Sunday, August 21, 2005

Potpourri: Sunday 8/21/05

Since we began our own school year this week I've necessarily been otherwise occupied. I'm glad to have discovered that other bloggers have been posting educational items of interest. I'll post a few links to them as well as some news items that I've been meaning to comment about.

Metro Nashville Public Schools: If you have an interest in what's going on in this system I suggest that you check regularly. It does have an RSS feed for your convenience.

Their mission statement:

MNPS's mission is simple. We strive for predictable education for all children. Our site is committed to charting the progress of Metro Public Schools and bringing attention to issues pertaining to out school system. We encourage parents to post their opinions and articles.
They're also looking for a webmaster to help keep this valuable asset running and up to date. Not only does it include links to various MNPS offices but also a school by school discussion board which I think could be very handy. No action yet but I hope folks will seriously consider utilizing these and/or replicating something like this in their own district.

High School Survey of Student Engagement. Ben Cunningham gave me the heads up about this the other day. I'm glad he posted it to the South End Grounds blog he's been 'pinch' blogging at. While Tennessee students weren't specifically included in this survey students from 19 other states were and I think we'll find some tremendously valuable information here if we'll take the time to digest it. Hopefully, Tennessee students can benefit from this work. From the article Ben linked to at the Indianapolis Star:

A surprisingly high number of teenagers fear for their safety at school, believe teachers don't care about them and feel their classes lack demanding challenges, according to an Indiana University study to be released today.
One of the remarkable things about some of the most successful urban schools is that they do challenge their students, demand that they work hard and don't coddle them because of some misplaced empathy of their life circumstances. What's the old saw about getting what we expect? If we expect excellence children can rise to the challenge.

Sarah Moore has an entry regarding the 4th of July convention of the NEA and the sort of resolutions this body deems important enough for their annual national convention. Sarah's right. More and more of the NEA is made up of support people and 'non-classroom' teachers and so it's no wonder that their resolutions regularly wander from education issues.

I've discounted these worth of these resolutions since I found out years ago that their annual resolution against freedom from regulation for homeschoolers wasn't based on any facts or research:

"Spokesperson Kathleen Lyons, after admitting that the organization does not have an "expert on home schooling," and that the issue is "not something that we track," nevertheless said the statement has been the "long-standing position of the association." From
Isn't the definition of dogmatic or fundy (that derisive term for fundamentalist religious folks) --holding a position regardless of the facts?

And speaking of unions:
From the Nashville City Paper:
Representatives of the teachers’ union say the agreed-upon contract included a 3 percent raise, but the board of education has said that raise was contingent upon “available funding” — defined in budget documents as $561 million.
Is none of this clearly written out? This may explain why the union is fighting so hard to remind us that educating children is the most important thing a community does (firefighting and police protection apparently, not exempted.)

Metro Nashville Tax Sales Tax Increase (for the children and seniors--or so they say): Bob Krumm asked a great question
In light of your past support for a reduction or elimination of Tennessee’s sales tax, what is your position on the proposal to increase the sales tax rate in Davidson County to 9.75%?
and isn't getting a lot of clear answers from the anti-income tax folks. I imagine these folks feel a lot like those homeschoolers that usually vote Democrat but have to face the fact that the staunchest defenders of their education choice are almost always in the Republican Party. And along that same taxes line, folks may want to read Mark Rose's comments.

And today's Tennessean contains six essays regarding the sales tax vote. Oddly all the women are for the increase and the men are against. I'll get to those in another post. But you really should read all six.

And where does the money come from? An article from the Tennessean of 8/13/05 tells us that schools are having to do without because of the increase cost of care, transportation, utilities and mandatory salary increases for teachers.
Ummm...count this taxpaying family among those that are also suffering from an increase in the cost of our healthcare, transportation, utilities and, I'll add property (and perhaps sales) tax. Where do we get in line for that 'mandatory salary increase' to pay for it all?

Leadership care: Dave Shearon had an interesting article called "Caring for the Leader". It got me to thinking and I agree with his premise that:

...leadership is tough, and yet most of us give little thought to the care and feeding of leaders. They have to do it themselves, and, what's more, they virtually never get even a suggestion that they need to do that, much less guidance in how.
I spent too many years complaining about how things were done and too few handing out 'atta boys' when things were done right. Some say I'm still not recognizing enough of the good jobs being done. I probably won't ever get it right 100% of the time, neither will our leaders. BUT, in the meantime, consider this encouragement to let your leaders know when they've done a good job, how much you appreciated even the small acts of consideration, communication and cooperation. It does make it easier to come into work the next day when you know their is a chance, albeit small, that someone will appreciate your work. Take a minute to ask them how they're doing and if they need any help in getting the vision accomplished and then be willing to help. Yeah, that being willing to help part may be the toughest part.

Oh, and leaders, that street does go both ways. If you find yourself alone, maybe there is a reason for that. I had a boss whose highest compliment was "Ya still got a job doncha?" I moved a 1000 miles away.

Dress and undress: As the mother of daughters I'm often appalled, as are my daughters, at what passes for suitable public clothing now days. Yes, I'm a prude and raising more than my share of 'modest' girls. I'm with this kid who commented on the recent Lebanon County dress code protest :

At least one student didn't seem to mind the dress code. A student changing classes from the vocational building to the main building proudly displayed a sign reading "Dress Code Lover" taped to the front of his tucked-in orange polo shirt. On the back, above jeans that weren't dragging on the ground, was a sign reading "And I was in school at 7:45."
I understand the need to protest some societal injustices, however, I don't think dress codes make the list of things worth the effort. It's a free public education. The price of admission is obeying the rules. If you don't like the rules--get your own education. In the meantime: tuck in your shirt, wear a belt, cover that cleavage and quit taking teachers and administrators away from job one: actually teaching willing students. If this is all you've got to complain about--you've got a really good life. Be thankful.

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