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Monday, January 31, 2011

Accepting Late Homework - Teaching or Grading Policy?

A post from the Successful Teaching Blog:


I Didn’t Do My Homework

“So, what do you think about accepting late work?”
I definitely accept late work and in fact I insist on getting it turned in.
I found that my students had gotten in the habit of not doing their work and accepting a bad grade. When I pursued this train of thought further, I found out that usually the student got frustrated with the work and decided he would rather get a zero than try to do it and fail anyway. I think it was also a defense mechanism so no one would see that they couldn’t do an assignment and didn’t want to ask for help.
My policy was that if you didn’t do your homework, you would have to do it during your lunch time in my classroom with me and you lose 20 points off your grade. The students were allowed to bring their lunch to my classroom and eat while they worked. I also notified all of the parents about my homework policy and asked that they support me in this so that their child could be more successful and I never had a parent that didn’t stand behind me.
Students pushed me and didn’t think I would enforce this but I did. At first there were many students who had to pay this penalty. Finally, they learned that they would have to do the work anyway so they might as well do it at home and get full credit for it.
At the beginning of the year, there was a battle of wills and usually the student refused to do it at lunch. I did not get in a passionate argument with the student and just told them that they had to call a parent right then and explain to the parent why they didn’t do their homework and why they refused to do it during lunch. At this point, usually the student decided it would be best to show up at lunch time.
Eventually, the students were able to see that their grades were better than they expected. We would spend some time talking about things that affected their grades and how accepting a zero would have impacted their total grade. They also were able to see that their effort and willingness to try made an impact on their grade also.
Usually after the first couple of months, most of my students did their homework on a regular basis. They did not want to lose their social time with their friends and they knew that they would have to do it anyway. I encouraged them to ask me for help rather than be discouraged. All of the students had my home phone number and was encouraged to call if there were problems.
One time I had to explain adding unlike fractions to my student over the phone and his mother was on the other line learning how to do it also! She said she didn’t know how to do this but if she had, they would not have needed to bother me. I felt like we showed the student that we were a team working towards his success.
I think by allowing students to get away with not doing the work and giving them a zero is a cop out by the student and the teacher. By doing this, I am sending the wrong message to the students. I am saying it is okay to take the easy way out rather than to struggle and accomplish something. I am also telling them that I don’t feel they are worth the effort to push them to succeed. If students think I feel that way, they won’t try at all and the time in my classroom is just a waste of time.
What do you think? How do you feel about accepting late work?
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

SC House Charter School Bill


The SC  School Board Association is suggesting the following action:
Action needed now
Please contact members of the House Education and Public Works Committee by 1 p.m. Wednesday (February 2, 2011) and strongly urge them to vote against the bill to amend the charter school law (H.3241).

Background summary
The House Education and Public Works Committee is scheduled to take up the charter school bill. South Carolina School Board Association opposes several provisions in the bill, including the following:
  • The requirement of a school district to send all of its local funds quarterly to the state charter school district for students who reside in their district and attend a state-sponsored brick-and-mortar charter school (reduced to 75 percent of local funds for students attending state virtual charter schools). 
  • The deletion, offered through an amendment by Rep. Ralph Norman, of a provision allowing local school district sponsors to retain up to 2 percent of total state and local appropriations per charter school for oversight expenses.
  • The requirement of local sponsoring districts to allow conversion charter schools to stay in a school building and use resources, equipment and supplies free of charge for the life of the charter.
  • The lowering of the vote requirement from parents for a traditional public school to convert to a charter school.
  • The requirement that charter school students be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities at their resident school if the activities are not available at the charter school.
While the bill’s aim to bring “parity” for charter schools may have good intentions, to do so with the use of local funds is deceptive for the following reasons:
  • The amount of local funds generated in each district is not based on the number of students in the district (per pupil basis). Funds may be used to implement programs and/or services that local communities desire and that are not provided for with state dollars such as foreign language classes in elementary schools, magnet schools, etc.
  • Local funds are often generated to supplement shortfalls in state funding to pay for non-student costs including employee benefits and programs.
  • The school district funds this bill seeks to transfer to the state charter district are raised through the levy of property taxes by locally elected school boards or other locally elected officials who are held accountable for those funds. State-sponsored charter schools are not local schools. They are not built, staffed or operated with local taxpayer approval.
Other reasons:
  • There has been no analysis of H.3241 for the real or even potential fiscal impact to local school districts.
  • If the state determines that state-sponsored charter schools are in need of additional funding, then it should fund them with additional state funds and not from local tax dollars appropriated for local school operations. This is a clear unfunded mandate.
  • The legislature has already adopted a higher level of state funding to offset the lack of local funding of the state-sponsored charter school district even though the law was enacted with the understanding that there would be no local funds provided.
  • There are more than 5,000 virtual school students in South Carolina, with nearly half of them coming from the private and home school sectors and therefore are not included in the local funds. This would be placing an undue and unplanned fiscal burden on local schools.
At a time when schools are confronted with unprecedented cuts in funding at the state and local levels and the state is facing a $1 billion shortfall, it defies logic to approve legislation that would create a financial cost to local school districts. 

Local Committee Member Contact information (click on names for email and other contact information)
Jimmy Neal, 1st Vice Chair of Lancaster County
Doug Brannon of Spartanburg County
Harold Mitchell, Jr. of Spartanburg County
Ralph Norman of York County


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Opting Out

An interesting post on the future of public education from the Practical Theory blog:


Opting Out

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friendship Nine - "Jail, No Bail"

From WBTV:


ROCK HILL – Local students from Winthrop University and the Rock Hill schools are taking part in a commemorative walk and re-enactment that will retrace the steps that 10 Friendship Junior College male students, now known as the “Friendship Nine” along with several females, known as the “City Girls” took 50 years ago. 
The re-enactment and walk will begin on Sunday, January 30 at 3 p.m. at the corner of Dave Lyle Boulevard and E. Main Street.  The walk will end in front of the Old Town Bistro (former site of the McCrory’s Five and Dime Variety Store). The walk, themed “Footsteps from the Past: A March to Freedom” will kick-off a series of events scheduled to commemorate the anniversary.
“The students will walk and interact with each other as the students did 50 years ago while they took their journey from Friendship Junior College to downtown Rock Hill to the McCrory’s Five and Dime variety store, while a narrator paints the picture to the audience of what those students experienced,” said Trina Ricks, walk coordinator. 
“The students and community volunteers are delighted and honored to be a part of this event because of its historical significance, but also to have the opportunity to really learn about local history and even feel some of the emotions that the students felt 50 years ago.”
Immediately following the walk, light refreshments will be served inside the Palmetto Room.  Attendees will also get a chance to see a sneak preview of the SCETV “Jail, No Bail” documentary that will be televised statewide on February 3 at 8 p.m.  A flyer listing other anniversary events will be available at the walk.
The final event to wrap up the anniversary celebrations will be a gala titled “Friends of the Nine Dinner Gala.” The gala will be held on February 26 at 7 p.m. at the Palmetto Room in Old Town.  The guest speaker will be Dr. Cleveland L Sellers, Jr. 
Tickets will be available for purchase soon.
For more information about the walk and other 50th Anniversary events, call 803-329-5200 or visitwww.friendshipcollege.org.      


Rock Hill School News For January 28, 2011


The District Honors Choir will hold a breakfast  fundraiser on Jan. 29 from 8:00-10:30 at Fatz Cafe. 

Rawlinson Road Middle School's 8th Grade Chorus, directed by Colleen Rice, will perform at the kick-off event for the York County Teen Health Center's Mentor Program at 12:45 on Jan. 29 at 410 E. Black Street (Family Resource Center).  

