Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ancient Schools

I just had to mention this article
Aristotle school to become open-air museum. Schools have been around a long time they are not a new thing. They have changed and modernized but kids=school

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wow! Why don’t you drop a bit of money lower down the pike!

I heard about this earlier from PA Harrisburg that they got some money from an anonymous source. But I just thought it was a local donor but I guess it was bigger than that from the most recent news article Mystery donors give over $45M to 9 universities. If I had a lot of money that I wanted to give toward education, maybe I am biased I would start at the other end. I would start with quality childcare centers maybe using the Keystones STARS system maybe $10,000 toward educational supplies. So many childcares I am in have one set of toys day in and day out or have enough to rotate a few times a week. The two year old program that my son goes to is expensive but it is bright, with great teachers and they do rotate the toys and make it weekly themes, they are going for the 4th star this summer.

Then I would move onto Elementary schools and gift money directly for classroom use that way it isn't sucked up into the administration void. Our school gives each teacher $100 cash for incidental supplies no questions asked what it goes toward. I use mine for the aluminum foil, starch, and other odd materials I cannot just order through a catalog that an art room uses. I don't know of any other school that lets teachers use money for odd supplies. Ask a teacher how much money they spend on their classroom a year, it is going to be at least $100. I would give teachers a $500 - $1,000 gift for supplies. If the school wants them to save receipts to hand in to show they didn't use it for a cruise fine. Though I think after seeing some of the teacher's classes and behavior issues they deal with every day, I would say a cruise may be the perfect thing for them. Then also I think every school needs a good play ground. I would give money to schools that need a new playground especially the inner city schools, schools that need wheel chair accessible units and I think even middle schools should have one. The inner city schools plant some trees and get some sod out and make it an oasis for these kids. My favorite group is Boundless Playgrounds I researched them in grad school and they have the research to back up playground models. They have it for ages 2-12, with term Beta, Alpha and Gama areas. Do the virtual tour.

Next High Schools I would donate money for Netbooks in the classroom. Research is holding for these small computers. I think that it would open a whole new type of educational experience and if used as an educational tool one site 10 ways to use netbooks in the classroom. I said high schools but this newer tool can move on down to the lower grades as well. But I think you need to be the right teacher for it, where as in high school students can independently master this tool.

Now I need to go buy a lottery ticket, maybe I can win Millions and put my money where my mouth is.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The voucher system

Why oh why are you ending a program that is a success? I am all for the voucher system. I would love it to be for both private and public and allow parents no matter the income or where the live decide where their child goes to school. For example I moved to a rural area I wanted the lifestyle of horses, hobby farm, fresh eggs and the country life. We found reasonable land with the right zoning, the down side the school district is only so-so. So I pay taxes to a school my daughter does not attend, that is my choice but not everyone can afford to do that, heck we sacrifice things to do that. Why can't the tax money go into a state fund where each child get X amount that is granted to the school the child attends? If each school had to work and woo families it would achieve everything that the Obama administration wants, better test scores, the brightest teachers, equal education for any income. That is what every business needs to do if they don't they well thing s happen, look at GM and the banks!! Why not do that for the education system? Private schools do this all the time they jump the hoops get the certifications the two my schools has is the blue ribbon and middle states. Which we worked our butt of to get and I am proud of it. So far (knock on wood) even in this economy we already have an increase in attendance. If our school was a failure we would dwindle in attendance and would close, but before that our diocese (head of our school) would gut it out new administration and probably faculty adjustments. If it still failed bye-bye!! I usually don't quote Wikipedia but I like this voucher system.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

So what is happening?

Why is one section of the news saying how much the government wants to push teachers, education, and stimulus money. Yet the other side is talking about layoffs, budget cuts and deficits. The big one in the news right now is the L.A. school system. They are starting to back peddling and not layoff round 2,000 elementary teachers, yet around 6,000 teachers and staff are on the chopping block. Detroit is also chopping teachers but I think that is the least of their worries.

Another "great" news story now: Does Money Lead to Real Reforms

U.S. Education Secretary
Arne Duncan has said repeatedly that he wants to use the economic stimulus aid for education to accelerate improvement in schools. He has even volunteered some ideas that he knows are not very popular. Speaking to about 400 students at a public school in Denver this week, Duncan said that kids need more time in school. "Go ahead and boo me," he told the crowd of middle and high school students, the Associated Press reports. "I fundamentally think that our school day is too short, our school week is too short, and our school year is too short." He went on: "You're competing for jobs with kids from India and China. I think schools should be open six, seven days a week, 11, 12 months a year." Instead of boos, the AP reports, the students offered Duncan "bored stares."

The schools don't have enough money to pay teachers right now for the time they are in the classroom and limited supplies how do they think they will pay the teachers for additional days or longer hours! What are they going to teach with, how are they going to pay for more electric bills and add air conditioners to the schools that don't have them. He commented on the lack of enthusiasm from the students, why you would then talk to a bunch of kids toward the end of the year about keeping them in school longer. What do you expect them to do cartwheels I don't think they would even do that for Jonas Brothers and Miley was singing it to them!

Here is another article about Duncan but I do like his views on the voucher system "I'm a big believer that students and parents should have a choice what school they want to go to," he said. Yet I think he needs to really look at the education system, I don't think expanding days and hours is going help that much in the long run, nor will the merit pay, and I am not even going to get started on Kindergarten testing I'll save that for another blog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Junk food in the schools

I love this article

Get "junk" food out of U.S. schools: PTA, diet group

If my daughter's school was plagued by soda, chips and generally only unhealthy choices I would be pitching a fit too. The school she attends, the same one I work at, didn't even have a water cooler until I brought one in much less a vending machine. Now I am not completely against vending machines and snacks but I think healthy choices are in order. I don't mean just carrots and water. Take for example plain Lays classic potato chips, those small bags aren't really that bad. Kids like them and as for an alternative choice to high fat and sugar selections it is the best choice. They actually even beat out high sugar granola bars and fruit roll ups.

I really believe in this issue, having a child that is fighting childhood obesity, I have strong feelings about this issue and have taken it into my own hands. When she was in 1st grade I started looking at nutrition and exercise classes she did not like ballet, soccer wasn't a hot thing either. She now attends the local YMCA and is enrolled in a fit for life program that teaches various forms of exercise and has nutrition. She knows Yoga, zumba, hip hop and how to use a variety of exercise equipment, she knows more than me! She has been taught how to read food label, portion control, healthy options and they taught her how to eat at a party or what the best thing to choose at a restaurant is. She doesn't always follow what she knows but it is in that brain of hers. This program is also very family oriented. Now they do all of this in a positive fun way and also work to build the kids self esteem. I think schools really need to teach these skills to all students and make it an overall goal to make sure children know how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Many schools short change students nutrition AND exercise. Some schools especially when no child left behind first was implemented, many districts started to cut, restrict and change around recess time. The average recess time for elementary was about 15 minutes. I really think that elementary children should have two 15 minute session at least for recess. If not just free play then an organized game or even line dancing time or something. I don't think it needs to be right after lunch, it can be 15 minutes for morning recess and 15 minute afternoon recess. Our school does the 30 minutes for every grade K-8 after lunch. I really think this is vital mentally and physically. I think this really helps them in the classroom. Many middle schools have limited or no recess. If I was in charge students would have recess or at least organized active play up to high school, or at least through middle school. This is in addition to PE class, not in place, and I would be happy if they made PE class every day or so if recess isn't viable for the school.