Posts Tagged ‘education’

We Said This on This Blog a Year Ago. It still Applies.

June 23, 2014

We Need Legislators Who Support Public Education

HERE’S MORE EVIDENCE THAT TOO MANY DON’T

It is very disheartening to see what those who control the Georgia Legislature are doing to our state’s public school system. The evidence became even more abundant when I learned about the tentative Muscogee County School District’s 2014 budget.

The state is cutting MCSD $21 million in funding for the year. That brings to #141 million cut by the state over the past 12 years. How can we believe lawmakers who say they support public education when they do this?

 

Advertisements

PA Parents Pay Tribute to CSU’s Schwob School of Music

May 15, 2014

The following came as a comment to my blog post on the recent “Atlanta Day” concert from the parents of a Columbus State University student who played a French Horn in the concert. I decided it needs to run as a main post. It’s a fine tribute to the Schwob School of Music. Also, I appreciate the nice things said about this blog. Comments like this make blogging worthwhile.     

Mr. McMichael,

This is a note from the ‘interesting ‘folks’ you met from Scranton, PA at the CSU Philharminic/Atlanta Youth Orchestra concert……we are absolutely THRILLED to be an anecdote for your writings. I was not kidding you when I told you how much of an impact your articles about Schwob had on our decision to send our son Justin so far away to school. I hope that there are other parents of young, hard-working, talented musicians who read this entry and post and find assurance that Schwob is simply the best of all worlds, artistically speaking. My son is growing tremendously as a musician and artist, as well as getting the very best preparation for his future hopes of being a Music Educator and working with young aspiring minds.

I just can’t say enough about the wonderful faculty at Schwob. Our family will always be indebted to them for all they do for our college age children.

If I may, I’d also like to personally thank the benefactors of the Schwob community. I hope they know what a truly spectacular world they have created here. It is nothing short of miraculous.

So, Mr. McMichael….. you now have great friends as well as avid readers up North! We love you and your column….are grateful to you for your past writings, and look forward to all those in the future. Thank You for all you do you do to spread optimism, positive spirit, and musical sunshine. The world needs MORE of that!

Keep ON!! (See you next Spring!)

All the Best!!
Justin and Sharon Ambrozia
Scranton, PA

You Meet Some Really Interesting Folks at the River Center

April 29, 2014

Sometimes I am tempted to stop blogging on a basically weekly basis,  but then someone will let me know that they read my musings, and that inspires me to keep on keeping on.

It happened Sunday evening in the Bill Heard Theater at the  River Center.  Shortly after a friend and I took our seats in the audience, my friend started a conversation with a lady in the row in front of us.  Turns out the lady’s teenage daughter plays French Horn  with the  Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, which was about to play its part of a concert titled ASYO & CSU Philharmonic “Atlanta Day.”

When I heard that, I commented that my son and daughter-in-law played French Horn in their  high schools’ concert bands.  When another lady sitting with her husband also in the row in front of us heard that, she volunteered that their son plays the French Horn in the Columbus State University Philharmonic, which would be playing the second half of the “Atlanta Day” concert. They had come down from Scranton, PA to hear their son play in a number of concerts this weekend.

As she was saying that, her gaze focused on me, and she asked, “Are you a writer … a reporter?”

“Well, yes.”

She must have recognized me from my picture on this blog. “I thought so,” she exclaimed, and explained that she and her husband read posts on this blog about the Schwob School of Music.  They were impressed and decided Schwob might be the school that would be right for their son. She said that it turned out that it is, and they are glad he is here.

That’s definitely a compliment, because she should know a good school of music when she sees one; she is a middle and high school band director herself.

We’re glad he’s here, too, because that means he passed auditions, and to do that he simply has to be a truly talented musician.  Schwob, with its internationally respected teachers, generous scholarships, and impressive facilities, attracts really fine college musicians from all over the world.