South Pointe High School drama teacher James Chrismon and the Stallion Repertory Theatre will present The Glass Menagerie Feb. 3-6 by American playwright Tennessee Williams. The Glass Menagerie is a memory play, and its action is drawn from the memories of the narrator, Tom Wingfield. .

The Northwestern High School Senior Jazz Ensemble, directed by Mark Yost, will present a concert at 4:00 p.m. Feb. 2 in the bandroom, previewing music that the band will play Feb. 4 at the S.C. Music Educators Assn. Conference.

Nine teachers have received $250 grant awards from Family Trust:  Tamara Altman (Northwestern High School), Lynn Helms (Rock Hill High School), Chris Lucia (Castle Heights Middle School), Merri Martin (Children's  School), Deborah Maynard (Rock Hill High School), Amy Tuohy  (Rock Hill High School), Jeri McGuffin (Dutchman Creek Middle School), Jeff Venables
(Northwestern High School), and Tracy Craven (Oakdale Elementary School).

Maria Larson, a teacher at Northside Elementary School of the Arts,  has received a $600 Target grant to be used to enhance the study of animals with a field study trip for all second-graders to Lazy 5 Ranch.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

South Pointe High School Students To Present The Glass Menagerie


Rock Hill High Places 7 on SC 2011 All-State Senior Band

Rock Hill High School placed 7 on the South Carolina 2011 All-State Senior Band, Northwestern High School placed 3 and South Pointe High School placed 1.

Instrument Name School
Clarinet Lizzy Rickel Northwestern High School
French horn Jonathan Hegwood Northwestern High School
Snare Miles Moon Northwestern High School
Alto sax Gregg Prange Rock Hill High School
Alto sax Madison Tate Rock Hill High School
Trumpet Carlos Fuentes Rock Hill High School
Trumpet Karen Chace Rock Hill High School
French horn Daniel Gulledge Rock Hill High School
Trombone Amy Hunsucker Rock Hill High School
Euphonium Alex Helms Rock Hill High School
Snare Lamar Thompson South Pointe High School

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dr. Harriet Jaworowski on Monday's WRHI Straight Talk


Monday January 24
Harriet Jaworowski, Assoc. Super. for Instruction & Accountability
Rock Hill Schools
Proposed changes in testing & grading

Rock Hill School Board January Business Meeting Notes

The Rock Hill School Board January Business Meeting was held on Monday, January 24, 2011. These are some notes from the meeting:
The following action was taken:

  • Approved agenda 7-0
  • Approved Consent agenda 7-0 (Minutes, Personnel, 4 field study requests, Jim Vining's board compensation for January and February to Sunset Park/Sylvia Circle and to Northside Elementary Schools)
  • Approved the establishment of an energy manager position and the purchase of energy reporting software. First year cost not to exceed $83,000 (salary and software). Vote was 5 -1 - 1 with Sharp voting against and Douglas abstaining.
  • Approved by 7-0 vote the use of Rawlinson Road Middle School by Impact Church for the next month. Rent is $950 per week and they expect to need the facility until the end of the year.
  • Approved by a 7-0 vote for board members to attend a Schlechty Center "Key Leaders Conference" in Charlotte, NC.
  • Approved the use of March 25 and June 3 for bad weather make-up days should any more be needed this year. Vote was 7-0.
In other business, the board:
  • Recognized the "nurturing" "Distinguished Climbers" for January
  • Recognized Justin Worley for being named the Gatorade National High School Football Player of the year.
  • Recognized the Northwestern High School Trojans for winning the SC 4A Div. II football championship and heard a pep talk from head coach Moose Wallace.
  • Recognized Jadeveon Clowney for being named "Mr. Football" in South Carolina. Jadeveon is also the number one ranked high school prospect in the country this year.
  • Recognized the South Pointe Stallions for being runner-up for the 3A football championship
  • Recognized Karis Watson for being named the South Carolina Gatorade Volleyball player of the year.
  • Recognized The Rock Hill Bearcats for being runner-ups in 4A Volleyball.
  • Heard a request from Melvin Poole, representing the Rock Hill NAACP, for the school district to find a way to not use MLK day in 2012.
  • Received reports on Rebound, Renaissance, and the Elementary Math Guide.
  • The board discussed changes to the February Work Session so the board can attend a meeting with the local legislative delegation in York on the same night.
The board received an update on this years revenue projections and potential revenue for 2011-12. A current concern - we have not received the $3.8 million in stimulus money from the state for this year. They report some possible adjustments or re-allocations. Probably not good news for the district. Budget reductions for next year will follow the plan laid out last year.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Class Divided

