A Definite Glimpse At Dedication

In the grand scheme of national affairs, or even those of Alabama, the PTA meeting at Vaughn Road elementary in Montgomery on Oct. 9 didn't make news of any sort.  Fox News was not there, nor even a local TV station or newspaper reporter.  Just some dedicated teachers...

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All I Want For Christmas Is One Front Tooth

So last Sunday I'm at the BBQ joint around the corner treating myself to some ribs.  About halfway through the last one, I chomped down on something that definitely was not meat.  I rolled it around in my mouth and decided to face the music and check it out more...

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Dothan Eagle Questions Accountability Act

Under the headline: $30 M should produce dramatic results, not indiscernible difference, the Dothan Eagle has joined the chorus of those questioning the value of the Alabama Accountability Act. Here's what they had to say recently: As Dothan school officials wrangle...

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A Fine Piece Of Writing

My son, Kevin, lives in Mobile and writes for the weekly publication, Lagniappe.  I am proud of him and his ability to tell a story.  He is a tireless researcher and digs hard to get those tiny facts and quotes that bring a story to life. On September 22, 1993 ,The...

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An Honest Look At Education Today

Raise Your Hand Texas is a public school advocacy group based in Austin.  Among the many things they are involved in is an on-going effort to tell the story of today's schools and what teachers are asked to cope with. As they say: "Being an educator in today’s schools...

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Honk If You Have Seen Jason Taylor

When then state superintendent Mike Sentence took over the Montgomery County school system early in 2017 one of his first moves was to sign a three-year. no-bid contract for $708,000 to bring Huntsville City school's Chief Financial Officer, Jason Taylor, to...

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Two Weeks And Counting

It has now been two weeks and two days (August 31) since I was sworn in to serve the remainder of a term on the Montgomery school board.  Of course, the view is always different on the inside looking out than on the outside looking in.  And so it is here. One of the...

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Father Time Taps Auburn Alum On The Shoulder

How many times have I been part of the multitude gathered in Auburn to watch a football game?  No earthy idea.  The first one was in the fall of 1961 back when Shug Jordan was coach and the stadium held about 40,000 people. No million dollar contracts for coaches, no...

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Tracking Montgomery County School Board Races

It seems the election for members of the Montgomery County school board is like the Energizer Bunny--it just keeps going and going and going. Actually they have been going since last Feb. 9 which was the last day for candidates to qualify. This board has seven members...

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Reinventing Education In West Alabama

The Black Belt has always been a study in contradictions.  Both bewitched and bewitching.  It was always the land that set the table for both wealth and grinding poverty. When Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, the scramble for new lands to grow cotton was...

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50 Schools Split $1 Million

Fifty elementary schools throughout the state had lots of smiling faces this past week when it was announced that each would receive $20,000 because of improved third-grade reading results.  Funding was provided by the legislature in the 2018 session.  A ceremony will...

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Time To Go To Work

When the legislature convenes in January 2019, about 25 percent of both the Senate and House members will be new.  This is nearly 40 new faces (though there will be some current House members moving to the Senate.) This is a tremendous opportunity for education.  We...

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Did I Sleep Through High School?

Being alone for the better part of each day gives me plenty of time to think about all kinds of things.  Something I have pondered a lot is what is "education" supposed to be.  And I go back to my own days in grade school and high school.  (Yes, it's been a long time...

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The Prodigal Has Returned

Yes, there really is an Eiffel Tower in Paris, TN.  I have now seen it with my own eyes,  As well as the playground, swimming pool and tennis courts that surround it.  Granted, it is miniscule compared to the real one in France (which I have also seen live and in...

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Leaving The Reservation

Have changed the oil in my old car (the 1999 model with 125,000 miles on it) and about to hit the road.  So won't be on my keyboard for several days. Purpose of this wandering is to attend the board meeting of the Rural Schools Collaborative being held in St.; Louis. ...

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A Note From A Favorite Principal

I spent 30 minutes in the reception area of a middle school somewhere in Alabama yesterday.  It was basically bedlam.  Pre-schoolers scooting to and fro, mamas frantically looking for info about which school their child is supposed to attend, the phone ringing off the...

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Checking In On The Governor’s Race

Traditionally. campaigns for a November general election don't really kick off until Labor Day.  However, there doesn't seem to be much "traditional" about politics these days and because it's now just three months until Nov. 6th, let's peek at the governor's race...

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Some Housekeeping

A few days ago we mentioned that Tracey Meyer, longtime ALSDE employee who worked to keep up with legislative happenings, had begun a blog to highlight many of the positives about Alabama public schools. In order to keep up with what she has to say, you can go to this...

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A Beautiful Goodbye

I have never met J. L. Strickland in person.  But I do know he worked in the textile mills for many years in "the valley" where the Chattahoochee River becomes the Georgia-Alabama border.  And he is a heck of a story teller, which is important in order to be a good...