As far as the Sunday concert is concerned, both orchestras brought the house down with their inspired performances.  The Atlanta Symphony  Youth Orchestra bussed its one hundred members to Columbus  for some master class lessons,  a look at the River Center, and to play in the Sunday concert.  Schwob School of Music leaders added that it was also a good opportunity to do some  recruiting.  Those Atlanta kids were truly impressive when they played Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Alexander Borodin’s charming Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor. 

That experience made me reflect on how CSU’s College of the Arts has transformed downtown Columbus into a charming,  vibrant, happening place again. More on that coming up. Stay tuned.    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

The Kids are Listening

January 27, 2014
 I am certainly no expert when it comes to English grammar, but thanks to teachers like Mrs. Green at Jordan Vocational High School, I do remember the rules enough not to be egregiously ungrammatical. Mrs. Green was considered by a lot of kids to be pretty tough, even mean. As I look back on her methods, I realize that she wasn’t being mean. She just wouldn’t put up with students who didn’t make the effort to meet her expectations.  In other words, she cared.  The end result was that she was probably one of the most effective teachers in the school.

When I hear some members of the Muscogee County School District Board of Education murdering the language, I get a little upset. Why are we electing people to the school board who have a tough time making subjects agree with verbs? It makes me wonder about the wisdom of having an elected school board. I don’t remember this happening back when the Grand Jury selected members of the board.

What’s even worse – since board members don’t teach classes and not many students hear their atrocious grammar – is when I hear teachers who don’t understand things like possessive pronouns. I saw in the Ledger-Enquirer where a teacher said, “You can’t negate you becoming a doctor.” Bam! It jumped right out at me that she should have said, “You can’t negate your becoming a doctor.”

Since I really couldn’t remember why that would  be correct, I wanted to  make sure I was right, so I asked Connie Ussery, a friend of mine who is a retired high school English teacher, about it.  This is what she said:

“I love questions like this.  ‘Becoming a doctor’ is a gerund phrase and you are absolutely right in that the possessive pronoun is used to ‘own’ the action in this case.  Since the verb ‘can negate’ is transitive, the example in your email would indicate ‘You can not negate you….’ and ‘becoming a doctor’ makes no sense as a participial phrase describing ‘you’ because it simply isn’t one.  The speaker could have said, ‘You can’t negate becoming a doctor,’ but that would have made the phrase apply to anyone who is a doctor.  ‘You can’t negate your becoming a doctor’ is grammatical.

Thanks for the brain exercise.”

Thanks, Connie.  Now  I  know why I was right.  Also, I think it’s too bad you retired. They need you.

CSU Named a Best College for Veterans

November 25, 2013

Congratulatioons to CSU for its high ranking in helping veterans. I decided to post the CSU release just the way it was sent to me.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — U.S. News & World Report has listed Columbus State University among the Top 25 regional universities in the South in the magazine’s inaugural Best Colleges for Veterans rankings of 234 schools across the nation.

The new rankings provide data and information on schools that offer federal benefits, including tuition and housing assistance, to veterans and active service members, all done in efforts to help veterans pursue a college education under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“I’d be disappointed if Columbus State wasn’t on there,”said Lt. Col. Michael Feret, professor of Military Science at CSU. “It’s an important honor. As veterans exit the service, it’s good to be able to offer them educational opportunities, which also will be good for the Columbus area.”

CSU’s ranking reflects the relationship between Columbus State, Fort Benning and the large population of veterans who live in the area, Feret said.

“They’re able to leverage some of the benefits by being so close to Fort Benning,” he said. “There’s a strong partnership between Columbus State and Fort Benning and the community, which allows these programs to be supportive of each other.” 

All of the 2014 Best Colleges for Veterans scored well in terms of graduation rate, faculty resources, reputation and other markers of academic quality. To qualify for the new rankings, the schools had to be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program and Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium.

In total, there were 234 ranked schools across all 10 U.S. News ranking categories: National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities (North, South, Midwest and West) and Regional Colleges (North, South, Midwest and West).

CSU recently reaffirmed its commitment to helping educate veterans when it decided to cover more than $33,000 in tuition and fees for about 50 military students who incurred costs because they registered or attended classes at Columbus State during the federal government shutdown.

