Tuesday, July 12, 2011

12 JUL 11: Year-Round Letdown?

Before our main topic, we have a BLOG EXCLUSIVE which arrived late Monday night. A source close to the situation tells your blog Angelia Curran resigned Monday from the Friendship Volunteer Fire Department. She's scheduled to appear in Montgomery federal court Wednesday on embezzlement charges. Curran might want to track down Milton McGregor's attorney in a hallway, and give him a card.

Angelia Curran's resignation means she'll no longer serve as Deputy Chief, answering fire calls in the Smiths Station area. But her status on the Friendship Volunteer Fire Department Board remains unclear. The next time this board meets, Lee County deputies might want to block access to the fire hoses.

The federal embezzlement charges could scar Angelia Curran's recognition by L'Oreal Paris as a 2007 "Woman of Worth." We were able to call up the event's rules Monday night, after the program's website was down over the weekend. Could that possibly have been due to firewall problems?

The Women of Worth honorees are not supposed to be paid for their service to the community, beyond a "nominal stipend." I suppose Angelia Curran's "Friendship friends" would say 5,000 dollars from a federal grant is nominal -- especially when the federal budget is above one trillion.

AND NOW.... what's that title about? Oh yes -- the new school year began Monday in parts of Muscogee County. Well, sort of. It began in two grade schools. Everyone else has to put up with the pressure of "back to school" advertising for the next four weeks.

Georgetown and Rigdon Road Elementary Schools have been on the "year-round" schedule for years. Students are back in class for the first semester, after a "summer break" of about one month. I'll assume it's only a coincidence that the new year is timed to follow the school district's fiscal year.

The idea behind year-round schools is that a spread-out schedule will help youngsters retain what they learn. After all, experts say children in China are in class more than ten months a year -- and you'll notice the Chinese now control a scary amount of the U.S. national debt.

But have you stopped to ask whether students in year-round schools are smarter in Columbus? I did Monday. And considering I have no children to enroll in any local school, that might put me under suspicion....

The latest detailed CRCT scores for Georgia came out only a few days ago. So we dared to compare Monday night - putting the test results for the two year-round schools against two traditional grade schools in the same section of Columbus. In this case, the question was: Are you smarter than a nine-monther?

We matched the fifth-grade CRCT results for Georgetown Elementary with Lonnie Jackson Academy a couple of miles away. The percentage of passing students at Georgetown was only slightly higher in most areas - and the academy led on the English exam. The stories of Jackson's legacy simply are too interesting to ignore.

The difference was much more obvious when we compared fifth-grade CRCT numbers for Rigdon Road School with Brewer Elementary. The year-round school is more than 20 percentage points better in passing reading and English. And Rigdon Road's passing percentage is five times higher in social studies. Maybe if Brewer teachers started calling it "So-Stud"....

But neither year-round school comes close to the CRCT scores posted by Britt David Elementary. It came close to having perfect passing results in grades three, four and five. Of course, these days that can seem suspicious. We'll see if Columbus Police raid the school, with search warrants for pencils with large erasers.

The CRCT scandal in Atlanta Public Schools led to the resignation of a school board member Monday night. But that's nothing compared to the discovery of the former school superintendent - at a resort in Hawaii, claiming she's recovering there from laryngitis. What science class taught her about the healing power of trade winds for your throat?

This concludes our school lessons for today. Now before we dismiss, some closing announcements from the news....

+ The high temperature in Columbus was 98 degrees F., although parts of the area received rain. I received a letter from Georgia Power saying the number of "weather events" across Georgia this year is 68 percent above average. That phrase refers to damaging wind and hail - not the dismissal of TV meteorologists.

+ WRBL reported Dr. Jay Brodwyn now is offering chiropractic treatment for soldiers at Ranger Joe's. A sign along Victory Drive promotes a "$19 adjustment." And it's probably much safer than the "attitude adjustment" some soldiers get at nearby nightclubs.

+ Instant Message to Circle K: I don't know how you do it. Gas prices have jumped several times this year - but somehow despite the summer heat, you've been able to keep the price of a 32-ounce Thirstbuster at 79 cents.

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