Archive for the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Tag

It’s a conspiracy…a C-O-N-spiracy!   4 comments

Last week I wrote about the plight of one Gwinnett parent, whose child has a disability. At the time, we thought dealing with the ignorance would be contained to Special Education issues but as I learned this morning, we were both wrong. Dead wrong. This is the text I received this morning:

‘Guess what Monise, the principal of Meadowcreek had the Parent Coordinator tell me that he doesn’t want me to volunteer any more because I spoke up at the Title I meeting held on Friday here at Meadowcreek HS. And that my interest isn’t in the best interest for the school.”

I couldn’t believe that (actually I could but didn’t think any person was actually dumb enough to tell the parent of a child they could not volunteer, especially when federal dollars are tied to Parent Centers). In fact, I am still a little shocked and a whole lotta pissed. Why? Because we have heard people say that parents, especially those of the Black and Brown hues, do not care about education because we only show-up for sporting events or when our kids are in trouble. Here we have a parent, armed with the assistance of an (free) advocate, a grasp of Special Education Law and No Child Left Behind (NCLB), who asks some questions (apparently the right ones) about the qualifications of her child’s teacher. How does the administration respond? The same way they usually do when they realize people are ‘on to them:’ They shut down and the walls go up. READ: ‘She knows too much and we don’t want her in this building everyday, talking to other parents and informing them of their rights.’ Kinds sounds like the reasoning slave owners used to keep slaves from learning to read. Only this time, the overseer (principal) is Black. Yep, direct descendant of Uncle Tom.

Now let me break-down the steps of the Conspiracy Theory:

  1. Talking heads and education ‘experts’ say parents don’t care. READ: Black, Brown, and low SES parents don’t care about education;
  2. Federal government waives extra money at districts to create Parent Centers to increase parental involvement;
  3. Districts indoctri, er…. hire people they know will only give parents enough information, but not too much;
  4. Said people mentioned in #3 should, when possible, be members of said disinterested parental groups, also known as tokenism in an effort to thwart any claims of racism when the superintendent says something stupid;
  5. Once this Parent Center is established, make sure that the building principal has complete control and liberty to select volunteers (yes, that’s an oxymoron);
  6. Any parent who asks questions of the Stepford Parent Coordinator should be annihilated immediately. Inform them that their services as a volunteer are no longer needed.
  7. If steps 1-6 are followed as directed, you can continue to assert (lie) that Black, Brown, and low SES students cannot and will not learn because their parents do not care about education;
  8. Repeat as often as necessary to perpetuate the opportunity gap.

Sometimes I feel like I am living in a bad dream..people can’t really be this stupid and careless, can they?

When the status quo just won't do   2 comments

As I’m sitting here, listening to music and the much-awaited rain crashing against my windows, there is something really important on my mind. Sadly, blogging is the best way to get my thoughts heard, as I encounter few people IRL with whom I can discuss these things face-to-face. Better yet, there are few people I meet who want to discuss these things. This is something that is always on my mind; I use this forum as a way to clear my mind because holding these things in will not do me (or anyone else) any good. So here are the things that inspired my (internal) intellectual dialog for today:

1. I was reading through some of my friends’ FB status updates and my college roommate posted something about her HOA that was both sad and hilarious. In the covenants for the development, there was a statement that read: “None of the lots shall be conveyed, occupied, etc. to anyone other than of the Caucasian Race.” She said they drew a line though it, instead of completely deleting it. Let me clear, I thought it was funny in the sense that, in 2010, a professional agent would actually hand that document to someone, especially a Black someone, without deleting that statement. Even funnier is the fact that no one thought it was important to remove the statement, especially since we live in a ‘post-racial’ America (side eye). BTW, what exactly do they mean by ‘post-racial’ America? As long as we have brown and black skin tones that run the gamut, we will never be able to live in a world where no one ‘sees’ race. Knowing my roomie, she will definitely address that faux pas. But here’s a burning question I have: How many Black homeowners flock to developments with the word ‘plantation’ in the name? I once told a friend that I would never even look at houses in a development with that word in the name. Is this practice exclusive to Southern states? I don’t think I have ever seen the word ‘plantation’ on anything up North. Hmmm…

