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Blackmon: Community must gain understanding of 'charter' concept for education

Opinion writing at its best--measured and informative.

posted @ Saturday, February 7, 2015 - 16:49

Galis: Debating education in a 'moneyball' world

[quote][b]bertisdowns[/b] - I do generally follow the grandmotherly admonition to "consider the source" when analyzing things I read--[/quote]

Thanks for this, Bertis. The grandmotherly admonition will be the subject of my next column. I think too many people spend too much time these days considering the sources instead of considering the actual arguments emanating from them. More to come about that.

posted @ Sunday, January 18, 2015 - 15:36

Galis: Debating education in a 'moneyball' world

@dahreese: The "anti-reformers" know who they are.

posted @ Sunday, January 18, 2015 - 14:02

Galis: Debating education in a 'moneyball' world

Here are some examples of moneyball-type measures that extract significant educational value from extremely modest resources. They have the additional advantage of bypassing the drearily repetitive arguments between the "reformers" and the "traditionalists."

posted @ Sunday, January 18, 2015 - 14:02

Galis: Debating education in a 'moneyball' world

@bertisdowns: One good link deserves another, Bertis. Here's one by yet another UGA professor to an article in which he goes further than I did. While I didn't advocate for anything but was just trying to see through the fog of war, Professor Smagorinsky actually advocates a moneyball approach in education as a way of capturing critical aspects of the process that are being missed by conventional assessments now in vogue. This, incidentally, is in line with the Pearson piece I recommended to you a few days ago, but which you blew off because it came from Pearson.

On your other point about the American Statistical Association numbers, I've seen that statistic about a bazillion times and always wonder why the "anti-reformers" (we really need better terminology for identifying the parties to this debate) think it helps their cause. They seem to want to have it both ways. On the one hand, they say that teachers are of such surpassing importance that we should just "trust them," give them more autonomy, treat them like professionals, etc., etc., etc. But at the same time, they say we shouldn't hold them responsible for what goes on in classrooms because they don't matter much. I've pretty much given up trying to get my head around that.

Forgot to include the link earlier. Sorry. Here it is:

posted @ Sunday, January 18, 2015 - 10:33

Blackmon: Georgia educational accountability measures are wasteful

Since I know some people don't get around to the paper until late in the day, I thought I'd fill out Myra's story with some more information that I'm sure she would have included if she had more time. Since I have nothing else to do, I'll try to help out.

First, I'm absolutely certain (because Myra denied it on Facebook and I believe her) that she didn't intend to encourage people to vandalize the surveys by signing onto them on line and answering the questions falsely.

Second, the three surveys she mentions are all voluntary--nobody is required to participate. The Georgia Student Health Survey takes about 20 minutes, the Georgia School Personnel Survey about 10-15 minutes and the Georgia Parent Survey about 5-10 minutes. The results of the student and parent survey won't be used unless there's a 75% participation rate. And the results of the personnel survey won't be used unless there's a 15% participation rate. So it doesn't look like these are immensely burdensome and the risk of outliers skewing the results is minimal.

Third, according to the State Board of Education web site, the purpose of the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System, whose administration sure looks troublesome, is "to provide educators with more meaningful feedback and support so they can achieve the goal of increasing academic learning and achievement for all students." The idea is to spell out a transparent set of specific behaviors and standards that teachers can shoot for and to provide the support they need to help them meet those standards. During the thirty-four years I spent on a college faculty, I wished every day that I'd had the benefit of a support scheme like this instead of being subject to the whims of whoever happened to be chairing my department at the time.

If the procedures for administering this scheme is pretty rocky at this point, that has to be in large part because Georgia is among the first to try something like this and doesn't have the experience of many other states to draw on. It's reasonable to think that as Georgia gains more experience with it, the administration of it will go more smoothly.

I'm sure Myra would want you to know all this. I hope it's helpful.

posted @ Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 20:01

Blackmon: Georgia educational accountability measures are wasteful

Myra, it doesn't look like the Georgia Student Health Survey is the creature of the state legislature. Here's an excerpt about it from the GA Board of Education web site: "The survey is offered at no cost and provides Georgia public school districts (and private schools that wish to participate) with a measurement system to satisfy all requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) which specifies that data must be collected for the following categories: incidence, prevalence, age of onset, perception of health risks, and perception of social disapproval of drug use and violence."

I haven't tried to track down the origin of the other surveys you talk about here.

posted @ Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 10:16

Galis: President's immigration decision doesn't have force of law

@autumnlark: "A grant of deferred action under the proposed programs would remain in effect for three years, subject to renewal, and could be terminated at any time at DHS's discretion." OLC memorandum, p. 2

posted @ Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 09:29

Blackmon: It's past time to stop high-stakes testing

Gates isn't even close to being the whole story of the "data-driven" approach to education. For more of the story, see chapter nine (Big Measurable Goals: A Data-Driven Vision for Millennial Teaching) of Dana Goldstein's The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession. Better yet, see the whole book.

posted @ Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 17:41

Classical Campus: Georgia Woodwind Quintet performs tonight

It would be helpful in items like this if we were told what pieces the ensemble is going to play.

posted @ Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 13:01

Three charged in home invasion armed robbery in south Athens

@OCCountry: Don't need a map. I live on Riverbend Parkway. I'm signed up for the ACCPD alert service that notifies residents of incidents near them. The only one I got was this one. No reference to anything happening on Riverbend Parkway.

September 21, 2014 1:21 PM
Riverbend Road at Milledge Ave will be closed for the next 30 minutes to an hour.
per Athens-Clarke County Police. Please use an alternate route. cleared this up. It shows an incident in the 300 block of Riverbend Parkway. That would be the first set of apartments heading south just off Riverbend Road.

posted @ Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 10:34

Three charged in home invasion armed robbery in south Athens

The ACCPD web site says that the traffic stop was at South Milledge and Riverbend Road, not Riverbend Parkway. That notice was issued at 1:21 PM. I'm betting that the crime also occurred on Riverbend Road, not Riverbend Parkway. Riverbend Parkway doesn't intersect with South Milledge so isn't "near" South Milledge in the sense clearly intended by the statement in the story.

posted @ Monday, September 22, 2014 - 17:12

What Others Say: Hobby Lobby ruling is First Amendment victory (The Augusta Chronicle)

@The Oracle of the Athens Banner Herald: I was thinking about writing something about this, but you may have saved me the trouble.

posted @ Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 10:51

Galis: Parsing another Jekyll Island 'mandate'

With very rare exceptions, my columns have benefitted from the editing they undergo before they run. This is one of the exceptions. The editing obscured my meaning at several points. Since I work hard to make my pieces clear to attentive readers, I'm going to do something I've never done before, which is unedit the editing this column was subjected to. James Garland, wherever he is, would understand.

The Senate committee mentioned in paragraph 3 was The Senate Coastal Tourism Study Committee, in case anybody wants to check up on me.

In paragraph 4, the reason the bill I mentioned died in committee was because, according to an eyewitness account, the chairman of the Jekyll Island Authority at the time didn't want the authority's enabling statute to be any more precise about the meaning of "self-supporting.'

In paragraph 5, the "authority report" mentioned is the authority's 2013 Progress Report, in case anybody wants to check up on me.

In paragraph 6, I was careful to make clear, as the edited version doesn't, that I was comparing apples to apples when talking about Days Inn rates. The $58 rate for the Brunswick Days Inn was the best available daily rate for the same weekend as the $175 rate I cited for the Jekyll oceanfront Days Inn. That is, I wasn't comparing a weekday rate with a weekend rate.

And paragraph 7 should begin with the following: "This is where I came in. Six years ago in my first amateur column on any subject, I said that the affordability and self-sufficiency 'mandates' are incompatible. In fact, the General Assembly knew that in 1950." Without this lead-in, I think it's less clear why I'm even talking about the authority's lease with the state.

I hope this helps make both my meaning and my sources clearer to readers, if any. I value my readers and try to respect them by being as clear about my meaning and as transparent about my sources as possible.

posted @ Saturday, June 21, 2014 - 19:04

Galis: No 'affordability' mandate for Jekyll

@Jekyll Friend: Ok, whatever.

posted @ Sunday, June 15, 2014 - 16:39

Galis: No 'affordability' mandate for Jekyll

@Jekyll Friend: These are all fair points, David. I'll get back to you on them.

I totally reject the Faux News "fair and balance" zinger, though. That's a slur.

posted @ Sunday, June 15, 2014 - 15:53

Galis: No 'affordability' mandate for Jekyll

@Emily: It's always an adventure, even for a lawyer which I'm not, to try to understand the Georgia Code. Sad to say, common sense is often not a reliable guide. That's why the state courts never lack for work to do. In this case, the title of 12-3-271 is "Utilization of income and revenues." It makes no reference to lodging rates, prices of restaurant meals or anything of that nature. It would help in understanding what the General Assembly's concern was here if you knew something about the history of the Authority's dodgy business practices at various points in its existence. A useful account is Chapter 7 in "Southern Journeys: Tourism, History & Culture in the Modern South," edited by Richard D. Starnes (University of Alabama Press, 2003).

And I totally agree with you that the Authority's mission isn't to provide a vacation "spot only for the well-heeled and conventioneers on expense accounts." I said in my last paragraph what I thought it's responsibility is. And it wasn't that.

posted @ Sunday, June 15, 2014 - 14:00

Galis: No 'affordability' mandate for Jekyll

@Theresa Matt: Ms. Matt, knowing you to be an ardent supporter of Jekyll Island, I'm disappointed that you're disappointed. I can say two things in my defense. First, when a reporter for a newspaper of the stature and influence of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution charges the members of a public authority with illegal conduct, it seems fair to ask what the basis for the charge is. The Code sections he cited don't come even close to making his case. Second, these things aren't mere "legalisms." A few years ago, as you recall as well as anyone, the Jekyll Island Authority was hiding behind the "self-sufficiency mandate" to justify ruinous development schemes that only public outrage and the Great Recession saved us from. As I pointed out at the time, and will again in a future column, there is no "self-sufficiency mandate." So it seems like a good idea for all interests to be up front about what what their views and initiatives rest on. Perhaps more important, it's important for the public to understand what they rest on.

I'm grateful to you for the reference to the bumper sticker because when I take this topic up again I believe I can explain the relevant history involved.

posted @ Sunday, June 15, 2014 - 12:54

Galis: Error in Prince Avenue column

@Athens Trojan: Obviously, you didn't bother to read the column.

posted @ Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 08:37

NeSmith: After serving University System, time to go fishing

What Jerry said.

posted @ Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 10:43

Developer plans $88M for new Jekyll Island hotels

Have you guys been to Jekyll Island recently? The hotels planned for this site will be replacing ones that used to be there but were demolished. The two mentioned, Courtyard and Springhill, are two of Marriott's mid-level brands. The Springhill brand is an all-suite hotel pitched to families. The Hampton Inn & Suites further down on South Beachview Drive, where I stayed for a few days last December for just over $100 a night, is the best Hampton I've ever stayed at. But right now, it's booked every weekend as far as the eye can see. Last time I checked, Hampton Inn wasn't a luxury brand. The three new hotels on the Trammell Crow parcel will help relieve pressure on other properties and on rates.

Meanwhile, the Governor has just signed into law two bills that limit future development on the island to 78 acres, only 20 acres of which would be for "new residential projects." Twelve acres would be used to expand the campground and the rest for public projects such as trails, roads and other infrastructure. Pierre Howard, one of Georgia's most prominent conservationists, hailed this law as a very positive development (all this reported by the Florida Times Union).

What's going on at Jekyll Island now is starkly different from the rapacious development schemes hatched in the waning days of the Perdue Administration for the benefit of the Reynolds gang, which has since crashed and burned. Sometimes deep recessions have a silver lining.

You guys are behind the curve on this one.

posted @ Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 10:58

The Editor's Desk: Will downtown plan simply gather dust?

@ponsoldt: The agenda setting meetings, as well as the regular voting meetings, are televised. They're also streamed for viewing on portable devices and desktop computers. The videos are also archived for anybody who misses the live broadcasts. See

posted @ Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 10:31

Galis: With gun bill, lawmakers shift tough issues to constituents

@Jerry NeSmith: The serious answer is that the bill the House passed and sent to the Senate provides for the first of the two scenarios you're wondering about.

posted @ Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 10:07

The Editor's Desk: Omphaloskepsis and 'the future of journalism'

@grove600:What can I say? I think we're on different planets here.

posted @ Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 16:23

The Editor's Desk: Omphaloskepsis and 'the future of journalism'

@Digdug: You must not have been here the time Snodgrass told me to leave the snark to the anonymous commenters, since they're much better at it. Just doing as I'm told.

posted @ Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 16:19

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