Having taught for over 25 years in an urban setting, I can say that testing has a place. However, state assessment is not first conditioned on student/teacher need. Rather, it is designed top to bottom to first serve political needs. The point is to get the data the bureaucracy wants to evaluate “effectiveness”, not for instructional intervention. Without a doubt it is also a business no different from textbooks or PhD candidates trumpeting the latest “innovation.” Assessment should be easy to implement, easy to deliver, and easy to interpret. There is no reason whatsoever that with today’s technology (particularly with the advent of tablets) that assessment cannot be integrated, seamless, cumulative, and delivered in real time. What is more valuable to the instructional process - one high stakes test per year intended to first benefit the needs of the bureaucracy or ongoing assessment regimen that teachers can use in real time?
January 20, 2013 at 11:38 a.m.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you have the "right" to own 21st century military grade hardwared. After December 14, I am done coddling the wannabe Rambos and conspiracy freaks. There is a difference between a "gun" and an AR 15. There is a difference between 30 round and 7 round magazines. There is a difference between anonymously buying an AK 47 and at least trying to assure a background check. America is turning into an extremist freak show.
January 19, 2013 at 9:07 a.m.
There is a solution - if the people of Youngstown are willing to fight for it. Initiate a referendum for conversion of the entire district into a system of charter schools and vote that ALL state AND local dollars follow the child to a school of parent choice. The district per state law would only “monitor” the schools. For both political and practical reasons this would be a huge challenge. Do you think executive administration, the board, or teachers union would support it? Hardly. It shakes up the status quo. It turns the system on its head giving the money and the power to individual schools; teachers, principals, parents (parents who actively participate). This is not crazy. It is well within Ohio charter law. It is doable. And, if my research is any indicator, would assure that more money flowing into schools. Money that can be managed by each learning community – not by an administrative apparatus far removed from those who actually make teaching- learning happen. What of administration? If they cannot competitively provide services to the now independent schools, they close shop. The only role the district need play is that of monitor – at a rate set by law. Why prop up a failed system? Why continue to put resources into the hands of those first set on protecting their own interests? The system is beyond repair. It needs to be turned inside out and up ended. The good news is that there is a way to do it – but only if the community is willing to fight for it.
January 18, 2013 at 9:54 a.m.
Respectfully, that is it? Banning assault weapons is the first step to losing all 2nd Amendment rights? Did we lose 2nd Amendment right when "banned" before? Shopkeepers need them for rioters? How many riots have we been in lately? Self defense? A shotgun, rifle, or low capacity pistol (like a revolver, Model 1911, or High Power) in trained hands is more than adequate to do the job. Anybody who "needs" 30 rounds on semi-auto to stop an intruder/attacker shouldn't own a gun in the first place. Utlimately, there is no objective defensible logic for civilians to own military grade weapons. We don't live in Somalia. After December 14 enough is enough. I can truly respect the comments of all above except Samlam... your teacher remark pretty much says it all about you.
January 11, 2013 at 9:41 a.m.
The NRA is a broken record. Every mass killing elicits the same response; the answer is, of course, more guns! I have been a gun owner most of my life. I support the 2nd Amendment. However, when it comes to guns America obviously has a problem - especially with military grade hardware that no civilian has a legitimate reason to own. An AK 47 or AR 15 to hunt, shoot target, or defend the home? Please. Unless Chinese paratroopers are falling from the sky, you don’t “need” an assault rifle. Neither does the 2nd Amendment guarantee you the “right” to own one. You want to play Rambo? You feel your government is coming to get you? Respectfully, join the Foreign Legion or move with the rest of the NRA extremists to Texas, or Somalia. Label me a “liberal.” After December 14 I don’t care anymore.
January 11, 2013 at 7:18 a.m.
Solutions? Turn the system inside out and upside down. Decentralize it. What is there to lose? Powers outside the district should petition ODE to directly supervise the conversion of the entire district into an association of charter schools. The role of central administration changes to that of monitor per Ohio charter school law. NOTHING in Ohio charter law prevents such an arrangement. ALL money, every single per capita dollar including ALL local funds should follow the child through the schoolhouse door. Central admin should compete for those dollars by COMPETETIVELY providing services that each learning community values. If the service is substandard, a decision made by individual schools, then they find it elsewhere. After initial legal requirements, each school writes its own charter. Each school becomes responsible for itself. Everyone’s job becomes contingent on one thing – parents sending their child to the school. Low scores? If the parents keep sending their kids, oh well. If they don’t – then teaching and other jobs at that school are lost. How to be fair to teachers? Pull all teachers from the union pool. However, seniority plays no role in hiring at another charter building in the district. In other words, the best performers within a failing building still get first dibs on jobs because they deserve it. Also, permit entrepreneurial teachers to come together to form schools. This point is critical; teachers and principals cannot be marginalized in the process – they must be central to it. Recasting the same old employee-management model will not work. Principals? Either they lead or they are gone. Also, they should be well compensated. Teachers and kids deserve the best leaders out there. No principal should make less than $120,000 per year. Principal pay in Youngstown should be so good that it attracts applicants from across the state if not the country. The union? It can play catch up. It, like central admin is not designed for change. Rather, both institutions are designed for self-perpetuation. The focus in this arrangement is not teachers and kids it’s upon maintaining status quo. Parents? In this model if they participate all the better. If not, others will pull their weight – as is done now. Want solutions? Youngstown will not get them by business as usual.
January 10, 2013 at 8:40 a.m.
"Penalize the rich? Penalize the very people who create the jobs." You've got to be kidding. Look around you. Youngstown is a hollow shell of itself - the land of if you're making minimum wage you're lucky. Look at the basic unspun statistics; the rich are getting exponentially richer while the average working person gets the shaft. Trickle down is a myth. Whatever jobs the rich "create", they certainly aren't here. Look to Wall Street. Look to the mega banks and companies such as Goldman Sachs or AIG. Look to China or India. That is where the money of the rich goes - NOT to creating jobs in places like Youngstown. Wake up.
January 10, 2013 at 7:37 a.m.