Tuesday, August 09, 2011

9 AUG 11: Waive It All Away

He may be cracking the whip toward Atlanta's public schools - but Georgia's Governor seemed to do Muscogee County schools a favor Monday. If students can't reach the goal line, he'll do what he can to make the field as short as possible.

Governor Nathan Deal seized on an announcement from the U.S. Secretary of Education that states can apply for waivers from the "No Child Left Behind" act. To hear some critics describe it, by 2014 the only children who will NOT be left behind are the ones being home-schooled.

The Georgia Governor said he'll apply for a waiver from No Child Left Behind and the Adequate Yearly Progress reports - even though he voted for those reforms while in Congress ten years ago. So Nathan Deal leaned toward President Bush while he was a Democrat, yet now he learns toward President Obama as a Republican?! Who is he trying to be - Zell Miller?

Governor Deal explained people have come to understand No Child Left Behind has "significant structural problems built into it." For one thing, even an Olympic high jump champion eventually finds a bar that's too tall....

But if Georgia receives a federal waiver from No Child Left Behind, it will have to accept a new set of rules. For one thing, teachers and principals would have to undergo tough evaluations. How many of them really are in high school to date students, anyway?

(I think there's a hidden agenda in the Obama administration's announcement of waivers from No Child Left Behind. Maybe the Chinese will notice, and grant the U.S. massive debt forgiveness.)

The Muscogee County Schools' A.Y.P. anxiety was the main topic at a school board work session Monday night. Board member John Wells blamed poor results in part on teacher furloughs. Naomi Buckner blamed the testing of special education students. And if Carver football coach Dell McGee had been there, he would have told them both to quit making excuses and step up their games.

Columbus NAACP President Nate Sanderson told WRBL he's concerned the high A.Y.P. standards will affect students psychologically, because they'll realize they're attending a "failing school." Based on this logic, it's a wonder Spencer High School has enough players to field a football team this fall.

Superintendent Susan Andrews told the board it appears a few "failing schools" actually will wind up making A.Y.P. after all. She cited one case where a testing center misplaced a single test, and that caused an entire school to fall short. These testing centers do NOT need to borrow any ideas from banks and home loans....

All this occurred as Muscogee County Schools opened for a new term. WTVM reported Blackmon Road Middle School had a line of cars stretching for miles - obviously due to desperate parents trying to stuff their children into the only A.Y.P.-achieving middle school in any way possible.

Local schools are trying to use "star power" to encourage students at the start of a new term. Muscogee County had "Be There on the Bus" Monday, as Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson and Rep. Sanford Bishop welcomed children at the school door. So did Councilor Red McDaniel take part - or did he demand to hand out McGuffey's Readers?

While Muscogee County school officials say they have NOT resorted to test cheating, state investigators were in Dougherty County Monday to start a new C.R.C.T. review. The Associated Press reported there was even a cheater-checking "command post" set up in Albany. Now not even the teachers can play hooky anymore....

The most optimistic local education news Monday came from a district which hasn't started a new term yet. Seniors at Smiths Station High School received a sneak preview of their new building - which includes spare rooms for what the principal calls future classes in "culinary arts." Some of us remember when this was called home economics.

Let's clear our desks for recess now, as we pay attention to these other news announcements....

+ Evening thunderstorms dropped large amounts of rain on Columbus. There was an amazing moment for me on Manchester Expressway, as I slowed down to 40 miles per hour in heavy rain - only to find no one else passing me.

+ A rainstorm in LaGrange combined with clogged drains to crack open the roof of Carmike Cinemas, flooding the lobby with water. Or as some teenagers called it: "The coolest 3-D special effect EVER."

+ Ezell's opened a new restaurant along U.S. 280 in Phenix City. It's the location not far from Wal-Mart, once occupied by Golden Rule Barbecue. And Char-Broil. And Loco's. It's hard to believe Blimpie's inside Wal-Mart has satisfied the hunger of that many people over the years.

+ Authorities in Mobile reported a church's Minister of Music became upset over the pastor firing her - and it led to the music minister zapping the pastor with a stun gun. Aha! I've wondered how Benny Hinn knocks people over at revival meetings....

+ Rep. Lynn Westmoreland visited Columbus, briefing Republicans on the national debt problems. Westmoreland chose the Bavarian House for his briefing site - as if he's already joined the rising German "Fourth Reich" and wants the invasion to happen now.

+ Instant Message to President Obama: I can take your Monday speech a couple of ways. When you talk about a "AAA nation," are you comparing our country to Columbus High School? Or are you comparing it to baseball -- with AAA being one step below major-league level?

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