Posts Tagged ‘schools’

And YES it is!

March 18, 2015

I told Muscogeee County School District Superintendent Dr. David Lewis after today’s Rotary Club of Columbus meeting, “You did it!” He smiled and said, “We did it.” 

He’s right, and I’m proud  of Columbus’ once again showing it supports its children and public education by approving the latest SPLOST.

And to those who voted “no,” I know that doesn’t mean you don’t support our children and their teachers. I hope you’ll accept that the majority has spoken. Now let’s pull together to make our school district as good as it can be.

 

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YES!

March 9, 2015

As I said before. I am going to vote for the Muscogee County School District SPLOST.

The school district does have its problems, but not providing adequate facilities and today’s technological learning tools is not going to solve them.

What will?

At the top of  my priority list is greatly reducing poverty.

How?

A lot of people  believe education is the answer.

It can’t be, though, if the kids don’t learn.

Why don’t they?

Bad teachers?

Are the best teachers assigned to top performing Columbus High and Britt David Magnets?

One teacher said, “Put those same teachers at Columbus High and Britt David in failing schools that are full of Title 1 kids and see how well they do.”

Kids with affluent, interested parents who read to them when they are pre-school, and support them intellectually and emotionally to help them meet high expectations when they go to school, for the most part,  perform much better than kids who don’t have that.  There are, of course, exceptions.

Public schools reflect society.

Anyway, public schools are the hope of  the future, and I’m going to support them. Hope you do, too.

 

 

Congratulations DOCTOR Lewis

December 9, 2014

You  really have to hand it to someone who has probably one of the most demanding jobs in the Columbus area who earned a Doctor of Education degree while doing that job.

I didn’t really care all that much that Dr. David Lewis didn’t have a doctorate when he took the job, but some did and made a big fuss over it. His answer was that, while didn’t have one, he was getting one, and he did, and now he has it.

Of course, that won’t stop critics.  They’ll come up with something.

Frankly, I’ve  liked Dr. Lewis from the first time I met him when he first came to Columbus. One of the first  things he did was visit every school in the district.  Also, he knows the value of the arts. He was a music educator before getting into school administration.  I sensed that he is the type who gets things done.  And that is very hard to do when working with a politicized elected school board and a legislature and governor who drastically cut the public education budget.  They did restore some of those cuts when facing reelection,  but nowhere near what they cut.  Now that they don’t have to worry about an election, let’s see what they do.

 

 

Doing It Not Just To Be Nice, But Out Of Self-interest

September 1, 2014

It was very encouraging to see the members attending the Rotary Club of Columbus Wednesday luncheon give Jamie Vollmer a standing ovation after his talk about how vital it is for business leaders, as well as the rest of the community, to support public education.

Vollmer, a former lawyer and successful  businessman who led the franchise division of the Great Midwestern Ice Cream Company in Iowa,  now spends his time making talks and writing books supporting public education. He wrote the acclaimed Schools Cannot Do  It Alone.

It’s not a matter of being nice, he says. It’s a matter of doing what needs to be done for his and the country’s self-interst. For those who have no children in public schools and oppose paying taxes for them,  he said they should be thinking about the how important it is to have an educated work force, and how they have a responsibility to their communities.  He also pointed out that history is very clear about what happens when the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” gets too wide.  The “have-nots” come for the “haves.”

He’s among those who believe that quality education for all children is what will make for a better life  for all members of a community. I tend to agree.

 

 

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.

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.

We Need Legislators Who Support Public Education

June 4, 2013

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?

In order to live with the reduced budget, the MCSD proposes, among other things, closing schools  laying off perhaps up to 40 teachers,  increasing class size, ending adult education,  delaying buying new textbooks, reduced funding for computers, supplies, and building maintenance.

The legislator’s claim that the state doesn’t have the money is nonsense. It’s just spending it on other things.  We need to be sending to Atlanta lawmakers who truly support public education.

For another take on the problem, go to this link.

