Why did I choose the blog name “Stop Academic Embezzlement”..

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I absolutely love education. I love to read, I love to teach, and I love learning. At the same time, I strongly believe America has to do be better! Citizen’s of America, we are behind other countries in education and that should not be. Many of the foreign students come to the United States and they are far more advanced than our students.

I believe it is safe to say, when someone hears the word embezzlement, they automatically think of stealing from a company, or scamming the innocent. We all have heard of Madoff, Barry Hunt, or the so-called Dr.Gerald Barnes. Each of these men were plagued by greed and selfishness. As hard as it is to get a job that pays more for your experience, these men, took their talents and decided they would make life easier by skipping integrity.

Embezzlement is defined as: theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one’s trust or belonging to one’s employer. The 2nd definition is: to take (property entrusted to one’s care) dishonestly for one’s own use. So how does this play into education? Give me a few more minutes and I will tell you how.

I like the 2nd definition because it says to take property (our kids) entrusted to one’s care (our teachers) dishonestly for one’s own use. This is tight but right. Our kids go to school everyday being prepared for the future. They are told they are the future of tomorrow. Many people are not aware that for every child that has an I-9, the school gets funding.

Each state gets a different amount per pupil. Sadly, all of this money does not go directly to the school for students. Let’s take a look at these facts: One of the most frequent critiques of public education is that more money needs to be spent in order to achieve better results. In Tennessee, the average spent per pupil is $9,123, however as of 2012 the new figure is $10,088 per student. Less than 54 percent of the total spending is not directed at classroom instruction, teachers, textbooks and supplies (beacontn, 2014). Citizens of America this is academic embezzlement.  As a parent, I am tired of buying school supplies that are going to be put into a box and all can grab, including the teachers. Tell me upfront that it is for those who are unable to purchase school supplies. I will gladly donate. But, do not come up with another reason to get me to bring supplies, this is embezzlement. Since when does a student need to buy chalk, toilet paper, dry eraser boards and dry eraser markers? Since when does a student need to buy Windex and cleaning solution?

The Department of Education generally cites total operating expenditures (including those named above) of $8,229,189,860 for the fiscal year ending in 2012. However, this is only a partial figure and does not represent the true cost of public education in Tennessee. PPE (which is Per Pupil Expenditures) and ADA (Average Daily Attendance) is the calculation used to estimate the amount needed from the taxpayers to pay for education. The amount did change again on another report . The total was $9,100,216,241 for the fiscal year ending in 2013. This more precise figure indicates that taxpayers spend an average of $10,080 per student instead of the reported $9,123,or 10.6 percent more than is officially reported. What does that mean? school systems are under reporting and concealing the necessary information for fear that the funding will be cut, i.e., their pay.

I could on and on about the other financial variances in Tennessee related to education, but I will save that for later. I will tell you that Education reform is needed in more ways than one. I do not think spending money for Education reform is a harmful thing to our children. It is necessary for us to go back to the drawing board on how to spend the funding released.  The building of Charter schools and or transformation to Charter schools would be an effective way to spend the per pupil funds.

Sound off, tell me what do you think? Is this academic embezzlement? Are charter schools necessary? Should taxpayers demand reports showing how the money is allocated for each school district?

Retrieved from: http://www.beacontn.org/wp-content/uploads/Following-the-Money.pdf (2014).

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The Double Dutch Bus

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In an admissions overhaul that relies on city buses, Metro Nashville students and parents will be able to choose which high school they attend next year (Garrison, Joey, 2014). At the same time, transportation could be an issue and even a seat in the school of their choice.

The purpose for the students to choose which high school is to promote a more effective long term plan when they graduate from high school. For example, if a child is musically inclined, their desire may be to attend one of the school of arts that focuses on music. The student is not only learning their passion, but it is preparing them for their future in the real world. The students will gain a lot of of knowledge on their subject and perhaps propel them ahead of other high school students in other districts, that are looking to attend the same college.

