November 1, 2019 – What Could Be The Largest Student Section in West Forsyth History

It is not often that two teams from the same conference in the state’s largest athletic classification play each other this late in the year with identical records at the top of the standings.

To make it even more special – these two teams represent two schools that border each other’s zones.

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So, what does that mean? It’s a big game. Actually, more than that.

It would be nice to see the entire stands on the home side full of Titan fans, and it would be even better if we had the largest student section that Forsyth County has ever seen at one sporting event in history.

Our team has earned it. Our coaches deserve it. So does the school.

Besides, we need to take the West Wackos group yearbook picture.

Who’s in?

The Sweet Irony Of This iStation Tweet -Maybe They Need The Language Diagnostic Tool

Mark Johnson made sure that we had iStation to be our diagnostic reading tool for the Read to Achieve initiative.

From EdSurge product reviews:

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And even though there is an issued stay on the implementation of iStation as the contract is being investigated, iStation has slammed NC with a publicity campaign with a full assortment of social media postings – postings that actually make one question if iStation has enough of a handle on the English language to properly assess students.

This was sent today as a tweet.

Whoever tweeted this might need to go through a diagnostic test.

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I suggest mClass.

Holding Teachers Hostage & Phil Berger’s Foolish Bluff

It’s October 30th.

Over 100 days and 4 million dollars wasted on an extended session in which Phil Berger has not had the guts to even call a vote on a veto-override in the NC Senate and today this happens.

From the News & Observer:

Republicans in the General Assembly are offering Democrats a deal that would mean raises for teachers and some other state employees if the state budget becomes law.

North Carolina teachers could get the 3.9% raises over the next two years that are in the state budget, which includes step increases for longevity, or an additional raise that would bring the total raise to 4.4% if Democrats vote with Republicans to override the governor’s veto of the budget, Republican General Assembly leaders announced Wednesday.

Simply put, if Democrats allow for the veto-override to occur, then Republicans will give teachers some money.

This teacher wants the Democrats in the NCGA Senate to stand strong because Berger and Moore are doing nothing more than holding teachers hostage in this budget impasse.

Later in the report:

Moore said the bill sends a message to Democrats that there will be “even more” investment in education than what would happen if the budget veto is overridden.

Berger called the raises “above and beyond” what was in the original budget.

“We will soon learn whether Senate Democrats are more committed to the Governor’s Medicaid ultimatum or to what they claim is a top priority: teachers,” Berger said in a statement.

“There’s still time for Senate Democrats to come back to us with what more they need to override the veto. This bill can change in five minutes. Otherwise, this is it. If the Governor vetoes this bill, teachers and support staff are the only ones in the state who will get nothing,” Berger said.

There are two quotes in that segment that truly sum up the vile disgust that Berger and Moore continue to show public school teachers.

  1. “We will soon learn whether Senate Democrats are more committed to the Governor’s Medicaid ultimatum or to what they claim is a top priority: teachers.”
  2. “If the Governor vetoes this bill, teachers and support staff are the only ones in the state who will get nothing.

Literally, what this whole 100 day period of cowardly manipulation has come down to is a fool’s bluff. Either Democrats can give teachers more salary and neglect all of the other important funding for public schools in order to make sure that Medicaid does not get expanded, or make sure that teachers and support staff will be the only people in the state who do not see raises in a year of a giant surplus.

And still not expand Medicaid.

 

Sustain the veto.

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A Thank You Letter For My Wife – Happy Anniversary

As I write this, my wife is still sleeping, getting much needed rest because when Malcolm gets up in the middle of the night (which is frequent) she usually settles him down. So I wanted to jot a few words that could never really approach an accurate measure of the gratitude I have that I am married to her.

There was a teacher where I first taught who gave me possibly the greatest advice about marriage. This beautifully cynic man told me that make sure that if I ever got married that my wife and I are very good friends.

Sounds a bit cliche possibly to someone who might be caught up in the romance of being in love, but he was so right. And I feel fortunate that the woman I married is my best friend.

Today my wife and I celebrate our 20th anniversary. And while I can wax poetic about love, commitment, romance, and other things that people associate with married couples, I want to thank my wife for the things that keep me glued to her, the small things that define why the man I see in the mirror today – despite the graying hair, the winkles developing, and the cheeks a little heavier – is a better man than he was 20 years ago.

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“Thank you for your selfless honesty and having the guts to tell me things that are uncomfortable because I needed to hear them.

Thank you for smiling at me from across the room in a crowd of people to let me know that you still know I am there.

Thank you for being the first person I want to call to talk about a personal victory that might be small in the eyes of others, but monumental to me.

Thank you for being the first person I want to be my partner in a Trivial Pursuit game because you’re wickedly smart and so easy on my eyes and ears.