This Frontline program, A Class Divided, is a must see for students, parents, and teachers.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dr. J Continues the Discussion On Rock Hill Schools Grading

Dr. Harriet Jaworowski and Dr. Lynn Moody continue a grading policy discussion on the January Rock Hill School Talk in the video below. After the video, there is a student perspective from the high school which is currently piloting some proposed changes and below that is an article on a high school that essentially allowed all students to graduate.

I should point out, School Talk is a production of the students at Rock Hill's Applied Technology Center. You can catch the complete January School Talk on Comporium's Cable channel 18. Check the channel for the next broadcast time.


Lukas Faris, in the Award Winning South Pointe High School newspaper, S.P.I.N., had this to say about the districts' new grading policy  being trialed at South Pointe this year:

New district grading policy rewards laziness
Rewarding someone with something they haven't earned is not right. Instead of a "Money Tree," Rock Hill School District Three has created a "Grade Tree". Students don't have to put in any effort, yet they easily can grab at the tree and pick off a 40. The district should overturn this new policy and return to the original policy.


If laziness is rewarded, people are going to be lazy. All it does is promote laziness.....  the new system acts as a disincentive to excellence......  the new system creates expectations and habits that will fail students in the real world. This policy is teaching kids that they can not try for a job when they're older, yet still get paid for it. Not show up for work and still get paid for it. This isn't true in the real world. You won't survive in the world with a policy like that. Doesn't the district want the best for our kids, our future?..... it's obvious this "Grade Tree" needs to go. It isn't fair and it isn't right. The Rock Hill School District Three is hurting its local students, not helping. The new policy needs to stop.
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In a related post from New York and the Joanne Jacobs blog:

The can’t-fail school

New York City’s top-ranked school is under investigation for cooking the books,reports the New York Times. Theater Arts Production Company School, a middle and high school located in a low-income Bronx neighborhood,  graduated 94 percent of seniors, more than 30 points above the citywide average. The school earned a near-perfect score in “student progress,” based partly on course credits earned by students.  The school’s no-failure policy requires teachers to pass all students who attend class, regardless of their performance; no more than 5 percent of students can get D’s.
In practice, some teachers said, even students who missed most of the school days earned credits. They also said students were promoted with over 100 absences a year; the principal, rather than a teacher, granted class credits needed for graduation; and credit was awarded for classes the school does not even offer.
The school’s former Advanced Placement calculus teacher said he was pressured to pass students who didn’t deserve it.
Last year, every student passed the class even though each received a 1 — the lowest score — on the Advanced Placement test, in part because they had not taken precalculus, he said. Only one had passed the Math B Regents, a minimal standard.
Even some students complained to the Times about the no-failure policy.
Some said that it sometimes hurt their motivation to know that a classmate would pass even if he did not come to class. One said that his current average was a 30 — but that he could bring it up to a 95 with a few days of work — and that teachers sometimes handed out examples of student work that he copied from.
“You would have to be an epic failure to fail at this school,” said Deja Sawyers, a 10th grader. When students do not do their work, “there’s no consequences,” she said, adding that she did not get homework.
Another student, Luisa Cruz, said, “Everybody always passes; it’s really rare to fail.”
“It makes no sense,” she said. “You’ve got to learn from your mistakes.”
The college acceptance rate for graduates is 100 percent, but students’ SAT scores are low and many end up in remedial classes in college.
College acceptance is meaningless: It includes students who go to open-admissions or not-very-selective colleges, take a few remedial classes and drop out.  Sending graduates to college to retake eighth-grade English and math is nothing to brag about.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Future of School Boards