I personally think it is a great deal seeing that many employers today are hiring based upon experience and not just education. However, transportation should be rock solid and the students should not have to come out of pocket to get a better opportunity in another district. According to writer, Garrison, Joey, Metro Nashville has a plan to resolve the transportation dilemma. The students will take the bus to the chosen school and will not have to pay for transfers and other bus passes anymore.Students will be required to take the yellow buses to the nearest bus stop, and then the MTA (Metro Transportation Authority) to the chosen school district.

Another positive for the students is that they could gain a little more shut eye. In order to kick this plan into gear, the school board is thinking of staggering the school hours. Normally, high schools classes start at 7:05am. With the new options, the classes will began at 8:30am. This stagger in school hours was motivated by the Amercian Academy of Peaditrics, which has pointed to health risks for students under the age of 17.

I say build a Double Dutch and put everyone on it that has chosen a new school outside of their district. Drive each of them to their destination and celebrate that our children are being trained to face the real world challenges. I am reminded of the song, “The Double Dutch Bus”, for the blog sake, I have added a few of my own lyrics to the song, 1,2,3, sing….”the double dutch bus coming down the street, moving pretty fast you better shuffle your feet. Get on the bus, pay your fare, and tell your driver that your glad <the double dutch is there>….”

Garrison. Joey. Metro to offer ‘full choice’ of high schools. The Tennessean. September 7, 2014.retrieved from:http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2014/09/07/metro-offer-full-choice-high-schools/15234985/

Charter Schools what? Really? Why should I care?

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It has been a minute since my latest blog. I had to go and support a friend who lost her husband this past weekend. Our daughters have been best friends since they were in the second grade. Two families bonded due to the fact that both of their children had learning disabilities. The girls are now 16 years old and while distance has separated them, they are still supportive to one another in school and life. Also, during my visit, I interviewed a mother of five. She and her spouse have four sons who are in middle school up to high school. She has a few that are in Charter Schools in Davidson County which is Nashville, TN.

I ask this mother Mrs. Kenyatta Churchwell why she preferred Charter schools over non Charter schools. Mrs. Churchwell is a relative of mine. Our family “The Churchwell’s” owns the well-known Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School in Nashville, TN. This school is the exact education model that she wanted her sons to receive. For this reason, she chose all Charter schools. Mrs. Churchwell stated that the charter schools provided a nontraditional learning. She said they truly exemplified the meaning of “no child left behind”. Now, “no child left behind” does not mean in the charter schools that one must pass the student even if they did not master the course. “No child left behind” in the charter school world means that the teachers will set one’s sights on the children who are not at mastery level and do whatever it takes by any means necessary, so that they do not fail.

I ask Mrs. Churchwell about the language used in the charter schools about college. She explained that the schools promote a natural transition to college. The teachers teach the children that college is an attainable goal. She also loves that they allow Open door policy. Open door policy means you can come in any of your child’s classes and see what is being taught. In my opinion I think that is absolutely awesome! In our conversation/interview, she named a lot of other supportive reasons. Since I am so long-winded, I will not drag you on my journey. I will list the other positive reasons a parent should consider charter schools.