Thank you for being the last person I want to play Scrabble against because you’re wickedly smart and your vocabulary is tremendous.

Thank you for asking tough questions that force me to look for real answers.

Thank you for telling me the truth.

Thank you for telling me that every man that our daughter may think about dating, she will compare to me first and how that constantly reminds me of my role as a father.

Thank you for being a voracious reader and helping me litter our house with books because now both our children love books.

Thank you for always having the best gift ideas because it teaches me that thinking of others is not a temporary action.

Thank you for telling me to eat better and not eat in the middle of the night.

Thank you for telling me to go to the doctor when I don’t want to go.

Thank you for not reading my mind, but knowing me so well that you can read my face.

Thank you for challenging me in being a better father for our kids through actions and paying closer attention.

Thank you for finding so much in life to laugh at and with.

Thank you for your relentless pursuit in making life better for our family and especially our kids.

Thank you for always giving honest answers to our children’s questions.

Thank you for your sense of humor. You are funnier than you think.

Thank you for always calling at the right time.

Thank you for being the most selfless person I know.

And thank you for making me want to be a better man, not because of some expectation that you may have of me, but because I want to become a better man.

And you still are a stunning looking woman with a vicious smile, a wicked intellect, a contagious laugh who shows me more patience than I deserve.

And I love you for so much more than that.

So, I am going to go and make some fresh coffee for when you wake up. You always do the same for me.

Happy anniversary.”

 

 

Read To Achieve Has A Fever And The Only Prescription Is To End It

NAEP reports for 2019 were released early this morning, and if you are one who looks at the NAEP is a good measurement of student progress, then what the results say about Phil Berger’s Read to Achieve initiative is not good.

Not that it will stop Mark Johnson from passing out iPads and championing iStation.

From today’s News & Observer:

North Carolina’s reading scores are now lower than before the state launched a major effort earlier this decade to boost literacy skills for young children, according to the latest round of national exams released Wednesday.

In 2012, state lawmakers created the Read To Achieve program to try to get more students reading at grade level by the end of third grade. But results from the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card, show that both reading scores and the percentage of North Carolina students displaying at least basic reading skills is now lower than in 2011.

Policy analyst Kris Nordstrom probably says it best with this tweet.

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If you look at the actual report, then you can see that Read to Achieve has had no effect whatsoever on our 3rd graders achievement.

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These snapshots begin with the 2011 report.

2011 was when Phil Berger took control of the NCGA Senate and began all of his “educational reforms.”

 

The Only “Reform” For This Reform Is Eliminating It – About SB 522 And The ISD

It appears that Rep. Rob Bryan will do anything to save face when it comes to the failed reform that he championed three years ago called the Innovative School District.

He brought this state a version of an already failed reform, became part of the outfit that won the contract for the ISD, and is now back in the NCGA trying to “save” it by reforming it.

Rob Bryan’s history with the ISD is explained in this post – “Rob Bryan Is Back: The Man Who Brought NC The ISD Is Representing Oregon In The NCGA.”

With Senate Bill 522, ISD champions are trying to “reform” this failed educational reform in a session of the NCGA that has remained open at the end of July because of a refusal by NCGA powers to vote on a veto-override. That veto is well over 100 days old.

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Notice that Sen. Jerry Tillman introduced the bill.

In the past he has made claims about the ISD and its inevitable “success” that obviously have not come true.

From June of 2016 :

With just days remaining in the N.C. General Assembly’s short session, leaders on the Senate Education Committee have given their approval to achievement school districts, a GOP-backed model of school reform that may clear for-profit charter takeovers of low-performing schools.

Committee Chair Jerry Tillman, a Republican who supports the measure, declared the “ayes” to have won the vote Friday, although to some listeners, the voice vote appeared to be evenly split or favoring the opposition.

House Bill 1080, the long-gestating work of Rep. Rob Bryan, a Republican from Mecklenburg County, will allow state leaders to create a pilot program pulling five chronically low-performing schools into one statewide district. From there, the state could opt to hand over control of the schools, including hiring and firing powers, to for-profit charter operators.

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“They will make great growth,” declared Tillman. “That’s a fact.”

Also from June of 2016:

Other critics pointed out a similar system in Tennessee had not produced better academic results. But Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said the Tennessee plan tried to do too much, too quickly.

“These models have worked and will work if you don’t go too big,” Tillman said. “These schools will do a great job for these kids. It’s something we need to try.”

It’s October of 2019.

But it is what Rep. Bryan said today in his defense of SB522 that really sums up what the ISD has done in its existence.

From the Carolina Journal:

Recently appointed Sen. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg, said while results are so far flat for Southside Ashpole, improvements are being seen at other low performing schools. 

