Hoggard has a plan for saving the arts/music–let’s test it

https://i2.wp.com/radio.weblogs.com/0128341/images/DAVID_CASUAL_1X2.JPG My friend in blog-ville, David Hoggard, has a unique plan for attempting to save arts/music in Guilford Co. Schools…let’s test the hell out of it.

Henceforth, his column in today’s News & Record:

Those who understand the adage “what gets measured, gets done” know instinctively why arts education is fast becoming a low priority in our public schools.

Our school board is in a head-to-head standoff with a group of people who understand and value the importance of providing all of our public school students with more and better arts education in Guilford County.

During meeting after meeting, local art advocates, loosely organized under the banner of Save GCS Arts, have filled the Board of Education’s “speakers from the floor” segments. Redundantly but importantly they are urging our elected representatives to, at a minimum, restore the amount of time and resources for arts instruction that was very quietly removed from our elementary and middle schools this academic year.

While it appears that a majority of our school board members are sympathetic, they insist they are just trying to do the best they can within the confines of budgetary and regulatory pressures. In other words, the money’s not there. But more to the point, all of those federally and state-mandated test scores must be considered, none of which tests students on eighth notes, complementary colors, pirouettes or their knowledge of how jazz originated.

The government doesn’t mandate tests that measure a student’s knowledge of the arts, so arts education is not getting done in the lower grades.

Our school board is quick to urge the throngs of art advocates to descend upon meetings of our county Board of Commissioners with their concerns. After all, they are the body holding the purse strings for funding such non-tested “frills” as arts education.

I agree that such a refocusing of efforts should occur. But over the long haul it won’t make much difference until North Carolina and the federal government decide that the thing to do is develop yet another test to make sure everyone is held accountable.

It is a sad state of affairs within public education when what we value is only that which can be regurgitated onto standardized tests, but that is where we are headed.

So it looks like the best long-term strategy to keep the arts in its rightful place in our schools is to test the hell out it.

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The image “https://i2.wp.com/wunc.org/programs/voices/special-put-to-the-test/put2testicon.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I feel confident that the arts/music cuts will be reversed, considering it WILL be a campaign issue in this year’s school board elections. But Hogg’s funny spin implies that if you can’t beat the pro-testing crowd at their own game, you might as well join them!

Heh…funny. You have to admit it’s a different spin.

Hogg’s companion blog posting on this found here. See this excerpt:

 …high-stakes, standardized testing is doing great harm to the quality of education in our public schools and I think the whole of NCLB and North Carolina’s ABC’s programs are in need of a complete overhaul.  I truly hate what these programs are doing to our schools in their present form. But, the reality of current testing-based trends in our schools is that we are moving toward teaching only that which can readily be measured by placing little black marks within the correct confines of little circles on slips of paper.  So, to save arts education in our elementary and middle schools we will probably have to destroy the very creativity that the arts should be fostering.

David, you couldn’t be more 100% correct.

E.C. 🙂

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Campaign bits: 1/16/08

1. A source close to the GCS Board informs this campaign that they have not heard whether incumbents in the key races will throw their names in the hat and run for reelection (Cooke, Childs, Kearns). This source also has not heard any rumblings as to if anyone else in Guilford County is publicly expressing desire to run for any of the seats. Again, this can only mean either pending announcements of reelection or retirement are imminent or there will be a flurry of announcements right at filing time…only three weeks away!

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The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:NM3R1kxxJaeNzM:http://www.high-point.net/council/images/MichaelDPugh.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. 2. I’m happy to announce that we just picked up the support of High Point City Councilman (ward 3) Mike Pugh. In a recent telephone conversation, Councilman Pugh expressed his desire to see change inside GCS and extended the offer to help in any way he could. I very much appreciate the show of support from the Councilman. It shows that this movement to put our children first has gained considerable grass-roots momentum, which will be the key to victory this year.

E.C. 🙂

Hebert to Huey: Bond is not Dead

Full coverage of the upcoming half-a-billion-dollar GCS bond referendum continues.

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/hebert.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. 1. GCS Board member Garth Hebert called me out…sort of. In response to my on-the-record stance on the bond, Garth said the other day on the News & Record Chalkboard blog:

“E.C. [the] Bond is not toast and is so badly needed that even a cynic like myself supported a bloated bond proposal. I could argue the inflation factor blue, but the underlying need is critical. Taxpayers can say no, but overcrowding is big issue to discipline as well. We do need some new blood on the Board- or at least different…”

Now make no mistake, I supported Garth a couple of years ago…quite frankly, his district could not stomach another year of Susie “do-nothing/no-clue/out of touch” Mendenhall. And he’s visibly taking the “gloves off” these days during these latest Board meetings.

However, unscientifically, I asked around to see whether various people are supporting the bond or not and if not, why not.

Reasons why not (in random order)?

A. Cuts in arts

B. Busing

C. Discipline problems/school safety

D. Lack of fiscal accountability

E. Deena Hayes

F. Front office too bloated

I do not know of one person supporting this bond. Not one.

We’ll have to agree to disagree…it is a bloated bond, Garth. It’s too much. It’s too much money and it’s too much pork. If it was less money combined with front office staff cuts/front office salary reductions, I would take a second look. If GCS knew how to respect the taxpayer’s checkbook, I would take a second look. But as is, I cannot support this thing.

And folks, a “no” vote does not mean you’re against new school construction! The GCS Spin Machine is already gearing up to paint no-vote advocates as being against school construction…far from being the case. We do need new facilities. And if we built schools more smartly and cheaply, I could support this thing. But we don’t…and I can’t.

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2. This all leads to the discussion over on Guarino’s blog site Tuesday. An excerpt from what he said yesterday:

…The County Board of Commissioners should not feel bound by the proposal that Guilford County Schools sent them. Each of the commissioners has a fiduciary responsibility to county taxpayers; and the fact is that tax dollars have been wasted mightily. And there will continue to be considerable waste unless there is a different approach taken on the board to demand accountability from the schools system. The commissioners need to be ready to ask for this, armed with comparative data from other districts.

The projects need to be whittled down from the standpoint of costs. The school system needs to notch down its expectations, and adjust its preconceptions regarding what is necessary in each project. It needs to break out of its tunnel vision regarding how to do them.

But it will not do so unless it is held accountable by the Board of County Commissioners.

Well-said, well spoken. And the only way to break out of this vicious cycle is to demand a fundamental change of the state funding formula in Raleigh. Our Guilford delegation needs to deal with this NOW!

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3. Additional background from Tuesday via the News & Record. Also, see the recent article in The Rhino. The County Commissioners will take this up at their Thursday meeting.

E.C. 🙂