Retool Saturday school

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Richmond County school board members say a Saturday school program that costs more than $1 million doesn't seem to be attracting many students, and isn't having any measurable effect.

Isn't it great?

Well, no, of course not. But what is great is that the school board is finally taking an interest in such things. We're encouraged that board members are asking questions, sniffing out inefficiency and speaking out about it.

"It's embarrassing to me, and you can put that in the paper," relatively new board member Frank Dolan said of the Saturday school ineffectiveness.

Dolan has nothing to be embarrassed about. Nor do his other recently elected colleagues. They're the ones asking the questions and ferreting out this information.

The Saturday remedial program for helping disadvantaged students improve their academic performance is really about movies, games and pizza, according to board member Barbara Pulliam. "I asked several kids, and they told me practically the same thing. That's a lot of money for pizza and games."

And it's incredibly inefficient - with lots of paid administrative overhead and large, fuel-guzzling school buses that transport as few as a handful of kids.

Moreover, a study earlier this year indicated no tangible benefits: There's no proof participants score any better on tests than nonparticipants.

This program may have been well-intentioned, but it's grown into a self-sustaining bureaucracy. It's feel-good money that we're throwing down the achievement gap for appearance's sake. And the kids who need help the most are being poorly served indeed.

Pulliam has become quite a watchdog. And Dolan is a business owner who can pick up the scent of a wasted dollar in the next county - but we're glad he's doing it in this one.

There are ways of making the program much more efficient and effective, such as limiting the number of schools being used. Maybe you don't have Saturday school at all, doing things after school on weekdays instead. And someone needs to audit what's being taught - perhaps as part of new Superintendent Dana Bedden's proposed audit of the district as a whole.

Perhaps the district should find out what other districts do and pick the best model.

The apparent $1.3 million Saturday school boondoggle certainly is a depressing snapshot. But the bigger picture is brighter - that we've finally got a school board that is asking tough questions.

And a new superintendent who's likely to join them.

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patriciathomas 08/14/07 - 06:04 am
This isn't a minor incident.

This isn't a minor incident. The Saturday school situation shows another reason we're glad to be rid of Larke.

Mrs Genevive Bait
Mrs Genevive Bait 08/14/07 - 06:06 am
Well, goodness. Of course no

Well, goodness. Of course no one wants to go to school on Saturday. I remember when I was a girl having to go to school five days a week was bad enough. I wasn't big on going to school anyway. I wanted to sit at home and watch TV and maybe make cookies or something. I sure didn't want to go to school. Now, if you said to me, It's Saturday, time to go to school. I would have jumped out the window and run off to the creek down the street and hid in the storm drain. Anybody who thinks that going to school on Saturday is going to attract a lot of kids is crazy. And if you do get some kids to come they are going to be nerds who would be sitting at home adding and subtracting and diagramming sentences for fun anyway. Who wants to hang out with kids like that?

getalife 08/14/07 - 08:12 am
An expensive babysitting

An expensive babysitting service!! Kids that don't or can't learn in five days will not put forth the effort on a sixth day of school. This was a failure from the start, but a good way for teachers and staff to get paid more money.

Native Augustan
Native Augustan 08/14/07 - 10:03 am
I would like to see a little

I would like to see a little more infromation on and have someone dig deeper into this as it sounds like there could be some interesting results in an investigation. I hope Dr. Bedden and the board sniff out more of this type of programs that do nothing to elevate the knoledge of the students. Saturday school should have the parents of the children asking that their child be accepted to futher his/her education -- not take trips to Six Flags. Sounds like a high priced baby sitting service and someone was getting paid pretty good for twenty five Saturdays.

sign in
sign in 08/14/07 - 01:56 pm
They also need to check out

They also need to check out the after school programs; stop
hiring and promoting teachers and administrators who are
illiterate with their internet doctorates and six weeks masters degrees.

Queen4842 08/14/07 - 06:44 pm
My son attended Saturday

My son attended Saturday school in Columbia County during First grade. It made a huge difference in his scores. If the program is run correctly and the children are tasked to learn they will learn. I am sick and tired of hearing how they can not be taught. Children are naturally curious and little sponges for knowledge. The teachers and parents need to stop looking for excuses and look to themselves for the fault. There will b e 22,000 students in col. Co this year bet they don't all live here either. I do not blame the parents a bit. With this type of business going on as business as usual I would cross county lines as well. All children deserve a good education and all children like to learn, no one starts out wanting to be a dummy. WAKE up educators we the parents are watching finally.

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