Posts Tagged ‘teachers’


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.


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.



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

June 23, 2014

We Need Legislators Who Support Public Education


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?


We Need Legislators Who Support Public Education

June 4, 2013


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.


October 10, 2012



Getting a college education makes financial sense. College graduates, on average, make more money than high school graduates.  However, a caveat must be added. It makes financial sense if you can make a decent living after you have made your payment on your college loan.  A lot can’t.  Many can’t pay back the loans. Loans have gotten larger and larger over the years because the cost of  getting a college degree has skyrocketed.  That was the subject we discussed in our Columbus State University Continuing Education Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning “What’s Happening?” Class. It’s a current events class.  It was an excellent discussion, in my view, probably because we have a lot of retired educators in the class.   There was one area, though, that got very little attention: why has the cost of a college education skyrocketed over the years?  I decided to Google it, and, sure enough, I found an article that answers that question.  

An article on the NPR website on a report on “Fresh Air” entitled “What’s Driving College Costs Higher”  tells of how the rapidly rising increases in tuition and other costs are forcing students to have to borrow more to stay in school.  Two-thirds of college students get college loans.  The increases are not because of increased pay to professors. Their pay has been stagnant for a number of years. However, another report tells us that is not the case with administrative salaries.  They have been dramatically increasing, and universities have been expanding administrative staffs.

Georgia is one of a very few states that offer scholarships to all students who keep their grades up.  The HOPE scholarship program, funded by the state lottery, has not been able to keep up with the dramatic rising tuition costs and now pays only a portion of the costs.  

It appears that universities need to concentrate more on cutting costs and less on expansion. Why the emphasis on growth? Why is bigger better when it comes to higher education facilities?   One argument is that larger student bodies mean more subjects can be taught.  Some believe, however, it boils down to university presidents striving to increase their status by being president of larger student bodies.  Whatever the reason, cost cutting needs to be getting a lot more attention for the sake of America’s middle and lower class students who are feeling the cost squeeze the most. Massive defaults on paying off the loans – they amount to over a trillion dollars now – could disastrously affect the nation’s economy.  

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

October 3, 2012


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. 

Is Public Education Killing Creativity?

March 15, 2011

I put this on my Facebook page a few minutes ago, but I decided it is too good not pass it along to any of my blog  readers who might not see it otherwise.  Not only is  Sir Ken Robinson very entertaining, he has something very important to say about education.  Yes, it’s relatively long, but it’s worth it. 

The Education Solution: A Retired Educator’s Defense of the Public School Teacher

February 25, 2011

This post was submitted by retired Columbus, Georgia educator Judson Patten as a comment about the post The Education Solution: Is it Really the Teacher’s Fault? I decided to run it as an individual post because it gives a teacher’s point of view.

By Judson Patten

I felt so sorry for the students and teachers at Marshall Middle School over the years as they were being tested and continually called a “failing school.” Then they would be compared with Richards Middle School and Arnold Middle School and the only difference was the address of the schools and the part of town the children came from. I always thought it was so unfair to label a whole school as “failing” because of test scores. I fully believe that you could have switched the teachers from Richards with the teachers at Marshall and the outcome would have been exactly the same.

 Georgia gives all students the same test and that includes the children in Special Education classes. Yet there are some states that do not test the Special Education students along with the rest and that makes Georgia show up as further down in the comparisons.

Every thing that can be done to better prepare students for school is important. You mentioned pre-kindergarten classes and I believe that program is taking a tremendous hit with Governor Deal’s budget. I’ve been involved with education in Columbus for over 40 years and the teachers have always been working their hearts out for the children of Columbus. Of course, there are going to be some that don’t go quite as far as others but the teachers give their all for the students and will do everything within their power to do all that the students will allow them to do to better their education.

Public school is the way. When you take the students out of public school and put them in private school – you are also hurting the public school by removing many of the students that would help with raising the test scores in each school. Kids are worth the money that it takes to provide the best education that can be provided. Cutting five days out of the school year for students – that’s a whole week of school – was insane. And that was to save money.

The Education Solution: Is it Really the Teacher’s Fault?

February 21, 2011



While taking pictures at North Columbus Elementary, a school with mostly middle-class kids that are not at the poverty level, I noticed that it had something else in common with the world's highest ranked school system, Finland, a relaxed atmosphere. And the students perform well in 4th grade reading, with 92% passing the state's standardized reading test, which is higher than both the state average of 87%, and the MCSD average of 82 %. It scores lower in math, with a 74% passing rate, which ties with the state average. South Columbus Elementary School, which has a high percentage of children who live in poverty, has a 4th grade reading passing rate of 55%, and a 4th grade math passing rate of 33%.


A lot of my teacher friends are getting hot and bothered by teachers being blamed for the country’s allegedly poor education performance.  I use the word “allegedly” because some claim the rankings are unfair. 

For instance, they say it is unfair to compare the Finland system, which is ranked number one in the world at this time, with ours because Finland doesn’t have a diverse population, few students are not native speakers.  And Finland has almost no children living in poverty. 

Not only does the United States have great diversity, it also has the highest poverty level of any of the world’s rich nations.  If it is agreed that Mexico is a rich country, it would edge out the United States for number one.  

According to a UNICEF study, the child poverty rate in Finland in 2005 was 2.8 percent. The United States child poverty rate is 21.9 percent. And, yes indeed, a child raised in poverty is far more likely to perform poorly than one raised in affluence.

Now, if you live in a place like my home town, Columbus, Georgia, the poverty problem is much larger than the national average.  This is often true in urban areas. Overall, schools in suburban districts  score better on standardized tests.

In the Muscogee County School District sixty-five percent of the students come from families who live in poverty, based on how many qualify for free and reduce-priced lunches.  The rate in some schools goes as high as 95 percent. I asked Muscogee County School District Superintendent Susan Andrews to explain the extent of the poverty problem and how the MCSD is coping with it.  This is what she told me.

“Sixty-five percent of our students receive free and/or reduced price lunch.  Many other children are on the borderline of this poverty line.  Generational poverty is a persistent problem and a formidable foe.  In order to work on the issue and ensure that children who live in poverty receive a quality education, we begin by serving as many students as the State will provide us slots in the prekindergarten program and by partnering with programs such as Head Start.  Early childhood education is a key in developing children’s vocabulary at an early age.  Children who live in poverty have significantly smaller vocabularies than students from middle class families.  The gap in achievement between students from poverty and other students is present when students enter our doors.  Schools with high levels of poverty are provided more support in the form of personnel (family service coordinators, more assistant principals, more academic coaches) than schools without a high level of poverty.  The purpose of the federal ESEA is to provide funding for additional support for schools with high poverty so these schools (we refer to them as Title I eligible schools) receive additional funds for supplies, equipment, and professional development.  This funding cannot supplant other local and state funding but must supplement the local and state funding.

“Our Partners in Education program, as well as other community involvement projects, assist our students who live in poverty to have the opportunities and mentoring they need.  Columbus Scholars is another program designed to reach out to students who need additional support.” 

But, you may say, there are children who start out in poverty, but do quite well,  ending up with college educations, thanks to the work of excellent, dedicated, caring teachers. I believe that is true.  But, there are those who say reports about that can be misleading. We’ll look at that in a future post in our The Education Solution  series.

If you would like to find out how a school performs anywhere in the United States,  just click on this link to NBC’s Education Nation Scorecard.   


January 25, 2011



I agree with those who say public education is the key to a prosperous future for not only individuals, but for the state and the nation.  The scary part is many believe it is broken.  Assuming that it is,  I am going to take a look at why and what some believe we need to do to fix it. 

First of all we have to know which questions to ask to gain perspective.  Here are some of them:

1. Is it true, as billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates asserts in Newsweek, that “Our schools are still organized for the Industrial Age rather than the knowledge economy?”

2.  Should teacher pay be determined by performance rather than seniority?

3. How can it be determined if a teacher is doing a good or a bad job? It takes an adequate evaluation program to judge teacher performance.  Bill Gates maintains we don’t have one.  Test scores are the main measurement now, but many claim that is not an adequate gauge and has many flaws. What would be a good evaluation process?

4. Are teachers being overly blamed for our education system’s comparatively poor performance? 

5. Have, as San Francisco University Rick Ayers teacher education professor claims, right-wing big businessmen and neo-liberals taken over education reform with the goals of privatization, making schools sites of regimentation, driven by standardized tests?

6. Are calls for more local control of education systems the right way to go, or should there be a more centralized approach that uses common curriculum, which is the case in the countries who are the highest ranked in the world in education performance?

In future blog posts, we’ll not only look at the questions on the national level, but at how they apply in Georgia and Muscogee County.  As we proceed with this effort, your input is welcomed. All you need do is to click on the comment button and tell us what you think.

Our Education Crisis – Part 2

October 9, 2010


“I don’t think it’s fair comparing the United States to Finland,” said a retired school teacher who was participating in a discussion about America’s poor showing in the world’s education rankings. Finland is Number 1 in public education in the world, which includes being number one in science and math. The United States in 17 in science and 24 in math.  Some others in the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning Wednesday afternoon discussion group at Columbus State University’s Turner Center for Continuing Education agreed. She explained, “Finland is homogeneous whereas the United States heterogeneous; it is made up of a number of cultures.”  That may be true, but Finland is still way ahead.

J-P Kärnä

Helsinki University of Technology auditorium, Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by J-P Kärnä)

Others of the retired teachers were not happy with the reported premise of the documentary Waiting for Superman that the core problem is with the quality of teachers and teaching.  ( The film opened Friday at the Tara Cinema in Atlanta. Hopefully, it will be coming to Columbus soon.)

According to an article in Time, the film is critical of teacher’s unions and others that are reportedly trying to maintain the status quo because that is in the best interest of teachers, but not in the best interest of the students and the country.  Teachers need to be more accountable, we’re told, and those who can’t teach well need to be doing something else.  

Again,  we heard the defense that it is wrong to blame the teachers because America has different cultures.  And, as far as accountability goes,  all of those standardized tests are simply causing teachers to “teach to the test.”  If their careers depend on how well students score on tests, a lot will simply teach to the test.  Cramming information into kids brains right before a test so they can pass the test is not teaching them to learn and to think.  For one thing, the information won’t stick.

Still, how can we know if teachers are effective if standardized tests are not used?  The Chair of the Columbus State University School of Education’s Teacher Education Department, Dr. Deirdre Greer, didn’t say the testing should stop. She maintains students can pass them if they are simply taught their subjects in a way that will enable them to retain the information.  She says teaching to the test is not necessary, but teachers are doing it because of the pressure that’s being put on them. 

Then, there is something else to consider in all of this.  Some believe there is another big problem that is hindering education reform.

More on that later. Stay tuned.