From Education Week:


The Future of School Boards


—Susan Sanford
Local control of schools implies to many Americans the existence of a small group from the community to oversee elementary and secondary education in order to safeguard and promote the well-being of students. This vision of the school board is synonymous with democracy in the minds of people. Yet, the arrangement does not always optimize learning outcomes and put youngsters on track for fulfilling and productive lives, stirring up questions about whether there are more effective ways to govern schools.
In part, the issue revolves around who sits on school boards and how they attain those positions. There are few tests for service other than the usual requirements that one reside in the district and be a citizen. Members may have doctoral degrees or may not even have completed high school. They may possess detailed knowledge of education or know little more than what they gleaned during their own school days. More than 90 percent Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader gain their positions through school board elections, and fewer than 10 percent are appointed.
The problem—whether elected or appointed—is how to get the most qualified individuals on these boards, where members (usually unpaid) may encounter contention, hard work, and few psychic rewards. Educational quality may be at stake when school board candidates care about only a single issue or have no motivation but to restrain spending. In years past, school boards frequently attracted leading citizens who accepted positions with a sense of noblesse oblige, viewing their service as part of what they owed others. There was more than a hint of elitism to their board membership, and white males...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rock Hill School District On Facebook

I have been pushing for the Rock Hill School District to start communicating more on the social networks. This has been a long, slow process, but the district started using facebook in January, and, I must say, is doing a pretty good job. Now that parents no long subscribe to the newspaper, we must use every means available - right now, facebook seems to be the media a lot of parents are using.

While the main purpose is to communicate with parents and the public, it can also be a communication tool for staff and teachers. However, I have heard comments  that they don't want to connect with the district on facebook because this would give the district the ability to "spy" on them online. Well, I don't know if this is possible, but at the least, they are giving the district too much credit. But this does bring up a very good point.

