Monday, November 3, 2008

Is your school in the news?

So the Augusta Chronicle publishes, Report ranks local schools among worst Graduation rate for black males is sixth lowest in the nation by Greg Gelpi 11/2/08. He cites the original source: Schott Foundation for Public Education report Given Half a Chance: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education for Black Males.

The Richmond County School System has yet to make AYP in the years that AYP results are recorded and available through the net (2001). GA Dept of Ed provides data reports and AYP results. Regardless of the negative publicity, we decided to be one part of the solution, get to the source of the issue, and bring solutions and recommendations to the table.

When my daughter received her diploma in May, her school had a graduation rate of 48%. These results were updated to 60% after summer school results were submitted for the recalculation. Many people want to point the finger, play the blame game, talk the talk...but where are the practitioners?

I am happy that our school board selected Dr. Dana Bedden as the Superintendent of RCSS. He has his critics, but I challenge the critics to step forward and volunteer in the classroom/at the school, rather than throw negative comments through the online newspaper. I empathize with him as I know he did not expect to inherit a system in the shape that it was in.

The external audit of the system documented many (but not all) issues the district has from lack of technology, lack of technology skills of the people in the system, the need for reorganization, and other issues addressed in the Performance Review of RCSS. The recently updated System Technology Plan has some quirks that need to be worked out.

I have been to the school board on a couple of occasions. Initially, to present letters to each board member inviting them to the school for a Meet and Greet. Not being from here, not understanding the downfall from elementary, middle, and high schools and not exactly who all of our board members were with the district lines.

Once to present a list of questions collected from the parents I had met as I became a participative parent at my daughter's high school. To this day, half of those questions have not been answered. But the written response from the Richmond County Board of Education can be found on the BHS PTSA Accomplishments website and Part of the Solution blog.

We published pictures of the school that seemed to be left to neglect. We took pictures of us when we attempted to start the Butler Beautification project. We went back to the board to ask for the projected plans for the school because we applied for and received a Lowe's Toolbox for Education grant for $5000.

So are you doing what you can for the schools in your district? You can rely on the media and AYP reports...but at what point do you say, "Enough already, what is going on in my own neighborhood? What can I do to improve the situation?" Many people want to help but are not sure what to do. Even if you are not a parent of a student at the local school, the schools are a part of the community. We will pay for these students in the school house or in the jail house.

The recent article published by Gelpi brings out the comments, yet the article published on 11/1 titled, Students will watch action from CNN studios has no comments. The trip, arranged by Superintendent Dana Bedden and CNN reporter Soledad O'Brien, will allow the broadcast class students to experience the history-making election. The trip is being paid for by private donations.

To everyone who is making the difference in the life of a child or a group of neighborhood children...Thank you!!! What goes around, comes around and if we don't participate in the lives of the children...those children will remember when they have to make the decision about who rocks your rocking chair...after all it is the circle of life.
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