Archive for the ‘Education/Schools’ Category

Where are the math texts in Prince William County?

September 28th, 2015 20 comments

From Prince William County School policy:

Purchasing Textbooks: It is the policy of the Prince William County School Board that in each core curriculum area there is at least one currently adopted textbook on the appropriate level available to every student.

Textbooks and related materials shall be approved by the School Board or the Associate Superintendent for Student Learning and Accountability before being purchased. The following purchasing procedures have been established to assist in procuring textbooks and instructional materials.
A. The following is a suggested purchase allocation for purchasing textbooks after the adoption approval:
1. First year – As many copies as budgeted funds will allow, but at least   50% of student enrollment.
2. Second year – complete total purchasing requirement according to the policy of one copy per student.
3. Third through sixth years – maintain ample copies of adopted textbooks to meet policy requirements, one copy per student.

That sounds to me like there shall be 1 copy of a textbook in core academic areas for every student.  This isn’t the state, this is Prince William County’s own policy.

PWC Schools are not following their own policy in math and haven’t been for several years.  I believe this is a cheating way for the individual schools to save money.  One classroom set of books is bought and that is the name of that tune.  No homework is given in the math book and to the best of my knowledge, most of the math texts do nothing but sit there and gather dust.

Students need to learn to read across the curriculum, including math instruction.  Students also need to have a math book if they need outside help.  Try tutoring a kid without a math book.  It’s fairly difficult to do unless you have a really good grasp of SOL curriculum.   Then you can pull problems out of thin air or rely on old textbooks if you have your own private stash.

Regardless, if you ask  around you will be hard pressed to find a kid who has been assigned his or her own math textbook to take back and forth to school.  Prince William County’s half-assed approach to providing every student with a math book violates their own policy and certainly does not conform to best practice in the field of education.

It’s time for the school system to stop cheating the kids and the tax payers and to assign each student a math textbook.   Yes, it’s getting personal now.  Come on Stonewall High School–get with the program.  Come on Reagan Middle and Stonewall Middle, get with the program.

You are not acting in the best interests of children.  You are handicapping students and creating innumeracy.

Those running for positions on the school board need to address this issue.


Where is the outrage over ” Little Johnny Maple Leaf?”

September 21st, 2015 21 comments

maple leaf

Earlier this school year, a sixth-grader in the gifted-and-talented program at Bedford Middle School in Bedford, Virginia was suspended for one year after an assistant principal found something that looked like a marijuana leaf in his backpack.

The student, the 11-year-old son of two school teachers, had to enroll in the district’s alternative education program and be homeschooled. He was evaluated by a psychiatrist for substance abuse problems, and charged with marijuana possession in juvenile court. In the months since September, he’s become withdrawn, depressed, and he suffers from panic attacks. He is worried his life is over, according to his mother, and that he will never get into college.

The only problem? The “leaf” found in the student’s backpack wasn’t what authorities thought it was — it tested negative for marijuana three separate times.

All of this is laid out in detail by Dan Casey in a column in the Roanoke Times today. While the juvenile court dropped its case against the student after the tests turned up negative, the school system, in a community located midway between Roanoke and Lynchburg, has been far less forgiving. That’s because stringent anti-drug policies in school districts in Virginia and elsewhere consider “imitation” drugs to be identical to real ones for disciplinary purposes.

Depriving a student of an education for a year does have a long-lasting, harmful effect.   It has better be done over something extremely important.  Most codes of behavior within the state speak of placebos–look-alike pills.  A leaf is not a pill.

Kids act silly about things that are forbidden.  So do adults.  I have continually joked that the Prince William County seal looks like it honors the marijuana plant even though I clearly know it does not.

So what if the kid said his maple leaf was “marijuana.”  Where is the harm?  I could even understand if the kid were hauled in and interrogated for an hour and his leaf sent off to some lab somewhere (maybe).  I could understand if his parents were called.  What I don’t understand is the kid being long-term suspended for a year  after the leaf tested negative three different times.

The article in the Roanoke Times is has not been found.  However, there is great coverage in some of the alternative newspapers. covered the entire story as did several other periodicals.

What is the difference in Ahmed and “Johnny Maple Leaf” some might ask.  The difference is the public safety as well as the degree of consequence.   A real marijuana leaf doesn’t have the potential to detonate.  Ahmed’s punishment lasted 3 days.  Johnny’s lasted a year.   Where is the outrage on behalf of Johnny Maple Leaf?

Disclosure:  I have a similar tree in my yard.


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I do NOT stand with Ahmed Mohamed

September 17th, 2015 70 comments

Ahmed Mohamed just wanted to impress his teachers with a homemade invention. The story of what happened next has made the 14-year-old from Irving, Tex., the object of national outrage and attention.

Eager to show off to his engineering teacher, Mohamed walked into MacArthur High School on Monday morning with his hastily assembled invention: A digital clock.

Hours later, the ninth-grader was escorted out of the school in police custody after teachers mistook the device for a bomb.

The incident has triggered allegations of racism and made a Texas school district the target of outrage that began online and quickly spilled into the most powerful offices in the land.

As the story spread, along with a photo of Mohamed in a NASA T-shirt and handcuffs, support came flooding in.

He was escorted out in handcuffs, not shot, for God’s sake. My criticism of the school and/or police is that hours later he was removed rather than immediately.

Read more…

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What’s happened to the middle school text books in PWC?

