Monday, September 15, 2014

Five Things You'll Want to Know--In No Particular Order

1. Jenna Bacolor, Director of Ann Arbor Public Schools Rec & Ed, asked me to post this: 

The Ann Arbor Public Schools and the City of Ann Arbor have a joint Recreation Advisory Commission. The RAC meets four times a year, and they have a few (four!) openings right now--these are all for City of Ann Arbor residents. (For some openings, you can live in the school district and not in the city.) They are looking for dependable, interested people who can bring some expertise to the advisory commission.

This is your opportunity to win friends and influence people! (Or, influence policy, maybe.)

Here is the Frequently Asked Questions page. If you are interested, please contact Jenna Bacolor at and ask for an application.

2. You may have read that two teachers and an assistant principal lost their jobs because they didn't renew their teaching certifications. People are asking how I feel about it. 

a. I feel bad that they lost their jobs because they couldn't keep up with their paperwork.

b. I have mixed feelings about certification in general (based on my experiences with it--which I probably should write about sometime--I think it's mostly a way for universities and the state to make some extra money), but that is not the point. The point is, it's the law. The teachers in question had been warned multiple times that they needed to renew their certifications.

c. Yes, it does cost money--and time--to renew certifications. 99.9% of teachers who stay in teaching make sure to do that, but the general public should know that teachers have to spend their own money--often thousands of dollars on additional coursework--to keep up their certifications. See my qualms about certification in b, above. But still, the point is, it's the law. I hope they can get their certifications back.

3. Saline schools moved homecoming to accommodate Yom Kippur

That's progress, but next year, I hope that they check the calendar in advance of scheduling events like homecoming! Actually, I urge Saline Schools to adopt the same type of holiday policy that the Ann Arbor schools have. As Saline becomes more diverse (which it is), this becomes even more important.

4. In one of Amy Biolchini's last articles for the Ann Arbor News, she posted some predicted school count numbers for enrollment

She focused only on the school districts, not the charters.  Ann Arbor gained a lot of students--including many who live in the district already. Some of the other districts lost. I feel a little squeamish about schools of choice when I think of us "poaching" other districts students, although the realist in me feels that this is what we have to do to survive. On the other hand, I am hoping that we mostly gain back students from charters. You can't tell from this article whether that is what is happening. But I did get hopeful since even a few days into school, one of our local charters (Fortis Academy) was still showing up on my facebook feed with "we have a few more spots available." And I think they used to have a waiting list. Hope springs eternal!

5. What does Ferguson, Missouri have to do with our public schools?

Steve Norton does a nice job here explaining the connection. I'll leave you with this excerpt, but suggest you read the whole thing (bonus! it's short!):

We have a powerful remedy to the fear born of isolation and separation: community-governed public schools, which can serve to knit together communities and serve as their investment in the future. But the schools in Ferguson have been a victim of the same forces at work across the country, which insist that private control is better than community governance; that segregation is acceptable as long as it is voluntary; that it's ok to demand that our money not be spent to help someone else's child. Cheaper is always better, we are told; schools are just for job training. And poverty is simply an excuse. But this simply is not true. Public schools help shape the citizens of the future. Public schools can help heal the wounds we still carry, or they can deepen them. Public schools can bring us together or drive us apart.

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