STEMMING the Education Crisis

March 25, 2013

Just about all of us know there is a crisis in public education, one that must be overcome in order for America to continue to lead globally. There is a program that offers hope. It’s called STEM. Instead of institutions of higher education just decrying the fact that our public schools are not properly inspiring and preparing students for college,  they are starting to do something about it, to get involved in helping them do that, and Columbus State University is accepting the challenge to, as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Tom Hackett says, “create innovative solutions to expand and energize the next generation of STEM leaders.” STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, disciplines in great demand for the economic success of our country.

The school is about to launch NeXtGen STEM with a one-day Immersion Conference on Thursday, and it is bringing Dr. Bernard Harris, an astronaut, physician, businessman, and the frist African-American to walk in space, to  work with the Columbus Middle and High School Educational Community, and to be the Hunter Lecture Series speaker Thursday night at seven at the Iron Works Convention and Trade Center.

This is an encouraging development.

 

 

 

Hope You’ll Vote NO on the Georgia Charter School Amendment

October 3, 2012

AS USUAL, IT”S ABOUT THE MONEY

I’m talking about the move by Georgia lawmakers who want to make it easy to circumvent local boards of education, and even the state board of education, so that new charter schools can be formed.  

There is a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would allow a special commission in Atlanta to approve spending state tax dollars to  fund new charter schools. 

A lot of people whose opinion I respect think this is really a bad idea.  Local school boards and the state board can now approve charter schools, so it’s not a matter of not having them. It’s a matter of losing local control and using state tax dollars for charter schools that could be going to local school systems. Local systems really need that money because of the draconian cuts to public schools by the state legislature.  The legislators will tell you they are for public education, but actions do indeed speak louder than words. 

After, studying this complicated matter, I  will be joining our state Superintendent of Education,  former state representative Mary Jane Galer, former state representative and State Board of Regents member Milton Jones, and others in voting no on this amendment.  If you live in Georgia, I hope you will do the same thing. 

A lot of out-of-state money is going into the campaign to get this amendment approved.  I am told that is because for-profit management companies that manage some charter schools want this amendment to pass.

As I said, like so many other things, it’s about the money. 

More on the Classroom Digital Revolution

October 26, 2011

CONNIE USSERY, RETIRED MUSCOGEE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT MEDIA SPECIALIST,  WHO NOW TEACHES CARVER HIGH TEACHERS TWO DAYS A WEEK HOW TO TEACH WITH ELECTRONIC MEDIA, SENT THIS CLARIFICATION OF THE PREVIOUS POST ON HER TALK LAST SUNDAY TO COLUMBUS UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS.    

As far as I know, all core teachers at Carver utilize netbooks in instruction and I think most of the electives teachers do, when
appropriate, because tech support folks are bombarded when any networking problems arise. The students have to have their netbooks up and working during the school day and they make sure we keep them online. Teachers make sure their students bring them to class.  Paper textbooks will always be useful for classroom teachers as supplementary materials and especially for some types of special needs students.  Elective courses may rely on paper texts for a lot longer than core teachers because those courses are often taught using a variety of print and digital resources anyway.  I still think there are some teachers around the district who are “holdouts’ who prefer print textbooks, but I can’t imagine that they don’t utilize digital resources and software for projects.

Also, the researchers who talk about the differences in brain development among digital native children don’t make it sound like a bad thing: it’s just something that we teachers have to understand. Our students are as casual with technology as we used to be with doll houses and match box cars.  Their “learning curve” is way ahead of ours.

I hope I wasn’t too misleading during the Q & A yesterday.  I probably shouldn’t have tried to talk much about this since my talk was mainly about resources for UU, but I get excited and I find I have to reassure the people who aren’t comfortable with computer-based learning and project development, as some of the questions from parents and instructors indicated.

It’s very exciting seeing the teachers and the students working so hard to bring Carver into the 21st Century in instruction and in
facilities.The new building opens next fall and it’s going to be a showcase for technology and learning.