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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roundup

It's about time that I showed a little love to some of the other school districts in the county.

Saline is considering all day kindergarten.

So is Dexter. Dexter is also abandoning the trimester system and going back to a traditional semester system in their high school. Why? According to this Dexter Leader article, neither staff nor students liked the trimester system, and switching to semesters will also save them staff time. And, Dexter is still planning on implementing an International Baccalaureate program next year in their high school.

By the way, the Dexter superintendent has a post on how MEAP cut scores are changing (they're going up!). That is going to be a huge challenge for all of the schools.

Speaking of International Baccalaureate programs, Washtenaw International High School opened with a much smaller enrollment than expected. I'm not sure what the Count Day numbers will show, but the initial enrollment was for 109 students (they were expecting closer to 150 students). There are seven partner districts, but I think the most interesting factoid (h/t to an anonymous reader) is that 39% of those registered students were coming from out of county! According to Sarena Shivers of the WISD,
Students who do not reside in one of our consortium partner districts may apply for unfilled slots. They must school-of-choice in to one of our consortium districts in order to attend the school. The foundation allowance follows each student to WIHI.
In other words, a student from the Van Buren Schools (Belleville) might become a school of choice student in Ypsilanti and then, as a school of choice student, choose to enroll in WIHI.
I personally think the low numbers are primarily a result of trying to start up WIHI too quickly. It used to be that a project like WIHI would require a planning process of three years, not one year--and that's probably better.

The Ypsilanti School Board has decided to not renew David Houle's contract. David had been their finance director ever since he left Willow Run school. According to WEMU, they are not planning on replacing his position, at least not immediately.


Ypsilanti and Willow Run are also exploring the idea of sharing transportation, including the consolidation of buses and facilities. Now here's what I don't get about that idea--wasn't the WISD consolidation of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Willow Run transportation a consolidation? So have we concluded that it's not working or saving money? And if that's the case, where will that leave Ann Arbor? Has a report been issued yet? (I'm trying to find out but I don't think so.) I'm very confused.

Speaking of transportation, the state school bus certification results for 2011 have been published. Most of our local districts did quite well (the buses are safe). The "consolidated" districts (Ann Arbor, Willow Run, Ypsilanti) all show up under the Washtenaw ISD, and they did have eight buses red-tagged (out of 185).  You might think that's bad, but for Willow Run and Ypsilanti it is a huge improvement. In 2010, all of Ann Arbor's buses passed; 12 out of 44 of Ypsilanti's buses were red-tagged; and 14 out of 18 of Willow Run's buses were red-tagged. So based on this mark, at least, consolidation has been an improvement for Willow Run and Ypsilanti.

Lincoln High School is also undergoing a transformation redesign project (following in the footsteps of Willow Run and Ypsilanti, because they all found themselves on the "Persistently Low Achieving" schools list--not a fun place to be.)  The district explains what is happening here.  Read the "Frequently Asked Questions" piece here.

State Senator Rebekah Warren has introduced a constitutional amendment banning for-profit charter schools. You can read more about it in annarbor.com, and/or you can read about it at michiganradio.org.  I definitely like the idea of banning for-profit charter schools; I'm not sure how I feel about a constitutional amendment. But I'm glad she's pushing the issue--currently, four out of five charter schools in the state are for-profit! Why are they making money off of our children?

The cap on charter schools is still being debated, and you still have an opportunity to make your voice heard through Michigan Parents for Schools (or on your own). Get your friends in western and northern Michigan to use the MIPFS link as well and contact their legislators.


The anti-bullying bill has passed the Senate. It's not perfect, but it's better than what was originally proposed, which had huge exemptions. Listen to this Michigan Radio interview with Sen. Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing regarding this bill.

Also, if you feel like listening to things, this NPR interview with Norbert Juster, the author of the Phantom Tollbooth, is really delightful. NPR has got this "Backseat Book Club" just started, which is essentially directed at kids, and The Phantom Tollbooth was last month's selection. The December Book Club selection is a book called Breadcrumbs. Read about that here. [Does anyone else remember--and miss--the NPR show Kids America? With characters like Dr. Rita Book? I miss that show.


And a couple of other notes:
There's so much going on! It's hard to keep up, and not nearly enough reporting going on. (I see my role as a color commentator, as they say in sports news.) Having said that, you should feel free to send me your news tips to rlk234 (at) gmail.com.

If you comment anonymously, think about giving yourself a name in the body of your text (as, for instance, YpsiAnon and Anon4 have done)--that way I know it's "you" when you comment more than once. Thanks!




3 comments:

  1. Hi! You have been so busy since I've been by! And just as I tune in, you mention my alias. It is going to take me awhile to catch up, since the last time I was reading regularly was when you were profiling candidates for school board. As always, thank you for your dedication to the cause!

    - YpsiAnon

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  2. Regarding the concept of profit vs. non-profit and Senator Warren's proposal: In every school, charter and traditional, there are individual and entities earning a 'profit' off of the children, or more accurately, taxpayers: teachers, adminstrators, parapros, vendors, etc. What's wrong with an organizaton that's developed a successful curriculum earning a profit; instead of say, a Superintendent earning $245,000? Our disdain and suspicion of profitable companies seem to be fueling this debate. A better debate would be the definition of profit in public education; should there be limit on who makes a profit and a maximum threshold for the amount? Profitable companies/organizations create jobs and deliver a product, in this case, a priceless one.

    -common_cents

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