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Archive for the ‘Public Schools’ Category

Our Gangrene Government

In #TCOT, Education, Government Waste, Healthcare, National Health Care, Obamacare, Public Schools, The Mob on March 12, 2010 at 12:11 pm

How did it get this bad?

Festering disease catches up with you. Whether it be  in a relationship, your own health, or budget deficits–if you don’t pay attention to the problem you end up with gangrene.

Governmental waste and the habit of ignoring problems have become too typical of  governmental leadership by unqualified, hyped-politicians who were elected because of momentum and not because of substance. We are now seeing the effects of allowing overspending to maturate.

In today’s New York Times article , discussing the Kansas City School system’s decision to close over 2 dozen schools, they cite the growing problem of ignoring the money issue in government:

The sudden move suggests a depth of dysfunction here that is rarely associated with Kansas City, a lively heartland town with a reputation for order. But a closer look at the school board’s recent history reveals a chaotic, almost nonfunctioning body that put off making tough choices and even routine improvements for generations. Experts said that in the board’s years of inaction is a cautionary tale for school districts everywhere.

Where is government oversight? With the people. It should have been. It should be.

“This is extraordinary,” said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a research group in Washington. “The school board was dysfunctional for years. There was very poor governance for a long period of time, and it was like a revolving door with superintendents.”

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, just a couple of schools face this dilemma. Elmhurst High School in Fort Wayne facing closure due to budgetary constraints on the district.  With all of it’s failings, at least the Fort Wayne Community Schools is addressing a problem before more than a couple have to be dismantled.

Detroit’s blight can be blamed on the same disease…Gangrene Government.

How do you fix gangrene?

Urgent evaluation and treatment. In general, dead tissue should be removed to allow healing of the surrounding living tissue and prevent further infection. Depending on the area that has the gangrene, the person’s overall condition, and the cause of the gangrene, treatment may include:

  • Amputating the body part that has gangrene (get rid of the board responsible for overspending)
  • An emergency operation to find and remove dead tissue (budget cuts)
  • An operation to improve blood supply to the area (new plan of action)
  • Repeated operations to remove dead tissue (debridement) (don’t let go of the problem)
  • Treatment in the intensive care unit (for severely ill patients) (prosecute)

This is one disease Indiana State Government is not in danger of having, so long as they stay fiscally conservative and continue with attention to details of the budget constraints. The Democrats in Washington should pay attention to our scenario instead of coming up with more massive gangrene spending.

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Fire in the belly

In Education, Public Schools on January 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Cross posted excerpt from a guest writer post at AWB:

All the talk about improving schools getting federal Obama money has brought to the forefront the idea of “What makes a good school?” Is it changing for change-sake?

Fort Wayne Community Schools thinksmoving people around is a big part of the answer, apparently. A principal from the South Side would be better for the North Side–a shake-up for the good-of-the-student is a big portion of their plan. I have yet to understand their full rational at this point. I do like the idea of different job duties for assistant principals than in the past, but still have a lot of questions.

Finding the right teacher is more important. Good teachers, the BEST teachers, need to have fire in their belly.

For the rest of the article click here.

Stop Social Promotion or Reduce Barriers?

In Dr. Tony Bennett, Education, Public Schools on January 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm

From a guest post written today:

Should we hold 3rd graders back because they don’t pass a reading test? I have another idea…

Senate Bill 258 is being debated by our lawmakers would hold third graders back if they don’t pass the ISTEP reading test.

I can see some sense in this, but at the same time, I think students should be remediated while still in their same age group. In the high schools, students who don’t pass the end-of-course assessments keep moving up with their peers, but they repeat the one course and have remediation in the one subject. There is a mix of age groups in most classes–based on the level of need.

For the rest of the story, visit here.

Shake-up in race for money

In Dr. Tony Bennett, Education, Government Waste, Public Schools on January 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm

The latest news regarding a shake-up in Fort Wayne Community Schools must have the teacher’s unions scrambling for a response.

Without a press release on the website of FWCS, news leaked out that personnel in 11 schools within the city’s system would have to reapply for their jobs. All this with hopes of gaining money in a new competition labeled “Race to the Top“. Word is that no more than 50 percent of the staff can remain at the same building..coming from the State Department of Education. Of course, district officials will contest.

