Teach For America Will Not Save Us

The "Alabama Teacher Shortage Task Force" recently reported to the state school board.  No doubt the 18 members of this group spent a lot of time on this project.  They presented a number of good ideas.  Things such as providing incentives for certified teachers to...

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1,300+ Posts And Counting

I waded off into the blogosphere in the spring of 2015.  That was now more than 1,300 posts ago and at an average of about 500 words per post, more than 600,000 words. Or, since Google tells me that the average book is 100,000 words, six books ago.  No wonder I feel...

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Once Again, Woodland Prep Tips Its Hand

While the handful of supporters of Woodland Prep charter school in Washington County insist that all they want is better education opportunities for local students, their actions tell a far different story. For example, the Oct. 11 edition of The Washington County...

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Checking The Bucket List: Coalwood, WV

It's not hard to find Coalwood, WV.  Go north on highway 19 out of Abingdon, VA, take a left on highway 16 in Tazewell, VA and don't get in a hurry because the road soon clings hard to what little space there is between a meandering creek bank and whatever mountains...

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Soner Tarim: Live And In Person.

It was Monday, September 30 and right there is front of me, only 25 feet away, stood Soner Tarim, the wizard  of charter schools, all the way from Houston, TX (even thought he said in the meeting he lives in Montgomery). It was the most recent meeting of the state...

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The Magic Of Childhood

Bombarded by a 24-7 barrage of bad news about self-centered politicians, mad men with assault weapons. the constant quest for riches by billionaires who already have more money than they can spend and overpaid and over indulged athletes, it is easy to forget what the...

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A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

The picture above comes from Northpontotoc Upper elementary school in Ecru, MS.  Ecru has less than 1,000 people and is in Pontotoc County just west of Tupelo. Here is what accompanied the photo.  “These trees were 17 years old when harvested.  The smaller one...

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Why Do Politicians Think I Am A Moron?

Montgomery will elect a new mayor on Oct. 8.  The field has been narrowed to two candidates, Steven Reed and David Woods. I have seen TV ads for Reed saying he will give teachers a raise.  Today I got a flyer from Woods that proclaims. "Education is the key to a...

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Charter Shenanigans In Birmingham

Terri Michael is a member of the Birmingham city school board.  She works hard to keep a watchful eye on things involving that school system.  She is very concerned about things she has learned about the push for charter schools there.  In the article below, which was...

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LEAD Academy Principal Fighting Back

Is Nichole Ivey the principal at Montgomery's LEAD Academy charter school--or is she not? This subject was raised at the Sept. 30 meeting of the state charter  school commission.  LEAD board chair Charlotte Meadows told the commission that Ivey was no longer the...

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Josh Moon Blows The Whistle On LEAD Academy

Josh Moon has been an investigative reporter for years.  First for The Montgomery Advertiser, today he writes for The Alabama Political Reporter.  Never one to shy away from exposing the underbelly of political--and other-shenanigans--Moon lets the chips fall where...

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Charter Commission Grills Woodland Prep

The newly re-constituted state charter school commission met in Montgomery on Sept 30 and one thing is quite clear.  There is a new sheriff in town. The state school board replaced four incumbent commission members on Aug. 8, one of whom was chairman Mac Buttram. ...

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Things Montgomery Schools Should Consider

After thousands of miles and visits with countless teachers. principals and superintendents.  After sitting in school board meetings from one end of Alabama to the other (including some when I was a member of the Montgomery school board) and seeing it all from the...

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Our Thoughts And Prayers Are With Governor Ivey

Alabamians were shocked to get the news that Governor Kay Ivey is undergoing treatment for a cancerous spot on her lung.  I have said a prayer for her, as have people all across the state. Because we have all been touched by this disease in some form or fashion, while...

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Yes, There Really Is Goodness In This World

We can all be forgiven for thinking the world has truly gone to Hell since we are constantly bombarded by news of murders and mass shootings and politicians wasting our tax dollars, etc.  The drumbeat is unending. But then we learn about a restaurant in Brewton, AL...

