Far from adequate

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Adequate yearly progress.

Just listen to those words.

Adequate. Yearly. Progress.

The words reek of low expectations and glacial change. The minimum you can get by with.

Yet, they form the standard by which public schools are judged in America.

Worse yet, there are a great number of schools in America that aren't even making "adequate yearly progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Far too many of them are in Augusta.

Seventeen, to be exact.

Federal law theoretically gives parents of students at "needs improvement" schools several options. In reality, there aren't many of them. They include free tutoring and the ability to request transfers to schools not on the list.

A headline in Saturday's Chronicle said "Parents are urged to learn options." And they certainly need to.

But transfers aren't automatic - meaning they can be denied - and they often don't come with transportation.

And in the case of Augusta middle schoolers, there is no transfer option: Every one of the 10 middle schools in Augusta is on the needs-improvement list.

They are, in short, trapped in failing schools.

So, as uninspiring as "adequate yearly progress" is, the fact is that a good number of Augusta schools are looking up at it, unable to reach it.

What a statement!

Ask yourself: In this kind of environment, is "adequate yearly progress" - that to which many Augusta schools are now aspiring - good enough?

Or does the Richmond County school district need to aim higher?

We would hope the Richmond County Board of Education, and its incoming superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden, will adopt the level of urgency commensurate with a school district in crisis.

But they're going to have to avoid the temptation to think like bureaucrats and insiders. They need out-of-the-box answers, because the box Richmond County students are in is running out of oxygen.

It's not enough to look to the federal law and to adequate yearly progress. The escalating "consequences" for under-performing schools under No Child Left Behind are hardly intimidating: after a decade or so, principal and staff might be fired. Big deal. What's happened to students in the meantime?

The real consequence of failing schools is a generation poorly served by the public schools and ill-prepared for a competitive global marketplace.

Fact is, "adequate" should be irrelevant. They need to aim for excellence in Augusta schools.

And they need look no further than their own Davidson Fine Arts Magnet for a model of excellence. As the community loves to boast, Davidson is routinely named the best school in Georgia.

How is that possible? That Augusta is home to some of the best schools in the state, and some of the worst?

And how can Davidson's excellence be translated to other schools?

Folks, when you've got 17 facilities on a list of failing schools - and all 10 of your middle schools - these questions should be of the highest priority. Every day that bad schools are good enough is another day that our children are, indeed, being left behind.

Comments (17) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 07/24/07 - 06:26 am
0
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Most of the time Davidson

Most of the time Davidson excellence is attributed to culling the cream. I guess that's possible, but it seems the more likely reason is the high expectations the school holds for the students. It's a school wide attitude. The question is how to get this attitude in every school.

critter
2
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critter 07/24/07 - 06:52 am
0
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Here's a clue: go to the

Here's a clue: go to the worst schools around here on parent-teacher night and see how many parents show up. The worse the school, the fewer the parents. Correlation?

drcptsr
0
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drcptsr 07/24/07 - 07:46 am
0
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In 1925 a Supreme Court

In 1925 a Supreme Court Justice, who had been in the KKK and was prejudiced against Catholics, put separation of church and state in the Constitution. "Congress shall make no law" became any part of government. A janitor in a government school could be fired for witnessing his faith. The teachers unions said that they are the professionals and parents need to give their educational responsibility to teachers. The number of dysfunctional families has increased dramatically as morality has decreased. Kids from these DFs generally do worse in school and in life. If your foundation is on sinking sand you can anticipate the collapse of education that we see.

johnsmith
9
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johnsmith 07/24/07 - 07:56 am
0
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It's much easier than most of

It's much easier than most of the "experts" want to acknowledge. Look at schools that are widely regarded as excellent learning environments. It is hard to get into those schools, and easy to get out. That's the key element that nobody wants to face. I _believe_ that public education in America has averaged a 30% dropout rate relative to the highest "required" level ever since compulsory public education was made universal. Why does Davidson do so well? There is a long and demanding application/interview process. Imagine if that were the case in ALL of our schools... Imagine if ANY of our schools could remove a student who is disruptive, disrespectful, or disdains the opportunity being afforded him or her... Let them go flip burgers til they get tired of it, and maybe they'll come back to school with a real desire to learn.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7621
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 07/24/07 - 08:26 am
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Johnsmith, you've made a good

Johnsmith, you've made a good start. Those disruptive, disrespectful students should be removed to the alternative schools. Those should be more like boot camp, with privileges earned, not granted. They should have the reputation of somewhere you don't want to go. If a child can't make it in this school of last resort, so to speak, then expulsion should happen.
If you remove the problems from the regular classrooms the children who really want to learn, will benefit and won't be hampered by the "Show Outs".

Pay What U Owe
5
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Pay What U Owe 07/24/07 - 08:40 am
0
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smith is basically correct.

smith is basically correct. Three elements impede education and this will probably be inflammatory so hold on, The first is the enforcement of truancy laws. In the 60's, a generation dropped out and worked in textile mills. Thus, the average was higher before and diluted after once you forced such individuals back into the system. The second was integration in the 70's. An educationally advantaged population and an educationally disadvanatged population were fused. Thus the avergae performance fell. This should have been done and educationally oppurtunity should not be denied based on race. However, 30-35 years ago we brought an entire generation of children of uneducated parents into the system. Parental education is a major determinant of child performance. This is equalizing but it has taken and will take time. Finally, we have developed a generation of parents who feel compelled to interfere in the process. Rather than help their kids hit the bar, they want the bar lowered for *their* child or to change the rules to favor themselves. The frustration and lack of appreciation have driven many good teachers out of the system. Now I will sit back and wait to called a racist.

