Letter grades for schools will improve accountability

Schools gives grades to students: A, B, C, D, F. Everyone knows what those letters mean.

The state gives grades to schools. Pop quiz: What are they?

Hint: They aren’t A, B, C, D, F. That system would be too transparent and intelligible for some education professionals’ taste. But it may be coming.

A draft education bill aims to create a letter-grade system for Georgia’s schools. Lawmakers are still working out the details, but they are basing the bill in large part on the highly successful model that Florida built over the past decade.

Florida’s achievements are impressive. In 1998, a year before the state launched a letter-grading system, its fourth- and eighth-graders ranked at the bottom nationally in reading and math; within nine years they were beating the national average. High-school graduation rates stopped falling and, in nine years, rose 15 percent.

“There is no reason Georgia can’t do the same thing” in improving, says Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams. He is helping to craft the bill and says it will complement well the governor’s proposal for merit pay for teachers.

Florida’s achievements are closely tied to the letter-grading system, because it helps parents understand how schools are performing.

The letter grades lead to incentives and consequences for schools. Schools get extra cash if they get an A or, critically, improve by a letter grade.

Importantly, the money goes directly to the school, bypassing the central office. The school’s principal, teachers and parents decide how to spend it. The money could go to extra educational programs like field trips or to bonuses for teachers.

Florida has spent more than $1.25 billion on school rewards since 1999. Yet it still spends less per pupil than we do.

Similarly, when Florida schools get F’s and don’t improve, students and their parents get choices. They can move — and take their state funding with them — to another public school. Originally, they could also move to private schools, but the state’s Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that using public money for private schools was unconstitutional. Test-score improvements fell dramatically the next year.

The good news is that Georgia’s lawmakers can consider that ruling, and the potential for a similar outcome here, in writing the bill. It’s another way in which we can benefit from our neighbor’s experience.

Consequences and competition clearly are important. Still, Williams says, “I’m not focusing on the consequences because I think schools will do better based on the incentives on the positive side.”

It might even be possible to add the incentives and consequences in a subsequent bill. “Labeling a school an A or an F,” says Ben Scafidi, director of the Center for an Educated Georgia, “is a pretty big incentive in itself.”

The improvement aspect is crucial, and we have to track the progress of specific students, not just entire schools. We don’t get the full picture by comparing fourth-graders at a school each year. We also need to know how those fourth-graders perform as they get older.

Happily, the state is newly able to do such longitudinal studies of specific students, Scafidi says. We can track students’ scores even if they move from one school or district to another. That would allow the state to adjust a school’s grade based on student transfers, a big issue in, for instance, military towns like Columbus.

All in all, it’s an idea that deserves a solid A.

49 comments Add your comment

Michael H. Smith

January 15th, 2010
11:11 pm

Ages ago, in prehistoric Georgia, schools once gave letter grades to students, Kyle.

Why did schools stop the letter grade system?

I’m still in favor of having the money follow the student and having the schools competing for the students they teach. That’s one idea from socialist Europe worth pursuing.

Chris Broe

January 16th, 2010
8:36 am

They’re thinking of screening airline passengers with grades too. An F would be a likely terrorist. An A would be the stewardess. Of course, with the full body scanners, they’re grading on the curve.

Grading students with letter grades cannot work in America. McDonalds had to go with a picture menu for a reason. That reason applies to teachers, too. A picture of a kid holding an apple would be the “A”. A picture of a kid wearing a dunce cap would be the “F”. In between, you could have various pictures of kids throwing spitwads, passing notes, and taking castor oil.

Then parents would know what katzenjammers they raised, and we’d all know’d why society goes in one direction…..backwards.

Some middle schools are so violent that all the yearbook pictures are taken by police sketch artists.

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

January 16th, 2010
8:50 am

Should we color code the letter grades, like the alleged terror alerts of dickheadcheney and its ilk? I like a numerical grade, on a scale from 0 to 100. Limit 90-100 to only the top 10% of schools, 80-89 to the next 20%, 70-79 to the next 40%, 60-69 to the next 20%, and below 59 to the remaining 10%. Make the schools work for their position on the scale, and punish the bottom 10% with pay cuts for teachers if they remain in the bottom two years running. Get tough on teachers and students, no promotions without performance.


