Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday 02/17/06

Bit and pieces:

Wrestling with the TSSAA round two:

WASHINGTON — Oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court have been set for April 18 in the long legal fight over whether the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association can punish Brentwood Academy for allegedly recruiting athletes. Tennessean

If we don't know where they are, how do we know if they've been left behind? Metro Nashville Public School Board of Education is wrestling with line items on their budget. They've decided that keeping accurate records on the status and progress of students isn't a first tier budget item and have added it to the 'unfunded priorities list'. That means if they get more money than they're asking for--they'll put it toward this essential record keeping.
“What happens right now is we lose kids – we can’t find kids and it takes forever,” [Superintendent Pedro] Garcia said about bookkeeping woes. “Part of the problem is we have lots of hands in the pie – we got counselors and sometimes secretaries.”
“I can tell you, if you have a person [at the school] that you know that’s in charge of records and someone that’s diligent, I think it’s a start,” said board member Gracie Porter. City Paper
We're paying twice for the same product:
More than half of all students who enter college in Tennessee are not academically prepared and require at least one remedial course, according to the Tennessee Board of Regents. The problem is growing.

Remedial education costs the state more than $25 million a year and the number of students enrolled in these courses is expected to grow by about 30 percent over the next decade, said Treva Berryman of the TBR, the governing board for 19 of the state's four- and two-year colleges. Commercial Appeal

America's third world education:

One of the state's top education officials said Wednesday that the United States is at risk of becoming a Third World economy if its public schools don't improve, and his Knoxville audience was glad to hear Tennessee wants to raise standards. KnoxNews

He may want to remember that some of those countries considered third world--are ahead of us in several subjects.

"In fourth grade, American kids do above average internationally. By eighth grade, they slip a bit, and by 12th-grade, they've slipped a lot," Marsh said. "We're the only country that slides down that much from fourth to 12th grade." USC Daily Trojan
This is something Save Our Students told us last year but people got bogged down in who the messenger was instead of the truth of the presentation. Maybe this year they'll listen.

Will someone step up?
BRISTOL, Tenn. - It's official: No one is officially running for the District 2 seat on the five-member Bristol Tennessee Board of Education.
"Recent history has shown that parents are more reluctant to serve in positions that have less direct impact on children, such as PTA Council and the Board of Education," Bailey said. "This is especially true when there is a perception that anyone who does serve on the Board of Education will be unjustly criticized in the media."
Boy, don't I know that. There's still a fellow out there insisting he knows the truth about who I am and how I got on the school board. He's dead wrong--but that inconvenient truth isn't impeding him at all in the pursuit of his agenda. People are going to write and say ugly things--truthful and not. People are going to call you and expect you to solve things you have no authority to solve. People are going to unrealistically expect you to have all the answers. But, here's a real opportunity for someone to put their hand to the rudder that will set the course for thousands of children's future. I hope someone steps up via a write in candidacy. These schools need oversight outside of the administration and their professionals.


Tom said...

"They've decided that keeping accurate records on the status and progress of students isn't a first tier budget item"

I don't think that's a fair statement. This is a responsibility of guidance counselors, their secretaries and clerks, then the building administrators. They are already on the budget. Why is this such a priority to add this new position for each school? Because a few at one school neglected their responsibility?

Classroom teachers add grades to mnps's Chancery system, the report cards are printed from that database at Central Office and transcript labels are printed in the same manner. It is the guidance counselor's responsibility, along with the clerks, to put the labels on transcripts. This is not worth hiring 14 new people.

The only thing that gives me pause is that in the several years since we've had Chancery, standardized test scores aren't in the system (and there is a place for them. I do slightly resent being held accountable for gains in scores when we don't have easy access to students' last year's scores. However, it should not take a full time position in each school to enter these scores into the computer over the course of a year. We've got 200 guidance counselors, approximately 50 clerks(see line 2311), and 154 technology personnel. If administrators can't get them to enter the data, they can do it themselves. Any additional monies should go to lowering class size at At-Risk schools, period. Those teachers have the most stressful jobs in this system and hiring even more clerks is not the way to spend available monies to help.

Anonymous said...

IF you expect anyone to listen to SOS then I strongly recommend you guide them to get a messenger, have all the facts and compare apples to apples (i.e. like school districts vs unlike school districts)and has a better way of making the presentation.

Crafton is an absolute joke. He did not have all the facts - never has. He compares MNPS with completely "unlike" districts, etc. We voted him out of our district years ago. Why Bellevue voted him is is way beyond me.

Kay Brooks said...

Anonymous: It's easy to condemn when you're anonymous. CM Crafton gets credit for at least showing his face and taking a stand. What are you doing? Move on from your obvious dislike of the man.

Are you saying that it's not true that the longer a child stays in the system the further behind the rest of the state they fall? What's your proof?

Kay Brooks said...

Tom: everything I'm hearing is that too many of these guidance counselors aren't taking their jobs seriously and those that are don't have the time to get their jobs done and pick up the slack of their co-workers who are dead weight. I don't think letting the Maplewood counselor off set a good precedent. But in the meantime--can we agree that keeping these records accurate and up to date is essential to the success of students?

You certainly should have access to last year's scores.

Tom said...

Yes, I agree that it's an essential responsibility; MNPS has been doing it accurately for decades with miniscule exceptions. Now we have a 2 million dollar software system, tons of technical support, and it's somehow harder and more costly? What's wrong with this picture?

Anonymous- Crafton barely won that race last time; get a decent opponent and I'll send a check. I don't mind him talking about schools, though; it's the "English only" and his status as a developer that bother me more.

Tom said...

And further, it seems the board/admin is simply budgeting one for each high school. So, I'm guessing they are not asking each school- which do you need more an additional guidance clerk or someone else who actually spends 6.5 hours educating and supervising children? If a school says "Our class sizes are fine, we need a clerk," I'd be less opposed. I don't think they're approaching the budget like that though.

Nashteach said...


Still no access to last year's scores.