Monday, August 8, 2011

Technology and (Lots) More

OK, I know you've been wondering where I've been...hey, it's summer!

I have been working on some longer posts, but in the meantime, here are some updates.

1. Tuesday, if you're like me you'll be keeping an eye on the recall elections going on in Wisconsin. At their core, they are all about how public employees are treated. On twitter I think you can search #wivotes or #wiunion for up to the minute information. I blogged about my experiences back in February at the rallies in Madison.

2. Also Tuesday, the Ann Arbor school board will be discussing the possibility of putting a technology millage on the ballot. It's a special meeting to discuss this--I'd encourage you to share your opinion, either by going to the board meeting (Balas, 7 p.m.) or by emailing the board at I wrote about my concerns about whether this is a good way to pay for technology, in the post How should schools pay for technology? I also haven't heard much enthusiasm for the idea from anyone except school board members, so I wonder--why pursue something and spend so much time and energy on something that is going to be voted down anyway? And if I were in the teachers' union, I might consider opposing this. Why? Well, it was only a couple of years ago that the Saline superintendent threatened to eliminate the high school math department and move completely to on-line learning. (Yes, it was a dumb idea--and likely mostly a bargaining tool--but still--why support that kind of thinking?)

3. And this article, Michigan teachers continue to leave for other states,  has really gotten a lot of play. It's not a big surprise to anyone that there are very few teaching jobs in Michigan, and that we are training too many teachers. I wrote about that a short while ago. It would be nice if teacher training institutions consciously chose to reduce their class sizes and upgrade the quality of their incoming classes. Will they? I bet not nearly enough, because teacher education is their bread and butter...

4. The Ann Arbor district did a nice job sharing information with Ann Arbor Open parents when the fire happened in the building (it was an electrical problem). 

5. I'm quite sure Governor Rick Snyder isn't interested, but nonetheless I'm going to put out here, for my gazillion readers, two thoughts about how the state could raise more money. First, let's turn I-94 into a toll road, and dedicate those funds to improving the roads. (I grew up on the east coast. Most of the roads are tolled. People who use them, pay for them.) Second, let's look at what mobile home owners pay in lieu of "property taxes." The last time I checked, it was something like $15/year and was set in the 1950s. Maybe it's time to raise them.

6. Ypsilanti Schools have unveiled a new design for their website at Let them know what you think!

7. I was a little sorry to see that Stone School got renamed Ann Arbor Technical High School. It reminded me of a line from a Grace Paley poem, "I gave away that kid like he was an old button." I admit, it's not exactly "giving away the kid," but did we have to lose the name? And if we did, couldn't we think of something less...boring...trendy...I mean, we've already got New Tech High School, and Washtenaw Technical Middle College...and is the name really going to change the reputation?

In case you are wondering, the original Stone School is now a cooperative preschool, at the corner of Packard and Stone School roads, and the building is 100 years old, this year.

8. About Ypsilanti's New Tech High School--A couple of weeks ago, I was checking out of a store, and because I was buying a backpack, I started talking about schools with the cashier. Her child has been going to New Tech. She thinks it is fabulous, that it has rekindled his interest in learning. Now, she said to me, he's thinking about college. She said, "Well, he was behind in school, and he's still behind, but now he's interested in catching up." I thought that was very high praise for a brand new program. And apparently they were just named a national demonstration site, too, so that is promising. (Now, I would link to the New Tech web site, but I guess still has some work to do, because the link is broken...if it gets fixed I will update it.)

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