Monday, August 10, 2009

Well, how did the 'first day' back go?


It's just unbelievable that it's back to school time already. I was so enjoying the easy-going traffic. Let us know your "first day back" stories -- how was it letting your kindergartner go off for the first time? Your new to middle or high-schooler? What kinds of welcoming tactics did your teachers and schools employ? What did your child have to say when they arrived home? How was lunch? And how did the buses do? We'd love to hear your stories!

215 comments:

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Ken Thompson said...

Certainly my perspective is different. I didn't sacrifice my child's education at the altar of public schools. I just pay my taxes, my wife owns a company that pays taxes, I read the paper, I check out the DCSS web site, I work with some of these brilliant minds cultivated by self sacrificing underpaid education professionals and I've even had to teach a few in college. So you're right--I'm not in "our" schools--I just pay for them in every way imaginable except the aforementioned one.

As for objective measures, gee, I dunno, how about nationally normed tests where Georgia ranks pretty much on bottom. Consider that doesn't include the dropouts and that Georgia has one of the highest dropout rates (see today's AJC). Look at the published stats regarding teachers 'out of area'.

You can cherry-pick your teacher-proof students as if they are exemplars. You can point to a rare (and that does make it outstanding) achievement and bless the system with it. You can attest that "The best elementary school in the state, one of the best in the country, is just across the county line" (oops, across the line). Or you can toe the party line and just acknowledge that the best school in America is the one your child attends.

So yes, my "rationale" is detached. But it isn't based on a need for feel-good characterizations, but on objective measurements. Dollars. FTE. Graduation rates. Nationally normed tests. Real...objective...performance.

My opinion is that despite all the, to be kind here, venting on this blog, most people, most voters, are pretty happy with what they get from the public school system.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom -

So the frustrated teacher is supposed to just keep internalizing? Perhaps it was an extreme way to vent, but the teachers have put up with rising insurance, stagnant salary structure, bad physical working conditions and limited power to control their classrooms.

Now they are asked to deal with a faulty computer system. Most of us have had to do that from time to time, but have we also bee asked to simultaneously teach a class full of kids?

I don't blame the anonymous teacher.

Cerebration said...

I understood from the teachers letter that the deadline for submitting the attendance data was immovable, regardless of the fact that the computer system made it nearly impossible. She had to put her students aside and mess with a bungled computer system until she got her data submitted so that it would make it look like the new system is flawless - therefore making the administration look good. (No one would ever know that it took several tries over the course of many hours.)

Cerebration said...

I think Anonymous and Ken are talking apples and oranges. Ken is writing about the school systems and education in Georgia overall and Anon is picking and choosing good examples of quality schools and students.

I think the main problem in our state and our county is that our bell curve is the opposite of most. By that I mean, we have a large number of students doing very, very poorly on tests (scoring in the 30s and 40s) and a large number of students scoring very well (85 and up). The "average" of these scores represents almost no one. Whereas in most states, the average represents what most students actually score (is that the mean?)

So - see - you're both right!

Dunwoody Mom said...

I don't blame the anonymous teacher

I do. This teacher handled this situation poorly. Yes, the teacher was frustrated - we all get frustrated with our jobs. But, there is a proper way to handle that frustration. Sending out such an email as this was not the proper manner in which to ease the teacher's frustrations. I would have to question this teacher's professionalism.

Cerebration said...

To clarify about the teacher -- she sent the email to us - at the blog - as a generic political statement - she didn't actually send it home to her students. (Big point I neglected to clarify... sorry.)

Dekalbparent said...

@Dunwoody Mom

I had ASSUMED the email was sent to the blog, hence my defending the teacher. I agree that sending it to parents / students would have been tacky (although I can still understand the frustration).

My hope for this blog is that it can do what DeKalb Officers Speak (http://dekalbofficersspeak.blogspot.com) does: give those in the system a safe place to say what they think needs saying - good or bad.

Anonymous said...

I am the person that sent it to Cere... Not to any of my students. I was at school last night until 9:45 trying to get my attendance posted so that I would not miss the deadline. Well I did... Yes, I did have a nice letter of reprimand in my box this morning. Apparently there are "dummy" classes on eSIS that some teacher knew about but some did not. I posted my attendance on the "dummy" classes by accident. I did my attendance after school hours for 5 hours yesterday and will have another 5 in front of me so that I can post to the right class.

I am tired of spending money for babysitters day after day for something that I could have done at home if they would have kept SmartWeb and worked the kinks out of eSIS first.

I was frustrated. I know that many of you get frustrated too. We all have to blow off steam.

Oh by the way... The API from my school finally got fed up because the hotline would not return calls. So the API went drove over the William Bryant and found out they the hotline is no longer taking calls because there are too many to handle. The API had to go to 5 different people over there yesterday and no one knew the answer to the API's question.

Ken Thompson said...

Dekalbparent said...

give those in the system a safe place to say what they think needs saying [emphasis mine]

Indeed.

And what does this say about the system when so many posters on this blog must hide their identity? And what about those times when they cannot hide their identity, are they saying what needs saying, or what they know advances the system?

Something to consider at your next parent-teacher conference.

Anonymous said...

Another ridiculous Ken Thompson comment. There's not one school system administration in the country, private or public, that wouldn't negatively react to a teacher/staff member/principal posting any comment that could be construed even a tiny bit caustic.

I'm all for teachers and parents posting anonymously. I have to because of my job. If you want teachers and parents to post, they need to be able to do so withour fear of retribution, minor or major.

Cerebration said...

Ken's comment went blazing right over my head - but skipping on --

There are major issues with this new software - and the attendance issue seems to be at the center. Teachers can't input attendance data - due to glitches - and then all other data gets screwed up because guess what the computer uses to make all other decisions -- attendance data!

So it's compromising scheduling, the ability to open new classes due to over-crowding, the ability to order books and supplies - yada yada -- not much teaching getting done.

Add to that a bomb threat already at Lakeside today - Has anyone done any school work yet?

Anonymous said...

The software is a huge problem and goes beyond attendance. Our HS apparently relied upon the data that the program spit out to determine how many of each course should be in the master schedule and how many textbooks were needed. WRONG.

Now many courses are overcrowded and some subjects do not have sufficient textbooks. The school year has started and the HS does not have enough teachers for some courses, so I guess we will eventually get a leftover reassigned from another school. Some of these are very specialized courses so I am concerned about finding qualified teachers.

More important, to move 20 students from various math classes to a newly established math class, wil ultimately end up juggling many more than 20 schedules and will take forever. These are AP courses and missing even a few days can have a horrible impact on the students.

Ken Thompson said...

Aiming a bit lower...

Someone hiding behind Anonymity typed: "If you want teachers and parents to post, they need to be able to do so withour fear of retribution, minor or major." Minor, major? You mean like ad hominem attacks.

Cerebration,
When one encounters a system where the truth is situational -- IE when the so-called truth is only available behind a cloak of anonymity and when these anonymous voices are only venting what kind of system does that describe? A healthy one? Sorry, not in my world.

When a parent interacts with someone who can or will only be honest under a cloak of anonymity, then that parent should realize what they are dealing with--in terms of character and integrity. There may be systemic component, but parents often deal with individuals who are the face of that system.

But lets get back on topic.

No Duh said...

The Superintendent's first day of school looked fun. Check his "tour" of schools on the first day (home page of DCSS site). Dunwoody Elem., Arabia Mountain, DESA, Jolly Elem.

I was truly stunned by the number of white students pictured at Arabia Mountain. Equity at its best. Way to go DCSS (I mean Southeast DCSS)!

Random: Those Purell dispensers were all empty be the end of the first day...no refills supplied.

Dekalbparent said...

As far as I know, there are NO Purell dispensers at DHHS... Has anyone else asked their students if they have them?

Kristina Torres reported in today's AJC that every DeKalb School has them.

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