drcptsr
0
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drcptsr 07/24/07 - 09:22 am
0
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Correction: Hugo Black was

Correction: Hugo Black was the Justice of SCOTUS and the case was in 1947 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everson_v._Board_of_Education

class1
299
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class1 07/24/07 - 09:48 am
0
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I can't believe you don't see

I can't believe you don't see why Davidson is the best! They get to select the cream of the crop in the county. Additionally, their students have parents that care about their education.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7621
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 07/24/07 - 10:38 am
0
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I believe the Editorial is

I believe the Editorial is asking why set goals for adequate when they should be excellence. I think most of the goals in this country are set too low and students and adults for that matter are held back rather than encouraged to excell.

ohhsweetconcord
3
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ohhsweetconcord 07/24/07 - 10:38 am
0
0
What Richmond County, as well

What Richmond County, as well as the rest of the country, really needs is reform in the shape of school privitizations and vouchers. I think many of you who blame it all on the parents just don't understand their situation. Almost all of those parents want their best education possible for their children, yet many don't become involved with the system because they think their child's situation is hopeless. In inner city schools, bad teachers outnumber the good ones and many parents find that the school system completly ignores their concerns. There is no incentive for the school system to listen to the parents, afterall, they have a monopoly on education. If a parent is upset with a school, the most they can do is petition the school and pray for change. Parents have ZERO leverage in the current education system. The only way to remedy this problem is by transforming the school system from a bureaucracy into a business and implementing comprehensive school choice.

Pay What U Owe
5
Points
Pay What U Owe 07/24/07 - 11:15 am
0
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This actually not true. You

This actually not true. You have one choice, which is to take your kids out of a public school and put them in private schools. That would cost some change. In my copius spare time, I did some calculations re: the voucher thing. The state budget of GA is about $18B, half of which ($9B) goes to education. According to the census, there are 1.7M GA residents 5-18 yo. $9B/1.7M is about $5000/kid in state tax $$. Now, the average household income in GA is $42,000. At a tax rate of 6%, said household is paying ~$2500 in taxes, half of which ($1250) goes to education. Now do the math. If we completely abolished Georgia state tax on education, the average return to the taxed household would not pay to educate one child. The vast majority of children in the country are having the education, in large part, subsidized by the rest of society. Society is going to want to have a say in where that money goes and precisely whose children get left behind. Moreover, the business fails unless the buyer controls all the money. Once you're subdized, business models don't work.

ohhsweetconcord
3
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ohhsweetconcord 07/24/07 - 12:02 pm
0
0
Pay: I'm not sure what point

Pay: I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Are you stating that a voucher system wouldn't work because it uses public money? Or that public schooling is the only option because taxes are involved?

Pay What U Owe
5
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Pay What U Owe 07/24/07 - 12:10 pm
0
0
The point is in a strict

The point is in a strict business model, you are not the majority share-holder. If you're an average household, ~75% of the costs of educating your children comes from the state (empty nesters, the wealthy over-paying, non-breeders). How can you, the parent, be the customer when you are not paying the bill? It's like have a car where the repair shop is subsidized and 75% of the bill is distributed to your neighbors. They will have a strong say in how your car gets fixed and you would not have maximum choice. Likewise, unless you are willing to pay 100% of the bill, you don't get maximum choice. A voucher system based on your tax contribution will get not get you a voucher that worth anything. A voucher that gives you serious choice is an entitlement, requireing subsidy by the gov't. Which do you want?

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7621
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 07/24/07 - 02:46 pm
0
0
Pay, I'll take the title to

Pay, I'll take the title to the car!

kathypearson
0
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kathypearson 07/24/07 - 04:18 pm
0
0
I am a product of Richmond

I am a product of Richmond County public schools, my children are products of Richmond County public schools, my grandchildren attend Richmond County public schools and I teach in a Richmond county public school. Several of you have touched on a key ingredient of Davidson and AR Johnson's success: parental involvement. My parents were very involved in supporting my schools, my teachers, and me. They didn't hover or interfere, but they advised and encouraged me. When I did poorly at school, the first place my parents looked was at me, not the teacher. I had swift and sure consequences for success and for failure. Some of my best students are special education students. Why? Because they want an education badly enough to work for it and their parents support them. What our schools need the most for success cannot be budgeted, purchased, trained or hired. We need parents to instill in their children the belief that a good education is important to our adult lives and that each of us has a responsibility to get a good education. Yes, we need quality teachers. We also need quality parents who have the courage to raise quality children.

kathypearson
0
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kathypearson 07/24/07 - 04:18 pm
0
0
I am a product of Richmond

I am a product of Richmond County public schools, my children are products of Richmond County public schools, my grandchildren attend Richmond County public schools and I teach in a Richmond county public school. Several of you have touched on a key ingredient of Davidson and AR Johnson's success: parental involvement. My parents were very involved in supporting my schools, my teachers, and me. They didn't hover or interfere, but they advised and encouraged me. When I did poorly at school, the first place my parents looked was at me, not the teacher. I had swift and sure consequences for success and for failure. Some of my best students are special education students. Why? Because they want an education badly enough to work for it and their parents support them. What our schools need the most for success cannot be budgeted, purchased, trained or hired. We need parents to instill in their children the belief that a good education is important to our adult lives and that each of us has a responsibility to get a good education. Yes, we need quality teachers. We also need quality parents who have the courage to raise quality children.

iletuknow
8
Points
iletuknow 07/24/07 - 09:58 pm
0
0
The present system sets the

The present system sets the tempo of learning by the most disruptive, disrespectful student in the class.

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