I'm increasingly confused about what "pro-business" really means. It appears to be about using tax money to fund private education, exempting certain special groups from assorted taxes that others must pay and more.
If the current news about Apple hiding its profits in offshore and tax shelters, pro-business seems to mean supporting loopholes that exempt successful businesses and business people from paying the same taxes we do, then using that extra money to take more jobs overseas because it's cheaper than hiring Americans.
I'm a third-generation small business owner, and I never saw those "pro-business" policies benefit my family or me to any great extent.posted @ Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 11:06
[quote][b]gman129[/b] - Brooks is a bonafide loyal obama supporter, just another one that has been caught. The walls of his majesty are crumbling around him caused by the Benghazi muslim terrorist, Hilliary's denial, IRS Scandal, and now the AP First Amendment Scandal. Stay tuned more are predicted to follow.[/quote]
This is awful, but I don't think it has anything to do with Obama or current issues. This happened before all that surfaced. Let's keep the issues separate. Just keeps the arguments cleaner.posted @ Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 20:47
@jrgarland: James, please see my column from Sunday http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2013-05-11/blackmon-citizen-input-helped... and my response to Curls. You may disagree with the way the board responds, but you can't say they ignore the input! A great deal of input from last year's sessions was incorporated into the annual plan and this year's budget.posted @ Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 15:19
[quote][b]Curls[/b] - The hearing are required by law. What is not required is that the school district pay any attention to the comments. Do not waste your time folks-- their minds are made up and your comments will not change anything.[/quote]
You are wrong on that one. In the course of last year's hearings, I invited and compiled four pages of suggestions for reducing costs, saving money and re-allocating human and fiscal resources. I gave the superintendent and board the list. Last week, I got a rough draft of the ways the district has incorporated those changes into both budgeting and allocation of resources.
I wrote my column about it on Sunday. http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2013-05-11/blackmon-citizen-input-helped....
The way the schedule works, most of last year's suggestions weren't incorporated until this year, but the changes have been significant, including the elimination of eight central office positions and additional workloads for those remaining there.
Curls, yours is just an excuse not to participate. When's the last time you called or emailed a school board member? attended a board meeting? a budget hearing?posted @ Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 15:17
James, what, specifically, do you want them to cut? And why? Just putting the numbers out there doesn't solve anything.
Sorry I'm late to the conversation, but I've been away with no Internet connection.posted @ Monday, May 13, 2013 - 18:12
Here is the link to the Nation's Report Card, the only national assessment of educational progress. It's been aroud for more than 30 years. You have to poke about a bit, but if you look at the summaries from 2008, 2004, 1999, etc. you'll see that our overall trends are not as horrid as some would claim.posted @ Sunday, May 5, 2013 - 11:52
[quote][b]Clipper[/b] - Myra, I agree with your premise, but "organizations funded by Rupert Murdoch and the Waltons"? Really? You say keep the politics out of it and then make a clearly biased play without elaboration[/quote]
Read up a bit and you'll see how the Walton Foundation, Gates Foundation and other big money folks are spending millions to push the "reform" agenda and their most requent solution to the "problems" is privitization.
Other than that, I'm not sure what you mean about a "clearly biased play without elaboration."posted @ Sunday, May 5, 2013 - 11:26
[quote][b]marshalld[/b] - Again, if you want education reform let teachers and parents design it. If you don't, buy into the flavor of the month and sell it to the public.[/quote]
And get the bi corporations and politicians out of the design, too!posted @ Sunday, May 5, 2013 - 11:23
[quote][b]The Eagle[/b] - And I guess professional educators and their academic theorists are to be given credit for the great curriculum of today and the now decades long poor outcomes in education? At least be fair in your criticism.
