Getting lots of letters about the Connecticut shootings that are too long to run. Here's one from a Raleigh firearms instructor. See what you think.
Fired Wake County schools superintendent has a Point of View piece running on tomorrow's Other Opinion page. In it, he says:
In a relatively short period of time, we significantly raised expectations and proved that all Wake County Public School System students, regardless of their socio-economic status or where they attend school, can have strong academic performance. With the hope that the impact we made will continue for the benefit of our students and the belief that our community can best proceed with an accounting of progress, I want to share some parting observations.
Read what he had to say here.
A look at the weekend outpouring of letters regarding the Wake County school board's vote to fire Superintendent Tony Tata:
More readers having their say on the Wake County school board's firing of Superintendent Tony Tata. Find some of these on tomorrow's Editorial page. Apologies if some are repeats from previous blog posts.
A look at the flood of letters that keep coming. These are largely unedited.
As a former marching band geek myself, I love, love, love this letter. Music is transformative. Making music available to children who have parents who can't afford to pursue it is an effort worth applauding:
As the principal at Lowe’s Grove Middle School, I want to thank Bob Moulton at National Pawn for his generous donation of over 100 instruments to the students of Durham Public Schools in general and Lowe’s Grove Middle School specifically.
Donations such as his allow students who may not be able to afford an instrument the opportunity to participate in band, and that is an invaluable tool in keeping many kids engaged in school.
I was one of those kids. My middle school principal told my parents that some kids just aren’t cut out for college and that I was not college material. Granted, I had given him much evidence to support his claim. The decisions I was making were leading me down the path of trouble and of dropping out of school.
However, the one hook that had my heart and soul was band. How could I drop out of school and give up my heart and soul? I couldn’t. Soon, my high school schedule consisted of marching band, symphonic band, jazz band and marimba band. I began playing with the city band and even played professionally in a country western band for a couple of years.
Thanks to a scholarship, my college years were also filled with band. Yes, college. You see, my middle school principal was wrong. Wrong about me and wrong to give up on me. Thankfully, neither my parents nor my band director gave up me. Nor did they allow me to give up on myself. They got me involved in band, and that was all I needed.
I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that band engages many kids in ways that other subjects never can. It engages their hearts and touches their souls and draws them like a magnet to school. Band keeps kids grounded behaviorally and enhances them academically, and it is the incentive many kids need to make it all the way.
So, Mr. Moulton, thank you. Thank you for providing Lowe’s Grove Middle School the means to give more kids the opportunity to participate in a program that just may keep them in school. Who knows? The kid you helped save today may be the principal of a middle school tomorrow. Thank you.
Principal, Lowe's Grove Middle School, Durham
This morning we had a story in the paper by Lynn Bonner about Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger's plan to overhaul K-12 education. It occured to me that many folks might wonder why a state senator is involved in figuring out how to make sure kids are reading at grade level, and whether they should get promoted or, as we used to say, left back.
The fact is that public education has many masters, from the state legislature, to the State Board of Education and the state superintendent of public instruction. Don't forget the federal Department of Education, which sees the instruction of youngsters as crucial to our global economic and military competitiveness, and thus sees local education as a matter for Washington. Somewhere in there are the local school boards and superindentents. These are the folks that most citizens at the local level hold accountable for the performance of their kids' schools, but as you can see, it's not that simple.
The General Assembly got very involved in setting education policy during the Great Depression, when many localities were flat broke and unable to pay for decent schools. Today, the state pays for 60 percent of education spending. Public school spending makes up 40 percent of the state budget. So according to the Golden Rule ("He who has the gold, makes the rules"), the legislature feels entitled to get deep into how schools are run because it sends $7.4 billion to the districts annually. So you had the legislature last year getting into how many teacher assistants schools should have.
There are some who believe that K-12 education would be better off if all decisions were made at the local level, along with the mechanisms for funding them. Every school district would be free to experiment with their own curricula. They could test or not test, decide how many days kids should be in school, and set their own requirements for teacher credentials. Heck, they could decide whether or not they wanted to have public schools, or just let the private sector provide.
To do that, there would have to be a fundamental shift in public finance. The states would have to give back a big chunk of their taxing power - i.e., the income tax and sales tax - because the locals would need more than property taxes to pick up the slack.
It sure would be interesting. A certain amount of the current system involves sending tax dollars to Raleigh and Washington where bureaucrats and politicians then redistribute them back down to the counties without, it could be argued, adding a significant amount of value in the process, but certainly adding a lot of rules and regulations about how the classroom teacher should teach.
It is entirely understandable that Phil Berger feels an obligation to get deeply involved in how the classrooms should operate and casts a skeptical eye on the way education has been run so far, because, for now, he and his colleagues in the legislature are having to pick up most of the tab. Maybe it would be a good idea to revisit this 80-year-old system, but until that happens, you're going to have the legislature as a super school board.
Claim: "The terrible thing we've all seen this time around is the Republicans taking us to 49th nationally in education spending."
Speaker: Bill Faison, Democratic candidate for governor, at the N.C. Association of School Administrators forum in Raleigh
Keep NC Beautiful, in partnership with the N.C. Coca-Cola Bottlers Council, is now accepting grant applications for projects to be completed in 2012 that address litter prevention, cleanup, waste reduction, recycling and beautification.
Schools, youth and civic groups, nonprofits and KNCB affiliates are eligible to apply. Three $500 awards will be issued for each category, along with an individual category that is open for one winner at $500, or two for $250 each.
Priority will be given to applications that highlight programs or projects that coincide with the annual Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup, which runs from March 1 to May 31, and America Recycles Day, which is celebrated in November. Public educational initiatives focusing on enhancing cleanup and beautification efforts and increasing waste reduction and recycling behaviors are also of importance.
Applications can be downloaded at keepncbeautiful.org and are due by Feb. 15. Winners will be announced March 1.
For more information, contact KNCB Program and State Leader Brenda Ewadinger at (704) 442-0791 or email@example.com.