My cousin just sent this to me. It totally cracked me up. Apparently, it’s a new acronym that her kids are using. Her kids, btw, are a traditional private school. Very upper end and focused on college prep and all. Apparently, they text it to each other during class. HSMP (Home School Me Please!).
The Silent Majority
Who would ever have thought I might quote Tricky Dick? But, he coined the term of a silent majority and I’m now suggesting that in the homeschooling world, there might be a silent majority.
When I go to homeschool conventions, I see a lot of very Evangelically-oriented curriculum developers. When I look at homeschool websites and magazines, I see a much bigger mix of viewpoints and approaches than I typically see at the big homeschool conventions (FPEA in Florida, Southeastern Show in Atlanta etc).
But, I feel that there is a silent majority of secular homeschoolers who are quietly homeschooling their children in non-religious ways. What to you think?
Blogs that I like to read
I’m amused that I follow so many totally different blogs. Some are useful to me with pertinent information and great insights or commentary. Other blogs are just of interest to me but of no practical value. Lets start with them. I also follow a number of political and philosophical/religious blogs but I think I’ll keep them more private since they are bound to raise some eyebrows. I have some contrarian views on what we should be focused on.
Here are some blogs that I follow that are of no conceivable value to me but they have hit a vein of interest:
Karate blog for old men
Art Blog about Emeric Fejes
A blog about collecting jokers
A blog about old educational technology
Blogs that I follow that have useful information for me:
3D Learners - The 3D in the title can be confusing. This is not a graphics or computer animation blog relating to 3D. The use of the term is about the fact that many so-called dyslexics and ADD/ADHD students are better thought of as having a more holistic perspective on the world since they see it differently. This blog has tools useful for them and other learners. Very focused ultimately on visual learning games.
Broward Education K12 – This blog traces not just the realities of homeschooling but all the educational choices for K12 in Broward County Florida. Currently very interested in why the system of public schools is so crazy and charter schools is so successful despite low performance.
Homeschool Curriculum Resources – I could have put this site in either category. It’s dully written with no pictures and poor layout. But the questions that it raises and the thoughts about them mesmerizes me. I highly recommend it!
Each family has a variety of educational choices, depending on their state, district, and resources. Briefly.
2. Public neighborhood school
3. Public magnet school
4. Public charter school. Rapidly evolving.
5. Private or parochial schools.
6. Virtual schools, public or charter
One of my friends is working on a blog which studies in some detail what is going on with his local school district and school choice. It’s quite an education. Read all about Broward County Schools.
I’m thinking about a survey that I did of my community a few years ago and I wish that I had gotten it organized again this year.
The Thanksgiving question that I asked of the T4L members was, regarding their curriculum vendors, what were they thankful for. And what was on their wish list.
Here’s what I think. I am what I would call a “social entrepreneur.” It’s a phrase that means that I run the company with a “double” bottom line. I’m pursuing two sets of goals. On one hand, I’m a business trying to produce stability, growth, and profits. On the other hand, I have a sense of mission related to service. I want my members to truly benefit from their use of use of my services and I want my employees to truly benefit from their experience with T4L.
Balancing these goals can be tough especially was we get larger and it gets less personal. I use to know a good number of our members personally, to read the forum and the support emails regularly, to even take support phone calls on a regular basis, and to have a close relationship with each of my staff. However, we’re now too big for me to do this and it would be easy to get too commercial.
For instance, I look at some community sites which hope to attract users and build a community while making a profit and in pursuing this, they throw up soo many many google ads that it becomes unthinkable that serious bloggers would use that platform and community and instead, it ends up with a pretty mixed bag of bloggers.
So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for models of businesses like mine which have veered off track in both ways. Some are too commercial for me to be comfortable with. Others over compensate the other way. Lets look closely for instance, at two sites that I worked on this week:
Vocabulary.co.il – This vocabulary building site has ads but also has original useful content that other sites don’t. And the ads don’t interfere with the user experience, they’re only visible during navigation, not study. For instance:
Hig Pig Games
Latin Learning Games
Parts of Speech Games
Root Word Games
On the VocabSpellingCity site, there’s lots of original content such as:
Analogies – New!
Compound Words – New!
Dolch – Sight Words
Homophones, Homonyms, etc.
Literature Based Word Lists
Math Vocabulary – Most Popular!
