N. Y. Times: Who Needs Charters When You Have Schools Like This!

Ask children, teachers, and parents about time.  They will likely say:  “There’s not enough time in a day to do what needs to be done”.    There are ways to do something about it.  We in Alachua County have been talking about how to reorganize the day to fit in pre school, hands on academic programs, school activities, and after school activities in a semi rational way.  We are asking if it is possible, without large influxes of money, to make an 8-5 school day.  Could all of these activities happen in one place without driving teachers to distraction??  Our local league will study examples of how this could be done.

Professor David Kirp, University of California, Berkeley, already has some successful examples.  In Tulsa, Oklahoma the  Union school district has implemented a community-based school program that has defied the demographic odds. School attendance has soared, achievement has risen, and suspensions have plummeted.  We need schools like that here.

We have one school, Howard Bishop, that has been identified as a community school.  It is just starting in that direction this year, and has not expanded to the full eight hour day.  The community social services support, however,  are centered not in various offices in town, but in the school.  They have a ways to go to catch up with the Union school district, but the Children’s Home Society is helping them.

We all need to help community schools make progress.  If nothing else, you can help financially.  It is not all about money, though.  Oklahoma has lower per student funding than Florida, and this district has found a way to expand the day and still make ends meet.  Let’s find out how.

With community support we can begin to dream of a world where the lack of time does not manage us; we manage time!  Let’s see if we can make our public schools the envy of the world of choice.

 

VAM Scores Eliminated in Some States

teacher-23304_1280Performance evaluation are a tricky business.   Arbitrary data systems based on student test scores turn excellent teachers into mediocre ones and vice versa.  Individual judgments can also be wrong, but systems that have multiple components can be reasonably fair.

Some states are dropping student achievement gain scores and are returning to human judgment systems for teacher evaluations.  Which are these forward thinking states?

 

 

 

 

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A Teacher Speaks Out

change-948016_1280Once in awhile a very powerful message cuts through all of the data.   This Teacher of the Year in Oklahoma tells it like it is.

She is speaking to the Oklahoma legislature, but she could be speaking to Florida’s.  The message is the same; the problems are the same in Florida.

We have teaching testifying in the Citizens for Strong Schools trial that is going on in Tallahassee.  Their voices and yours need to reach everyone.

Read this teacher’s message.  Write your own and send it to me.  Let’s tell it like it is.  See the Open Letter to Oklahoma Voters and Lawmakers.  It tells a story that cannot be ignored.  If we want our schools to be better, our communities have to support ALL of our children or we all suffer.

 

Florida Gets an ‘F’ Again

FAILED1Which states get it right?  Not Florida.  It was one of eight states that received an overall grade of ‘F’ when its grades were averaged across the categories studied.   The Network for Public Education rated states based on six criteria.

For each category, I combined the percentages of A, B and C grades received across states.  I was surprised at the results.  Relatively few states (11) use test scores to punish students and teachers, but Florida is one of those that do.  You can see the combined percentages (think of them as passing scores) at the end of each of the criteria.

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