Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ten Thoughts for the Last Two Weeks Before School Starts

1. M-Live has an article, that says there may be a tentative agreement between the teachers and the Ann Arbor school district. I have no idea if it is true, but here is the article (along with a document that looks authentic). If you haven't already read it, take a look, and see what you think.

One thing is for sure--even if there is a contract that ends up being like the tentative agreement referenced above, I think it's going to take a bit more to mend fences between the teachers and the administration.

2. Apparently, a lot of people were unaware that Powerschool is owned by Pearson Systems. Yup. Pearson has been in our district with Powerschool since 2007 (and many, many others too)--and probably earlier with textbooks. The alternatives to Powerschool are also owned by big corporations. I guess the question is (and I don't know)--what kind of data does Pearson get to use and keep about us and our children? What kind of safeguards are there? (And starting this year, I believe grading will also be done in Powerschool.) Powerschool is a *huge* convenience--but based on my facebook feed this afternoon, parents need to be convinced that our data is safe.

3. Riding my bike past the "Pathways Campus" today, I decided I like that name, much much better than the old A2Tech name. It implies that there are multiple ways of getting to the same destination.

4. Please--as you turn your thoughts toward the school year--take my survey and offer some meaningful critiques of the Ann Arbor district's new web site. It's my impression that a lot of stuff that was on the old web site is not on the new web site, but I don't know if that's true, that is really based on some cursory searches that I have done. What do you like and what don't you like? Take the survey!

5. Want to be a guest blogger? Let me know.

6. Back to School Helpline: From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. you can call 734-660-9911

Now that helpline is truly a great idea--I have often gotten panicked questions from parents in the last few days before school. I hope it works well (in other words, I hope that they have the staffing to handle the call volume). I also hope that the people answering the phones have the correct answers at their fingertips.
At the end of Rick's Run, 2014.
I got my son to come with me! Thanks Joel!

7. Let's talk about Rick's Run! It's a fundraiser for Ann Arbor Rec & Ed scholarships, in memory of Rick DeKeon, a favorite PE teacher at Northside Elementary who was also active with Rec & Ed. I ran last year (the inaugural run) and it was at Pioneer, and it was freezing cold. OK, actually, I half ran and half walked, and it really doesn't matter, you can run or walk. It's a little bit earlier this year so it should be a little warmer (October 24th) and I'm signing up! Join me? (Maybe I should form a team...the blogspots?) You can register as a family or an individual right here, and tomorrow (Monday! August 24th) is the last day for a discount. Who's with me?!

[I went searching for the piece I wrote about Rick DeKeon and the Northside naming of the gym in his honor, and now there is a new gym being built over at Northside--so I'm wondering if the new gym will also be named after him.]

8. There is a really interesting lawsuit coming out of New York about how standardized testing can (or can't)--certainly shouldn't!--be used to evaluate teachers.

New York: Controversial teacher evaluation method is on trial--literally--and the judge is not amused

and a Slate piece on why this is a big deal.

9. Also in New York, where about 20% of students opted out of standardized tests, the New York Times reports that school districts will not lose money.

10. John Oliver takes on standardized testing!

Consider subscribing to Ann Arbor Schools Musings by Email!


  1. Maybe it's just me, but as a parent the real technological change in AAPS I was thrilled to learn about was that it is now possible to fill out all that beginning of the year paperwork online. I'd come to dread those huge packets of endless forms at the start of each year. And it sounds like some of that info might even pre-fill year to year, making it less onerous in future years if there are no changes. Of course, I haven't used the system yet, so I can't vouch for whether it's a good system in practice. Just in theory.

  2. I completely agree and should have written about it! My only regret is that I only have one child in the schools this year so I can't have the family info "snap" from one child to the next! I expect it will save school secretaries huge amounts of time.

  3. Here's the link to the agreement on the AAPS Board website: