Saturday, February 24, 2007

Monday 2/26/07

Clearing out these browser tabs.

Teacher unions have taken a hit this week. Steven Jobs of Apple computer fame started it with:

"I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said.

"This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy." Houston Chronicle

Senator Lamar! Alexander (R-TN) added to the pile when he revealed on the Senate floor that the NEA had written him asking him to vote NO on a teacher incentive amendment he sponsored. Big oops there. Edspresso has the video.

Alexander has offered an amendment to the Continuing Resolution that would fund, at some $90 million dollars, a teacher incentive fund. Read Senator Alexander's run down.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette had something to add to the discussion:
"Incredibly, you can walk into almost any school in America, go down the hall to the first couple of classrooms you find, look at the teachers inside and realize this: Nobody -- not the principal, not the parents, not the students, not even the teachers themselves -- actually knows how effective these teachers are in helping their students learn," said a 2004 report by Kevin Carey, then director of research policy for The Education Trust.
And so there's the rub. Incentive pay usually comes with the strings of performance. Proving performance means someone's going to lose their job and the NEA is in the business of ensuring that people keep their jobs. If only they really were a professional organization that policed their own.

Climate change Kool-aid will be served to our students. Martin Kennedy shares the press release. Here's a snip:
Two upcoming webcasts will present Tennessee teachers with the latest research on climate science and solutions to global climate change. Led by atmospheric chemist Dr. Bill Chameides, chief scientist with Environmental Defense,...
I'm sure it'll be very scientific, fair and balanced. And those who are hot to present the Oscar winning "An Inconvenient Truth" in our classrooms may want to pause a moment and consider that some school districts have very specific policies (often ignored) about complying with copyright rules. A classroom is a public viewing. You should be paying for the privilege or get explicit permission.

Better late than early: Last Saturday's opinion piece by State Rep. David Hawk suggesting some 5 year old aren't ready for kindergarten reminded me immediately of a book written back in 1989 by homeschooling pioneers Dr. Raymond S. & Dorothy Moore called Better Late Than Early. In our rush to ensure the children are educated we too often forget that many of them just need time to mature and the freedom to learn as children learn.

Vanderbilt's Peabody College professor Dale Farron's comments agreed.
Studies show that these children who haven't begun kindergarten until 6 tested higher at the beginning of kindergarten and maintained that advantage at least through the first two grades. Six-year-olds in a classroom set the pace; they seem better prepared, and they profit from the type of instruction now provided.
Chamber Grades MNPS: Nothing really new here. Same old same old. I did learn that they've been doing this for 14 years but, as I've mentioned before, you won't find 14 years worth of data on their website to help us put the entire effort in perspective.

This is as close as we get to an overview:
For the third straight year, Metro Schools’ report card from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Citizens Panel looks the same. City Paper
So average have been the grades and so frustrating is that process that they're seriously considering dropping the grades altogether. If they do--it's an F for the Chamber.

Guns in Schools: The Inglewood Elementary School gun incident last week got more ink this morning from The City Paper.
Currently, when a principal is out of the building, a designated staff member is appointed to fill in. It is unclear who was appointed during Brown’s absence last Tuesday.

“In this case I don’t know who was designated there in the building,” McMillin said. “I don’t know who that staff person was, but I have since come to learn that the principal had some conversations with that person as this was occurring.”

McMillin had to deal with a similar incident on Friday.

Metro Police were called to Whites Creek High School after a 16-year-old male student was found in possession of a loaded .22-caliber pistol. According to McMillin police arrested the student after staff immediately contacted police.
It concerns me that they didn't know who was in charge while principal Bertha Brown was out of the building. Also it was mentioned at Thursday's PAC meeting that several teachers were told of this incident by several students and it took until 2:30 in the afternoon for someone to take action. These children should only have had to tell one adult, one time, in order to get prompt action. And from Rumor Control: she brought the gun for show and tell, had ammunition in her desk and on her front lawn. We need some adults to step in here.

BOE member Pam Garrett's status is the subject of conjecture by Rex in the City this morning. All I can add to this is that when I left the BOE in August Pam shared that she hadn't made up her mind yet about running to keep her seat next year. I encouraged her to begin mentoring a replacement--regardless. To her credit she spent three years as the BOE chair and didn't get paid a dime extra for the added trouble. I wouldn't blame her if she's flat exhausted. She may actually want a life.

MNPS BOE isn't 'happy': Current MNPS BOE Chair Marsha Warden had an opinion piece published in Friday's Tennessean. Not much substance there and so it was easy for this to jump out:
Approximately 88 percent of our operating budget goes for salaries;
Yes, I know this is a service business and so personnel costs are going to be the bulk of the budget--but 88%!? I'd like to know how much that figure has crept up over time. Someone needs to throughly review the 'need' for so many highly paid central office staff. Also, this is the part of the budget that the board can do the least about at this point. Many of those salary increases are contractual. Someone is going to have to have a very sturdy backbone to stand against those effective union negotiators. Actually, it's going to take 5 someone's on the BOE.


Anonymous said...

A classroom is a public viewing. You should be paying for the privilege or get explicit permission.

Not correct. There are guidelines, but use of a video for educational purposes is not the same as a public viewing.


"Teachers may use these materials in the classroom without restrictions of length, percentage, or multiple use."

"The material must legitimately acquired (a legal copy). It must be used in a classroom or similar place "dedicated to face-to-face instruction". Not for use as entertainment or reward. The use should be instructional. The place should be a non-profit educational institution."

On the Inglewood gun story: this is just sad all the way around. To me, the most telling thing was that the girl was picked up by the babysitter, and that the babysitter called later to tell staff where the bullet was "hidden." So where was the parent?

I saw another gun story- this time Hillsboro, but it seems this one was handled well. A student was dropped off at Overton under the influence. Overton alerted Hillsboro, the student's car was searched and the gun was found.

"5 year old aren't ready for kindergarten"

Why is this age shift being pushed? The only thing that makes sense is that the state government wants to save money by having only 10 months worth of kindergartners start in a school year, allowing the PreK to pick them up and allow it to be paid out of lottery proceeds rather than the general fund.

Anonymous said...

Here is a better version of that chart I mentioned about copyright law and educational use.