  • Charter schools require every parent to have some form of involvement in your child’s education. Working a job is not an excuse. Each parent must volunteer at the school; the positive to that policy is they have created times after you as the parent gets off work.
  • The Principals and Teachers support the students outside the classroom in their extracurricular activities.
  • Homework is given daily to keep what has been taught
  • Instead of In-school suspension, they have study hall detention. In study hall extra help is given and children are allowed to catch up on make-up work or subjects that required more teacher help.
  • Within the charter schools there are more multi-cultural teachers and the presence of the leadership in male teachers
  • One great incentive to obey in school and make the middle to top grades is “The Paycheck”. Yes, you heard me right, the children earn a paycheck. The students can use their paycheck in the schools’ store. The store has food items, electronics, educational items, and college paraphernalia.  With the paycheck students can earn a day to wear their favorite college shirt that they purchased from the bookstore. I wanted to go back to school just for the paycheck:-).
  • The purpose of “The Paycheck” is to teach the students the value of the dollar. Children who have struggled with mathematics have higher grades in math because they are handling their paycheck. The paycheck also teaches the students how to save and balance their funds received.
  • As it relates to T-CAP, charter schools test other than just the “common core standards”. They actually have test that helps the student keep up with their own progress. Which takes me to the next point called “MAP”.
  • M-A-P stands for Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) which creates a personalized assessment experience by adapting to each student’s learning level. In my last blog, I spoke about each child learning at their own level. Every child learns at a different pace and has different learning styles.
  • M-A-P measures the student’s weakness and strengths. The impact is that it sets expectations for the students to know where they are going in every subject.
  • Lastly, charter schools are rigorous; the students are in school longer, they have fewer days out, but the positive is more instructional time from teachers.

Wow, I wish they used charter school methods when my daughter began grade school. I truly believe she could have benefited from this type of structure. However, in my upcoming blogs, I will tell you the story of her journey from Davidson County school system to Henry County.

That’s all folks:-)

 

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

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I was listening to the award-winning group TLC on YouTube. Their song, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls” was streaming. When I began to think about that song, I began to think about how true the song really was.  The song says, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that your use to, I know that you’re going to have it your way or no way at all, but I think your moving too fast”.

This is so true in America right now because we are chasing after everything. The young children are chasing after the next big thing in technology or code in a game and will do whatever to get it. The teens are chasing after boys, girls, fashion, twitter, Instagram, or whatever the next best thing is in social media or fashion. They have begun to kill themselves, murder each other, cut them, all because they are chasing waterfalls. They are seeking to live the celebrity life. Marriages are chasing after what they think is greener on the other side. Those who consider themselves poor are chasing after money and willing to go to jail to just have a few bucks. The drug addict wants another high, so they go to a drug that takes them “higher”. The runner or walker, who walks one mile, decides to compete with the T.V. folk or themselves and gets a real bad charley horse for running a marathon that they did not train for. The list goes on and on.

Then you have the teachers, the principals, and the Board of Education who is over the teachers, the principals, the students, and so on. They are chasing after waterfalls as well. They want education to be more than they are willing to pay for. They want their city, their district, their state to be number one, but cannot agree on how to become number one unless more money is allocated. The officials in Washington are arguing about how our children should be taught and how long it should take every child to learn, so they say cut the pay of the teacher.

What are the lakes and the rivers were are used to? It was the simple things in life. When I was in school, the teachers taught from their hearts, they taught from experience, they taught us by using illustration. The teachers in my day taught us according to where we were as students. I can remember back in kindergarten on how I learned my colors, my ABC’s, my telephone numbers and regular numbers. The teachers were not pressured to move us 100 mph, but they were able to teach at the pace of the children.

I learned so much growing up and with the teaching style that our teachers used. I learned a lot about nature because they did not cut recess, but allowed us to expel our energy everyday outside. We played various games, learned about playing as a team, being a team leader and so on. Inside the classrooms we had a strong music budget, so we were taught all the instruments, we performed our skills at various programs in front of our family and other guest. The teachers used the simple things in life. It was the small things that allowed our mind to expand and become distinguished. We as the students were able to go to the chalk board and figure out a problem with the support of the teacher and students. Our teachers supported us outside the classroom. This was an excellent process for me in school and I remember everything that I was taught. I remember the teachers and the lessons that they strove to teach us.

We must stop chasing the waterfalls because our children are dying in school, they are bringing guns and we are having tragedy’s, we are experiencing bullying on an all-time high. Why? Because one child is pulled away from their class to get extra help, so now, their privacy is compromised and other kids are making fun. We must wake up and go back to what was working. We are not ready to chase the big dreams yet until we can master the rivers and lakes that we are use too.