“Part of the ISD program is to put pressure on the rest of the qualifying schools to improve student performance,” Bryan said. 

Did he just say that other schools are improving because they should fear being even worse when they are taken over by the ISD?

That’s what I heard.

The only “reform” for this reform is eliminating it.

And for Bryan to be defeated in two straight elections.

 

 

What NC Is Spending For Public Schools – 2008-2009 Versus 2019-2020

This morning Rob Schofield published a piece on NC Policy Watch explaining the negative effects of the budget that Sen. Phil Berger and others in the NCGA are pushing.

The second dealt with public education.

#2 – Further undermining the state’s desperately underfunded public schools – As veteran education policy analyst Kris Nordstrom explained in July, there are myriad ways to illustrate the damage the state lawmakers are doing to North Carolina’s once-proud and now-threadbare public education system, but here are three that tell you about all you need to know:

  • Overall, the conference budget would have left total school funding 2.9 percent below pre-Recession levels when adjusted for enrollment growth and inflation. This figure underestimates the actual budget pressures faced by North Carolina’s public schools, as schools’ largest cost drivers – salary and benefit costs – have increased faster than traditional measures of inflation.

  • Of the 24 biggest allotments in FY 08-09, 20 of them remain below their pre-Recession levels (see tables here and here).

  • North Carolina would continue to spend significantly less per pupil than South Carolina.

The tables referred to in the second bullet point are as follows (credit to Kris Nordstrom):

While the second table does not have a dollar amount attached to the figures, what it shows is that not as many classroom teachers, support personnel, and administrators are being financed now as they were a little over ten years ago.

Just for clarification, the US Inflation Calculator states that from 2008 to 2019, we have experienced a cumulative inflation of %19.3.

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And NC also has a public university system that it supports.

In 2008-2009, this was the cost of attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill per semester.

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$2698.38 for resident students. That would translate to…

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$3217.95.

But this is what it is now.

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$4493.25.

And don’t forget, NC has a really big state budget surplus according to Phil and Tim.

 

Half A Semester Has Passed – Gotten Your EVAAS Projections Yet?

At least in the WSFCS system, this past Friday marked the end of the first quarter of the school year. For those classes that are on the block schedule, that means that one-half of the course is complete.

2019-2020 calendar

According to DPI:

EVAAS provides North Carolina’s educators with tools to improve student learning and to reflect and improve on their own effectiveness. Along with other sources of data, EVAAS plays a valuable role in the success of North Carolina’s schools and students.

EVAAS examines the impact of teachers, schools, and districts on the learning of their students in specific courses, grades, and subjects. Users can access colorful, easy-to-understand charts and graphs via the Web, as well as produce customized reports that predict student success, show the effects of schooling at particular schools, or reveal patterns in subgroup performance.

But have teachers this year gotten those EVAAS “scores” for their students – many of whom have already bee in class for at least half of their allotted time.

Actually, when putting into context the amount of exams and time it takes to conduct all of that standardized testing at the end of a semester, some teachers have already seen students over half of the actual allotted class time.

And still no EVAAS scores to “work” with?

 

 

 

So, What Makes a North Carolina Public School A Failing School?

When a school in North Carolina is graded by the School Performance Grading system it is based on student achievement as measured by chosen standardized tests and the growth that students have shown based on EVAAS growth on selected standardized tests.

But with all of the “reforms” that have been enacted in this state because of the “failing” public school system, it might be worth asking, “What makes a school a failing school?”

This is not a rhetorical or hypothetical question. I want to compile a list.

If you have an answer, qualification, or inkling as to what makes a school a failing school you can certainly leave a comment in Comments Section of this post (I can leave “unapproved” if you prefer to remain anonymous). You can respond in the Facebook postings, or you can send a message through the blog (on the right side in the picture of the lone school building), and I will leave it anonymous if you want when I compile the list.

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NC’s State Superintendent Should Be An Educational Leader, Not a Manager

“I’m not a teacher. I’ve never been a teacher,” he said. “But people pointed out, superintendents don’t teach, superintendents manage.”WRAL.com, October 18, 2019.

Horn is an almost eight-year veteran of the Air Force. After that, he made his living as a food broker, retiring in 2002 from his business which he says was the largest food broker in the country at the time. When he retired, he worked with big names such as General Mills, Butterball, and ConAgra. Horn said the role of state superintendent is primarily a managerial one, and that is something he has a lot of experience with.EdNC.org, October 24, 2019.

As a teacher of 21 years, I can honestly say that what we need in the office of state superintendent is an educational leader who is not afraid to openly fight for the public school system and understands innately that the most foundational aspect of true education is the student/teacher relationship.

Craig Horn thinks that a state superintendent is primarily a manager.

That’s not being a leader.

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