Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Computer Know-How

I was at Sweetwaters in Kerrytown and I turned on my (practically new!) laptop. Then I tried to log in to Facebook, and I got an "access denied" message, along with an invitation to provide a log-in and password if I wanted an override. Upon further investigation, I noticed that I was hooked up to the Ann Arbor Public Schools network. (Community High School is right across the street from Sweetwaters.) I switched to the Sweetwaters network, and was allowed to access Facebook (phew!).

Later that day, I was describing the situation to my least tech-savvy child, who said,
"Yeah, you couldn't get into Facebook, right? Except it's easy to hack. There are certain rooms in the buildings where the restrictions don't work, and some people know the override passwords."
"So, do you know how to do it?" I ask.
"Yes, but it's totally not worth it. Nobody else is on."

I won't tell you if my child has ever gotten in, or not. I was surprised that the kid who hates computer assignments knows how to "hack" the system.

Conclusions...the "secure" system is not so secure...where there is a will, there is a way...

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Rest Is Commentary

Here are a few thoughts about events of the last few months.

On the good side:
Maybe things are looking up in the Willow Run schools. I don't say that because their finances have improved (they haven't). At least, though, their school board has finally figured out that it is supposed to make some decisions, and it seems they may be doing the best they can. They shunted their erstwhile superintendent into a side (newly-created) position, in a way that might seem like a waste of money when they have none. Except I don't think it was--if her contract had been written better, they could have fired her for complete and absolute dereliction of duty. But it wasn't, and putting her in this position avoids a potential lawsuit. And people seem to like the principal they've made as acting superintendent, so--all in all--they appear to at least be trying to move in a positive direction.
Lincoln Schools decided not to cut all bus transportation. This probably was meant to keep people from running to charters and other schools. (Is bus transportation the only thing that keeps people in the Lincoln Schools?) Nonetheless, on behalf of all working parents in the Lincoln school district, I thank them.

On the "I thought this was a bad idea but it happened anyway" side:
Detroit school teachers approved a contract that has them taking $10,000 out of their own salaries and loaning it to the school district. The idea is ingenious on the part of Robert Bobb, but if I were a teacher I wouldn't have voted for that. First, if I'm going to loan money it will likely be to my family or friends. Second, bankers everywhere have assessed the Detroit Public Schools as a poor credit risk. Why should teachers take on that credit risk? The whole thing really shows up how weak the unions have become--despite what the press might say.
At the last minute, the state legislature approved changes that could qualify the state for federal Race to the Top money. First, my assessment of the changes--they are a mixed bag, some are good (alternate certification paths for teachers) and some will probably hurt local school districts (more charter schools?) . Don't believe for a minute that the last-minute agreements on this mean that the legislature is acting like a legislature. No--it was the chance to qualify for free money--that got them talking. Don't expect them to be able to act like a decision-making body next year. In any case, in addition to the fact that not all of the changes will be good for the state, there is a better than even chance that we won't get any of the money at all. There are more states competing for the money than there are awards. And--even if we get the money, that money won't go to all school districts, but only a select few.

I'm sure there's more, but I will stop there.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Technology: Mostly, Indifferent

One idea that I have had for cutting costs is to reduce the technology in the classroom. The problem with that idea is that a lot of the funding for technology is coming from dedicated funds--so it can't be used for staff costs.
I'm lukewarm on technology for several reasons, but the primary one is that I don't think it makes teachers actually teach better. Very few teachers use technology in a way that makes outcomes any different.
Conversation with my dad (a retired professor):
Me: Interactive whiteboards are all show.
Dad: But they are really cool!
Sure, they are cool. But do they improve reading? math? Does my son know more math than I learned at the same age with a regular chalkboard? I don't think so.

Assorted Stuff has some interesting thoughts on the subject.
Assorted Stuff posits that if you could change the teacher-directed educational structure, you could probably integrate technology into teaching, and teach better.
I think that's an interesting thought, and one that project-based learning theory supports. On the other hand--direct instruction has its place, and maybe teachers shouldn't try so hard to incorporate technology into what is otherwise exactly the same exercise that it would be without technology.

And here is an example:
One of my children's teachers has a blog where he posts the assignment (write a response to the piece we just read), and they all post their responses. Do you think that really improves the thoughtfulness of the responses? Do you think it makes things easier for the children? Does it make my child understand the piece better? No, No, and No. (It did, however, let me see that the teacher writes poorly.)

Teachers: if you are going to use technology, please use it to do things that you couldn't or wouldn't do without it (for instance, build a visual model of the outcome of a physics experiment). Don't use technology just because it is there.

The Per-Pupil Problem

I was listening to an interview on WDET (and I can't find it now) but I think it was with the superintendent of the Wayne-Westland schools. [I do really like the show Detroit Today on WDET, and there is quite a lot of school news on it.]

Before this interview, I had not really thought about this particular aspect of school funding.
In the olden days (that would be pre-proposal A), schools were primarily dependent on property taxes, and that was heavily influenced by how much a particular school district was willing to approve. So the difficult aspect of this is that some school districts were much less willing to tax themselves, and there was a large inequity between districts.
There was also a plus to the property tax scheme. If enrollment went up or down a little bit, it generally didn't affect the district all that much, because probably property tax collections didn't change very much. 
The current system has (somewhat) reduced the inequities between districts--at the very least, it has brought the floor--the least-funded districts--up a lot. Now, however, that funding is tied to the number of pupils, and small changes get magnified. This is especially true when the majority of school districts in the state are losing pupils. Yes, people are moving out of state.
You might be thinking that "it seems only fair" that you should get less money if you have fewer students, but here is the problem.
Take, for instance, a district with 5,000 students. In year 1, they have 5,000 students, but in year 2, they lose 100 students and they only have 4,900 students. They just lost between 5 and 10 students in each grade (it varied by grade), and that is not enough to cut a single individual class. They still have to offer advanced math in the high school, and three 4th grade classrooms.
In pre-Proposal A days, losing 100 students out of 5,000 would not have affected their bottom line very much, if at all. Now, losing 100 students means losing something like 3/4 of a million dollars--without the capacity to cut equivalently, because remember--not all of those kids were 4th graders, so they can't cut all 4th grade classrooms.
What does this mean? As we look at revamping funding options, let's look at options that don't make school districts overly reliant on per-pupil fluctuations. Of course the number of students in a district needs to be taken into account, but it shouldn't be the only thing taken into account.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Meetings and More: Budget, Elections

Ann Arbor
Public Hearing on whether to move the AAPS school elections from May to November.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at the Ann Arbor District Library, 4th Floor, 343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.
I am opposed to this move. It seems like it will save a relatively small amount of money, that school board candidates will get ignored (thanks to more prominent races) on even-year elections, and yet it may cost school board candidates more to run a campaign in order to get noticed. 
Ann Arbor Budget Meetings
Meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be at the following dates and locations:
  • Thursday, Jan. 7 at Huron High School, 2727 Fuller Road.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Skyline High School, 2552 N. Maple Road.
  • Thursday, Jan. 14 at Scarlett Middle School, 3300 Lorraine.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 19 at Pioneer High School, 601 W. Stadium Blvd.
Whitmore Lake School District does not appear to have a specific budget meeting, but they do have a place for you to share your ideas about budget cuts.

UPDATE: Saline Schools are putting together 3 committees related to budget issues--
If you are interested, then you can download the application here.  
  • Building/Grade Reconfiguration Committee
  • Pay to Play Review Committee
  • Activity Fee Review Committee   

Kudos to Saline for doing this. I hope Ann Arbor (and other school districts) will follow suit. That would definitely increase transparency and participation.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thank You

I received two nominations for the Thank You contest. I am hoping, though, that some of you will thank those staff who have been helpful to you--directly.

CARINA SIETZ of the Pioneer High School English Department. Her nominator says "Her class is very demanding but interesting. She is kind and inclusive."


SUSAN CARPENTER from Summers-Knoll School. Her nominator says, "She is fun, works hard, and [is] very warm to her elementary kids."

I do have a few teachers I am going to thank directly. I thought about listing them directly, but decided it would compromise my semi-anonymity. Instead, I would like to take this space to thank the administrative staff at my kids' schools,  the custodial staff at my kids' schools, and the crossing guards and lunch ladies/men.
The administrative staff have helped me track down lost kids, make last-minute copies, and solve all kinds of problems. The custodial staff have cleaned up my kids' messes, and your kids' messes. The crossing guards make sure kids get to and from school safely, and the lunch staff keep the peace. I would like to give them a round of applause. 