January 16th, 2010
8:55 am

This proposal is artificial and unnecessary. Of course there will always be some schools with A’s and others with F’s no matter what scale you’re considering. Suppose an F-school does raise itself to a C. Then when the bar is raised, that C drops back to an F. So where does all this end? Standardized test scores and other school measures are always artificial depending on who’s establishing the criteria. I came through the public schools as a student in the 1970s and life was fine without all these new “standards” and MEAN-SPIRITED COMPETITION that you propose!

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

January 16th, 2010
9:20 am

I came through the school system of the 1950’s and 60’s, where a certain percentage of the class was expected to fail, and most students were expected to be average and thus of C grade material. The whole purpose of a grading system is to organize the students and schools according to their abilities, with the A, B, C, D, F grading system based on a bell shaped curve, the normal distribution. It was used not just in public schools, but in the most elite schools in the world. Students at MIT were all well above average in the real world, but at MIT some were divided according to the A-F scale, and it worked well. The students competed among themselves, and yes, we did work together to master more difficult subjects. I recall many meetings of six or so of us solving thermodynamics or fluid mechanics problems, with each of us assigned by ourselves to find a solution to a particular problem and teach the rest of us how that solution was arrived at, and the mechanics of solving the problem. That is the problem in schools today, no one fears failure, all expect to be carried along by the system. Thus standards fall below the previous average for all. There must be F students and schools just as there must be A students and schools.

Road Scholar

January 16th, 2010
9:23 am

You suppose above that giving letter grades to students was the basis for their improvement. I think not. Spending more, not just money but defining expectations with resulting calibrated rewards was. Also providing schools incentives (no mention of individual teacher pay raises/bonuses) was made. I like this since the “team” of teachers and administrators, holding each other accountable, reap the rewards of additional funding. Peer pressure, even at the teacher level, has it’s benefits!

Road Scholar

January 16th, 2010
9:26 am

Democrats: You went to MIT? If so congrats! You are right. The “meaning” of the grade must match a reasonable level of achievement. Also, teching problem solving instead of just memorizing facts has more benefit.


January 16th, 2010
9:50 am

“…the money follow the student…” I agree with this proposal, always have.

“This proposal is artificial…” Wow! I am not sure I understand the alternative to “artificial”. Are you suggesting we should use the “natural” system?

OK Kyle, you sold me on this, if it is really saying that we will pay teachers on performance, not just baby sitting. This is a bottom line.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
10:01 am

John Stossel’s ‘Stupid in America’
How Lack of Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of a Good Education


Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
10:16 am

Results count in school and in life that is “reality” cruel as it may be. When schools and the educators thereof, be they public or private, fail to prepare pupils for the competitive results based reality of life the students suffer and so does the society that allowed their educational failure to occur.


January 16th, 2010
1:40 pm

You know what improves accountability even more than arbitrary and often inflated letter grades? Financial accountability. Just think about everything you voluntarily buy and the businesses you buy from. When they don’t deliver the service you want, what do you do? You complain to the manager, demand satisfaction, or walk with your money and your business. The marketplace, despite being hobbled by money manipulation, regulation, government interference, taxes, employment law, and the like, still delivers options that you as a consumer can avail yourself of in manners that cause poor businesses to fail and great businesses to succeed.

But what of government schools? Your money is taken and never refunded. You have no choice either of schools or curricula, or teachers, or anything, and you can’t take your money with you if you choose to leave. And what of the quality? Abject failure of course. Measured by any standard (except the one they judge themselves by), the government schools are a complete failure.

The solution is not letter grades. It is a complete end to government schools. The intelligent parents have already figured that out and are making the necessary financial and personal adjustments to their lives to enable them to either homeschool or send their kids to private school. If enough more make this intelligent and kid-focussed decision, the government schools will collapse of their own bureaucratic weight and disfunction and then everyone will be able to benefit from a market based and charity enabled system of education.

Far too typical of a so-called conservative to suggest that a socialist system can be reformed with a bit of “tweaking”. I guess that’s what passes these days for conservative.


January 16th, 2010
1:58 pm

Jesus Christ. I can’t wait to move away from Georgia. Then maybe I can teach instead of teach to a test. You people never cease to amaze me with your fundamental lack of understanding of educational theory.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
2:05 pm

Financial accountability is accomplished when “the money follows the student”. That fact has even been proven in socialists Europe, which produces superior results competitively based on the needs and realities a student will confront in daily life.

The argument between using numerical scoring verses using a letter grade system has merit. However, few doubtfully understand how businesses and potential employers translate numerical scoring, which is the opposite of how many would commonly think it would be used e.g. When an employers sees a numerical grade of 75 the employers translates this to mean an applicant has a 25% rate of failure or 25% rate of inaccuracy. Few employers would have problems with using the C letter grade their to make an assessment, though, it might work against a job applicant when every numerical point is used against them.

Outside the box

January 16th, 2010
2:08 pm

Seriously, this is spoken like the true non-teachers you must be. I admit there are failings, and they make me furious. Yes, I see teachers coasting along, assured of a job & paycheck, choosing the path of least resistance & work. I also see those who care, and are doing everything they can in a system that’s failing everyone. I believe I’m one of those. I welcome the idea that I would be measured on my abilities, talents, gifts, ideas, and results…I came from the private sector, after all.
The reality is that it’s not that simple. You are assuming that education, at least of minors, is a simple transaction that is satisfied if I will simply work hard & do my job. You neglect the fact that parental involvement is an important factor, as is student responsibility. There must be a way to measure my ability and impact, without being penalized by variables beyond my control. I teach High school, in a disadvantaged system. I fight against apathy & low expectations everyday. You can’t place a label on my simply by a test, there’s got to be more to it than that. Maybe we could consider scoring & holding all involved accountable? I’d like to see some parents squirming because I can’t make a difference in their child’s education for all the absences, excuses, and lack of work on their part.

In theory, I think the letter grade idea may be good. We are desperately in need of change, and I’m open to new ideas and thoughts, but can we please stop attacking the teaching profession as if it’s filled with nothing but selfish, lazy, apathetic, freeloaders.


January 16th, 2010
2:20 pm

Kyle, sometimes conservatives amaze me. You say that politicians don’t know how to run anything and everything should be run by the people that know best (like teachers running schools). Yet here’s a perfect example of a clear instance of a politician (in this case Jeb Bush), coming up with a rating for schools (the A+ plan), more politicians claiming how great it is, and finally, every teacher in the state calling it the biggest disaster in education. So what does the conservative want? To bring an education system unanimously hated by teachers to his own state.

The problem with the A+ plan (as Florida does it) is that in order to raise the F school, they pull funding from the A school. It’s a classic case of “income redistribution” that conservatives bash liberals for. This in turn punishes the schools that are performing better. Now when the F school gets pulled up to a B, their funds are pulled which instantly causes the school to drop again (since the quality of the students in the geographic region doesn’t change much).

Here’s a specific example:

Theres a program in Florida called Accelerated Literacy Learning (ALL). Teachers are trained to bring a student who is 1 or 2 reading levels behind to 1-2 levels ahead by the end of the school year. The teachers do this with the 20 lowest performing students every year in a particular grade. Now I don’t need a teaching degree to tell you that this program works. I’ve heard the students who start not being able to read a sentance reading flawlessly in a few months. Those students then blast the standardized test and the school’s grade is increased. What’s the teacher’s reward? They get fired.

See, now that the school gets a higher grade, the funding gets pulled and the teacher is deemed no longer necessary. The next year another 20 students need the ALL program, dont get it, and the school gets an F at the end of the year all over again.

Students will always be a product of their families. Those families that help their students suceed in school tend to live in welthier neighborhoods, and the schools tend to get higher grades. The inherant flaw in grading schools is that the quality of the students enrolling is directly related to the location. The standardized tests used to evaluate the students are given state wide and are offset by the students and schools in richer neighborhoods.