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Everyone Needs A Dean Simmons

I suppose it is only natural that when you realize you have far more yesterdays than tomorrows, you spend a lot of time thinking about the paths you have traveled in life and the people who made an impact on you. I graduated from high school in 1961 and headed off to...

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Do We Really Know What We Are Doing?

Ted Dintersmith made a LOT of money as a venture capitalist.  And because he has two children he became very interested in education in this country.  He has spent a lot of his time and money exploring what we are doing, both right and wrong.  He has looked at schools...

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Another Blog Comes On Line

Tracey Meyer is a familiar name to many in Alabama education circles.  She worked at the state department of education for almost two decades and for years was the "go to" person in working with the legislature.  She did an excellent job of tracking legislation and...

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Montgomery Advertiser Figures It Out

Give credit to the Montgomery Advertiser for being honest about the REAL challenge facing the Montgomery County school system.  As they point out in this article, Poverty and proficiency: MPS' biggest obstacle may be outside the school system, the issue goes far...

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Needs To Be Repeated

I said something in my last blog post, that bears repeating and then thinking about. "When you look at the high schools in the state with the 20 HIGHEST average ACT scores and the 20 with the LOWEST, you discover they have one thing in common. According to the A-F...

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Mass Confusion

Two pieces of legislation graphically illustrate how Alabama enacts laws that make little sense and defy logic. One is a bill passed in 2012 that assigns a letter grade of A, B, C, D or F to every school in the state.  The other is the Alabama Accountability Act...

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BCA’s Canary Flies The Coop

The political grapevine hummed Friday, July 6 with news that Billy Canary, long time CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, announced his resignation.  Canary has been in hot water for months concerning his management style and combative approach to working with...

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Rip Van Winkle Is Alive And Well In Montgomery

"With each new superintendent, hope springs eternal that someone will be found who can lead us to the Promised Land. While only time will tell if there is a savior among us, whoever steps into the leadership role will face a much greater challege than a divided school...

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A Teacher To The End

Tammy Waddell taught fifth grade at Sawnee elementary school in Cumming, GA.  Unfortunately, she recently lost her bout with cancer. Obviously loved by many, her on-line obituary had page after page of remembrances from co-workers, parents and former students.  Many...

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And Then There Was One

My involvement with public education began in 2008 when Owen Sweatt, Gerald Carter and I set out to study ten high-performing rural elementary schools around the state.  Since all were high-poverty, we wanted to find out why they were doing so well academically in the...

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When Good People Do Good Things

The Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation, a non-profit organization working to strengthen public education, is sending 109 educators from Texas to attend weeklong summer institutes at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. With this new...

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Freedom & BBQ

To be honest, after I flamed and burned on June 5 in my campaign for a seat on the Montgomery County school board I have felt like a free man.  Not once have I driven down a street thinking a yard sign would look great on that corner lot or which neighborhood should I...

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Is Del Marsh Losing His Mo Jo?

Senator Del Marsh has been in the cat bird's seat ever since the Republican tsunami of 2010 swung the balance of power in Montgomery from D to R.  As president pro tem of the Senate, all roads lead through Marsh's office.  He appoints committee chairs and generally...

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Rural Grant Winners Announced

Something that gives me great satisfaction is my work on the board of the national organization, Rural Schools Collaborative.  For several years, RSC has been awarding small grants to teachers in rural schools.  While there is not a lot of money involved, I have...

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I Lost. Big Time.

Though I have yet to see the final results in my run for the District two seat on the Montgomery school board, I do know that I was trounced to the tune of OTHER GUY got 71 percent and I got only 29 percent.  Out of a total of 3,077 votes cast, I only received 893....

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How Much More Silly Will Things Get?

This morning Montgomery school board member Melissa Snowden, who is also being attacked by MGM NXT PAC, and I had a press conference at 10 a.m. to discuss the negative campaign being waged against us. (Interesting that the PAC says they want to make sure no incumbents...

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Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

As I write it is 9 p.m on Sunday night.  Within about 48 hours or so we should know the outcome of my campaign for the Montgomery school board, District Two.  I honestly have no sense of how this will turn out. But win, lose or draw I will always be so very thankful...

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A Very Special Love Story

Though some people are trying to convince voters in east Montgomery that I have horns, a pitchfork and a pointed tail, nothing  could be more wrong.  Heck, I am a very sentimental, emotional kind of guy.  Which is why I've been known to cry at certain movies or TV ...

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Josh Moon Pulls No Punches

John Moon spent years as a reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser.  Today he is a featured columnist for The Alabama Political Reporter.  He has never been one to sugarcoat something, which means you are not on the Christmas card list for some people. He has watched...

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News Flash: The Sky Did Not Fall!

Right on cue, the mailman left me a giant postcard (8 1/2 X 11) yesterday announcing "OUR SCHOOL BOARD AND OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM ARE BROKEN."  I was told, "We're facing a loss of accreditation.  If Montgomery's schools lose accreditation, our children will have limited...

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Big Bucks Hit Montgomery School Board Election

Seems that someone has hung a FOR SALE sign on the Montgomery County Board of Education and a bidding war has broken out. Of the seven seats on this board, five of them are being contested this year.  Two incumbents are not running for re-election, three are....

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Teacher Stress Is Very Real

A few weeks ago I spoke to an elementary principal about the issues she faces.  She told me that one is teacher absenteeism.  When I asked her why,she quickly told me, "Stress."  At 4 p.m. today, (Friday May 25) I'm talking to the principal of one of the best...

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Good News From Washington County

As the Tombigbee river meanders through west Alabama it eventually becomes the eastern border of Washington County.  In fact, this is where its waters join those of the Alabama river before heading to Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  The county is both big and...

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Where Is The “Our”?

In the last 24 hours I have read two articles that paint something of a stark picture of Montgomery these days. One is about Montgomery public schools in the Montgomery Business Journal, a publication of the Chamber of Commerce.  Here we learn that "seven out of ten...

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Thoughts Prompted By Graduation

My friend Wendy Lang is a former educator, an advocate for public education and a single parent who understands the value of those who invest in the lives of children.   She is also a regular columnist for the Decatur Daily, her hometown newspaper. She just attended...

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Challenge Failed. On With The Campaign.

As we explained a couple of days ago, after being challenged in March about running on the Republican ballot for Montgomery County Board of Education, I was challenged again by former legislator Perry Hooper, Jr. of Montgomery in late April. I am happy to report that...

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More Trash

So, the attacks about my running for the Montgomery Board of Education continue. This time I am branded as a racist.  See it all here. Someone went to the trouble to go back 36 years and dig up an article from the Montgomery Advertiser where a reporter said that I...

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Politics Rears Its Ugly Head

NEVER did I think that when I decided to run for the Montgomery school board things would turn as ugly, disgusting and sickening as they have. And sadly, I have learned that there are some who put politics WAAY above anything that may benefit the school children of...

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Why Testing Has Failed Our Schools

The over emphasis on test scores (can you say A-F report cards?) is wrong-headed and detrimental to students and our school systems. Here is a great article from District Administration magazine by Tim Goral exploring this topic.  Tim interviewed Daniel Koretz, one of...

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Black Belt Scholar Responds

You met Allie Marques last September when we told about her service project that is part of the program required of students in the Black Belt Teaching Corps. She's about big as a minute with a perpetual grin.  One of those personalities who just lights up any room...

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I Was (Almost) At A Loss For Words

The invitation said it was a reception in honor of Black Belt Teacher Corps Scholars Class of 2017-18.  So, I immediately noted May 3rd on my calendar and made plans to be at Brock Hall on the campus of the University of West Alabama in Livingston on that date. After...

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Rural Grant Pays Off For Pisgah High

The Rural School Collaborative works throughout the United States.  One of their projects is awarding small grants to rural schools.  Alabama has been fortunate to receive a number of these grants.  (Editor's note: I serve on the board of this organization.) Pisgah...

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A Grand Time Was Had By All

One side of the cafeteria at Goodwyn middle school was packed with 6th, 7th and 8th grade girls.  Some all dressed up, some in their school clothes.  All were wiggling and jumping and doing the kind of things young ladies of that age are supposed to do. Across the...

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Best Wishes To Eric Mackey

As we know, the state school board, on a 5-4 vote, selected Eric Mackey on April 20 as our new state school chief.  I wish him all the best.  I have known him since he came to his job at the School Superintendents of Alabama in 2010.  Even know his wife Robin. He is a...

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Meet Some Montgomery Area Teachers

April is National Financial Literacy Month and the good folks at Max Credit Union in the river region are looking for three teachers who do an outstanding job with financial education. The community selects these through on-line voting.  My fourth-grade teacher friend...

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Nashville Charters Having Big Problems

Will Pinkston has been on the Metro Nashville Board of Public Education since being elected in 2012.  He is not a fan of charter schools as  he explains in this article in the Nashville Tennessean. According to Pinkston: "It was just a matter of time before the wheels...

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Eric Mackey Picked For State Superintendent

The state school board, on a 5-4 vote, selected Eric Mackey as the new state superintendent April 20.  Mackey is the one-time superintendent of the Jacksonville, AL city system and has directed the School Superintendents of Alabama for several years. Craig Pouncey,...

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Meet The State Superintendent Candidates

D Day is Friday, April 20.  In this case, D stands for DECISION as the governor, plus the state school board, will interview four candidates for state superintendent and decide on one. Ray & Associates, the search firm handling this project, brought seven names before...

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Tales From The (Campaign) Trail

Don't be fooled.  Campaigning for any office is pretty much a slog.  Whether it is for the local school board, as I am doing in Montgomery, or for governor, it is hard work. And you are constantly disappointed as you realize most folks are just not very interested in...

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Larry Lee researches and writes on educational topics and Alabama public schools.

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