2. I stumbled onto the Blogging While Brown site today. I hate that I missed their annual conference (not that I would have been able to go any way), but I thought I was finally getting the hang of this whole blogging thing. Ugh! I will definitely add that event to my calendar for next year. Any way, I clicked through a bunch of the blogs listed (and followed a few on Twitter). I will admit that I was kind of disappointed by the lack of Education-related blogs. Of course I started asking myself a bunch of questions, including ‘Are there any people of color besides @FirstTeacher and @TheJLV blogging about Education? Considering the ramifications on NCLB, RttT, and whatever else the Obama administration thinks of, shouldn’t there be more people of color blogging about this issue? I understand the importance of teaching entrepreneurship, money management, etc., but those lessons are in vain if Lil Ray-Ray or Juan can’t read well enough to develop a business plan, let alone effectively execute one. Right? Or is it just me? If all the people of color who are keeping up with the Kardashians or concerned about what their favorite celebrity is wearing would invest half of that time, energy, and attention into demanding quality schools in their communities, the achievement gap would not exist. No, this issue is not exclusive to only those who have kids. If you work, pay taxes, and own a home or business, then you should be concerned by the manner in which your money is spent. You do have a voice.

The only way we can get the attention of those seeking to hold positions of leadership is by exercising our right to vote. We turned-out to vote in record numbers in 2008, but we can’t rest now. That was just the first step in returning some of the power to the people. Obama cannot fix everything; he is certainly too busy to understand what happens in Snellville, GA or Houston, TX. It’s up to us to hold elected officials accountable for their words, actions, and campaign promises. If not us, then who?

Remember: The Georgia Primary Election is July 20, 2010. This will determine the direction of our public education system. Either we stay at the bottom or we fight our way to the top; we don’t have the luxury of running a ‘race’ only to realize we have been running in circles.

When the status quo just won’t do   2 comments

As I’m sitting here, listening to music and the much-awaited rain crashing against my windows, there is something really important on my mind. Sadly, blogging is the best way to get my thoughts heard, as I encounter few people IRL with whom I can discuss these things face-to-face. Better yet, there are few people I meet who want to discuss these things. This is something that is always on my mind; I use this forum as a way to clear my mind because holding these things in will not do me (or anyone else) any good. So here are the things that inspired my (internal) intellectual dialog for today:

1. I was reading through some of my friends’ FB status updates and my college roommate posted something about her HOA that was both sad and hilarious. In the covenants for the development, there was a statement that read: “None of the lots shall be conveyed, occupied, etc. to anyone other than of the Caucasian Race.” She said they drew a line though it, instead of completely deleting it. Let me clear, I thought it was funny in the sense that, in 2010, a professional agent would actually hand that document to someone, especially a Black someone, without deleting that statement. Even funnier is the fact that no one thought it was important to remove the statement, especially since we live in a ‘post-racial’ America (side eye). BTW, what exactly do they mean by ‘post-racial’ America? As long as we have brown and black skin tones that run the gamut, we will never be able to live in a world where no one ‘sees’ race. Knowing my roomie, she will definitely address that faux pas. But here’s a burning question I have: How many Black homeowners flock to developments with the word ‘plantation’ in the name? I once told a friend that I would never even look at houses in a development with that word in the name. Is this practice exclusive to Southern states? I don’t think I have ever seen the word ‘plantation’ on anything up North. Hmmm…

