GCS Friday Spin for 8/31/07

Click here for the weekly Friday Spin from GCS.

E.C. 🙂

Board makes the right call…for now

The GCS board made the right call last night not to restrict access to community groups using GCS facilities and to seek additional public comment on this and the distribution of literature by outside groups to students.

Not to worry, Board, this campaign will make a statement shortly.

 Darlene Garrett, once again, had it right on target, this via today’s High Point Enterprise:

“I think the public schools are just that, they are public … taxpayers pay for them and they have the right to use them,” board member Dar­lene Garrett said. “There is this feeling that they (schools) are not owned by the public … I have a problem with that.”
Community members had worried the proposed policy would close school doors to certain organizations.

Here’s the link to the companion story in the News & Record.

E.C. 🙂

Real Thoughts about the ’08 Bonds

Something struck me as I was rereading GCS BOE Chairman Alan Duncan’s comments in today’s N&R:

Three things are essential for improving local schools, Duncan said: adult involvement, full funding from Guilford County, and voter support for next year’s school bonds.

With all due respect, Chairman Duncan, give us, the taxpayers, some reasons why we should support the bonds next year.

I’m about “keeping it real.” And here’s another example…no one is talking about what will happen if the bonds don’t pass.

As you know, I’m not a big fan of the bonds, and I’m not a big fan of this bond package at all. I think it was a terrible thing to put Eastern Guilford H.S. on next year’s bond package. I firmly believe this school system, the state’s third largest, has money to fund the construction of EGHS. But money in this system is constantly squandered…where is the money going?

If I say no to next year’s bonds, it is NOT a vote against EGHS, it is NOT a vote against education, it is a vote for change, and it is fundamental change that we desperately need down on Eugene Street. It will be a vote AGAINST the status quo.

I firmly believe the funding formula needs to be changed, both local and state. It is becoming really silly that the annual budget debate between the school board and the county board escalates into an annual brouhaha and it involves name-calling and other useless diatribes that do absolutely nothing to advance education in Guilford County. This county, quickly, is becoming the laughing-stock of the state. That’s not good.

Sure we have schools who have many students taking AP classes, but what are they scoring on those exams? Are they going to college? Our SAT scores are laughable. We have many schools that made AYP, but many more that didn’t. We have schools that made state benchmarks, but many more that didn’t. And we have board members that feel they need to spend more time debating the schoolwide distribution of literature and taking our scouts out of our schools than debating how do we get more of our kids to read, write, do basic algebra, pass a state exam and graduate.

Chairman Duncan, convince me that this bond package is worth my vote. Because my name will be on the same ballot next May as this bond. And hopefully, many other names will be on the May ballot who are also convinced that it is time for a change in Board leadership. Because right now, I’m just unconvinced.

E.C. 🙂

Grier wants better SAT preparation: N&R

Reactive. The opposite of proactive.

That can characterize Terry Grier’s response following news that GCS’ SAT scores fell miserably. Furthermore, he tells the News & Record this morning that he will meet with school brass today to figure out what to do.

An excerpt:

Grier will likely talk with his staff about offering online tutorials or a districtwide preparation course for high school juniors, he said.

Guilford students scored an average 985 on the math and reading portions of the test, a 9-point drop from last year. Eleven high schools saw their combined scores drop, including Grimsley, High Point Central, Northeast and Northwest high schools. Eight saw them rise, including Dudley, Middle College at N.C. A&T and Ragsdale.

I have a friend, who’s a supporter of this campaign, a regular reader of this Blog, and a newly-retired GCS teacher. This teacher taught an “SAT Prep” class at a high-impact high school here in Guilford County. She was a good teacher. They also had access to the software (correction…that is, when the software worked, or when she could get the class into the computer lab or when the lab had working computers)…see where I’m going with this, folks?

Enough with the spin…again, we have to ask ourselves the prevailing question: what is GCS going to do about it?

E.C. 🙂

Schools are improving, says Board Chair: N&R

At a dog-and-pony-show yesterday…excuse me, a “State of the Community” luncheon  sponsored by the Greensboro Partnership, GCS Board chairman Alan Duncan said our schools were improving…

…but…

…according to today’s News & Record: “Three things are essential for improving local schools…adults should get involved; demand that the Guilford County commissioners fully fund the needs of schools; and voters should support next year’s school bonds.”

But Guilford County Commissioner and Chairman Paul Gibson was also at the luncheon to keep Duncan in line:

As if to answer Duncan’s plea, Paul Gibson, chairman of the commissioners, said the board has committed to rebuilding Eastern Guilford High School, which was destroyed by fire in 2006, and will give more money for schools as it can. But, “there are tough choices ahead,” Gibson said.

Like Board member Darlene Garrett told the Rhino Times recently, she longs for the day when the school board and the county board can see eye to eye and work in harmony, like they do in Forsyth County. Darlene, I agree with you 1,000%.

Quick, someone start singing “Kumbaya…”

E.C. 🙂

So how are those uniforms working out?

Today’s High Point Enterprise inks a story on how schools are enforcing standard mode of dress (SMOD) at select High Point schools and what the reception has been like among some schools.

An excerpt:

Schools that moved to stricter dress guidelines this year reported minor infractions during the first day of the new change.
High Point Central Principal Revonda Johnson said about 20 students were not in compliance with the dress code on the first day of school on Tuesday. Violators were either given appropriate clothing available on the school site or asked to contact parents to bring in the correct items.
Johnson said administrators aren’t giving students any leeway the first few days of school.
“We’ve been talking about (dress codes) since last year, and our expecta­tion is that they come to school dressed in SMOD,” Johnson said.

E.C. 🙂

Mission (im)Possible Makes NY Times

Overlooked a couple of days ago was this story from the New York Times.

The story features testimonials from a newly-hired Oak Hill Elementary School teacher who migrated here from Indiana because of GCS’ Mission (im)Possible bonuses. A newly-hired teacher who came from Philadelphia to teach at Dudley H.S. is also featured.

See this excerpt:

Here in Guilford County, N.C., turnover had become so severe in some high-poverty schools that principals were hiring new teachers for nearly every class, every term. To staff its neediest schools before classes start on Aug. 28, recruiters have been advertising nationwide, organizing teacher fairs and offering one of the nation’s largest recruitment bonuses, $10,000 to instructors who sign up to teach Algebra I.

“We had schools where we didn’t have a single certified math teacher,” said Terry Grier, the schools superintendent. “We needed an incentive, because we couldn’t convince teachers to go to these schools without one.”

Keep reading…

Rebecca Rheinheimer moved from Indiana this summer, attracted by a $2,500 bonus to teach at Oak Hill Elementary, where the teaching staff has been strengthened by the use of such bonuses. The school, in High Point, met its federal testing targets this spring for the first time in several years.

Margaret Eaddy-Busch, a veteran math teacher, moved from Philadelphia this summer to teach at Dudley High, which had become known as a hard-to-staff school. She will receive a $10,000 bonus for teaching Algebra I.

“If I survived in Philly for 10 years,” Ms. Eaddy-Busch said, “I’ll do just fine here.”

But it remains unclear whether the incentive program will retain good teachers as effectively as it attracts them.

“It’s challenging to teach in these high-needs schools,” said Mark Jewell, president of the local teachers union. “These new teachers will have a trial by fire, and then it’ll be a revolving door.”

GCS…striving, achieving, excelling.

E.C. 🙂