The idea of grading an entire school based on the knowledge the student has at the end of the year is absurd. It’s the equivalent of the show “The Biggest Loser” not weighing the contestants when they start the contest. Personally, I think the teacher that pulls a student from an F level to a C level is impressive. Under the A+ Plan, the teacher that gets an A student and allows him to drop to a B level looks better.

If Georgia wants to grade schools, fine. Just dont emulate Florida. Take Florida as the example of what not to do.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
2:23 pm

A theoretical pay check? Guess it could work in theory but not in the real world which demands results and tests you daily based on your success or failure to achieve results that are real and tangible in providing a product or service within a competitive marketplace.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
2:46 pm

No conservative I put any stock into believes: Politicians don’t know how to run anything and everything should be run by the people that know best (like teachers running schools).

One problem with that statement is the fact that the teacher do not run the schools. They do what they are basically told with a limit amount of latitude to differ from their set instructions.

Government has a limited role to serve, which should be well defined founded in Federalism: Some things the Federal government should do and only the federal government should do. Others things the State governments should do and only the States should do those things. Then some things only local governments should do. However, the more things these levels of government do for us which they should not do costs us not only more money but we in turn lose more of our liberty in that process.

The first tenet a of conservative and conservatism is to enhance – most importantly – individual liberty.


January 16th, 2010
2:51 pm

If you need a letter grade to tell the quality of your child’s school, you’re already a failure as a parent. How about getting off your fat behind and actually setting foot inside the school? Maybe talk to a teacher? Nah, too much work! How ironic— kids (and schools) are measured by simplified teach-to-the-test idiocy, for parents who are unwilling/unable to evaluate the complex matter of their child’s education.

And Kyle, parents demanding tax money for private schools should be unconstitutional. It’s the same as expecting the State to feed, clothe, or house your child. We all pay property taxes for government schools. If you don’t like the government option, why should you get a free pass?


January 16th, 2010
2:57 pm

Schools/kids fail because of parents. Our failure in education is at the feet of the parents and not the schools. I have kids in my school that you could pay the parents $50 to come in for a conference and they still would not show. Almost all bad kids come from bad parents!

Florida Son

January 16th, 2010
3:02 pm

I am one o those teachers that relocated to GA from FL. Schools are not simply graded A-F. The grades are based on not only schools making AYP but also improvemnts that schools make from one year to another. Florida’s FCAT is also alot different than the CRCT. It’s not all multiple choice, it is a true performanced based assessment. Students have to figure out the answers to problems, write the answers in gridded format and complete short repsonse questions that require atudents to ue critical thinking skills (i.e. construct graphs correctly based on the problem presented to them). It works alot better than the CRCT because it allows educators to accurately gauge what the students actually know.

As for the school grades, Florida has done as much as possible to make sure that their school grading systems reflects student groups from one grade to another (ex. students in grade 4 this year will not be compared to students in grade 4 last year) they will be based on well last years 3rd graders improved this year in grade 4.

Florida’s high school students can also graduate without passing their high school graduation test if they can pass the ACT or SAT.

Examples of their test can be found at: http://fcat.fldoe.org/

Florida Son

January 16th, 2010
3:09 pm

There has been know evidence that merit pay works or is even fair. Is like comparing teacher #1’s class (The Oakland Raiders) to the teacher #2’s class (The Dallas Cowboys). If one is equipped in the beginning to compete at a high level and one has to deal with things other than football to even make it to game day, who would you think is going to make the most imporvement or even have a shot at the Super Bowl.

If merit pay worked, you would see education in America improving in those areas that have perit may. Do you research and you’ll find that math scores haven’t increase nationally since 2007 and actually increased at a faster rate before the No Child Left Behind Act was implemented.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
3:09 pm

Many parents do not need a grade, letter or numerical, to assess the education of their children; though, the future employer of those children probably will need to see or want to see those numerical or letter grades before hiring them.