Now, it is your turn--take time this week to thank a school staff person. 

To the Waters and the Wild

What was the first poem that you remember memorizing? I probably learned Robert Louis Stevenson's My Shadow first, but the one I remember reciting was his poem The Cow. I was in third grade.
The friendly cow all red and white
I love with all my heart.
We are not asked to memorize, or recite, very much any more. It's an art, and it's good practice for--something--our brains, or our hearts?

My son had to memorize, and recite, a poem this past month. He enjoyed it. He came home commenting on how much he liked the poem another child had memorized. "And it was really long," he said--indirectly praising his classmate's performance.

The poem? The Stolen Child by W.B. Yeats.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Do you think the kids all understood it? Does it matter?

In tenth grade, my teacher required us to choose one of two sonnets to memorize. I thought they were both really hard to learn, and I didn't understand either one, so I chose the one that seemed slightly easier. The road not taken--the poem I didn't learn--was Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley. [I didn't learn it, but I still remember which poem it was.]

The one I did learn, but I didn't understand, was William Wordsworth's The World Is Too Much With Us. I didn't understand it then, but now? Now, it speaks to me.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
 Do you have a favorite poem? One that speaks to you?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December Anxiety

I meant this post as a follow-up to my earlier post, Ramadan Mubarak. I started this around the time of the Jewish New Year, and it seemed appropriate to connect these two posts to the actual Muslim and Jewish calendars.  But the best laid it is, close to the secular/Roman/U.S. New Year, and I'm just getting back to it.

My first encounter with the experience of Jewish kids in the Ann Arbor Public Schools came before I had kids in the schools, and it was a shock. As a transplant from the northeast, I was used to the idea that even schools with fairly low numbers of Jewish kids still were closed, minimally, for the Jewish high holidays; and there were still 2, 3, or 4 Jewish kids in every class. As a young child, it made intuitive sense to me that school would start in September--of course, because that is when the Jewish holidays were. [In fact, the idea that the "New Year" would be in January made no sense to me at all.]

One day about 15 years ago, shortly before Chanukah, I was visiting a 3d or 4th grade classroom on the north side of Ann Arbor. I was setting up for my presentation in the back of the room, and I watched, fascinated, as the teacher called up "Jane," with her menorah (candelabra) and dreidel (spinning top), to explain the holiday of Chanukah. Although Jane was clearly prepared, she was also shy. The teacher tried to help her a little by asking Jane questions about the holiday, and then asked, "Can anyone else help Jane?" Nobody raised a hand. I was shocked. Was Jane the only Jewish child in the whole class? Coming home that night, I shared the story with my husband, who had grown up Jewish in mid-Michigan. He wasn't shocked at all. In fact, he had probably had that experience. But I--I was plagued by self-doubt. Could I? Should I? send my kids to school in a school system where they would be even more of a minority than I had been in my school? I wasn't sure.

Cut to many years later. My kids have never been the only Jewish kids in their classes, although they have sometimes been the most observant (which creates a different set of challenges). Ann Arbor schools are still somewhat segregated by class and race, and just as Muslim kids are not divided evenly among the schools, neither are Jewish kids. In some schools, there are quite a few Jewish kids, and in others, very few.

So--how has our experience, and the experience of the other Jewish families I know--been?

For the most part fine, but there have been a few glaring exceptions. The problem with glaring exceptions, as you know, is that they stick with you for a long, long time.

So--let's start with the fact that the Ann Arbor Public Schools have a religious holidays policy. You can read it here. Essentially, the policy addresses how to handle a religious holidays calendar, which has finally been "meshed" with the other calendars, and which labels holidays as one-star, two-star, and three-star. As you might suspect, Yom Kippur and the last day of Ramadan are labeled as three-star holidays, which means "most important." Good Friday? It's a two-star holiday. But guess which day the schools are closed on? If you guessed Good Friday, and not the last day of Ramadan, you would be right. I should note that the "stars" don't just denote observance importance. They also try to estimate how popular the holiday is as far as observance goes. For instance, the Jewish holidays of Sukkot and Passover are equally important from the point of view of Jewish observance. However, more Jews observe the Passover seder, and so. . . those first days of Passover get three stars, and the first days of Sukkot get two. On one level, that seems reasonable to me, although I think some of the star levels should be revisited. And I will say this: if any of the other school districts in the county have an articulated religious observance policy, I couldn't find it. So kudos to Ann Arbor for even having one.