During any given semester, about 10 percent of Columbus State’s enrollment is military-related, whether the students are on active duty, veterans or spouses of military members. Those connections prompted the university to ramp up its efforts over the past few years to better serve the military with more online programs, academic credit for military leaders who completed the Captains Career Course, establishment of a CSU office at Fort Benning, expansion of a campus Veterans Affairs office and more.

 

WRBL News Investigates MCSD “No-bid Deal”

November 22, 2013

WRBL’s 11 p.m. News did not lead with a predictable list of wrecks, fires, and crimes last night. It led with a solid piece of investigative journalism, something that I am afraid gets little attention by a lot of local stations, not just in Columbus, but around the country.

Sydney Cameron’s digging paid off with a very informative report, “The No-bid Deal.”  It was a look at the controversial Muscogee County School Board’s practice of not using the bidding process in hiring a law firm.

It was a well-balanced report, giving time to both sides of the controversy.  To me, it is a very important controversy, because it involves the issues of  the way our tax dollars are being spent and transparency in government.

Last night’s report is one of the best investigative reports I have seen on local TV in a long time.  And it’s not over. More reports on this issue are promised.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see this series win some broadcast journalism awards.

My Dell with Windows Vista Doesn’t Know me Any More

October 8, 2013

Here I was, all set to write a post on my recent visit to Williamsburg, Virginia replete with pictures when BAM! my 6-year-old Dell laptop with Windows Vista decided it didn’t know me any more.  A notice came up saying that my Profile Service service had failed. That meant I couldn’t get to my pictures which had been transferred to my PhotoShop 6 from my camera card.  I have since learned I can get a camera card adapter for my iPad, which fortunately still works fine, and I’ll take care of that tomorrow.  So maybe I’ll be able to to do the post on Williamsburg tomorrow.

Then, again, if the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning class we call What’s Happening, a current affairs discussion class, produces some espeically interesting information on the subject “Why Has the Georgia Legislature Abandonned Public Education?” I’ll probably do a post on that and wait till later on Williamsburg.  Georgia State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Republican, and Rep. Carolyn Hugley, a Democrat,  will participate in the discussion at the CSU Turner Continuing Ed Center.  There is a good chance that someone will try to refute the premise of the subject and tell us that the Georgia Legislature has not abandoned public edcuation.  It should be interesting.

Meanwhile, my ailing Dell with Windows Vista is in the shop,  and hopefully will soon be back on line.  I probably should get a new computer.  6 years is probably considered ancient for a computer by the in-the-know computer aces.  I’m thinking about a MacAir.  I understand there is a learning curve when switching to a Mac, but learning new things is supposed to be good for seniors like me.

A Music Man Will Lead The Columbus Public School Parade

July 9, 2013

“But, I’m not Harold Hill!”

David F. Lewis, MCSD Superintendent fInalist

David F. Lewis, MCSD Superintendent finalist

I let David Lewis know that  I was pleased that he is a “music man.”

To which he replied, “I am, but I’m not Harold Hill.”

Harold Hill, as you probably know, was the music con man in the modern Broadway and Hollywood  classic musical, “The Music Man.”

Lewis, who was the Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for Polk County School District in Florida, is the  finalist for  the  job MCSD School Superintendent.  After the public hearing time lapses, the MCSD School Board is expected to hire him.

What inspired me about the pick is his music education background. Before he worked his way up as middle and high school principal, and Associate Superintendent in  Polk County, he was Director of Bands.

Being a member of the late Bob Barr’s original Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket  Band, I am  familiar with what a music man can do for disadvantaged students.  The legendary, award-winning band director turned around a lot of lives, inspiring teenagers to not only become accomplished musicians, but become successful and useful contributors to their communities.

David Lewis appears to have the  same talents as an education administrator. School Board Chair Rob Varner said,  for instance, his school district has  had “seven consecutive years of increased graduation rates during tenure as Senior Director of High Schools and Associate Superintendent.”