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Black Belt Teacher Corps Making A Difference

One of the great joys of life is watching something go from only an idea to actuality.  Which is the way I view the Black Belt Teacher Corps at the University of West Alabama. This seed was planted in either late 2015 or early in 2016.  (Old minds have a habit of...

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A Technology Rant.

While I may be accused of many things, understanding--and using--technology is not one of them. Lord only knows how long I've had my old flip phone.  I do not text.  It does not take pictures.  My GPS is made of paper, unfolds and has lot of lines on it.  I use my...

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Time To Apply For Rural Grants

One of the fun things I do is serve on the board of the national Rural Schools Collaborative.  Our mission is to work with rural schools across the country on different programs.  This group has been especially helpful in getting the Black Belt Teacher Corps at the...

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Diane Ravitch Keeps An Eye On Alabama

Editor's note: Diane Ravitch is probably the best known voice in the U.S. who is a constant critic of what is today loosely clustered into "education reform."   A native of Houston, she is an education historian by training.  She was an assistant U.S. Secretary of...

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A Voice From Finland

For the last two decades, the world  has beaten a path to Finland's door to examine what many consider the world's best system of public education. William Doyle is a former Fulbright Scholar who was on the staff of the University of Eastern Finland a couple of years...

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Illinois Abolishes Charter Commission

Illinois passed a charter school law in 1996.  Today there are nearly 70,000 students in charter schools in Illinois.  However, all is not well there. In fact, the governor recently signed into law a bill abolishing the state's charter school commission.  Here is a...

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Teachers Travel The Extra Miles

As reported here by WBRC in Birmingham, before school opened this year, teachers at Fultondale elementary on the north side of  Birmingham in the Jefferson County school system loaded buses and rode through neighborhoods to let students know they were looking forward...

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Say What?

When the state Republican executive committee met Aug. 24 to debate whether or not to support the constitutional amendment to keep an elected state school board or to have one appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate, there was confusion as to how the...

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Fruitdale. A Lesson From Rural Alabama

Sweet Jesus.  It was hot, like really, really hot.  But what do you expect on an August afternoon in the middle of a football field just 90 miles from the Gulf of Mexico? I was there to watch the 2019 version of the Fruitdale Pirates practice.  Fruitdale is one of...

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He’s Back

1,546 miles.  Six states.  Five nights.  And tired. Plus, south Alabama is still hot and humid, just like it was when I left on Aug. 16. Was great to visit family.  Daughter Kim and son-in-law Tod came from Maryland to my sister's in Black Mountain, NC.  Brother...

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Heading For The Hills

My family is very small.  Only me, my sister and my brother.  Sister has one daughter and one grandchild.  I have a son and daughter and no grandchildren.  My brother has never married.  So we don't need much space to have a "family reunion." Neither do we have many...

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Get Ready For The Common Core Flim Flam

When the election of March 3, 2020 rolls around, the proponents of switching from an elected to an appointed school board will play their Common Core card. Why?  Because the legislation calling for a vote on a constitutional amendment to change how we pick our state...

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Del Marsh Tips His Hand

Senate majority leader Del Marsh wants to control public education in Alabama.  Yep, the same guy who has shown us repeatedly that he is clueless about how schools really work, what their challenges are and how best to address them, now wants to hand pick the members...

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Changes Coming To Charter Commission

The charter commission should have 10 members.  But it presently only has nine since Chad Flincher resigned in March.  (The charter law says vacancies will be filled within 60 days.  But why pay attention to the law?) Of the remaining nine members, five are serving...

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Josh Moon Lowers The Boom On Charter Law

Josh Moon has been a journalist for two decades.  Once with the Montgomery Advertiser, he can now be found on the pages  of the Alabama Political Reporter. Never one for beating around the bush, Moon has taken dead aim at the charter law passed in 2015.  When first...