Issues come up every year, and not just in December.
Just this week, I felt slightly queasy when I saw the Saline Schools twitter about kids working on wreaths.  You might not think of wreaths as Christmas-y, but I do. Poinsettias and trees, too, for that matter.

I felt even queasier when I saw that kids from Erickson Elementary in Ypsilanti were singing carols at a Christmas tree lighting in Ypsilanti

Don't get me wrong--I am happy to help my neighbors put ornaments on their trees, I enjoy listening to other people sing carols or Handel's Messiah. But. But. But I don't want that in our public schools. That is where I want separation of church and state.

I approached my first  December in the Ann Arbor schools with a lot of trepidation. I found truth in the phrase, "A best defense is a good offense," and I felt a HUGE amount of relief when I found that Ann Arbor Open (where my oldest was) had come up with a great solution to the "December dilemma." The school's Multicultural Festival--a full-scale extravaganza that involves every classroom studying a culture in depth, AND a community potluck, AND a fundraiser for the school library--was scheduled for the week before the December break. And guess what the net effect was? All of the kids' attention was on the Multicultural Festival, and (almost) none of it on the holidays. I highly recommend this approach (substitute something really engrossing, some project-based learning) as a way to deal with both Christmas and Chanukah. This year, the Ann Arbor Open Multicultural Festival is scheduled for Thursday, December 17th, 2009, 6-8 p.m. (There is a suggested donation that helps support the library, but it is NOT required.) Visitors are welcome to come eat and travel from classroom to classroom with a "passport." The Multicultural Festival? It is my favorite night of the school year.

Coming Soon: So how is that religious holidays policy working for you?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kids and Teachers

As the parent of three kids, I have found that what works for one child does not necessarily work for another child. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes that's not so good.

Good teachers know that is true. The student who reads easily may have trouble writing. The child who listens well may not be comfortable presenting a project in front of the class. The third grader who memorized all the times tables may have trouble with spatial math concepts.

All of which is to say--today is your day to celebrate, and thank, the teacher who manages to teach your child as the individual human being that she or he is. Nominations are accepted in the comments below, or by sending me an email at: rlk234 (at) Look here for the "rules," such as they are.

Don't I have other things to blog about? "And how!" as my grandmother would say. Willow Run changes, web site analysis, tax policy, minority/majority culture, why the federal Race to the Top is a bad thing...BUT--thank yous are important. Nominate your school staff today, and regular programming will return later.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thank A Teacher Contest

BUMP! Tomorrow (Monday, December 7th) is the LAST DAY for this contest. So far I have 3 nominations. Surely there are more than 3 school staff worth thanking in this whole entire county! You can email me directly at rlk234 (at) or write your thank you in the comments below. Thank you for participating.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I am hosting my own little Thank A Teacher "contest." I put contest in quotes because in true alternative education fashion, every nominee is a winner, although there are a few simple rules.

1. Nominations can be submitted through the comments below, or by sending me an email to: rlk234 (at)
2. You can remain anonymous, but the teacher* needs to be identified.
3. *I should put teacher in quotes too, because you could also nominate a principal, teacher's aide, school secretary, custodian, or other school staff who have made a difference in your, or your child's, life. 
4. You can nominate more than one teacher, and please write something about why you want to thank this teacher.
5. The teacher(s) you are nominating could be someone who taught you or your kids a long time ago (or is currently teaching them), but they must still be actively teaching or working in the schools.
6.  Any teacher that you want to honor needs to work in a school that serves students from Washtenaw County (It doesn't need to only serve students from Washtenaw County. For instance Plymouth-Canton, Van Buren, and charter or private school teachers can be nominated.)

And, as I said above, every teacher (or school staff person) who is nominated--and meets the qualifications above--will be a winner! 
What the teacher/staff person will get by way of thanks:
1. Their name and position/school in this blog.
2. An email from me, to them, telling them that they are being thanked through the Thank-A-Teacher contest. If you use your name, I will tell them who nominated them. (Unless you don't want them to know who is thanking them, in which case you had better say that in your nomination.)

That's all. Except maybe I should have a deadline. Say...December 7th?
Deadline: December 7, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Transparency, Part III: How To Thank A Teacher

[Did you read Transparency, Part I: What Do We Mean? and Transparency, Part II: An Example? They are the meat. This is the gravy.]

Apparently in my post on Thanking A Teacher or Other School Staff, I wasn’t transparent enough about how to nominate someone. You can nominate someone in the comments of this post or my earlier post, or you can send me an email at rlk234 (at) You can nominate anonymously, or use your name.  See the earlier post for details. Thanks! (Deadline: December 7, 2009)

Transparency, Part II: An Example

[First Read: Transparency, Part 1: What Do We Mean]

Just yesterday, I found the perfect example of what I mean when I say that there is a lack of transparency in the district. I get an email from my kid’s high school, asking me to take a survey about the possibility of a county-wide International Baccalaureate program. (I linked to the survey here.) The email assured me that “NO FINAL DECISION HAS BEEN MADE, but the county-wide IB Committee would like to determine if there is interest.”

OK, so—on the topic of the International Baccalaureate program—I don’t know all that much. I know a few kids who go to schools that use that model (one in Oakland County, one in South Bend). It isn’t an option I’m interested in, but there might be some people who are interested in it. So this is neither an endorsement or rejection of the idea.

Here are some of my questions about it:
Why is it being considered? There are a zillion and one things in the AAPS strategic plan. Specifically, what problem are we trying to solve by creating a new program at this time?
Is this the best solution to that problem?
If it is an important program, why not create it as a small magnet program at Huron or Pioneer?Why is it important to have it as a county-wide consortium, and what will that mean for Ann Arbor? Would it affect any of our other high schools?

How much will it cost?

But that is a little bit of a digression. Let’s return to the process question. I tried searching the AAPS web site to find out more about the International Baccalaureate program, and the only things that turned up were references to the strategic plan, or (in board meeting minutes), to pursuing the IB possibility because of the strategic plan.There is nothing that gives me any information at all about what an IB program includes.

The email refers to the county-wide IB Committee, but I could find no references to the committee on the AAPS web site. So, who exactly is on this committee?

A general Google search referred me to an article by David Jesse in, from September 2nd, 2009 (yes, that is 3 months ago) which says:
A countywide program for advanced students will “very likely” be started by the fall of 2011, Ann Arbor school Superintendent Todd Roberts said Wednesday.
So—a decision has been made? Or, according to the email I got, it hasn’t been made? It sounds to me as if the only thing missing is a final stamp of approval. Saying that “no decision has been made,” and asking for a survey to assess interest, when officials have publicly said it is very likely to happen is—at best—disingenuous. At least, when I ask for transparency, what I’m asking for is that the district:  a) share the process, not just the end results and b) tell the (whole) truth.

[Read on: Transparency, Part 3: How to Thank A Teacher]

Transparency, Part I: What Do We Mean?

I was sitting in a parlor meeting to hear a presentation by Todd Roberts (AAPS Superintendent). The purpose of the meeting was to promote the need for the schools millage (yes, that schools millage), and the audience was fairly friendly to the cause. One of the people present asked, “I keep hearing people talk about the need for more transparency. What do they mean by that?”

Todd Roberts answered (and despite the quote marks I am paraphrasing here), I have no idea. We have a lot of information, including our budget, on our web site.”

“Holy clear plate of glass, Batman!” Seriously, Todd, you have no idea what people mean by transparency? 

Well, I have a few ideas (and I shared one of them at that meeting), and here’s a little detail.

When my friends talk about transparency, they (we) mean multiple things.

First, we mean being able to find information that they need/want, when they need it. Hopefully by the end of the year I will be able to put up some ideas for how to improve the web site (which is an impossible mess, for the most part). But having a year-old budget on your web site, in pdf format, when the landscape has changed so dramatically, does not constitute transparency. Where do I find the ideas about what changes might happen? Without the information, what is left is FEAR. Fear that—for example—schools will be closed, and we will be the last to know.

Second, we mean being able to figure out who to contact to find something out. I just had someone email me who said, “Nobody ever answers my calls and I can’t figure out who to ask.” (That itself is quite an indictment, but in case you are interested, I sent her to my catch-all person—Todd Roberts’ administrative assistant. She should know, but if she doesn't know, she can probably find out for you.)


Second, we mean process. I have written about this before (here), but if I want to get involved in city or county government, there is a clear way for me to get involved in city/county commissions. There are plenty of public meetings. I can try to get appointed to a committee.
That is not so in the school district. Above the building level, there are virtually no public commissions or committees to sit on or even attend as a visitor. Making presentations about the budget to people (and answering questions at a meeting) is no substitute for having a committee where people can discuss, and come up with ideas. And no wonder those meetings are sparsely attended. They are poorly advertised, and they are seemingly meaningless. It’s not just about the budget, though. Are there any ongoing district-wide committees—open to community members—that look at high school policies and configuration, elementary school libraries, buildings and infrastructure, web design, extra-curricular activities? If there are, I can’t find them.  If there is one thing that Ann Arbor has, it is a wealth of experience and knowledge. Why, oh why, doesn’t AAPS tap into it?

The lack of transparency, the lack of information, the lack of process, the lack of approachability—all of these create an atmosphere of frustration and distrust. Sure, I know what to do at the building site level, but—try to move beyond that, and it’s like knocking your head against a brick wall.

[Up Next: Transparency, Part 2: An Example]

State School Funding

Blogging For Michigan has a summary of, and commentary on, the EPIC/MRA poll that says school funding in Michigan is too low. So if that is what you were thinking, well--it's nice to know you are not alone.

This morning, I heard Gov. Jennifer Granholm saying on the radio that school funding mechanisms need to be changed because so much of the money for our School Aid Fund comes from the sales tax, which does not do well "in a recessionary environment." Oh, so that's what we're in? No, seriously--hasn't that always been obvious? Those of you who voted for Proposal A way back in 1994, what were you thinking? (The rest of you escape my words of wrath.)

The Federal Race to the Top has a lot of people (educators and legislators) talking about possible legislation changes to qualify for a large chunk of change. But some of the required legislation changes are not so good, in my opinion. Take, for example, linking teacher pay and performance to the way kids and schools perform on test scores. Considering that test scores have repeatedly been shown to correlate most closely with family income, that strikes me as a dumb idea. The vast majority of school funding (by vast, I mean over 90%) comes from state and local sources, so it's interesting--but not necessarily in a good way--that the federal government is coming in with a way to force change, but not providing long-term funding.

Oh yeah--thank a teacher? Send in nominations, please.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bits, Pieces, Thank Yous

A few updates:

H1N1 clinic this Saturday, December 5th, at the new Manchester High School, 20500 Dutch Drive, Manchester, MI, 10-3.  (I took one child to the EMU clinic. The whole process took about 35 minutes, start to finish.)

Saline Schools Community Conversations coming up on December 14th. Details here. 

Dexter and Ann Arbor school boards are discussing finances this week. That is not the same as a community conversation.

You have until Thursday December 3d at 4 p.m. to put your name in the ring for running for Ann Arbor school board. Now is not the time for me, but maybe it is for you?

Willow Run has an interim financial manager. There is still no sign or news of their supposed superintendent, but the acting Superintendent is getting praised. (And I like the new look of

The state house is beginning to discuss some of the items necessary for qualifying for the Race to the Top (the federal one). I think it's kind of ironic that two "must do" items are a) alternative ways of certifying teachers and b) more charter schools. I'm all for a) but that's because I was looking for that for several years before I gave in and went the traditional certification route. As for b), I'm not totally against or in favor of charters, but there are lots of problems with them, even if they are a moot point. But are either of these things going to make our schools better? I doubt it.

Oh, and in that same vein (things that I don't think will make our schools better--although this is potentially another option for people looking for high school options), I got this email the other day. So--have an opinion? Take the survey. 
As part of Ann Arbor's Strategic Plan, the Ann Arbor Public Schools and Washtenaw County school districts are examining the possibility of opening a 9th-12th grade county-wide high school utilizing the International Baccalaureate Program ( This school will offer a challenging academic curriculum built on international standards as well as a variety of complementary co-curricular programs have been exploring doing an International Baccalaureate program. NO FINAL DECISION HAS BEEN MADE, but the county-wide IB Committee would like to determine if there is interest. Please complete the following survey.  The link is directly below:

Last, but not least--PLEASE nominate some teachers for thanking. So far I haven't gotten a single nominee. That makes me sad. Is it possible there is not a single teacher in the county you think should be thanked? Bushwah! The rules are simple, and everyone wins. [I know, maybe I shouldn't have called it a contest...]