Monthly Holiday Lists
Multiple Meaning Words – New!
Phonics & Sight Word Curriculum
Sample Lists By Grade
Science Vocabulary – New!
Sequential Spelling Program
Sound Alike Words
Syllables – New!
What Should We Teach
There’s a great blog post called What to Teach which starts to explore the question of standards and curriculum. Without divulging all of it, the article deals with the definition of educational curriculum and what should be taught as the standard for high school. It’s in the area of curriculum reform and uses the new Common Core Curriculum as the jumping off place.
What Criteria Were Used?
I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the search and selection of Robert Runcie, the new Broward School Board Superintendent. In addition to checking that he is a good administrator, honest, smart, hardworking, has some ideas on how to improve test scores (sad sad sad) and deal with unions etc, I wonder whether they queried him and the others on a number of questions such as:
- Homeschooling. What should the district’s position on it be? Right now, there is one person who “supports” homeschoolers. I have no idea if this is a full time or part-time part of his job, what he does, and whether he is popular with the homeschool community.
- Magnet and charter schools. Is the school board actively encouraging charters? Are magnets dead or is there life in them yet?
- Role of arts and sports going forward. Can it be cut? Vital? Needs growing?
- Curriculum reform. Are we just following the common core and other state-level initiatives?
- Principals. Is getting great principals a priority (I would hope so). Is giving them the liberty to run their school including hiring/firing teachers a priority?
What would you have asked him?
Robert Runcie is Broward’s New School Superintendent
|BROWARD SCHOOL BOARD SELECTS NEW SUPERINTENDENT
The School Board of Broward County has selected Robert Runcie as superintendent of the sixth largest school district in the country. Following final interviews this morning of the two finalists, Runcie and Dr. Bernard Taylor, Jr., Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Board members held a final discussion and cast their votes. A motion to make the vote for Runcie unanimous was then approved.
Runcie currently serves as Chief of Staff to the Board of Education, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois, the third largest school district in the nation, with 410,000 students. He holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard College and Master of Management degree from Northwestern University. He is also a Broad Fellow, having completed an education executive training program presented by the prestigious Broad Superintendents Academy.
In addition to serving the Chicago Public Schools as Chief of Staff, Runcie has also served as Chief Instructional Officer, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Information Officer.
Prior to joining Chicago Public Schools, he served as a senior consultant for a computer science corporation.
From an applicant pool of 47, the Board selected six semi-finalists to be interviewed. That field was then narrowed to Runcie and Taylor. Prior to their final interviews, the finalists took part in one-on-one interviews with Board members, participated in a “Meet the Press” news conference, a “Meet and Greet” with community members and a Community Forum.
The School Board has authorized contract negotiations with Robert Runcie. His start date as Broward’s new superintendent has yet to be determined.
|ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the nation’s sixth largest public school system and the largest fully accredited district with over 234,000 students in 231 schools and education centers and 76 charter schools.
My local schools – Whats New?
Its been awhile since I’ve posted, here’s the news here about my local schools and their school board.
The lady that I knew pretty well on the board resigned. It’s a shame. She was an X-teacher and totally dedicated to making the public schools work. She got criticized pretty heavily for being closely associated with the creation of a school near her home area. The school is a tremendous success and a real model in a number of ways. I think the criticism is unwarranted since it’s based on the fact that she seems to have focused on her own region, not that she derived any personal benefit from it.
The school superintendent, Jim Nutter, resigned. For a few months, there was an interim. Donnie Carter is the Interim Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, the sixth largest public school system in the United States, the second largest in the state of Florida, and the largest fully accredited K-12 and adult school district in the nation.
Mr. Carter has over 20 years experience in public education administration. He has been with Broward County Public Schools for more than a decade, where he was named Deputy Superintendent in 2004 and Chief Operations Officer in 2007.
Prior to joining Broward County Public Schools in 2001, Mr. Carter was a Director with JM Family Enterprises; and Assistant, Associate, and Deputy Superintendent with Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Mr. Carter is a graduate of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He is an experienced senior operations executive with a comprehensive background in operations and business management.
