"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Achievement Article Part 3 of 3 will run tomorrow

The final article on Evansville student achievement will run in the Review tomorrow. To see how we stack up on the ACT and AP classes, please see the article.

My muse is getting pretty well exhausted with my day job now. I like this blog and hope to continue posting pertinent items here.

I was extremely saddened to see that Michael Pierick will not run for school board again. His younger son is graduating this year, so it's understandable. He has been a very good board president and a good job of keeping the administration accountable. He will be missed sorely.

Kathi Swanson does a good job and will run again. I haven't heard if Dennis Hatfield will run again. He and I were of like mind on many issues. He's passionate about classical education and so am I. He sees the value of GT specialist adminstrators in a world more interested in providing to the least common denominator. I share his pain that 15% of the children in our district are considered academically gifted in one or more subjects and have less than 3% of the staff dedicated to their needs. And that's only numerically. In 3 of our 4 schools, the GT person (there's only one) is 50% GT and 50% remedial services. The remedial needs often take precedence and it easily can become a 40/60 or 30/70 distribution of services. Because GT students have no law defining in depth the specific services required for them, the kids are left in limbo. Just a nebulous "gifted programs will be provided" clause in the statutes. The legislators allow each school to define the way a kid is identified and what enrichment they are deserving of. ARRGH! The final blow is the many people who think "gifted kids will do just fine without all this hooha. Why should we expend so much energy challenging them when we don't have enough money to meet other basic needs?" And it's not just the average joe on the street with this archaic attitude. These kids have special needs on the other side of the spectrum. It is a crime to deny the needs of the 15% of our students on the left side of the curve, but the kids on the right side of the curve are perpetually left hanging out to dry. Unless their parents pay to supplement their education. This is a travesty. Not every gifted kid has parents with disposable income sufficient to spend the sometimes considerable dollars to provide them with adequate challenge. Without this challenge, a potential Einstein could become bored and drop out of school. Or worse, figure out a way to be really destructive. And then all the people who think providing minimal GT services to students deserving of it would be standing around wringing their hands saying, "we never saw THAT coming!"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Part 2 of 3 Achievement Article in the Review on Wednesday

See the Review next week to continue with my series on Student achievement in the Evansville school district. Editorial comments will take place at the end of the series, so stay tuned on that!

So much has been happening in the world of education that it's hard to pinpoint a specific issue to tackle here. Probably one of the most significant in terms of budgetary impact has been the Milton school district's arbitration win in choosing a less expensive insurance carrier. The union looked like dolts in fighting this issue. They have their hands in the pie of the former insurance carrier and didn't want to lose the business.

Since compensation packages always include insurance coverage, I'm not sure how the district will actually see use of those nearly half-million in funds. When I first was elected to the school board in 2007, the district had just successfully negotiated for less expensive insurance. The complete balance of the savings simply went into teacher salaries because the contract called for the package deal. This is unconscionable. What is the incentive moving forward for the district to practice due diligence in spending taxpayer funds if they can't realize the savings of a cost-savings move? So, it's not clear to me how the Milton district will have use of these savings for "improving and maintaining educational programs." It's my hope that the district can access the savings after paying retroactive raises and legal bills that the rest can go for the kids.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 22 Committee Meetings of the Whole Agenda

Click on the post to view the agenda for the Committee Meetings of the Whole November 22 at 5:30. Highlights include discussion of the new board meeting structure, revisiting the Evening, Weekend and Wednesday cocurricular schedule with protection of instructional time policies, discussion of several items on the Finance agenda including establishing fund 80, parameters for Program based budgeting, Building and Trades house update and in Facilities, discussion of repurposing the current Creekside place for district use after they move into the community center next year. If these or any other agenda items appeal to you, please join us for the meeting on the 22nd.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 13 already? Sheesh!

I have been busier than a one-armed paperhanger, as my mother used to say. It's entirely possible that this phrase is not PC and/or offensive. If so, I apologize. But I always thought it conveyed a true sense of being overextended in one's schedule. I cover the school board meetings for the Review now and am thoroughly enjoying the experience. I can't get snarky like I can here, but as long as I don't specifically post the same stuff, Kelly was OK with me blogging too.

Look for my article about district data analysis coming soon in the Review, possibly this week. This week should have a brief report on the Nov. 8th meeting, which had some newsworthy information.

The sheer mountain of data provided to the school board in preparation for the November 8th board meeting leads me to believe that the administration is not clear on what parameters they want to monitor, so they monitor them all. Just look at the administrators' reports on the website to become glassy eyed with data overload in minutes. Demographics about enrollment, EEN population, Economically disadvantaged data, WKCE, MAPs, ACT, alphabet soup heaven all neatly presented in a table to compare to three different sets of schools: those our size, those in our conference and those in the area. My God in Heaven, UNCLE! It took me 2 days just to digest it to the point of deciding how to begin the series of articles describing district student achievement. Yikes! TMI if ever there was TMI. And I love data.

I'm sorry I have neglected my blog lately. I need to find a balance between my paying job and my fun blogging. Given the choice, I do prefer to be snarky whenever possible. I also like being paid, so I need to balance my world. I haven't even had time to take down the Jamboree posters at the elementary and intermediate schools.

I'd like to plug the 8th grade careers unit on this blog. They have begun in the last few years to focus the 8th graders on career exploration. I have volunteered the last 2 years to do the exit interviews for the kids after they explore their 3 top choices with presentations by people in their chosen fields. I am once again struck by the self-confidence exhibited by the modern 13 year old kids. Last year I interviewed kids who ranged from barely coherent they were so nervous to completely engaged and at the "you're hired" level of confidence and awareness. This year most of the kids were in the mostly aware and very comfortable chatting with a strange woman. (Except for the notable exceptions of 2 of my daughter's soccer teammates who already knew me). If the modern educational system takes a lot of flak for its many drawbacks, one thing it should proudly take credit for is the ability to foster this self-confidence and self-awareness in today's youth. Yeah kids. Good show, JC McKenna!

Friday, November 5, 2010

11-8-10 School Board Meeting Agenda:! NOTE ADDED ADMIN REPORTS!

Click on the post to view the agenda for Monday's School Baord Meeting. There will be a discussion regarding testing in the district and the administrator report will include the annual comparison of ECSD with similar districts. This typically includes numerous comparators and is a nice check on the system.

I'm working on an article for the 11-10-10 edition of the Review regarding Open Enrollment. It's kind of long, so it might be a two-part article continued the following week.

I'd like to take this opportunity to shout out a big THANKS to everyone who came out to support the K-5 PTO at the 5th annual Jack-O-Lantern Jamboree. It was a big success and the little goblins had a blast. It's only with the support of such dedicated community members that a school can truly shine.

11-8-10 update: View administrator reports at: