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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Nov. 9 board mtg - did anyone go?
I couldn't get to the meeting yesterday, don't know if there was anything worth noting. Did anyone attend? Anything worth noting? was Pope on the agenda of the "called" meeting about personnel?
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Yes, an emergency policy came before the board to be voted on the first meeting in Dec. Jamie Wilson presented it. The school board is changing the policy which required that the school council interview principals in the process.
They are changing the policy after they did not follow it. I do not understand the emergency to change it now. The school officials ignored the policy to start with. Now it is an emergency to get the policy past by the beginning of December. Maybe a school does not like their principal and wants to get him or her removed because the school super did not follow procedure. WHO KNOWS?
Two parent representative sit on this school council. This is just another attempt to close us out so that they can stick in people that know someone. Good people who would make excellent Principals are shut out.
I am writing a letter of complaint to SACS.
DCSS approved Charters through the past few years that included language requiring the administration to include parent input in the principal selection process. However, Dr. Lewis has said that he does not want parent input (heard by parent representatives in various so-called stakeholder committees) and did everything possible to ignore parent input. Complaints registered with the Georgia Charter commission may be feeding this.
A change was made several years ago to Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 20-2-86 (t) related to school councils which added "...The role of the school council in the principal selection process shall be determined in policy written by the local board of education."
I have not seen the proposed DCSS policy change referenced by Anon 6:31 PM, but any policy should sit on the table for 30 days for public review and input prior to vote. It will be interesting to see if DCSS's amended/new school council policy is designed to add parental input, or to restrict it.
It's surely going to delete it. The DCSS was very heavy-handed during this go around regarding the clause on School Council/Executive Council input into principal selection.
From DCSS's on-line policy manual:
Board Policy Descriptor Code: BBFA
Local School Councils_______________________________________
Each school in the school system shall have a local school council meeting the requirements of state law and operating in an advisory capacity pursuant to appropriately adopted school council bylaws.
Whenever a vacancy occurs in the position of principal at a school, the superintendent shall seek input from the council as to the qualities and abilities that the new principal should possess and the leadership style that best meets the needs of the school. The input from the school council in any principal selection shall be advisory only.
A vacancy occurs in the position of principal when the position is to be filled from applications submitted to the district and not from reassignment of existing personnel.
So, parents you can provide input on attributes you'd like, but that's advisory only. You can't be part of the selection process. And though it may appear to you that your school has a principal slot "vacancy", that is not necessarily the case if there's someone in the district looking for a reassignment -- in which case your input is not required.
Come on BOE... What the heck are you thinking? Don't you represent us??
Problem is that Dr. Lewis confuses parent input with parents dictating a particular candidate. While parents have crossed that line on occasion, it's the exception, not the norm. DCSS administration is notoriously patronizing toward parents, and this is yet another example of "we value input from our stakeholders but we really don't want to hear from them."
We see this attitude filtered down through some of the schools. The DHS principal is a case in point. For example, he's already decided he wants to hold on to the four-class block schedule, but has been "encouraged" by the school council to allow parents to provide input - two days before student schedules are due for next year. He's had multiple parent surveys, parent meetings, parent emails, parent BEGGING - telling him over the past few years they HATE the block schedule, to no avail. (The new math just one semester a year? Fall AP class with a Spring AP test? As much as 12 months between math or science courses? A disaster.) Obviously, he doesn't plan to change his mind.
By the way, please, BOE, stop using the word stakeholders. It's trite, abused, and so meaningless in this school administration.
IT is all about the School Board and the School Administration. They really do not care about the other STAKEHOLDERS. The local school board members want to appoint the local principals so the local school board members do not want any interference from the school council members.
How ironic to plead for suggestions on how to save money - yet still advocate for the very expensive - and not more effective - block schedule. Incongruence.
The numbers are still out on whether block costs more. Now that the state has raised the graduation requirements to 24 you can best replace a block schedule with a 7 period day. Yes, I know that 4 times 6 is 24 but this does not help anyone who fails one or more courses or wants an extra elective. As they run the numbers the change from block may not save any money. Incidentally, one of the positives of block for some people is that it is safer-there are fewer hallway discipline issues in a 4 class schedule than a six or seven (fewer opportunities for trouble). Other than that there is no evdience that either the block or traditional schedule improves performance. For you Lewis haters-Crawford wants to scrap the block.
"For you Lewis haters-Crawford wants to scrap the block."
Anon 11:46, grow up please. No one on this blog is a "Lewis-hater". He has spent decades serving DeKalb schools. But he holds one of the two most important positions in a county of 740,000 people, and he is going to face scrutiny for his decision.
Many of his decisions over the past two years, such as the pat Pope investigation, the handling of the Jaheem Herrera suicide, multiple new administrative positions such as the Executive Director of Corporate Wellness, the promotions of directors to "executive directors", the large increase in non-classroom spending, the eSIS rollout, and arguably the decision of poorest judgement, the letter supporting the Atherton principal and vice-principal despite their actions of cheating on the CRCT test, are all worthy of public criticism.
It is very reasonable for parents and taxpayers to ask the Board of Education members for a change of leadership without them being called "Lewis-haters".
Anon - those are some troubling reasons to stick with the block. To allow time to make up for failures and to decrease discipline issues at class change. Yikes.
On the block, we pay for 32 credits (classrooms, teachers, books, etc) for each high school student. On the 7 period day, we pay for 28. Surely 32 credits per student costs way more than 28. Aren't we supposed to be trying to save some money?
"Surely 32 credits per student costs way more than 28. Aren't we supposed to be trying to save some money?"
You aren't paying for credits, you are paying for teachers. The number of teachers needed depends on the qualifications of the teachers, how many different courses they teach. It is possible to construct a scenario where the block schedule cost less.The administration is trying to find a scenario where going to a traditional schedule does not cost more.
The real issue is what is best for the students-not the cost. I would happily pay more taxes for a tradional 7 period schedule if it improved their learning.
I can't believe that it could cost less to provide 32 credits (the cost being the teacher, books, supplies, classroom space) - than 28. You have to bring that to us in real numbers, Anon. The block schedule actually makes students take 8 more credits than they need to graduate -- I'm not sure what the benefit is to some of these "extra" courses. I notice Dunwoody HS offers a whole 'lotta PE choices.
And yes, I agree - as long as the education of the children doesn't suffer. And the examples we have in DeKalb are Lakeside, Chamblee and now Arabia - all on the 7 period day. Also - Forsyth and other counties have returned to the 7 period day after using the block for several years. Perhaps we should interview someone there as to why.
On the block, teachers essentially teach 6 classes a year (3 per semester). On a 7-period day, teachers have been teaching 5 classes. That's why it will cost to move from the block -- even though students need one fewer course, the teachers teaching fewer courses overall affects the staffing. They'll probably need more teachers to make up the difference. Don't forget textbooks too. We'll need more of those if all of the kids are taking the same course at the same time (instead of some in the fall, some in the spring). They just need to weigh the financial costs with the academic benefits. Let's hope they do a good job of it.
How weird. Obviously, I hadn't done the math that way - but I'm still bothered by students taking so much extra, unnecessary "fluff". Your formula compares the cost of providing the same core classes. On the block, they take 32 credits when they only need 24 - aren't you then just paying for extra teachers to teach the extra classes? I mean, don't you need more teachers to teach a school on the block?
So - with only 3 classes per semester - teachers most likely prefer the block I assume...
According to what Anonymous is saying, on the block schedule, a teacher is teaching 3 of 4 periods, or 75% of the time. On the 7-period day, a teacher teaches 5 out of 7 periods, or 71.4% of the time. Thus a school gets more instructional time out of each teacher on the block, but the teachers don't mind because they have fewer classes to prep for.
Suppose your school has 450 students, and suppose there are 30 students in each class. At any given time during the day, there are 15 classes with 15 teachers teaching. A school on the block schedule has to hire 20 teachers because at any given time, 3/4 of them will be teaching and 1/4 of them will be having their planning period. A school on the 7-period day has to hire 21 teachers, because at any given time, 2/7 of them will be having a planning period.
The reason the students get more credits on the block has nothing to do with the number of teachers. It is because the block is the equivalent of an 8-period day. At 8 credits per year instead of 7, a student receives a little less instructional time per credit. This is partially offset by the fact that less time is spent transitioning between class periods.
Regardless of the math, I think it's crazy to complete an AP class in the fall, but have to take the AP exam in the spring, or to let up to 12 months lapse between math classes. Go back to the 7-period day to help students retain what they learn, and save the nickels on something else.
That's really interesting... I guess I stand corrected on the math. I still stand by the unnecessary classes (8 more than they need to graduate.)
Some kind of modified block would be interesting. Where you take core classes that need steady learning as well as the ones with EOCT and AP exams - and make them all year. But the ones like art, music, video production, computer web design, etc... make those longer for labs and only half year. So say, you could have 5 regular classes and one long one each semester - for a total still of 7 credits -- but with only 6 classes at a time.
And if we need more teachers -- let's make the "curriculum specialists" teach. Whatever we do - the classroom is the most important place to spend the money.
Can't do a modified block in DCSS because of programs like STT and joint enrollment.
Those of you whose kids aren't on a 7-period day need to realize it is grueling, particularly with AP classes every day all year. By the end of the day kids and teachers are really punchy. The problem here is the continual addition of graduation requirements by the state, all in the name of "rigor" (I hate that word as much as "stakeholders"). Colleges don't even require that much to matriculate.
My kids liked the block schedule.It was actually less stressful for them. The teachers seem to like it as well. My oldest transitioned into block his sohphmore year. my other kids only knew block schedule.
Sorry to that last anonymous poster - had to delete your comment. We can't publish accusations and rumors. I don't want to have to monitor comments, so I trust you'll return and post something that follows our 3 rules on the home page. thanks.
I went to a great, high achieving high school with 7 subjects and a six class day. Classes rotated over a set schedule. You had one class for a longer period, and then did not have it the next day. Then it picked back up on your schedule. It keep students refreshed and I highly recommend it.
To me, the problems with the block cannot be quantified mathematically - it has more to do with the quality of education and the effect the timing has on the students.
In my experience (garnered from conversations with my child and friends), not all the teachers make use of the entire 90 minutes of class. Thus, any minutes not spent teaching are actually lost instructional time. If teacher A teaches 70 minutes out of the 90 (the rest is given over to "do whatever you want, just don't make noise"), and teacher B teaches 50 minutes out of the 90, my kid has had 120 minutes of instruction and 60 minutes of study hall instead of 180 minutes of instruction.
In addition, AP and IB courses have their finals in the spring, so with the block, you can either have the kids take the exam after most of a semester away from the material, or (and this is what DCSS does, I think everywhere they have block) you can have the AP course go both semesters and pair it with another course, either a real one (Econ paired with an AP History) or a pseudo real one ("Math Concepts" paired with an AP Math). The teacher either struggles to divide the time equally or the second course isn't taught thoroughly if at all.
Last, the effect of allowing kids to go for a year between math or language courses is huge - the teacher has to re-teach for a significant amount of time at the beginning of the course.
Yes, it's sort of like college, where an entire course is taught in a semester, but in college, if you know you have to get two or three math courses or language courses, you can line them up in consecutive semesters.
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