2. I stumbled onto the Blogging While Brown site today. I hate that I missed their annual conference (not that I would have been able to go any way), but I thought I was finally getting the hang of this whole blogging thing. Ugh! I will definitely add that event to my calendar for next year. Any way, I clicked through a bunch of the blogs listed (and followed a few on Twitter). I will admit that I was kind of disappointed by the lack of Education-related blogs. Of course I started asking myself a bunch of questions, including ‘Are there any people of color besides @FirstTeacher and @TheJLV blogging about Education? Considering the ramifications on NCLB, RttT, and whatever else the Obama administration thinks of, shouldn’t there be more people of color blogging about this issue? I understand the importance of teaching entrepreneurship, money management, etc., but those lessons are in vain if Lil Ray-Ray or Juan can’t read well enough to develop a business plan, let alone effectively execute one. Right? Or is it just me? If all the people of color who are keeping up with the Kardashians or concerned about what their favorite celebrity is wearing would invest half of that time, energy, and attention into demanding quality schools in their communities, the achievement gap would not exist. No, this issue is not exclusive to only those who have kids. If you work, pay taxes, and own a home or business, then you should be concerned by the manner in which your money is spent. You do have a voice.

The only way we can get the attention of those seeking to hold positions of leadership is by exercising our right to vote. We turned-out to vote in record numbers in 2008, but we can’t rest now. That was just the first step in returning some of the power to the people. Obama cannot fix everything; he is certainly too busy to understand what happens in Snellville, GA or Houston, TX. It’s up to us to hold elected officials accountable for their words, actions, and campaign promises. If not us, then who?

Remember: The Georgia Primary Election is July 20, 2010. This will determine the direction of our public education system. Either we stay at the bottom or we fight our way to the top; we don’t have the luxury of running a ‘race’ only to realize we have been running in circles.

Could homeschooling be the next 'big thing' in education?   3 comments

“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.”
— Source Unknown

I believe that quote is perfect for the way I am feeling right now, about education in general. The good. The bad. And the b.s. that has become too much to stomach on most days. If you have been following the road to rhetoric, where everyone with an Ivy League degree, a column in a major newspaper, or tv show is an expert, then you know what I mean. One thing that is true, no matter how you dress it: Our public education system is in shambles, but it did not happen overnight. Some blame No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I think placing the blame there is taking the coward’s way out. That legislation was a symptom, disguised as a solution, to the problem. As one of the most industrialized and wealthy countries in the world, there is no justification for huge achievement (opportunity) gap that exists between White students and those racial/ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, or those eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch (FARL). Brown vs. Board of Education was supposed to eradicate separate but (un) equal educational facilities, but I think we can all agree that it did not happen as planned. And that discussion requires more than one blog post.

As important as those issues are, there is something else happening across the country: School districts are making significant budget cuts and eliminating hundreds of teaching jobs, as well as those of support staff, bus drivers, etc. Just today, the Cobb County School Board announced that it will cut 734 jobs; 579 of those are teaching positions. Just last week, the Fulton County School Board announced that it would slash $4 million from the arts budget, putting both the band and orchestra programs at risk. As I watched the news, a parent (and former educator) stated that she would have no choice but to homeschool her kids. The budget cuts will force districts to increase class sizes and her kids would not get the level of attention they need (and deserved) in order to be successful. I am still thinking about her words because I am inclined to speculate that the number of families who opt to homeschool will increase during the 2010-11 school year for that particular reason. Let’s face it: Teachers already have their hands full with current class sizes, ranging from 17 for Kindergarten to 23 for grades 6-8. Keep in mind, those are minimum class sizes required for full state funding. It is very rare for a district to maintain the smaller class sizes, especially in districts that have experienced consistent growth like Gwinnett County, because it is more cost-effective (so they say).

But here are some potential drawbacks to a mass homeschool movement:

  • Not ony will traditional schools lose kids to charters, but they will also lose a large number to individual or group homeschool programs;
  • Those students physically ‘left behind’ by the homeschool movement are the same kids being failed by the pubic education system in present day;
  • If schools begin to lose significantly large numbers of students to private, charter, and homeschool programs, how will they remain open?
  • Some states could implement tougher requirements for parents who opt to homeschool, i.e., each homeschool parent must possess a Bachelor’s degree and take certain courses to prove they are qualified (this is something I forsee).

