The News Journal in an attempt to muddy the resolve of the few attending parents actively involved in their children’s education, is trying to roll out the case for RTTT sponsored by Jack Markell…

The overall primary question is who is best to run our schools?   Corporate for profit entities?  Or people who get voted in by members of their district?

Big question.  Should we even trust these school board members who have been involved with education most of their lives?  Shouldn’t we instead, trust companies who will make millions off the tests they forced upon us?

Hmmm……

The issue is simple.  RTTT funding must have qualifiers attached.  That was needed to make this not look like the stimulus it really was.   One of those qualifiers is that teachers must be paid low, and if successful, receive a big bonus.  However, all teachers get paid low, only a priveleged few who are well connected, get the big bonuses.

Recognizing this earlier than most other districts, probably due the the wisdom of having worked with Eli Broad candidates before, one who bankrupted the district by $19 million dollars, the Christina District wants to refuse that money.   However they will take it if they can instead break that $20,000 dollar bonus and spread it out to twenty well deserving people, who will receive bonuses of $1000 dollars each.  The Department of Education is balking at that, because it spolls their plan of giving $20,000 to a certain person…..

Now there is one more thing.  It will cost the Christina District some of their own money to implement the things the DOE wants done.  In otherwords, the DOE allots say $500 for a Career Fair, but, the actual cost is something like $2,500.  That mean that to receive this RTTT money in question, … on this one event, it will cost the local board an additional $2000 they weren’t planning to spend.  Does that make sense?

Bluntly, it is like a loan shark came to your door to give you $20 dollars, yep, $20 dollars just like that. Just for nothing… Just sign on the dotted line to say you got it… As you read you see this:  Contractee must pay back money along with $30 borrowing fee.  So, if you take that $20 dollars, … it’s going to cost you $50….

This is why the board is debating getting woo-hoo free money.  It is not free.

This post is to see if the Board can get along without it?  The information was created and publicized by the News Journal Opinion piece to make people upset money was being turned downed.  Here is what that money would go to……

Funding for: college and career fairs at high schools and middle schools, college and career centers in each high school; STEMs program focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – two high schools, one middle school and two elementary schools that struggle in those subjects; revisions to career and technical pathways at high schools that are aligned with state and federal job market data; expansion of Advanced Placement coursework and extra supports to help under-represented groups in those core areas; “graduation guides,” to help students meet graduation requirements – this is particularly important for ninth-graders, where state data shows the potential for leaving school begins; a series of professional development courses for teachers and school leaders, including a pilot project to allow teachers who have mastered their subject skills to boost the instructional deficiencies among their peers; project-based learning at four high-need schools and community forums for parent engagement.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

college and career fairs at high schools and middle schools, …  Put some tables up, invited people to come down and speak about their schools.  That can be done without additional funding.

college and career centers in each high school,…. Just curious.  If the focus is supposed to be on those “not graduating”. why is RTTT money being diverted towards people who will graduate?  And, none of our schools growing up, had college and career centers.  We had college catalogs on a shelf.

STEMs program focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – two high schools, one middle school and two elementary schools that struggle in those subjects;  ok, this could use funding. More later.

revisions to career and technical pathways at high schools that are aligned with state and federal job market data.  Career and technical pathways?  Revisions?   This can be done in the DOE office in one afternoon.  Just look at the Federal Guidelines, and change the district to meet them…. (you go here, and you go there).  Not necessary for any child.  Perhaps it’s just me, but I can’t see how this helps one child who is otherwise happy to be doing what he is doing.?

expansion of Advanced Placement coursework and extra supports to help under-represented groups in those core areas;  again, if we aren’t graduating enough, how does advance placement change that?  This is money going to the top, and again, leaving Jea Street’s, Tom Gordan’s, and Dennis Williams’ constituents in the dirt.  Expansion of Advanced Placement Coursework, sounds like a purchase,  a buy in, perhaps allowing for the transfer of state money into one more private firm selling the us the untested course material.  Not sure if that helps the problem we have in education.  Not sure what the extra support mentioned would be, however, if it were teachers or tutor working with Advance Placement, that could be beneficial…

“graduation guides,” to help students meet graduation requirements – this is particularly important for ninth-graders, where state data shows the potential for leaving school begins.  I am glad they focused on 9th grade.   But here is my problem.  We are giving “graduation guides” to explain how to navigate upwards to a graduation requirement, but the problem students are the ones having trouble with division and multiplication… Basics.  A better utilization would be to pour the money into a tutor program, and all ninth graders have to pass through it.  Once cleared, they don’t have to continue and can go on to something else. For what good is a graduation guide, if you don’t KNOW enough to graduate?   Those passing their courses do not need guides.  They are graduating anyways.

a series of professional development courses for teachers and school leaders, including a pilot project to allow teachers who have mastered their subject skills to boost the instructional deficiencies among their peers.  Again?  More courses?  When are they ever going to get time to plan their lessons?  (Oh, we didn’t think of that, we’ve never been teachers)  Teachers have been taking courses ever since the 80’s.  Every year a new program.  Every year a new name, and they have to take a course  and get a new certificate. Each year they get promised it is the best they are being taught, there will be no more, and then next summer, oh, we found this one, it’s the best there is….  One could argue what is wrong with education today, is that teachers are far too busy jumping through hoops, to teach…  However, pairing old teachers with new teachers is good for both.  The pilot program should be safe to fund, but the mentors should be picked by the mentoree.  Having someone score high on a test, then picked to mentor when they have very little experience, shames the program.  The mentoree should pick someone they respect, as a disciple picks his master.

project-based learning at four high-need schools and community forums for parent engagement.   I can’t comment on this right now.  I really don’t know what they are trying to say….

So should Christina fore go 2.3 million in fund for these items which will cost them roughly 1.1 million in additional funding?  Probably, for based on the items above, that money is not going to where it is needed… These are mostly fluff programs.  Programs that sound good enough, one can get General Assembly to fund them, because they sound good.

On the other hand, if Christina CAN spend the money better than the DOE, and can apply that money directly to programs that will serve their purpose, and steer children who are failing into successful lives, … should the state arbitrarily refuse to give it simply because the board is trying to do the right thing for its kids?

For you see, there ARE two sides to this argument.    So far, all we’ve heard is that Christina should comply with the state.  But why should the state withhold the money when Christina can do it better?   Isn’t that the state’s fault, and not the Christina School Districts?

I hope this was enough to show you that the state money if put into programs they want, is just a waste of money.  The money could instead go into programs where it is sorely needed.

Christina’s board voted Tuesday to ask the state for permission to re-purpose $753,000 of the $2.3 million that would have paid for the teacher bonuses and related issues.  That money would be used to boost technology in schools with low test scores or high-risk students. It would go toward the purchase of laptops, tablet computers, and other equipment with the goal of giving technological experience to children who might not otherwise get it.

 

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