Tuesday, April 13, 2010

13 APR 10: Water on the Brain

The temperatures are only going higher from here -- but I heard a woman say something about that Monday night which left me stunned. She said you need to "hydrate your brain." That sounds like the sort of thing a bar would encourage on a "team trivia" night....

The statement about brain hydration was attributed to Tonya Douglass, the principal of Downtown Magnet Academy. It's one of many tips being offered for this big day in Muscogee County schools - the first day of the annual CRCT exams. This opening day is receiving so much hype, you almost expect Superintendent Susan Andrews to throw out the first pencil.

Tonya Douglass had more amazing ideas for CRCT preparation. She told WTVM "one of the most powerful things" students can do is "get a good bath" the night before a test. This must have something to do with science questions, but I'm not sure exactly what....

The Downtown Elementary principal explained the bath should be followed by a full eight hours of rest, so children can do well on the CRCT's. Isn't it amazing how these words of wisdom for second-graders are so often ignored by college students, during finals week?

The CRCT days have extra scrutiny this year, after an audit found evidence of cheating around Georgia. WRBL reported state monitors plan to watch over the testing at Davis Elementary and Muscogee Elementary Schools. Where is the outrage about this? Isn't this why Columbus now has 100 new police officers?

Davis and Muscogee Elementary were among 75 Georgia schools with a high number of erasure marks on last year's CRCT answer sheets. Georgia Department of Education computers apparently are sensitive enough to spot the erasure marks - while my computer still considers "blog" a SpellCheck error.

(The high number of erasure marks would have been no big deal - except someone at Davis and Muscogee Elementary was smart enough to change the marks to the right answers.)

Muscogee County School spokesperson Valerie Fuller said no changes are planned in CRCT exam security. As I understand it, one monitor is assigned to every school. One coordinator is assigned to every classroom. And low-scoring students in every classroom pick one smart child -- then offer a week of free desserts if she'll keep her desk exposed.

The evening news showed how carefully Downtown Elementary guards against CRCT cheating. Staff members covered the alphabet on the walls of classrooms with red paper. If they put drapes over U.S. flags before the social studies exam, the Columbus Tea Party will move from Sanford Bishop's office to Macon Road.

Grade-school students even had to clean out their desks, put the items in grocery bags and set the bags in a distant corner of the classroom. This never happened when I was in grade school. The only time teachers really cared about the inside of our desks was in the hours before Open House night.

The concern these days is more about teachers and administrators cheating on the CRCT's than students. Schools face a lot of pressure to make Average Yearly Progress goals. If they don't, children could transfer elsewhere -- and those schools will have to deal with all the parents who don't really care.

(Another goal Muscogee County children have to meet is matching the Georgia Performance Standards. Shame on you for thinking Georgia schools are backward - they all know how G-P-S works.)

But back to Tonya Douglass's suggestion about hydration: a check online found at least 60 percent of your brain consists of water. Scientists really do think the thinking process slows down from a lack of fluids. I thought it simply resulted in a drier sense of humor.

So maybe we're blaming local teachers too much for Muscogee County schools not making A.Y.P. year after year. It's not about "teaching to the test" or inspiring young people to learn. We simply need to give children chicken biscuits and tall water bottles every morning.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you may not expect. Visitors from around the world read "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: We're always open to your ideas - but we're not sure how well this one would work:

Is there a way to list best laugh lines of the year- at the end of the year I cannot remember any of them. For instance, a running list submitted by readers, and posted on a page on the blog?

This reader is referring to our annual "Joke of the Year" contest. But I trust the readers to keep track of their favorites. And to be honest, a couple of times the Burkard Award winner hasn't been a joke I wrote at all [1 Jan] -- which makes me wonder if my humor is that bad, or Mark Shelnutt's prosecutors are that hilarious.

So feel free to copy and paste to your home computer some of these Monday news items (but please note our copyright)....

+ Seth Brown officially began serving as Columbus Crime Prevention Director. Brown indicated he will NOT spend any money until a set of standards for projects is in place. So please stop the rumors that the Wind Creek blimp over downtown is watching for drug deals.

+ The Anti-Defamation League named Downtown Magnet Academy a "no place for hate" school. It's only the second Muscogee County school to receive that title - so students at those other schools need to shut up and simply eat that nice lunch from the cafeteria staff.

+ Leaders of the Columbus State University Faculty Senate announced plans for a "no-confidence" vote next week on the President and Provost. If this sort of vote was taken on the kitchen crews of fast-food restaurants, Columbus might have only one McDonald's and Burger King.

+ Our Phenix City "snail mailer" sent a clipped front-page story from The Citizen-News, about how the Columbus area ranks seventh in the U.S. for potential job growth. But the article was from the 25 March edition - which may show the Postal Service isn't ready for all those base realignment families.

+ A middle Georgia prosecutor decided NOT to file charges against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger But I smell some kind of plea agreement here - because the announcement came hours after the Steelers traded wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the Jets.

+ Instant Message to Domino's Pizza: Wow, did you ever miss the boat! You're the proper restaurant to sell a "double-down" sandwich, not KFC.

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