I have spoken with a close friend about the possibility of starting a University Model School program in our community. I have researched this program and it is sound; all schools using it have grown and produced very intelligent and ambitious students. These programs also teach kids things that are considered ‘extras’ in pubic schools, e.g., arts, college readiness, and basic life skills. I also struggle with this concept because, again, a large number of students who could benefit will not be able to participate for several reasons: Either their parens are unable to stop working in  order to fulfill the commitment requirement; or they simply cannot afford the tuition.

And so begins my quest to find a way to open access to this program for those who would benefit the most. Oh yeah, homeschooling will be the next big thing for parents but not for entrepreneurs because they can’t make nearly as much money as they do operating cashcows charter schools.

Could homeschooling be the next ‘big thing’ in education?   3 comments

“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.”
— Source Unknown

I believe that quote is perfect for the way I am feeling right now, about education in general. The good. The bad. And the b.s. that has become too much to stomach on most days. If you have been following the road to rhetoric, where everyone with an Ivy League degree, a column in a major newspaper, or tv show is an expert, then you know what I mean. One thing that is true, no matter how you dress it: Our public education system is in shambles, but it did not happen overnight. Some blame No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I think placing the blame there is taking the coward’s way out. That legislation was a symptom, disguised as a solution, to the problem. As one of the most industrialized and wealthy countries in the world, there is no justification for huge achievement (opportunity) gap that exists between White students and those racial/ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, or those eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch (FARL). Brown vs. Board of Education was supposed to eradicate separate but (un) equal educational facilities, but I think we can all agree that it did not happen as planned. And that discussion requires more than one blog post.

As important as those issues are, there is something else happening across the country: School districts are making significant budget cuts and eliminating hundreds of teaching jobs, as well as those of support staff, bus drivers, etc. Just today, the Cobb County School Board announced that it will cut 734 jobs; 579 of those are teaching positions. Just last week, the Fulton County School Board announced that it would slash $4 million from the arts budget, putting both the band and orchestra programs at risk. As I watched the news, a parent (and former educator) stated that she would have no choice but to homeschool her kids. The budget cuts will force districts to increase class sizes and her kids would not get the level of attention they need (and deserved) in order to be successful. I am still thinking about her words because I am inclined to speculate that the number of families who opt to homeschool will increase during the 2010-11 school year for that particular reason. Let’s face it: Teachers already have their hands full with current class sizes, ranging from 17 for Kindergarten to 23 for grades 6-8. Keep in mind, those are minimum class sizes required for full state funding. It is very rare for a district to maintain the smaller class sizes, especially in districts that have experienced consistent growth like Gwinnett County, because it is more cost-effective (so they say).

But here are some potential drawbacks to a mass homeschool movement:

  • Not ony will traditional schools lose kids to charters, but they will also lose a large number to individual or group homeschool programs;
  • Those students physically ‘left behind’ by the homeschool movement are the same kids being failed by the pubic education system in present day;
  • If schools begin to lose significantly large numbers of students to private, charter, and homeschool programs, how will they remain open?
  • Some states could implement tougher requirements for parents who opt to homeschool, i.e., each homeschool parent must possess a Bachelor’s degree and take certain courses to prove they are qualified (this is something I forsee).

I have spoken with a close friend about the possibility of starting a University Model School program in our community. I have researched this program and it is sound; all schools using it have grown and produced very intelligent and ambitious students. These programs also teach kids things that are considered ‘extras’ in pubic schools, e.g., arts, college readiness, and basic life skills. I also struggle with this concept because, again, a large number of students who could benefit will not be able to participate for several reasons: Either their parens are unable to stop working in  order to fulfill the commitment requirement; or they simply cannot afford the tuition.

And so begins my quest to find a way to open access to this program for those who would benefit the most. Oh yeah, homeschooling will be the next big thing for parents but not for entrepreneurs because they can’t make nearly as much money as they do operating cashcows charter schools.