March 10th, 2015 5 comments


During the  last joint session of the Prince William County School Board and the Board of Supervisors, Supervisors Lawson and Candland chose to pick a fight with the School Board over a budget flyer sent home.  I wish they had discussed the needs of the school board, especially as it relates to textbooks.

Disclosure:  up until 3 years ago I was a certified secondary math teacher so this is important to me and I think I know what I am talking about.  I also have grandchildren in PWC Schools.

Kids aren’t being issued textbooks.  I checked with my middle school grandson.  No math book.  I couldn’t get an answer about the other books.  I checked with friends who have kids in the school system.  Their kids don’t have text books in any of the subjects.  WTF?  There are classroom sets.

So I asked about homework.  It seems that kids have binders and worksheets.  Sorry.  That doesn’t cut it.  How on earth are our kids learning to read in the content areas?  Apparently they are not.  Reading in the content areas is a critical skill that people who move beyond high school must have to be successful.  If our SAT scores are coming up short, that is one place to immediately look.

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Where were the thundering hordes?

March 4th, 2015 12 comments

As I watched speaker after speaker go to the podium in the Supervisors chambers last night, requesting that the BOCS advertise a tax rate high enough to support the 5 year plan, I questioned my own sanity.  Where were the thundering hordes of people I had heard about?  You know, those people who wanted the tax rate frozen at some ridiculously low figure that would pretty much halt most progress in Prince William County.

Our house-mate suggested that I must have been listening to talking hand  sock puppets–that old propaganda trick of making people think that there were a lot more people out there than really exist.  Sometime after 9 pm, a lone man got up and asked for a 1.3% rise in taxes.  Actually, I think he thought that was even too much.  He was also plenty irate about the budget sheet that got sent home with each school kid.  I wonder if he got irate last year and the year before that?

Sending materials home with students is the main way the school system communicates between school and home.  It always has been.  Just because we live in an age of technology doesn’t mean that all parents have computers.  Even in households with computers, often the computers were bought for the kids to help them with their studies (forget enhancing their social life).  I don’t think some of our middle and upper middle class residents understand that everyone isn’t just like them.

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More sleep…more sleep…more sleep for those in high school

February 10th, 2015 Comments off

From Channel 4 News:

Students clad in pajamas and draped in sleeping bags demonstrated outside school board headquarters in Montgomery County on Monday, urging support for later high school start times that would allow them to get more rest.

The “sleep-in” — replete with bathrobes, teddy bears and fuzzy slippers — came on the eve of a school board vote, expected Tuesday, on whether to shift school schedules at Montgomery’s 25 high schools, where classes now begin at 7:25 a.m.
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Categories: Education/Schools, PWC, PWC Schools Tags:

Prove it, Dick “Plastic Fetus” Black

January 17th, 2015 46 comments

Dick Black’s statement regarding Senate Bill 722:

There is a Federal Statute that says that if you give in-state tuition to unlawful immigrants then you must give in-state tuition to Americans from other states.  It just makes sense that Americans should receive as much consideration as people here illegally.  Giving in-state tuition moves illegal immigrants to the front of the line.  For every unlawful person who get in-state tuition, there will be an American who can’t go to college in Virginia and that’s unfair.  Any time you give something free to a person here illegally, you have to take it from an American.

I would like to see a copy of that law.  I find it hard to believe that there is a law stating such bullsh!t.

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South Carolina lawmaker wants gun awareness day mandated in schools

December 31st, 2014 29 comments

One South Carolina lawmaker believes there is an anti-Second Amendment movement taking place within the state, and that as a result, kids need to receive more education about their right to bear arms.

State representative Alan Clemmons (R) filed a bill in December with co-sponsors Richard Yow (R) and Garry Smith (R) that would create a “Second Amendment Awareness Day” on Dec. 15, the day after the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. For this day, schools would be asked to conduct essay and poster contests relating to the theme “The Right To Bear Arms; One American Right Protecting All Others.”

Additionally, the bill stipulates that students across the state should learn about the Second Amendment for three weeks, for one class period per day. Schools would teach these lessons using a curriculum developed or recommended by the National Rifle Association.

Finally, the bill notes that teachers should not punish “political, written, or artistic expression that includes references to guns or a militia” because of the First Amendment.

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UVA Sullivan sends Greek life to time out until Jan. 9

November 23rd, 2014 8 comments

Her decision will not be popular. UVA President Teresa Sullivan has banned fraternities and sororities at UVA until Jan. 9. No one is quite sure what “Ban” means at this point. For now, all we can do is speculate. Since students live in fraternities and sororities, it would be fairly difficult to re-house all of them. However, Sullivan can and should shut down all social activities until January 9.

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UVA assaults: A national disgrace

November 22nd, 2014 38 comments

phi psi 2

The harrowing account of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house described in a new Rolling Stone article roiled the campus Friday, with students, faculty members and parents questioning the administration’s response to the allegations.

The article, in the pop culture magazine’s December issue and posted online this week, describes a brutal sex assault that allegedly occurred in the Phi Kappa Psi house in 2012. The victim, who is given an alias in the article, said a member of the fraternity led her upstairs during a party and took her to a dark room, where numerous men pinned her to the floor and attacked her.

The victim later describes a underwhelming response from university officials, whom she contacted about the attack, according to Rolling Stone. She did not file a police report.

After the story appeared online, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) called for the university to begin a thorough investigation into the matter, and Charlottesville police said they are investigating the allegations at the request of the university’s president, Teresa Sullivan.

U-Va. Vice President Patricia Lampkin said the article has “deeply affected” the university community.

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