As a grandparent I demand MY SCHOOL PROPERTY TAX MONEY (paid in two counties of this State) follow the student and not go to the schools, public or private. I didn’t get a pass of any kind, I’ve paid for my ticket and probably the ticket of someone else to attend this educational circus and HELL NO I don’t like this total government control of education, Aquagirl.

Florida Son

January 16th, 2010
3:17 pm

RJ is is lying. I actaully worked at at a school that went from a D to an A. First of all the funding is distributed equally across the board to evry school based on student enrollment.

I was the School Advisory Chairperson at my school and was charged along with other members of the committee with deciding what to do with the reward the state provided (every one from the Janitors, CAfeteria Workers, to the teachers and administration recieved bonuses). The A schools reward was that they would get rewarded with more funding if they made improvements (a healthier A) they never had funds taken from them. Matter of fact most of them recieved more because students were transferring in from F or D schools. You saw athletic programs at some schools that never had a winning team in any sport go to having state champions or at least very competitive teams in all of the major sports.

No school was ever punished for making the grade and that is a fact. RJ, go do your research. That was quite ignorant.

Empathy for Educators

January 16th, 2010
3:22 pm

“Make the schools work for their position on the scale, and punish the bottom 10% with pay cuts for teachers if they remain in the bottom two years running. Get tough on teachers and students, no promotions without performance.”

Gee. Where do PARENTS fit into this equation?? Funny thing in the age of accountability, we seem to have given sorry ass parents a pass. No wonder these kids are assaulting teachers and everything else under the sun. I’m not gonna sit here and write a long diatribe on how instilling the importance of education in kids begins at home. Anyone with half a brain can figure this much. But it seems as if there’s a ton of stupid roaming the earth these days.

You teachers have my sympathy. God bless you all, just wish enough of you would muster up the courage to stand up for yourselves in this proverbial shafting you consistently receive.

Until one of you geniuses would be willing to walk a half a day in the shoes of these teachers, kindly shut the hell up

Dr. V

January 16th, 2010
3:30 pm

As a retired educator with 39 years under my belt, and having taught across demographics, I can tell all of you that the single, most influential factor in a school’s success is and always will be PARENT INVOLVEMENT. Those that have it, have much success. Those that don’t, well, you know the rest.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
3:31 pm

As long as I pay my money to educate children I will continue to speak loudly and proudly on this subject no matter how mad it makes those who tell me so very rudely to shut the hell up.

Let the money follow the student and all parties concerned will be held to a higher standard of accountability, as well achieve far greater and better results when schools and teachers actually have to compete for the students they teach.


January 16th, 2010
3:34 pm

As a high school teacher for the past 14 years I have to bring up something that only one previous post has mentioned…..the rating system is targeting the wrong people. By and large the two areas with biggest impact on a student`s success is the student themselves and the home environment they come from. We have been producing the newest/greatest idea in the history of education every 5 years for the past 40 years and never have we targeted the area that has the most impact on student success.
The education community has known for decades the fact that home and family play THE BIGGEST ROLE IN STUDENT SUCCESS! Not curriculum, schools, teachers, money or anything else. The problem is parents abdicated their parental responsibility to the government through schools beginning in the sixties and have washed their hands of that part of their students/childs life. Now they can safely stand back and cast their blame on the schools for not doing something the schools can`t inherently do…that is be a parent to an otherwise parentless student.
There is only one thing schools/government can do that would make a major difference in student success and that is to throw out any and all trouble makers who are not making any academic progress due to their lack of effort. That would be about 15% of the students in metro Atlanta. The remaining students would understand a public education is a privilege and not a right. The classrooms would cease being a holding cell for the future trash of America and we could get to administering education to those who would trully benefit from it.
Don`t bother arguing that removing that many kids from the schools would place a burden on the criminal justice system or the parents of said students. They are waisting government education money by disrupting the process of preparing the future thinkers needed to get America back on top in an ever increaingly compettitve world market. We have got to stop focusing money and efforts on the bottom 10-15% and move on with an effort for the top 10% as we used to do.