NAEP Data: It is what it is   2 comments

Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Cox, released the December 2009/January 2010 newsletter. It included a list of the 17 schools that moved-off the NCLB ‘Needs improvement’ list, as well as a summary of Georgia’s performance on the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). The assessment, administered every 2 years, compares academic performance of 4th and 8th grade students across the country in areas such as Math and Reading. With the exception of the SAT and ACT, it is the closet thing we have to a national assessment. I believe I may have blogged about this topic before but I feel it’s important to revisit it because I have a problem with people presenting data without using full disclosure.

One thing we need to keep in mind is that the national average is just that: An average of scores from all 4th and 8th graders across the country. I did not find the word average anywhere in the article; I read it four times.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results show great improvement in Georgia.

Let’s analyze the data to see exactly what determines ‘great’ as opposed to say ‘good’ or no improvement at all. Data for AYP *subgroups is listed below.

4th Grade Performance Math (2003 to 2009>6 year period>4 administrations)

  • GA (All Students) 230-236; +6 points >1.5 gain/admin
  • Nation (All Students) 234-239;+5 points >1.25 gain/admin
  • GA (Free & Reduced Lunch) 219-225 +6 points >1.5 gain/admin
  • Nation (Free & Reduced Lunch) 222-228; +6 points >1.5 gain/admin
  • GA (Black Students) 217-221; +4 points > 1.0 gain/admin
  • Nation (Black Students) 216-222; +6 points > 1.5 gain/admin
  • GA (Hispanic Students) 201-212; +11 points > 2.75 gain/admin
  • Nation (Hispanic Students) 199-204; +5 points > 1.25 gain/admin

The article stated that Georgia is “…leading the nation in improving student achievement,” (Cox, 2009). For some reason the performance of Students with Disabilities (SWD) and English Language Learners (ELL) were omitted from the newsletter, so I decided to check the NAEP site for those numbers.

GA ELL Population

  • 2009 > 220
  • 2007 > 212
  • 2005 > 208
  • 2003 > 208

Nation’s ELL Population

  • 2009 > 218
  • 2007 > 217
  • 2005 > 216
  • 2003 > 214

GA Students with Disabilities Population

  • 2009 > 215
  • 2007 > 219
  • 2005 > 218
  • 2003 > 209

Nation’s Students with Disabilities Population

  • 2009 > 220
  • 2007 > 220
  • 2005 > 218
  • 2003 > 214

Although Georgia’s ELL population performed higher than the national average for 2009, performance in other years has been considerably lower, with 2 years of no growth at all. The scores of the SWD group have been on the decline for the past three administrations, while the national average scores have improved. Perhaps that explains why those two groups were omitted from the newsletter. Just a thought. If anyone is interested, I will probably (meaning definitely) do a state-by-state comparison of each subgroup and compile some sort of ranking for each. I will likely start with SWD since I am a former Special Education teacher.

Thanks for reading!

 *AYP subgroups=those groups of students identified as having a ‘gap’ in their achievement compared to White, Asian, and economically advantaged students: Blacks, Hispanics, Students with Disabilities (SWD), and English Language Learners (ELL).

When it comes to Education, everyone's an expert   1 comment

I keep flipping through my calendar but I can’t find it: national ‘Education has suddenly become a mess’ day. Is it on your calendars? Apparently, it’s a holiday that only politicians, talking heads, and anyone who has never been involved in Education celebrate. Since the Obama Administration announced the Race to the Top competitive funding initiative, everyone has chimed-in on what’s wrong with Education and what needs to be done. This latest Wall Street Journal op-ed piece got my dander up today, simply because we have reached the point of politico-overload. Do these nuevo-Education experts know that No Child Left Behind was authorized in 2001 to address the achievement gap between low-income and affluent students, as well as the gap between minority and non-minority students? Probably not. Do they realize that we are asking for trouble if the government signs over million dollar checks to states that have repeatedly failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress without the midnight-hour ‘safe harbor’ crutches? Probably not. Do they realize that in order to even begin to touch the surface of the Education crisis, we need to have a major change in leadership? Probably not. But I digress. If you can close the achievement gap with RttT funds dangling in front of you, why can’t you do the same without it?