State of Florida says “Abolish the Broward County School Board”
A Florida Grand Jury accused the Broward County School Board for havin g “a culture of corruption and reckless spending of taxpayer money” in a report released last Friday. And I quote the State report released in March 2011 about Broward County:
The evidence we have been presented concerning the malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance of the Broward County School Board (Board) and of the senior management of the Broward County School District, (District) and of the gross mismanagement and apparent ineptitude of so many individuals at so many levels is so overwhelming that we cannot imagine any level of incompetence that would explain what we have seen. Therefore we are reluctantly compelled to conclude that at least some of this behavior can best be explained by corruption of our officials by contractors, vendors and their lobbyists. Moreover, many of the problems we identified in our inquiry are longstanding and have been pointed out by at least two previous Grand Juries. But for the Constitutional mandate that requires an elected School Board for each District, our first and foremost recommendation would have been to abolish the Broward County School Board altogether.
The report also criticized Superintendent Jim Notter, saying he was not strong enough in leading the nation’s sixth largest school district.
The report concludes:
“The corruptive influence here is most often campaign contributions from individuals with a financial stake in how Board members vote. Long ago the Board should have recognized the risk that putting themselves in the center of handing out hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars would inevitably drawn attention and undue influence from moneyed interests…Only now, years later and with pressure from all sides, have they begun to take steps to resolve this and other issues.
“Unfortunately based on the history of this Board as an institution, we have no confidence in their ability to make meaningful changes and to adhere to them. The solutions we see, at least short term, are to remove as much power and influence from the Board as possible and to have an independent outside authority monitor their dealings closely.’’
The report blasts the board for “an appalling lack of both leadership and awareness. Rather than focusing on the big picture and looking to the challenges of the future, they have mired themselves in the day to day running of the District, a task for which they are singularly unqualified.’’
Summary of Findings….Our inquiry of the District focused on the non-instructional aspects of the District’s functions, particularly the construction of schools. We have heard from some mid level managers that they can’t discipline or fire lazy incompetent workers, thwarted by a timid personnel department and sometimes by protective Board members who must vote on every dismissal, yet we are aware of top levelmanagers who openly talk of targeting whistle blowers, boat-rockers and other malcontents whose primary sin appears to be exposing flaws in the system and lack of leadership among senior staff. Those employees find themselves transferred out of their positions to less desirable posts; transferredto the districts dumping ground, the book depository; or even outright fired for petty violations.In short, we have a middle management staff that tolerates or is forced to tolerateincompetence, double-dealing, corruption and laziness but which in turn is always fearful of being targeted by upper management should they challenge interference by Board members or attempt to hold contractors accountable for their work.
Among the criticisms, the report says the school board ’”seems to be more comfortable with opening unfinished schools than angering the contractors that fund their campaigns through political contributions and fundraisers.”
The list of findings is extensive: incomplete and inadequate construction records, untrained inspectors, “wasteful and dubious spending on ill conceived ideas,” and board members who “direct that spending towards friends, acquaintances or supporters of Board members without any accountability.”
The jurors conclude with 21 recommendations, in addition to calling for an outside monitor to oversee every move until the district and its oversight board roots out corruption and gets into shape. Among them:
Refuse campaign contributions from contractors, vendors and others doing business with the Board.
Require mandatory ethics training and testing by an outside agency.
All late additions to the Board’s agenda must be discussed at a public meeting.
Add more detail to agenda items or provide a link to where more information concerning the item can be found.
Reduce the threshold on spending items on the consent agenda.
Remove retainage reductions from consent agenda.
Require recommendation of the Superintendent or the Deputy Superintendent for reduction in retainage to be in writing and under their signature.
End the influence of the Board over the Building department by turning over inspections to local building departments.
Reduce number of school board members to 5.
Place before the voters the issue of electing the Superintendent.
Create independent office of Inspector General to monitor the Board and District
Prohibit board members from being involved in the selection of contractors, vendors, or financial institutions.
No official business should be conducted between school board members and staff
All bids should be opened in public, with Auditor there to certify bids met minimums.
No decisions should be made anywhere other than a regularly scheduled board meeting.
No discussions should be had other than at Board meetings or workshops as per Sunshine Law requirements.
Prohibit gifts of any value to any Board member or District employee from anyone doing business with the District or lobbying the Board
Empower Department of Education to penalize districts that don’t file require paperwork by withholding any state funds until certificates of occupancy, inspections and other project documents are filed.