Empathy for Educators

January 16th, 2010
3:41 pm

Mr. Smith: you are more than welcomed to continue spewing your dumb ass rhetoric all over these blogs. It’s a privilege of being a citizen of the U.S. But a novice, you are, of the inner workings of the education system.

Good day, sir.

Empathy for Educators

January 16th, 2010
3:45 pm

Everyone posting the numbers still don’t get it. My mother and other educators (people who have actually been in the battlefield) made a very good point: if the school lacks *parental involvement* forget about it. You can throw all the money on the planet at the schools, it won’t improve achievement if no one has instilled into the children that having an education is important.

I wonder if more parents would finally get involved if education were no longer free?


January 16th, 2010
3:45 pm

Mr. Smith @ 3:09, I don’t like government control of education either. If you want to abolish it, fine. I’m not sure what you mean by “money following the student.” My taxes pay for education in general, good or bad. How is my money to follow the student? Are you proposing my taxes go directly to parents, if they don’t go to a school? Wow, that sounds an awful lot like welfare to me.

I say we set basic regs for schools, like we do for restaurants, and give schools the same power as restaurants—the ability to refuse service to anyone. John Stossels’ article says it all, detailing out of control students with one kid dancing shirtless in front of his teacher. This situation wasn’t caused by a lazy teacher, it was caused by a lazy PARENT. As long as parents can demand a school accept their child, nothing will be solved.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
3:50 pm

The problem is parents abdicated their parental responsibility to the government through schools beginning in the sixties and have washed their hands of that part of their students/childs life.

Parents have no choice but to abdicated responsibilities to the government school monopoly. When the money follows the student the parents and children are forced to take their active roles in the education process.

My focus is not on the money alone but rather who controls that money and ultimately makes the choices that determines the educational outcome.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
4:09 pm


January 16th, 2010
3:45 pm

Abolish public education? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

BUT, I would make public education compete against private education for the students they teach. If you watched John Stossel’s 20/20 documentary then you’ll know exactly what I mean. In Europe the students get a better education because all of the excuses and excesses traditionally found in our system is eradicated. Parents have to get involved, so do the students, so do the teachers, so do the schools, everyone has to step it up another notch entirely. Their educational bar has been raised over there and they have the results to prove it. While we just continually dumb down and accept a government monopoly of education.

About the only thing these (European) students cannot buy with the money given to them for an education is the purchase of an excuse to fail to get educated!

Dare shame the politicians over there have lost the political football of education to kick around every election season.

John Stossel’s ‘Stupid in America’
How Lack of Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of a Good Education



January 16th, 2010
5:13 pm

Michael, I fail to see what you are proposing. As long as people have a “right” for their child to attend a school, nothing will improve. And no, watching a John Stossel documentary does not make you an expert. While we’re at it, why not put Michael Moore in charge of health care and gun control? He has the answers, after all. Or maybe we could listen to the TEACHERS who are trying to get some sense into your head.

If you are giving parents the right to choose schools, then schools should have the corresponding right to choose students. I’m all for that system.

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
6:34 pm

First I never said watching John Stossel makes one an expert. By the way if the damn experts in this country are so smart Aquagirl, why have all their government answers failed? Ahem…

The problems rest more in our government system than simply with the sum of its separate parts.

If you are giving parents the right to choose schools, then schools should have the corresponding right to choose students. I’m all for that system.

The schools would have the right to set “the rules” which would eliminate many of the things you cite and object to, which also many parents actually applaud being taken out of the schools and would choose schools that excuse the terminology: Didn’t put up with any bull-crap!

Of course, the liberals would bemoan those who just didn’t fit in who couldn’t obey the rules who fall through the educational cracks so to speak but in that case they (the unruly students) and their parents had their opportunity to do the right things the right way and the state should then require them at that point to enroll in a military school away from home and away all the distraction that seem to consume all of their attentions from obtaining an education and preventing others from receiving an education.


