Random thoughts on specific things

In Praise of Politicians

The disappointing, soul-crushing cynicism about politicians and politics has left no oxygen and no apparent energy for discussion of what a good politician is and the importance of politicians in general to a healthy democracy. If democracy is to survive, politicians are a necessary and required element of the system. The desire to serve the public good is a respectable and honorable goal which merits more credit than it receives. It is likely that there …

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Home Schooling and Child Neglect

One function of public schools is to assure the safety of children. The school choice movement, with its lack of oversight, makes a mockery of this aim. As a principal and now as superintendent I have seen the neglect unmonitored school choice makes possible. Public schools are responsible for tracking attendance and for reporting suspected abuse. One way for lousy parents to fly under the radar of intervention on behalf of kids is to pull …

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GOP plan would disband state education board

I read with interest Ingrid Jacques’ column about Michigan Rep. Tim Kelly’s plan to dissolve the State of Michigan School Board and replace it with a board appointed by the Governor. Rep. Kelly’s reasoning for wanting to eliminate the School Board are a repugnant example of the poor quality of political leadership Michigan residents are seeing too much of.

It’s spring and testing season is soon upon us!

High stakes testing and whether once annual tests are worth the time, effort, and costs of such testing has come under a great deal of scrutiny and question throughout our nation. Michigan recently changed from administering the MEAP test to grades 3-9 in the fall to the new M-Step exam which is now given in the spring. Despite the change to a new test, the same questions about the value of any test given one …

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Technology, schools, and kids

Because students in our district are issued iPads between grades 3-12, we get a lot of questions about electronic devices in school.  While individually issued technology is a new wrinkle in school for parents, for the generation of kids in school expect to live and work in tech rich environments, it is just the way the world is.  Schools vary in their approaches to technology, here is what we have decided to do in our …

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Communicating with Your Child’s School

Schools are busy places.  Sometimes it can be hard to determine how or with whom to communicate different concerns or questions.  In our electronic culture today it is easy to find phone numbers and email addresses; however, that information alone does not tell a parent which questions to direct where.

What does a school board do?

Public schools in the United States are overseen by school boards.  Most everyone knows this, but very few folks know what school boards do or how they conduct their business.  School boards are mainly responsible for creating school policy, approving the district budget, and hiring and evaluating the district superintendent.  While this list may seem short, it covers a great deal of responsibility.