A Proud Pappy

My son Kevin lives in Mobile and writes for the weekly publication Lagniappe.  And though daddies are supposed to be biased, I can say with all sincerity that he is an excellent writer.  Read the following just published piece and make up your own mind. "The best gift...

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Elvis Is Back. And Thawing Out.

Madison, WI is in SOUTHERN Wisconsin,  Like only about 50 miles from Illinois.  By comparison, it is 300 miles from Madison to Ashland on the state's northern border.  Still, it was 19 degrees last Friday morning in Madison.  I have no idea what the temperature was in...

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Elvis Is Leaving The Building

Your trusty and ancient blogger will be AWOL for several days as I head for the frozen tundra of Madison, WI,  The purpose in going is to attend a meeting of the Wisconsin Public Education Network Dec. 7. This is basically a collation of local public school advocacy...

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Jo Bonner Comes To Montgomery

Governor Kay Ivey has just announced that former Congressman, Jo Bonner, is joining her staff as "senior advisor."  In my opinion,  this is great news for the people of Alabama. I have known Jo since 1982.  And if I could sum him up in just one word, it would be...

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Back To The Beginning

It has now been almost six years since the legislature pulled a "fast one" on public education in Alabama by passing the Alabama Accountability Act.  And with more and more people realizing that the bill has never been what it was touted to be, I thought it might be...

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The Iron Bowl And Education

As I watched the team in white (Auburn) get methodically picked apart by the team in red (Alabama) last Saturday to the tune of 52 points to 21 points, I couldn't help but equate this to a situation unfolding in Montgomery about charter schools. What IF the two teams...

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My Suggestion For A Christmas Gift

While some may call me Scrooge, I can not remember the last time I shopped for a Christmas gift for someone.  I mean like where you buy something, wrap it up and give it to them. It's because I long ago decided that those who mean the most to me basically have about...

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Vouchers Take A Beating In Texas

Some Texas legislators have been pushing school vouchers for years.  (You know, like those scholarships we give to private schools in Alabama through the Alabama Accountability Act.)  And while the Senate has been friendly to the idea, the House of Representatives has...

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Riding and Reflecting

It was Oct 31, 2018.  A gloriously bright and mild day.  The day I decided summer had finally given up its too-long grip on all of Dixie.  My car  window was down as I passed sights seen many times before. I was on U.S. 80 heading west from Montgomery. ...

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It’s Time For Another Iron Bowl

Next Saturday, Nov. 24, the state of Alabama will come to a virtual standstill to tune in the annual football game between Auburn and Alabama.  If college football is a religion in Alabama, and I think it is, next Saturday is the holiest of holy days. The University...

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Bless His Heart

The PTOs of Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook city school systems held their 14th annual PTO Legislative Forum the evening of Nov. 15.  All legislators representing this area attended.  They included State Senators Jabo Waggoner and Dan Roberts and House members David...

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Things That Make You Go “Hmmmmmmm”

Recently the Montgomery County school board (which I am on until the end of November) passed a resolution calling on our legislative delegation to work to repeal the Alabama Accountability Act.  The Baldwin County board had already passed a resolution and now Mobile...

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Is Bureaucracy Killing Our Schools?

Sometimes I wonder if educators read this blog.  But then I post a story like this one and I have my answer. Suddenly my inbox is swamped as educators from every corner of Alabama chime in to agree with me.  Their frustration with the constant search for a "silver...

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Looking At Members Of 2019 Legislature

With the general election now over, we at least know who the brand new members of both the Alabama House and Senate will be.  There will be 12 new Senators and 28 new House members. Actually, three of the Senators are former House members moving to the other chamber. ...

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Initiative Overload

A friend recently told me about something that grabbed my attention.  And made a great deal of sense. She called it "initiative overload."  Meaning that we bombard educators with first this initiative and then that one.  The poor folks in classrooms and who runs...

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Thoughts On Tuesday’s Election

Since most of us have now thanked the Good Lord that another election day has come and gone and we've had time to take a deep breathe, let's spend a few minutes reflecting on what happened across Alabama. A few days ago I posted that I would be watching five...

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Dig Where The Taters Are

After posting the piece about Republican candidates getting campaign contributions from the PAC, Alabama Voice of Teachers for Education, a number of emails showed up in my inbox with folks wondering what is going on and if giving to people who have traditionally...

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Hollywood Comes To Cullman County

Sometimes you are just dumbfounded.  Like when you read this amazing AL.com article about what just happened at Parkside school in the east end of Cullman County. It began when some teachers at the school birthed the notion to redo their rooms as Hogwarts-themed...

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Del Marsh Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot

We told you that the Montgomery school board passed a resolution last week calling on local legislators to repeal the Alabama Accountability Act.  This came after Baldwin County did the same the week before that. Now the Montgomery Advertiser has written an article...

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Looking At 2019 Political Reality

When the Alabama Accountability Act passed the legislature in 2013, the Senate vote was 22-11 and the House vote was 51-26.  And though that was just five years ago, in the world of politics, it was long ago.  We have now had an election in 2014 and are having another...

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Touching A Nerve

Since in my case, seeing is believing, when I heard that the Baldwin County school board was to pass a resolution on Oct  18 calling for repeal of the Alabama Accountability Act, I climbed in my 19-year old car and headed toward Bay Minette. Sure enough, right on...

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Voices From The Classroom

My buddy Shannon Odom is principal of Gilmore elementary in Jackson and has been for a number of years.  She and her cohort in crime, Kathy Spidle, principal at Grove Hill elementary, keep Clarke County superintendent Larry Bagley on his toes. I kid Shannon that her...

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

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