Ealge, I'm still not convinced that our education outcomes are all that poor.I believe the scores on the "Nationa's Report Card" tests have slowly trended up, not down. And today's fifth graders are studying algebra that most of us got in eighth or ninth grade. I'm trying to do some research on this now, but it looks to me like we keep raising the standards, then calling it "failing" when the kids continue to achieve at their previous levels. There is room for improvement, always, but I'm just not convinced things are as bad as some claim. If my research proves otherwise, I will admit it and write about it.posted @ Sunday, May 5, 2013 - 11:21
[quote][b]Judy Johnston[/b] - It is quite frustrating that this columnist and so many others are telling us how awful and out of control this testing is, but will not offer up advice other than putting pressure on legislators, whom Myra and others continually point out to be selfish and corrupt, so what't the point of trying to influence them?[/quote]
Parents and citizens have three ways they can influence or control what is happening in our schools: They can get involved at the school level--volunteerin, PTA/PTO and try to make things happen that support their ideas. They can vote for and lobby local school board members. The abysmal turnout at both the voting booth and at meetings is evidence that there isn't a lot of interest in that. Or, they can pressure legislators, who have a tremendous amount of control over money, policy, curriculum and educational policy.
A Fox News poll showed that almost half of all Georgians--48%--said they didn't know enough about what was going on in the legislative session to have an opinion one way or the other.
One other way is to do what I do: spend a lot of time in schools; talk with administrators, parents, teachers and board members; read research and news reports about what is happening in education; form educated opinions about it, then find ways to share those opinions and influence decision makers.
Anyone in this community is free to do everything I do and more. Jim might even publish a column and he certainly has done so in the past. It takes a lot of time and energy. I don't spend my time complaining and fussing about what other people do or don't do. I just do my thing, with passion and dedication.
Propose a solution to a problem. First, though, you have to research the existing policies and practices, check the legalities and ramifications, then make a proposal. Otherwise, you're only complaining.
Finally, I believe if you read my columns, you will see proposed solutions for all sorts of things: funding, teacher evaluation, school board work, etc. I don't mind the criticism--though the personal attacks are sometimes annoying--but don't jump on me if you haven't been paying attention to my work.posted @ Monday, April 22, 2013 - 19:57
[quote][b]Abbesays[/b] - Judy Johnston -
All the one-track brained Myra is capable of doing is negging everyone who might disagree with her, or even has a legitimate question or suggestion. Being a tool for the local school administration is good enough for her I would suppose. That seems to be her role in life.
I try hard to be respectful of everyone and welcome legitimate questions. While I am not the fount of all knowledge and information about things educational, I spend time in schools and a lot of time reading and researching issues. I reach my conculsions from that. And what I get is available to everyone, no inside track. Try Google.
Please, if you have alternative proposals, do the research and present the data that supports it. We can throw out ideas all day, but at some point there has to be a solid rationale behind anything that moves forward.
Bring it on!
[quote][b]Judy Johnston[/b] - I'd be grateful if you could inform me regarding the implications of a school system choosing not to administer the tests.[/quote]
I'd love to see a school system try it. Probably the first thing that would happen is they would pull state and federal funding, or at least part of it. Then, they could try to make a district repay money, like Race to the Top grants, for example, that they had accepted as a part of a package that included the tests.
I'm not opposed to testing per se, but to the high-pressure environment and the fact that test are the only allowable measure. I used an example a few months ago of a fifth grade standards that requires student to identify the parts of an electrical system. One kid tests poorly, but can build a circuit and explain how it works. Another can memorize the terms easily, but really doesn't get how it works. The one who can memorize the terms gets a great test score, the one who actually understands how it works gets marked "failure."
A good place to start with charter scchools is the Georgia Department of Education. Here's a link to the FAQ about charter schools. http://bit.ly/17TaIMM. There is a whole division there that focuses on nothing but charter schools and they will be happy to help any group interested in starting one.