January 16th, 2010
9:44 pm

Bill, if I wasn’t married…and straight…I’d want to kiss you on the mouth. There has got to be a cost to parents for allowing their children to be little dipsticks. I would love to build a school that has small individual rooms for each student. These rooms would be equipped with computers/2-way video and audio communication systems and the misbehaving kids would spend the entire day there. If they damage any equipment, write on the desk or walls or otherwise do anything that has to be fixed, the parents would be required to make restitution. These “classes” would be run by classroom teachers who would give instruction through technology and all assignments would be submitted and graded electronically. One teacher could cover 100 students or more and a monitor could be hired to watch the individual screens for misbehavior or inattention. The rooms would be equipped with a 3-light warning system that the monitor would use along with an audio tone to let the student know that consequences are on the way. Students would not be allowed to leave at the end of the day until all of their work is done.

Parents would be required to pay for the use of the facility and equipment. Poor families could cover this by doing repair, maintenance and cleaning of facilities or working as monitors. It would work something like a Juvenile facility only parents would also be required to attend parenting classes as part of their agreement to have their child attend the school. If the parents fail to carry out their responsibilities, the kid would be their problem…expelled from school for a minimum of a year.

As a 20 year teacher, I have seen it all. I’m in a great school…one of the top schools in the state..but we still have kids that are totally unmotivated. I had a parent tell me yesterday that she could not hold her child accountable for his behavior at home. How am I supposed to do anything with him at school?

Michael H. Smith

January 16th, 2010
10:29 pm

As a 20 year teacher, I have seen it all. I’m in a great school…one of the top schools in the state..but we still have kids that are totally unmotivated. I had a parent tell me yesterday that she could not hold her child accountable for his behavior at home. How am I supposed to do anything with him at school?

First of all to the parent who says they cannot hold their child accountable for misbehavior: HOOEY!
Get a spine whoever you are, though at this point it is probably too late. You have obviously been a jellyfish for far too long.

Every child or at least the vast majority of children can be motivated if you can find what peeks their interest they will relate to that subject on their level. The story of a bunch of misfit failing high-school kids in Philadelphia comes to mind whose interest was in cars. The teacher used that interest to reach these kids and turned them completely around.


We have to stop trying to force square pegs into round holes so to speak through a one size must fit all students means of education. That is one of the “systemic problems” that has become institutionalized within the government monopolized education system. Often teachers need greater latitude than the public schools will ever allow them to use to reach the failing child, even though they know full well exactly what to do and how to go about getting the job done.

Michael H. Smith

January 17th, 2010
1:56 pm

Though I’m not a Libertarian and often view CATO with a great deal of skepticism, fund students rather than the schools is an idea I strongly support and advocate.

Let the Money Follow the Student



January 17th, 2010
2:24 pm

Bill said: “home and family play THE BIGGEST ROLE IN STUDENT SUCCESS!”

Amen to that.

Involved parents can make a huge difference. They need to emphasize education in the way they raise their kids, read to the kids when they are youg, insist on the kids doing homework, going to bed at a fixed/early time on school nights, have a good dictionary and thesaurus at home, keep books and magazines at home and/or get the kids to the library.

They also need to volunteer at their kids school if at all possible. I was a single parent and a working mom and am very much aware of my indebtedness to those moms and dads who gave so much more time to the schools than I did.

One tired American teacher

January 17th, 2010
6:39 pm

If Georgia wants to look for ways to improve education, please look somewhere besides FL and TN.
The Bush plan for FL was a major disaster as was Alexander’s ill-fated Master Teacher our neighbor to the north sponsored a decade ago. No Child Left Behind is a great idea, as is the Fl plan. Even so, the details have to be more relevant than treating students like they are a manufactured goods and giving grades to schools like they were eggs or meat. Of course, anyone who went to school thinks they are an expert to solve the current educational dilemma. Let classroom teachers have a more active role in solving it. Put money back into professional learning and allow more collaborative training that is site based rather than sending us to fact-spouting diatribes at DOE. Give Teachers some credit, We do what we do more than for just the money.

Michael H. Smith

January 17th, 2010
7:54 pm

Yet another teacher complaint against systemic problems under the government monopoly of education.