Teachers and staff need two facebook accounts and two email accounts - one for school issues and one for personal use. They have the ability to take the issue of spying away - and should.  You should do this today. Why? Because you are missing out on an opportunity to improve communications.
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The February American School Board Journal has the following Social Media Guidelines: (From the Social Media Guidelines Wiki, there is a lot more good information for parents and students there as well)
  • Employees should be mindful of the information they post. Online behavior should reflect the same standards as those used for face-to-face communications. Deleted information may be stored and retrieved indefinitely, while information marked "private" rarely is, and may be forwarded easily, even by someone you trust.
  • Ensure that contend reflects and is consistent with the work you do for your district. Once you identify yourself as a school or district employee, or former employee, you are automatically connected with colleagues nationwide.
  • Don't use e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, or social networking sites to discuss non-school-related issues with students. Homework, class activities, athletics, extracurricular activities, parent nights, choral concerts, and other school activities represent appropriate topics of discussion. Keep relationships with students professional at all times.
  • Respect student and employee privacy rights and laws. Do not comment on students or confidential student matters on social networks; do not violate you co-workers' privacy, either. Professionals have tough conversations face to face and in the appropriate settings.
  • View online content, including social media, as an extension of your physical classroom or building. If it's not appropriate in the classroom or out in the open at school, it's not appropriate online, either.
  • Search your name online and monitor what others are saying and posting about you. Even your friends and family can post and tag (i.e., identify you by name) photos you would never consider making public. If that happens, either ask the person to remove the offending photo or make it clear that you don't support its publication. Google Alerts is a good way to keep track of people posting about you. Every public school employee should have Google alerts set up for every variation of their name.
  • Identify yourself as a school employee, and don't post comments anonymously or try to hid your role. Fact-check information for accuracy before posting or sending it to another person.
  • Share ideas in a respectful manner, and don't slam others online. Share expertise, and write in a conversational style that sounds as if you and another friend are chatting at the dinner table.
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A discussion from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Texting, 'friending' a morass for educators
Social network bans, guidelines examined
Sunday, January 16, 2011
When Sidney Alvarez became Avonworth public relations director, he thought a Facebook page might be a simple way to spread the word about goings-on in the school district.
But as Mr. Alvarez and school employees nationwide have discovered, when it comes to students and social media, nothing is simple.
The school now has a robust Facebook presence, with updates every few hours that reach more than 700 students, parents and community members. But Mr. Alvarez and the Avonworth administration have had to make countless ethical and policy decisions balancing the ease of communication versus student safety and decorum. Should comments be allowed? What about student photos? Should the district allow its logo to be used on parent-created fan pages for sports teams?
"It's such a new medium that people are exploring," said Mr. Alvarez, who came to the district two years ago. "You just have to proceed cautiously."
Across the country, governments and school districts are struggling to keep up with the furious growth of social media -- and its grip on how young people communicate.
Last week, the Virginia Board of Education was scheduled to vote on a policy that would ban all texting, social networking and online gaming between teachers and students. Voting on the policy, which was intended to prevent sexual misconduct, was postponed until next month to allow for more public comment.
The state of Louisiana in 2009 passed a law requiring school districts to document every instance of electronic communication between teachers and students on a "non-school-issued device, such as a cellphone or e-mail account."
Large school systems, such as the Lee County public schools in Florida and the Granite School District in Utah, have also banned teachers and students from becoming "friends" on Facebook.
While the North Allegheny School District did not go that far, it issued a policy in September urging its staff members with a social media presence to "be sensitive to the fact that they are viewed by the public as role models." Other local school systems, such as Avonworth and the Propel charter schools, are currently crafting formal social media policies.
In Avonworth, anyone who is a fan of the school district on Facebook could find out on Thursday about a fundraiser at Max and Erma's to raise money for the Key Club, or that two girls' volleyball players made the all-WPIAL team. But student groups do not use Facebook to organize meetings there, said Mr. Alvarez, as they do in many other districts.
And while the district hasn't decided yet on whether to allow teachers and students to be Facebook friends, it does strictly prohibit texting between teachers and students on non-school district-issued cellphones.
"It's for the protection of the teacher as well as the student," he said.
The problem, to some extent, is that social media breaks down the walls between what was a previously clear distinction between "on-campus" and "off-campus" activities, said Montana Miller, an associate professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and an expert in social media and Internet ethics.
To Dr. Miller, there is no situation in which students under 18 should be Facebook friends with their teachers.
"The student may not realize that by friending their teacher, they are revealing details about their home life that the teacher may feel compelled to judge," she said. "The teacher is in an impossible position once they have access to that kind of private activity."
Even among her college students, Dr. Miller has been put in uncomfortable positions. She tells her students that while she prefers to keep her student interactions off Facebook and she never "friends" any of her students, she will accept friend requests from them. She then gives a lecture about the hazards of using Facebook.
Despite those warnings, she regularly finds herself in "tricky dilemmas" about what she sees on Facebook. "I've seen posts from students that make me wonder about their mental health, that they'll do something self-destructive, or wonder if it is my duty to contact them."



There are also, of course, hazards for teachers. No one knows this more than Ginger D'Amico, a Spanish teacher in the Brownsville Area School District, who was suspended last year after she was "tagged" in a photo on Facebook of her with a male stripper at a bachelorette party.
With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Ms. D'Amico sued the district and was reinstated with back pay and a clean record.
As Facebook grows in popularity, there are relationships of all sorts that lead to awkward power imbalances: bosses and employees, doctor and patients, priests and parishioners. But with minor students and their teachers, Dr. Miller sees particular problems.
A teacher who can no longer judge a student fairly after seeing profane comments, for example, or a student who complains bitterly about the unfairness of a test.
"The problem is that it shatters this boundary that has to be there when a minor is in the position of being powerless under this teacher who can really affect their entire lives," she said.
Where Ms. Miller sees the problems inherent in social media, Frank LoMonte sees possibilities.
Mr. LoMonte is the executive director of the Student Press Law Center, a group headquartered in Springfield, Va., that assists student journalists with free speech and open government legal questions. He became involved in the issue of texting and social media when a journalism teacher contacted his organization over concerns about how the proposed Virginia policy would affect journalism instruction.
For many high school students, social media and texting are so ingrained into the school day that banning them would do more harm than good, he said.
The most sophisticated student newspapers that his organization works with already recruit writers and editors via Facebook and update their stories using Facebook and Twitter.
"In terms of teaching journalism," said Mr. LoMonte, "all experts will say that journalism and social media are merging and that to get a complete education, students need to learn Twitter and the tools of social media. We don't want to handcuff teachers by making them fearful that a Twitter or Facebook message to the staff of the yearbook will get them dragged in front of a disciplinary committee."
And from a purely logistical standpoint, said Mr. LoMonte, texting can actually improve student safety. He speaks at numerous conferences, he said, and regularly sees students and teachers texting to track each other down.
The proposed Virginia policy does allow for texting as an emergency communication but requires that such contact be reported in writing the next day.
For Mr. Alvarez in Avonworth, safety is his primary concern. On the school district's Facebook page, he never posts photos of individual students -- only groups. He doesn't identify students by name, and removes the name labels if students tag themselves.
He's asked that fan pages run by parents adhere to the same guidelines, though he can't actually control what others post on the Internet.
"There are no marketing dollars for schools anymore, so this is a wonderful way to communicate," he said. "We just advocate using caution."
Anya Sostek: asostek@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1308.


First published on January 16, 2011 at 12:00 am


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11016/1118411-298.stm#ixzz1BPWle1DA

The Rush To Charter Schools

From the Journal Gazette: (Fort Wayne Indiana) - sound similar to SC?

Policing the rush to charter schools

Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.


– Indiana Constitution

For perspective on Gov. Mitch Daniels’ education policy, consider the ramifications if a similar policy applied to Indiana’s city police departments.

After all, the police departments clearly are failing. Each week, dozens of crimes occur in our city, and many of them go unsolved. As Hoosiers, we cannot allow this record of failure to continue. Remember when we were kids? We could walk to the park without our parents. We could leave our doors unlocked. Clearly, the police departments have gotten worse and worse.

What we need is to give police departments competition and to give citizens choices.

Indiana should empower a university with a criminal justice program – say, Indiana Tech – to authorize charter police departments. Citizens could choose to have the charter department, not city police, patrol by their homes and answer their calls for help.

But that’s not enough. Rich people can hire security guards. Why shouldn’t all Hoosiers have the same access to safety? Let’s give every Hoosier who wants one a voucher financed with our tax dollars to purchase their own security if they choose.

Of course, there will be no tax increase to finance these additional police forces, so money will have to come out of the city police department budget. Because the vast majority of that budget goes to salaries and wages, that will mean eliminating positions on the city police department. Liberals may argue that fewer police officers will make city police even worse. But all the city police need to do is look for efficiencies.

One way to hold the line on the city police budget is by stopping the huge pay increases officers receive every year – 1 percent in 2011 alone. Police officers should be paid based on their success – the crime rates in the neighborhoods they patrol, for example. Higher pay where crime rates are low, lower pay where they are worse.

If that were the state’s approach to police departments, Hoosiers would quickly see some of the faults.

For one, the historic increases in crime have much more to do with society than police departments. And in recent years, crime has not been increasing substantially. And most Hoosiers go through the day without being crime victims.

Hoosiers would surely see the unfairness of paying police officers who patrol the most dangerous, crime-ridden neighborhoods less than the officers who have the safest streets.

Daniels has long called for greater government efficiency, going as far as to advocate for school corporations to consolidate.

Where is the logic in spreading limited state money to more and more schools, each with its own principal, its own bureaucracy?

There is a fundamental unfairness in this comparison, however. Nearly all of our elected leaders consider running police departments a clear function of government. Practically anyone, it seems, can start a school.

Yet, Indiana’s constitution makes no requirement that cities have police departments – or fire departments or street departments or zoning departments. The state’s constitution makes clear, though, that it is a fundamental obligation of Indiana to provide an education through a system of public schools.

Why would elected Indiana leaders want the state to transfer resources from the public schools, for which they have a constitutional obligation, to private schools for which Indiana has no obligation?

Perhaps our state leaders should focus on better meeting their constitutional mandate to provide education through a system of common schools rather than to encourage parents not to send their children to those very schools.

January Rock Hill School Board Meeting - All About Recognition


Meeting of the Board of Trustees
Monday, January 24, 2011
6:00 p.m. – District Office Board Room

A G E N D A

I. Call to Order
Approval of Agenda
(Under consent agenda, all action items will be voted on after one motion and second to approve them without discussion. If a board member wants any action item discussed or voted on separately, the board member, before the agenda is approved, must ask that the action item be moved to the discussion item section.)

II. Special Business
    1. Recognition of “Distinguished Climbers”
    2. Recognition of NHS Varsity Football Team & Justin Worley
    3. Recognition of SPHS Varsity Football Team & Jadeveon Clowney
D. Recognition of RHHS Volleyball Team & Karis Watson
E. Recognition of Ebinport Elementary, Energy Star School
F. Recognition of the School Board

  1. Citizen Participation
IV. Consent Action Agenda
A. Approval of Minutes
1. November 22, 2010 business meeting
2. December 13, 2010 work session
3. December 16, 2010 called work session
4. January 17, 2011 work session
B. Approval of Personnel Recommendations
C. Approval of Field Study Requests (4)
V. Communications
VI. Report of the Superintendent
A. Announcements
B. Rebound, Renaissance – Updates and Interventions
C. Elementary Math Guide
D. Revenue Report

VII. Review of Work Session(s)
VIII. Action Agenda
  1. Approval of Energy Conservation Management Program
  2. Approval of Use of Facilities Request – Impact Church
  3. Key Leaders Conference
  4. Additional Snow Makeup Days for 2010-2011
IX. Other Business    

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Student Voice

From A Principal's Reflections blog are some comments from a Skype conference that was conducted between a school in Ohio and New Jersey. They challenged the students to openly discuss and develop strategies that addressed increasing academic rigor/accountability and improving learning environments:

  • Having a passionate teacher who makes the course challenging from beginning to end is essential. We want higher expectations set.
  • Relationships between teacher and student are key.
  • Instruction caters to all types of learners.
  • Homework needs to be meaningful, regularly assessed, and directly linked to class content. Too many teachers give homework that is not relevant to the lesson and does not tie in at all.
  • We learn more through interactive projects and our own successes/failures than through traditional means of assessment (i.e. note-taking, quizzes, tests, etc.).
  • The learning process is a partnership between teacher and student. The students want and need a voice in how they learn and how they demonstrate their learning. 
  • An interesting sidebar that came out of this was how the teachers dress impacts how seriously students take them.
  • Students have to see a purpose to using technology tools in the classroom. They want to create content using technology.
The student-driven conversation left Dwight and I inspired to continually seek out the student voice in an effort to transform the teaching and learning cultures of our schools. As we learned, students want to be challenged, have high expectations set, and be provided with meaningful learning opportunities.

Do the students in your school have a voice? Are their ideas respected and acted upon?

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A short video from the Starkville Mississippi School District:

Quote From Dr. Seuss

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
Dr. Seuss

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