There are a number of other options, like Montesorri, that are private. Anyone who wants to can start a school, but it is neither fast, efficient nor cheap, best I can tell.posted @ Monday, April 22, 2013 - 19:41
@Judy Johnston: Charters supported with state funds are not exempt from testing. Only private schools can avoid testing.posted @ Monday, April 22, 2013 - 10:47
Back in 2008, my son worked for a short time near Waco. My daughter-in-law, granddaughter and I enjoyed a nice day in West. Founded by Czechs, it still had a Czech bakery, sausage factory and restaurant. Folks had bumper stickers that said, "Dobre Den, Y'all." Dobre Den is Czech for "Good Day." This was right before we moved to Prague for a while, so I was particularly attuned to its "Czech-ness." The people were so pleasant and friendly. It's hard to imagine such a tiny town with such a huge explosion.
God belss them all!posted @ Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 17:19
To various folks:
What is magic about $80,000? Why do we need to know which individuals make that? Shouldn't we be more focused on job descriptions, services provided, etc.
Yes, I said last year that there was little fat in the central office budget to cut. I stand by that. This year's savings will be generated from reorganizing. I've talked with several central office folks who say they are barely able to keep up with their workload and are concerned about making mistakes because they have to move so fast to get it all done. That's not cutting fat.
If you've been in the district office lately, you know it is like a ghost town, with lots of empty offices.
I would also be interested in learning what "more effective managers" would do that isn't being done now. I see a lot of creativity, juggling and struggling to make things work.posted @ Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 19:46
[quote][b]jrgarland[/b] - This is an increase of $2,381,519, or a little more than 2%, over the FY 2013 budget of $117,979,316.[/quote]
And you will note that's just about the amount of the required increases over which the district has zero control.posted @ Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 12:44
[quote][b]Gavalues[/b] - I hopewe finally "right size" the Central Office rather than cutting classroom support.
I'm not sure what "right size" is--I think it means different things to different people. But many positions have been eliminated and those responsibilities spread over other departments. For example, risk management, formerly in human resources is now in finance. And this year's budget for central office staff is some $800,000 less than last year. And last year's was down because of other restructuring. Other positions have been eliminated through attrition.
Many of those positions are required by funding sources; others keep technology up and running throughout the district and are rarely in their offices. Working in the central office doesn't automatically mean one sits behind a desk there all day.
The central office payroll is such a tiny fraction of the entire picture that sometimes I think folks strain at the gnat and swallow the camel.
It's teachers and school operations that cost the big bucks.posted @ Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 12:41
[quote][b]scarborj[/b] - You neglected to say whether or not the local systems hold "exit" interviews [/quote]
I didn't know that was the question. I have only about 800 words for these columns! That would be an interesting question to ask and I'll put it in the hopper. I do know that sometimes, they just disappear and there is no opportunity for an exit interview.
According to the spreadsheets I got from the State DOE, there is a total number of those "finishing." However, the ones I cited are not counted as graduates. I got my percentages by dividing the "drop out" group, such as special ed, total, by the entire number in the class.
I don't think the problem is tracking the real dropouts, those who officially quit and stay in the community. A couple of years ago, the superintendent wrote letters to dropouts inviting them to come back to school, and some of them accepted his invitation.
The problem is with those who just quit coming, who transfer to another school--not necessarily in Clarke County--or to a private school. While it seems like a system could be created to track all students, it isn't really all that simple. And it doesn't work at all if every school doesn't enter the data. Private schools don't have to enter any data.
I admit it's a big mess, and have no intention of bragging on the system. What I'm trying to point out is that when we can't accurately quanitfy a problem, and proceed to devise "solutions" and ratings based on inaccurate information, the solutions and ratings are bound to be flawed themselves.
Folks who don't want to be tracked can, to at least some extent, avoid it.
The other question is whether we should invest in the tracking system or just invest in keeping kids in school in the first place, with tutoring, extra support, whatever it take. It seems to me the latter is a better use of scarce dollars.posted @ Sunday, April 7, 2013 - 20:03
[quote][b]scarborj[/b] - The question might be is "WHY" were these particular students not counted in the graduation rate?[/quote]
My understanding is that this is the system mandated by the Feds for Race to the Top; it is also designed so that all states are counting the same way. Last year, we were appalled to learn that what we had thought was about an 80% graduation rate, was really a 67% rate. The old way of counting wasn't perfect, but it was probably more accurate.
This kind of tracking requires very sophisticated data systems. While Georgia may (or may not) be able to track students within the state, I believe the data is not shared state-to-state. Nor do private schools participate in the count. So a kid who moves to private school for her last three years is still counted as a drop out.
Also, those who go to summer school to complete one course and graduate then are counted as dropouts.
The system is not good at coming up with systems. And the money it would take to develop a national network to accurately track all students would be phenomenally expensive and carries all sorts of risks of data breaches and privacy concerns.
It's a thorny problem, to be sure.posted @ Sunday, April 7, 2013 - 13:56
[quote][b]Curls[/b] - The fact that 33% of Georgia's students do not complete high school in four years [/quote]
You didn't read this, did you? Several thousand of them DO complete high school, but their diplomas don't count. Many are counted as dropouts because they aren't in the same school they started in.
And I would submit that someone who finished in five years may show more determination, depth of character and work ethic than those who do finish in four. It takes guts, especially for an 18 year-old, to stay on when all your peers have graduated.
Some folks, and apparently you are one of them, is determined to see failure in education even when the facts show otherwise.posted @ Sunday, April 7, 2013 - 11:57
[quote][b]monkey_of_shame[/b] - Suspension for poisoning their teacher? Don't they expel kids anymore? Or do they have to make a clay "gun" in art class for that? [/quote]
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to kick any kid completely out of school. They are required by law to attend and the public schools have to take them, in some form or fashion. Thus, the alternative school.posted @ Friday, March 29, 2013 - 20:20
For some reason, neither Ed's nor my column is showing up on the online opinion section. How did you find this? And if you're interested, here's mine: http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2013-03-23/blackmon-roguery-marks-closin...posted @ Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 11:46
Just so you all know, there is a restroom in the office at Timothy Road School. Folks can't get out of the office without a check-in and name tag. This guy never got beyond the front office, so please don't treat it as if he were roaming the halls. He wasn't.posted @ Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 17:18
@The Eagle: I love you, too, Eagle. I'm still trying to understand your viewpoint, though. You clearly don't understand mine. I'll continue to write about my viewpoint and hope that as time goes on, I can become a good enough writer that more people can understand what I'm saying.posted @ Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 16:28
[quote][b]Abbesays[/b] - I would love to see statistics on the number of welfare mothers who actually hold jobs. I would be willing to bet that middle-class moms work outside the home more than welfare recipients.[/quote]
Straight from the Georgia requirements for assistance: Work Requirement: All adult recipients have a work requirement, and are required to participate in work activities and training for at least 30 hours weekly. These work activities help recipients gain the experience needed to find a job and become self-sufficient.
And if you'd like to see the entire laundry list: http://1.usa.gov/YimYCk
The old "Welfare Queen" that Ronald Reagan railed against is no longer the norm. And hasn't been since welfare programs were revised under Clinton in the 1990s.posted @ Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 16:24
Want your business here? Contact Leslie Turner for more information.
Rep. Regina Quick, R-Athens, was one of two local delegates to score less than an "A+" in the Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative score card. She and I played phone tag Monday when I was reporting the story and I wasn't able to get her comments in a timely fashion. Instead, she sent over this statement Wednesday morning and she did not mince her words. (Links and italicized portions are my own; otherwise, it's as she wrote it.) Dear Friends: read more
The committee opted Tuesday night to put off deciding on the ordinance until, at the earliest, its next meeting. Of note: The Athens-Clarke County attorney highlighted that the proposed times are, in essence, placeholders for the commission to change or keep as it pleases. Full text of the Use of Public Right-of-Ways ordinance draft is below. read more