Years ago this was known as a shake-down. If schools didn’t improve their test-scores, the State of Indiana held over their heads that they could come in and take over a school. Â Somehow, like the threat of taking a teenager’s car keys away, this kept some schools in line.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it is a grand idea. The problem lies within the unions who have long fought for tenure-without-regard-to-performance just to keep teachers because they had stayed on the job.

I can see the unions fighting to keep the teachers in jobs. They perpetuate the entitlement atmosphere.

I teach in a college where evaluations are EVERYTHING. Â If my students are upset and I have a high incidence of students who fail, I will lose my job. This is no different than in most workplaces. If you don’t get a job done, they find someone who will.

One good thing Wendy Robinson finally said was “there is no option not to do nothing” (no credit to her English teacher, by the way).

My prediction is this will be short-lived, just to meet a January deadline. I hope I am wrong and the students will benefit by getting fresh ideas, fresh blood, and people in positions who truly care AND GET RESULTS.

Obviously, something has to change.

Dr. Bennett writes the right Rx

In Dr. Tony Bennet, Dr. Tony Bennett, Education, Public Schools on January 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Much to the chagrin of many Indiana Public teachers, the rules are about to change.

And it’s about time.

The State board in charge of teacher licensing and preparation voted to approve the proposed rules by Indiana Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tony Bennett. Over the past year, many groups growled at the idea of ‘change’ , however Dr. Bennett had the insight to know sorely needed. Beginning in July, “teachers will be experts in the subjects they teach and allow adults from other careers to more easily enter the teaching profession”.

I have long suspected a ‘racket’ in the idea of higher education and being ‘allowed’ to teach in public schools. I think it has done a disservice to our students. I think it can be one reasonable explanation as to why our high school students do so poorly on required exams. Perhaps, now, that Pyrex ceiling of ’22-year-olds can only be beginning teachers’ can now be officially shattered. (More on the details, later.)

Here’s why I care:

Many moons ago, I received my second degree–an Indiana Teaching Degree (B.S.). This was after my first degree in Engineering. Upon completion I stayed home to care for my newborn and decided not to apply for that piece of paper from the DOE that said I could teach–after all, I would have to take classes again to maintain a license and I knew I needed to devote all my attention to my children. Subsequently, I had four more children who are better off for the time I was home with them until they entered school full time.

Then, I became divorced. I had to support myself and my children. Well, I had a back-up plan. Afterall, I went to college for 7 years for Something, right? No more volunteering at ‘Mommy Mornings’ at their schools, and hosting cocoa sledding parties after-school.  I would have to start my teaching career.

Then came the grand news. My Alma Matar said I would have to pretty much start over because the rules changes. 3 more years of full time? I was already $50K in the hole. Sounded like a racket. I went to work for minimum wage, went on food-stamps and Medicaid. Child support didn’t even put me ineligible.

I went to my other Alma Matar, and they said they wouldn’t recognize any other college’s Education program, even though they are accredited through the same body. Hmm.. Sounded like a racket. How could this be? This was a State School.

So I worked two minimum wage jobs, stayed on welfare roles, and struggled.

I eventually went to work at a private school with no benefits, no vacation, and still on the welfare roles. They didn’t need the State’s ok, I was cleared through my education and experience. That was ok, but it really didn’t pay well-enough to drive the 100 mile commute.

Eventually, I decided going to school for another identical degree just wasn’t going to happen. I dabbled in the idea of Law School and worked for just over minimum wage in a law office. I finally pursued a career at the college level and landed where I am, now.

I still don’t have any paid vacation, benefits, or insurance..but at least I am teaching. Just recently, in October, I finally went off part of the welfare-listees and I made enough to not be on Food Stamps (ok, just $50 too much, but that’s another story). I had to give up my home and cut back, still, but at least it is a step forward.

Will I ever seek that magic paper that says I can teach where my children go to school? I don’t know yet. The rational side of me says “Yes, you want to retire, right?”…and other parts of me wonder if I want to be part of that Sorority, now, afterall.

One things is certain–Indiana is on the right track. There neede to be more of it done–rebuilding Education. They are opening up the possibility for great people to teach.Perhaps, one day I shall be one of them.