And he still has a love for school music, with his district being the 2013 recipient of “Best Communties for Music Education from the National Association of Music Merchants.”

Increasing the academic scores for Title I students, those who receive federal government financial assistance, is a huge challenge for him.  We have a lot of those in Muscogee County. It appears he has had a great deal of success  in that area in Polk County.  So that is encouraging.

I told him that he came to the right place because Columbus is  a great town for  school bands, or, at least, it  was.  He said, “And it  will be again.”

I replied, “That’s great!” Indeed it is.

David McCullough says We’re Historically Illiterate

July 2, 2013

It’s not a new phenomenon.  Some students who excel in math and computer courses flunk or do poorly in history courses. I’ve known a few.

There are good reasons for that. For instance, once a math geek understands the logic of math problem solving,  he/she can figure out answers without doing a lot of homework.  Not so with history.  You have  to read and remember what you have read to pass history tests.

Another is that so many young people don’t believe history has any practical  value.  Who cares about all of those historical dates? Besides, memorizing them is a pain in the neocortex.

Anyone who  reflects on the  fact that  we are our histories has to see the value of studying the subject.  The same is true for our  country. How can you possibly know who you are if you don’t know who  you were?  The moment a thought enters your head it’s history. As some philosophers tell us, there is no present, only past and future.

My favorite historian, bestseller David McCullough, who wrote, among other things, histories of  Presidents John  Adams,  Truman,  and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the  Panama Canal,  is quite concerned that our country has become, in his view, historically illiterate.  That’s what he  told Morley Safer on 60 Minutes.

He says that thought really came to him when a young Western U.S. college student revealed to him that she didn’t know the original 13 colonies were all east of the Alleghenies.  He said he ran into similar experiences at other colleges where he spoke..

He blames not just the  students and their teachers, but all of us.  It is important for parents to encourage their children to learn the  stories of  history and to discuss family  history with them.. As for as history teachers are concerned, they should emphasize the stories of history, not dates.  This is not  a new idea, and I know some very good history professors who have practiced that for a long time, but it doesn’t hurt to remind those who  don’t.

So, tonight when your family  is gathered around the supper table,  direct some of the  conversation toward family and American history.   Of course, you’ll have  to make them stop texting first.

  

We Need Lawmakers who Support Public Education

April 25, 2013

In defending budget cuts to public education, some always posit that more money will not fix the problem. Well, that may be true if more money is tried as a solution by itself. For more money to work, strings have to attached. One of those strings is that with higher pay comes higher expectations.

However, there is another factor to consider. Less pay, and less money for today’s electronic teaching aids, can certainly exacerbate the problem.

Parental involvement is an important element in motivating children to achieve educationally, but it is not, in my view, more important than a good teacher.  How many parents spend six hours a day with school-age children?

Good, dedicated teachers can have enormous influence in changing lives for the better.  It happens over and over, and it happened with me.   Going to school did not thrill me at all until the legendary Bob Barr took over the Jordan High band.  He really knew how to motivate kids. Not only did he motivate me, but he helped me get started in my broadcasting career.  When he found out that was what I wanted to  do, he connected me with the late Ed Snyder, then an announcer at WDAK, who mentored me and helped me get my first job in broadcasting.

George Corradino,  who headed up the Muscogee County School District’s music program for years, did the same thing when he was the band director at Columbus High for my late nephew Jack Gibson.  My sister Betty told  me that Jack was about ready to drop  out of  school  until George came along.  Not only did Jack excel at percussion in the CHS band, his grades improved in all his subjects, and, inspired by George, he went on to become a school band director himself.  He ended up getting his PhD and becoming Vice President of Development at Kennesaw State University, which was what he was doing when cancer took him away from us. I run into people all the time who have similar stories.

When I see state legislators and governors slashing public education budgets year after year after year, it tells me we need a big change at the Georgia State Capitol.  Education is essential to the future of Georgia’s citizens. Something has to be done.  We need lawmakers who don’t just say they support education, but show it with their actions.