board meeting that staff develop a conceptual framework and ideas for increased school choice within the School District, I am proposing for the Board’s consideration establishment of a Cherokee Academies initiative – – a system of specialized …

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The charter school battle shifts to suburbs and pits neighbor against neighbor

A question that we’ve been debating here on the AJC Get Schooled blog is whether charter schools have a place in high-performing districts, such as Cherokee. This debate is not limited to Georgia, but is erupting nationwide as a reform movement originally cast as a way to help students trapped in failing schools expands to communities with successful public schools.

In this broader application, the charter movement is no longer about an escape route for poor children but about greater choice for all students.

But some parents in wealthy suburbs maintain that these “boutique” charters divert vital funds from schools that are more than meeting the needs of the community. They contend that there’s no rationale for a charter school when the local education is high quality.

But the parents who want their children to learn Chinese in kindergarten counter that they deserve more public options, and that even excellent schools may not be serving every child well. Such differences …

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Is it tougher to open a charter school in a high achieving district?

In a 4-3 vote Friday met with a standing ovation, the Cherokee school board rejected Cherokee Charter Academy, one of eight new charters statewide whose futures were thrown into limbo by the state Supreme Court decision on May 16.

Like most of the other charter schools scheduled to open and the eight already in operation, Cherokee Charter turned to its local school board for approval, which was the best lifeline since it assured the best funding. But many things were at work against the fledgling school, one being the short time frame for local approval due to the late ruling by the Supreme Court.

By issuing its decision in mid May after hearing the case in October, the high court left a window of only a few weeks for schools approved by the now illegal state commission to find legitimacy through local boards of education. I think that the schools already in operation had a slight edge over schools like Cherokee Academy, which had not yet opened and had no record on which to …

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Cherokee: Will charter school open? And $324,608 for e-mails related to school?

I wrote a series a few years ago about local governments in Georgia frustrating citizens who were attempting to use the state Open Records Act to obtain public documents.

One way was to impose outlandish charges for the records, and I have seen some hefty bills. Another way was to force citizens to wait months for the documents. I talked to many people around the state who had these obstacles put in their path.

But $324,608 and a 463-day wait shocks even me.

That is what Cherokee schools told an attorney he would have to pay for a request for e-mails and other documents related to the Cherokee Academy Charter School, one of 16 charters left in limbo by the May 16 state Supreme Court ruling.

The school wants to open this fall, and is before the school board tonight.

Now, Mike Klein of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is reporting that Attorney General Sam Olens said today that his office will open an investigation into how the Cherokee County School District’s open records …

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CRCT scores are in: What do they tell us this time?

The state released state CRCT scores by system today, with strong metro performances by students in Cherokee, Fayette, Decatur and Buford.

Clayton and Atlanta had some of the lowest scores.

The longer I report on education, the less comfortable I am with test score results, which often speak more to the affluence of the families in a district than the proficiency of either the schools or the teachers.

I think a fairer comparison is to juxtapose scores in systems with similar socio-economics. If you are interested, here is the AJC database that will allow you to look at district performance.

A DeKalb parent has already looked at that system’s scores and noted that, “If you go look at the score report, you will find that in 8th grade, DCSS had lower pass rates than either Clayton or Atlanta in 8th grade reading and math.  In fact, Clayton’s pass rate for reading (8th grade) was actually 2 percentage points higher than DeKalb.”

According to the AJC:

For example, among eighth …

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Cherokee leads metro in grad test scores; Atlanta lands last

I threw the question out last week about how students fared on the Georgia High School Graduation math test and found an array of responses. Some posters reported great scores for their own schools.

But district scores released today indicate a drop in math scores overall in the metro area.

The AJC has a database where you can check math, science, social studies and English scores. My own district did well, with 99 percent passage on science, 90 on math, 96 on English and 91 social on studies. Overall, 84.4 percent of students passed all parts of the test, giving Decatur City Schools spot 18 on the statewide ranking.

The metro’s highest pass rate was Cherokee with 90 percent of its students passing all parts of the test. The lowest passing rate in the metro area was Atlanta Public Schools, with 58 percent passing.

Today’s AJC story reports:

District-by-district scores released Friday showed fewer metro students passed the math portion of the exam, which is one of five parts …

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