I’d rather put the money into the hands of the student and the power and control of the education profession into the hands the teachers (the professionals) not the into government hands(the politicians) not the DOE hands (the bureaucracy) and not into the Union’s hands(the DNC Mafia).

Let the money follow the student and let education follow the teachers.


January 17th, 2010
9:57 pm

The Republicans removed the provision for issuing grades to schools in 2004. Check HB 1190, section 21, from the 2004 session. But now they’re copying J Bush? Too hard to say they made a mistake?


January 18th, 2010
12:02 am

In two sentences-That’s why Georgia is #46 and Florida #25 when it comes to education. Georgians will never get it.

Chris Broe

January 18th, 2010
8:15 am

Why does it seem that the only book Georgia teachers have read is “Everybody Poops”?

Isn’t there one good teacher left? I remember Mr. Mayo, my ninth grade English teacher. He’s responsible for my total command of narration. And Mrs Nettles, who failed me in my 12th grade creative writing class for conjugating an umlaut with onomatopoeia. (Don’t worry, I won’t try THAT again. I still can’t move my pinky more than an inch.)

Every student needs that one teacher who inspires them to greater achievments. I was lucky I had two. Well, three if you count my 8th grade music teacher who sent me to the principles office for writing the Jan and Dean song parody, “Dead Man’s Curves”. The lyrics went something like this: “I was sexting in my Stingray late one night when an OMG pulled up on the right. And scrolled down windows 7 in her shiny new Jag, and challenged me then and there to a shag…..Well, the last thing I remember, Warden, is that she called me a perv, then I slid my hands all over her curves. I’ll never forget that horrible sight, I guess everyone who saw the Crying Game was right: Wont come back from Dead Man’s Curves…..”


fun guy

January 18th, 2010
9:06 am

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class.


That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK,
we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.
The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D!
No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering,
blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.


January 18th, 2010
9:10 am

Great topic to raise Kyle. This clearly struck a chord with folks, as we realize how important our education system is to our future.


January 18th, 2010
12:09 pm

Having taught at an F school in Florida here’s what happened. I received $6,000 in extra incentives to teach at an F school. That kept me there and attracted a few other really good teachers but it wasn’t enough to bring in the type of staff we needed. Our numbers dropped significantly so we had smaller classes as students left our school for others. This helped boost our grade. We were allowed to move out the teachers that were not performing. Unfortunately, they got sent to other schools to poison their wells if you will.
I would still be leery of performance money being sent directly to the school here in DeKalb. There is no way that the district office would not put pressure on those principals to do what they wanted in terms of the money. Give it to the teachers to decide not the admin.
I agree Aquagirl. If you don’t already know what schools are performing and which are not you are truly blind.
One thing I did notice in Florida. The FCAT put accountability on the student. I will never forget the tears I saw flowing from the eyes of students who failed the FCAT in tenth grade and struggled for two years to pass it so they could graduate. Some did not make in time for graduation but kept at it and graduated late. These kids really worked hard to get the job done because they wanted to graduate. I don’t see that sense of urgency in Georgia. The GHSGT is a joke of a test and if you can’t pass it you don’t deserve a diploma. We needed test that is more rigorous and that is why I believe we need national standards so students around the nation can be judged equally.


January 18th, 2010
1:52 pm

Fun guy is right on the money a very simple accurate analaogy.

Repukes and DummyCrats are ALL Scum

January 19th, 2010
8:44 am

In order go get students and their parents working hard to improve the student’s performance in school, we have to return the “fear of failure” to the schools and the students. Make the “failures” go to Summer school each and every summer until they are up to the “C” level. That will put a crimp in Mom and Dad ’s summer vacation plans. Regardless of Federal privacy laws, student grades should be posted online, for all the public too see. Make the posting permanent, so future employers can see the work quality of the student. Employer’s should require links to the on-line grades for all schools attended by people applying for work, with failure to provide such links complete and total justification for trashing the job application.

[...] To read KW’s opinion [...]