Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Atlanta Schools' Job Lottery drags on

Panel readies Atlanta test cheating probe for release next Monday | ajc.com

With a week to go before it releases a report to the public, a panel overseeing an investigation into possible cheating at 58 Atlanta public schools on state tests spent nearly three hours behind closed doors Monday to talk about personnel issues related to the probe.

Members spent little time in public discussion.
That is to say, with a week to go before they are forced to release some kind of findings, the panel is doing its best Punxatawney Phil impression. If the committee sees its shadow, there may be six more weeks of closed deliberations.

Related story in the AJC:

Search Georgia CRCT Cheating Investigation Classroom Results -- Find out if your kid's class was flagged for investigation. No teachers or administrators are named.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What do children learn from this?

DeKalb probes sale of books | ajc.com

When DeKalb school official Ralph Simpson wrote a book about himself in 2007, he didn’t look far for a ready-made market to sell it.

He sold more than $12,560 worth of copies of the book — titled “From Remedial To Remarkable” — to five schools in the school district where he works, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned. Two of the schools were under his direct supervision.

In the 70-page paperback, printed in large font generally reserved for children’s books, Simpson writes about his evolution from a high school student in remedial classes to an assistant superintendent with a doctorate degree.
Atlanta Public School may have DeKalb beat for dollar volume of corruption, but there's nothing in APS that beats this for sheer gall.

With school starting earlier, is summer lost?  | ajc.com

With school starting earlier, is summer lost? | ajc.com

“As an unreconstructed Yankee, I hate the Georgia school schedule,” said Chris Murphy of southeast Atlanta, whose two daughters go back to school Aug. 9. “It’s hot outside! I’m just glad I’m not a teacher.”

A native of Binghamton, N.Y., Murphy spent his childhood summers canoeing and fishing. School didn’t start until after Labor Day.

Many schools in the Northeast and West Coast still hew to that calendar, which makes it “unfathomable” to Murphy that so many Georgians spend one of the hottest months inside the classroom.
Spend it outdoors, dude. You'll figure it out. It's no coincidence that the term "air conditioning" was coined by a man from North Carolina (no, really), even though the process itself was invented in New York. (Thank you, Mr. Carrier.)
“This [shorter summer] is an educational fad,” said Vivian Jackson, of Marietta, co-founder of Georgians Need Summers.

Today’s shorter summers are often thoroughly programmed, giving children less time to be bored, and, eventually, inventive. Summer ennui is important, said Tina Bruno, executive director of the San Antonio-based Coalition for a Traditional School Calendar. “You don’t appreciate the structure of school until you are bored at home.”
It's not enough that they go to school, they have to "appreciate the structure"?

Sounds like parents need summer more than the kids do. They're pining for an idyllic pause in the year that no longer exists. (And the original reason for school to be out of session for the summer--so the kids would be home to help Mom and Dad with the crops--went out with the Industrial Revolution.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

This should be entertaining

Atlanta test cheating panel to meet Monday | ajc.com

A panel overseeing an investigation of 58 Atlanta public schools for possible cheating on state tests will meet at 2 p.m. Monday, starting a week-long countdown to when they are expected to release their report on Aug. 2.

The panel formed in March to look into irregularities after the state flagged the city schools among 191 statewide that showed unusual patterns of erasures on 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.
Just in case you forgot why there's a "test cheating panel" in the first place. Have to give the AJC props for trying to keep this issue current. It is of vital importance, of course, but I don't doubt there's tremendous pressure to bury it.

If APS runs true to form, I would not expect this panel to return any result until it's too late to do anything about it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wheel reinvented: Educators puzzled

Atlanta to help students at schools under scrutiny | ajc.com

Students affected by an investigation of 58 Atlanta schools for possible cheating on state standardized tests will get extra academic attention when they head back to school Aug. 9.

Help will include an intensive tutoring program, frequent monitoring of their academic progress and a deliberate effort by school leaders to talk with parents and each other about what works.
Well, dogies. Hey, Ethel! They're gonna do some of the stuff they said they were doing all along! Imagine that.

I like how the educationists aren't actually promising to talk to each other, only make a deliberate effort to do so. But that's better than making a deliberate effort to avoid it, which is what they appear to have been doing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Spivey Hall hosts shape-note singing school | Clayton News Daily

Just over a dozen “students,” some of whom are choir singers, and others, music teachers, spent Friday participating in a class on how to do Sacred Harp/shape-note singing, at Clayton State University’s Spivey Hall. Class instructor, Richard DeLong, the executive secretary of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company, which produces a book of shape-note songs, said the singing style is one of the oldest in the United States.

