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The headline “Obama proposes $900 Million to help improve schools” by Darlene Superville an Associated Press Writer excited me. This money is in addition to the $3.5 million included for schools in last year’s stimulus package.

Now I am interested. I admit I was not paying attention when last years stimulus package was released. I was extremely sick. That said I do not recall my children benefitting from this 3.5 million dollars. Did your school district receive any of it?

Now there is a chance at another 900 million to spread nation wide for our schools. This time, thanks to being well and Darlene Superville’s article, I know the catch and my children’s school will not see a dime of this money either. There are three proposed ways to qualify for part of the 900 million.

First the Turnaround Model: School district must fire principal and ½ of the school staff. Then a new governance structure and implement a revised instructional program.

Second the Restart Model: The school district must close and reopen the school under the management of a charter school operator, or an educational management organization. The new management must enroll the former students who wish to attend.

Third the School Closure: The school district must close the failing school and enroll the students in other higher achieving schools in the district.

I remember a recent push for young teachers and I believe it was not in California only but nationwide. Young people were not setting goals to be teachers because of the low pay and hours spent outside the classroom involved in teaching. My question is mainly with the Turnaround Model and the School Closure Model. How will firing teachers or closing schools benefit our students and our economy?

I know there are bad teachers, bad principals, bad school superintendents, and bad school board members. Have you ever heard of everyone in a particular school being bad at what they do?

I know our teachers need more support. Would not this 900 million be better utilized, if we divided it equally among our nation’s school districts? The schools that are overwhelmed with problems, yes I know they exist; maybe we should approach from a different strategy.

My suggestion a report card, I am not trying to be funny. I know the Bush administration tried a version of this called “No Child Left Behind”. It had its merits, but it had some bad situations in its wake. “No Child Left Behind”, was a report card based system that schools had to attain a passing score to qualify for federal monies. Sounds great, the pitfall was teachers and school districts started teaching facts only. They began to teach to pass the test. It created cookie cutter education.

The second situation that “No Child Left Behind” caused was parents could go to a website and reading a score they could decide which school was worthy of their children. I have friends who lived in Solano County, but worked in Contra Costa County that commuted their children with them so they could attend the higher scoring schools in Contra Costa County. The commuting families tax dollars stayed in Solano County and the influx of students caused problems in Contra Costa County. Neither school nor neither county benefited in the end.

My suggestion is not a school report card and it is not about closing schools and firing teachers.

First: Divide the 900 million and the future monies the federal government allots to schools equally between all school districts.

Second: Report cards yes. The change is each parent’s and students are given a report card to grade the effectiveness and success of the individual teacher.

Third: Another report card is given to the teachers, students, and parents to grade the administration staff including the school board.

Poor scores and good scores are evaluated and a decision is made to have the teacher attend a workshop to enable the teacher to improve on their individual score or to replace the teacher.

Administration scores are evaluated and consequences are decided by a public vote of the teachers, students and parents.

My plan has loopholes and problems no initial idea is perfect. The trick is not letting politics tweak the original idea into something completely unrecognizable to the original idea. What are your opinions and ideas?

Teresa Wilkinson

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The following comments are for "Politics and Our Schools"
by TeresaGreen

school debates
First, the mechanics. It isn't millions, it is billions. Also, it would be good to review what you wrote before its release to look for unclear meanings, run-on sentences, and the like.

Next, to respond to what you wrote briefly. I am an average teacher. I have had 350 hours of professional development or continuing education in the last two years. Spreading the wealth (or in this case, the borrowed wealth) sounds great, but not all schools are having poor results. Based on my little microcosmic view of the inner workings of a Title One school, the greatest challenges teachers face are time and administrative work. The two go hand in hand. Because of all the required reports and paperwork, there is little time for engaging students in creative projects that would be really beneficial. In essence, a typical low performing school lacks enough human beings to go around; I should also mention that these low performing schools often need more staff than average to get results. The suggested funding will not be used in most cases to hire more people because those salaries take a long term commitment, and there is no secure fund for it. Instead, the money will be used to upgrade facilities and initiate short term grants. Instead of more teachers or aids (or better pay for aids) the schools will buy more computers, smart technology, and basic supplies. Some grant money may become available to allow existing teachers to get national certification or add a Master's degree to their resume; additionally, some grants will be used for short term student programs that can have a positive impact on their learning experience.

I will leave it up to you to decide if the money is being carefully spent, or just thrown around.

Beyond mere mechanics, a writer should evoke some sort of response from the reader. You have accomplished this goal; at least where I'm concerned!

( Posted by: brickhouse [Member] On: March 7, 2010 )

My NewPaper said Millions
I do the best I can with run on sentences and do read what I post several times. I do not have the formal education that you boast of posessing. I appreciate that I evoked a response from you and your opinion.

Thank you,

Teresa Green

( Posted by: TeresaGreen [Member] On: March 7, 2010 )

I think brickhouse is simply stating a fact .. sharing information so to speak. I find your comment speaks volumes about your lack of education. I too, don't have a formal education and all it's done for me is make me more studious about what I write.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: March 20, 2010 )

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