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Alabama’s Forgotten Children

As you sift and sort through data dealing with public education in Alabama, you realize how much information is taken out of context and how much is simply ignored.  For instance, it is readily apparent that there is a constant realignment and migration of children...

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Facts About Charter Schools

Jan Resseger is a longtime public school advocate.  Before retiring she worked with the United Church of Christ to improve public schools by reducing standardized  testing, calling attention to opportunity gaps that confront many children and advocating for schools...

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Need A Good Job? Run Some Charter Schools.

California has long been a hot bed for charter schools.  As of the 2017-18 school year, there were charters in 54 of the state's 58 counties with more than 628,000 students. And some of the folks running these schools are making out like bandits according to the San...

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The $64 Question

Once upon a time it was common to hear someone say, "That's the $64 question."  Meaning that this was the question no one could answer.  As in, "How does your mama make such great biscuits?"  In my case, even mama could not answer this question because there was no...

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Wow. Wish I Had Said This.

My retired teacher friend, Linda Slayton, in Clarke County sent me a post from Facebook that sums well up educational policy today.  She did not know the author. "So let me get this straight: You have to student teach before you teach, teach before you enter...

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Me And Washington County

My first post about the Washington County charter mess was on April 10, 2019.  I had no clue about what was going on in southwest Alabama until just a few days before this.  Someone mentioned there was an effort to open a charter there and I contacted the charter...

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Dig Where The Taters Are

Long ago a friend loved to say, "You got to dig where the taters are."  In other words, you have to have a market to be successful. But numbers from the University of Alabama tell us there are not many taters where Woodland Prep in Washington County is trying to dig. ...

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Turmoil Amidst The Pines

It’s reasonable to think there might be some controversy about any new school. Maybe where it is located, what it is named, who the principal may be, what courses will be taught? But seldom do you expect the wholesale turmoil that hit rural Washington County, AL when...

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All Alone In A Cold Cruel World

Winston County is a small, rural county in northwest Alabama.  Double Springs, with just over 1,000 residents, is the county seat.  Its "claim to fame" is the fact that citizens here were very opposed to Alabama withdrawing from the Union during the Civil War.  When...

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As Wide As The Grand Canyon

Last week we posted a survey asking how folks feel about having an elected state school board versus an appointed one.  (Voters will tackle this issue by voting on a constitutional  amendment March 3, 2020.) More than 1,100 people responded.  Here was our initial look...

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Legislature Ignoring Charter School Law

Our Montgomery lawmakers often labor long and hard at drafting a bill--and then ignoring what they wrote later on.  There is no better example of this than the charter school law sponsored by Senator Del Marsh and passed in 2015. This law sets up a 10-member charter...

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Too Many Questions, Too Few Answers

As the debacle with Woodland Prep in Washington County continues and as the state charter commission resembles a lap dog more than a watch dog, questions keep piling up in my mind. Soner Tarim, the self-proclaimed education guru from Texas, who owns Unity School...

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Geraldine Student Best In Nation

Highway 75 cuts through the Sand Mountain portion of DeKalb County like a good butcher knife slices a ripe watermelon.  Going north from Marshall County you go through Geraldine, Lakeview, Fyffe, Shiloh, Rainsville, Sylvania, Henager, Ider and on into Georgia.  Add...

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The Miracles Of Marshall County

It’s doubtful that many who zip by Douglas high school on Highway 75, nine miles south of Albertville, realize they are passing a place where miracles truly do happen. A community of just 1,000, Douglas sits atop the spit of land in northeast Alabama known as Sand...

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Notes From A Quick Trip To Texas

I made it to the luncheon held by Pastors For Texas Children in Dallas June 17 safe and sound.  And home again to Montgomery.  A quick,  but fruitful, trip and glad I went.  I have mentioned this organization several times.  Begun a few years ago by Baptist minister...

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

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