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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Joe Windle’s Unique Perspective

Most folks in Tallapoosa County just know that Joe Windle is the superintendent of the county school system.  Some recall when he was principal at Reeltown high school. What most do not know is that prior to becoming part of the school system, he spent 28 years in the...

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Time To Stop The Montgomery Circus – Part Two

Time To Stop The Montgomery Circus: Part Two How do you tell how much a community cares about its public schools?  Looking in their pocketbook is an excellent way to start. Do this and you discover that Montgomery apparently cares less than places like Bullock County,...

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Time To Stop The Montgomery Circus

If the Montgomery public school situation isn’t a full-blown circus, then I have never heard a calliope. All we need is a trapeze or two, a couple of elephants and a lion and a tiger. We already have a full cast of performers. The MPS school board, the chamber of...

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Timeline For Superintendent Search Released

The state department of education has released the timeline for the search for a new state superintendent. All interested parties had to have applications in by March 23, 2018. April 12, 2018--Ray and Associates, the search firm employed by ALSDE, will meet with the...

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Decision Time For Mary Scott Hunter

Not only is state school board member Mary Scott Hunter engrossed in a run for the state senate in Huntsville, she faces a very tough decision before her election on June 5. The state school board is now beginning a search for a new state superintendent.  It is being...

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Did He Really Say That?

It seems that it would not be a normal legislative session without at least one bill that is considered "very contentious."  Most observers are bestowing this title to HB317 for the session that ended this week. As I understand it (and I make no promises that I do)...

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Hitting Delete Ain’t Much Fun

When I checked a few moments ago, there were 2,347 email addresses in my address book.  But earlier today there were 2,349 because I just deleted two. That's because two longtime friends passed away in the last few weeks,  But each time this is the reason I hit...

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Distrust Damaging Montgomery Schools

By Larry Lee Distrust is a cancer that can destroy anything it infects.  A marriage, a football team, a church, a business—or in the case of Montgomery--a school system. One simply has to look at the mess we’re in and all the people pointing fingers and blaming...

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A Tale Of Two States

Knowing there is always more than one way to skin a cat, some Alabama legislators are always looking for new ways to sneak more money away from public schools. This time it was by allowing taxpayers to use tuition to private schools as a tax break, thus taking more...

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Mike Sentance Search Won’t Go Away

Let me show my age again.  Some of us recall in a faraway time of black and white TV when John Cameron Swayze touted the durability of Timex watches.  He put them on the blade of a motor boat engine, spun them underwater at 4,500 RPM and then showed us that the watch...

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Grant Time For Black Belt Teachers

Each year the national organization, Rural Schools Collaborative runs a small grant program for rural teachers.  (I serve on their board.)  And it's time for teachers to make application. We have awarded 15 grants in the last few years.  While they are usually not...

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There IS Goodness In This World

Given the constant bombardment of "bad" news we all get (some of which comes from me talking about dumb education policy, etc.) it is understandable that sometimes we want to turn off the TV, put down the newspaper and throw our I pad in the trash. But honest, there...

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Campaign Is Up And Running

The campaign for a seat on the Montgomery County board of education is off to a great start.  After qualifying with the local Republican party, I filed necessary paperwork with both the Secretary of State and the Ethics Commission and have now submitted my...

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More Silliness From A-F

No doubt you are tired of reading posts about how dumb the A-F school report cards are.  And I am tired of writing about this fiasco. But then I come across another example of how truly silly it is and can't help telling you about it.  Each year the Council for...

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Another School System Votes Against A-F

Winfield straddles the Marion and Fayette county lines about 75 miles northwest of Birmingham.  Probably its greatest claim to fame is the annual "Mule Day" celebration each September. But in education circles, Winfield has long been known for a small, but excellent,...

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