“The Southern people have been preserving this way of singing since the early 1800’s,” said DeLong. “Families have passed it down to their children, who in turn, passed it down to their children, and it’s lived on through the generations that way.”
I'm not sure why the scare-quotes around "students", unless it's to emphasize that some of these students are significantly older than the average Clayton State freshman. Oreta is quoted late in the article.

what is the true cosmic origin of the universe?

We are God talking to himself.

Friday, July 16, 2010

We'll sing in the sunshine or we'll be on our way

Renovated Georgia Dome could feature retractable roof, would bathe modern gladiators in glorious sunlight | Atlanta News & Opinion Blog | Fresh Loaf | Creative Loafing Atlanta

Georgia World Congress Center officials have a dilemma on their hands: How do they both host concerts and indoor events — which prefer to be protected from the elements — and satisfy the Atlanta Falcons, the cash cow football team that wants to stay downtown but play outdoors? Easy! You slap a retractable roof on the 18-year-old Georgia Dome, which by NFL standards is the same age as the Colosseum, and you watch the ameros roll in.
You know, they built the dome in the first place because the Falcons wanted a dome.

So where would the Falcons play while they're renovating the dome? Turner Field?

NOTE: It seems weird to me that the stodgy old Journal-Constitution has a "Share This" button on every story for easy blogging / tweeting / facebooking but the too-cool-to-care Creative Loafing does not.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In other news, Foxes Inc. wins the henhouse-guarding contract

Atlanta schools cheating probe faces scrutiny | ajc.com

The head of Atlanta Public Schools promised an impartial inquiry into reports of cheating on state achievement tests. Recusing herself, Superintendent Beverly Hall declared the investigation would be conducted by “a respected outside organization.”

Five months later, the investigation remains incomplete, and questions have emerged that challenge its independence.

The “blue-ribbon” commission appointed to oversee the investigation is populated with business executives and others who have done business with the school district or who have other civic or social ties to the district or to Hall.

One of the firms chosen to run the inquiry also is a school district vendor, having collected $1.7 million for other work performed as recently as 2008.

And, raising perhaps the most serious doubts, the district has been far more involved in investigating itself than originally suggested. Administrators from the district’s central office took part in questioning lower-level educators at all but a dozen of the 58 Atlanta schools under scrutiny. High-ranking district officials — described by a spokeswoman as “director-level” employees — took charge of conducting interviews at two dozen of the schools.

The district’s role in the investigation represents “a major conflict of interest,” said Barbara Payne, executive director of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation. “APS should not be involved in any of these reviews. APS should not be involved at all.”
I'm beginning to wonder if APS should be involved in education at all.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Deadline? What deadline?

Atlanta schools face sanctions if misses new report deadline | ajc.com

The state Board of Education turned impatient with Atlanta Public Schools, informing the district on Thursday it has an irrevocable Aug. 2 deadline to deliver its findings of possible cheating on last year's standardized testing or face sanctions.

If the Atlanta school system fails to comply, penalties could involve the loss of Adequate Yearly Progress status for 2009 and 2010, which tarnishes the district's academic reputation. Equally damaging if not more, federal funding could be withheld.
Ooooo-kay, now we're hitting them where they live. Surely now all this nonsense will finally be dealt with.

You don't know APS very well, do you?
"When we made the decision to go with an independent investigation, we lost that control because it's in the hands of a third party," said Keith Bromery, Atlanta school spokesman. "We didn't impose any deadlines, just that we wanted them to do it thoroughly and immediately -- and that's what they've been doing."
Oh, I know what you've been doing. We all know.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Suddenly education has become a hot beat

Having found itself deprived of any real means of punishing disruptive students, APS had adopted a procedure consisting of physical restraints and "seclusion" (call it solitary confinement). Not any more.
Georgia schools ban seclusion rooms -- AJC
The State Board of Education voted Thursday to ban the use of solitary confinement and limit the use of restraints against unruly students.
...The state board worked for about two years developing the policy, which was supported by the parents of Jonathan King, a 13-year-old Hall County boy who hanged himself in 2004.
Well, ok, I understand it wasn't working out. Educators aren't trained to be jailers, and it isn't fair to anyone to expect them to have to respond like jailers. I'm with you on that one. But what CAN they do? What SHOULD they do?