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McAuliffe vetoes school religious bill

April 7th, 2014 7 comments

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

A bill that would have codified the rights of students to pray, participate in religious activities or wear faith-themed clothing on public school property at public events was vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe Friday.

The school prayer-bill veto of Senate Bill 236, the third of McAuliffe’s term, followed a recent veto of a similarly themed bill governing prayer by chaplains in the Virginia National Guard.

Sponsored by state Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., R-Grayson, the legislation would have required every school system to have a policy allowing students to make religious speeches at any school event in which students are allowed to speak. It also would have removed the liability of school systems for allowing religious speech by having administrators offer disclaimers that student views are not endorsed by the school division.

Supporters said the legislation would protect religious liberty. But the governor disagreed.

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Parents flare up over stolen recess

March 9th, 2014 2 comments

There is a hue and cry over Superintendent Walts plan to shave 5 minutes off of elementary recess from now until the end of the year, to make up for lost instructional time due to snow days. To date, PWC has missed 12 days and has had 5 2 hour delays because of inclement weather.

Some parents are showing their displeasure by signing a petition to add 5 minutes on to the end of the day rather than shave the time off of recess.

From Haymarketbeat.com:

Bristow Beat’s Facebook page also saw an outcry against the decision to shorten recess. Parents argued that young children have to sit through too much structured activity as it is in the school day, and that recess is a good opportunity to allow them to be children.

“Kids today spend almost all of their time in structured activities or in front of a screen (tv, video games, computer, cell phone, ipod) with no opportunity to learn to entertain themselves and be active for fun, EXCEPT SCHOOL RECESS,” one woman commented. “Cut that back and then they wonder why kids have such issues with attention span, creative thinking, etc. The business of childhood is play.”

Many parents commenting agreed that recess is a necessity so that students could come back to class refreshed and ready to learn. They expressed their fear that with a shortened recess children’s behavior and academic ability would suffer.

I think adding 5 minutes to the end of the day sounds good but on the other hand, who knows what all in involved with adding 5 minutes to everything involving transportion. There are probably things the average Joe just hasn’t thought about. Which brings up another point. Why is it up to the schools to fix what ails kids?

“Kids today spend almost all of their time in structured activities or in front of a screen (tv, video games, computer, cell phone, ipod) with no opportunity to learn to entertain themselves and be active for fun, EXCEPT SCHOOL RECESS,” one woman commented.

What am I missing here?  Isn’t it the responsibility of the parents to take these toys  and screens away from their children and to chase their kids outside?  It now sounds like this is something the schools have to provide for kids–live without technology.  Back in the day, when my kids were kids, turned off the TV, took away the video games and  I chased them outside.  They were gone from sun up to sun down, off being kids.  Yes, we had perverts back in the dark ages so I don’t want to hear that as an excuse.  Kids are actually safer nowadays, they have cell phones which serve as a leash.

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Taking care of the schools: NOW

February 18th, 2014 6 comments

supply room

As Prince William County begins its budget deliberations, I want to encourage the supervisors to remember the poor, beleaguered schools, their students and their teachers.   As it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a county to do the right thing by its schools.  The BOCS must set the current tax rate.

Regardless of political correctness or other artificial constraints some folks will attempt to put on the situation, the BOCS needs to do 2 things.  They need to set the tax rate high enough to start bringing the schools up to snuff after the long , lean period following the housing crash that began in 2007.   They they need to give the School Board a little larger slice of the pie.

The school system needs to do three things:

1.  Start reducing class size.

2.  Give teachers and other employees a raise.

3.  Make basic supplies more readily available.

Frankly, no one wants to hear the old tea party rallying call to ‘Stop Spending.’   Those words are simplistic answers for simplistic people.  The average person has no idea what programs are mandated and what programs are not.  I have spent more years in the system than most folks and I don’t know all the ins and outs in that regard.  No one does when dealing with a hugely complex system like Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax or Stafford.

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Pre-School: For want of a nail a shoe was lost…for want of a shoe….

January 20th, 2014 3 comments

preschool_enroll2

Washingtonpost.com:

Prince William County qualified for enough state funding this year to provide pre-kindergarten classes to more than 1,600 children from low-income families. But the county turned down nearly all of that money and instead serves just 72 children in four classrooms.

Manassas Park was eligible for state funding to help 104 children prepare for kindergarten, but its program serves just 36.

Across Virginia, about $23 million designated for preschool was left on the table because localities — citing limited resources, lack of classroom space and politics — did not contribute the required matching funds to take full advantage of the program. As a result, more than 6,000 disadvantaged children missed the opportunity to go to school before kindergarten.

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Candland and Stewart: two peas in a pod

November 26th, 2013 34 comments

Potomaclocal.com:

Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland held a town hall Thursday night at Alvey Elementary School in Haymarket to speak to area residents about what he said is the need to “act right away” to provide more funds to the county school board to cut class sizes, which are now at their maximum capacity, he said. The number of students in classrooms is larger than those of schools in neighboring Loudoun and Fairfax counties, according to a Washington Area Board of Education report.

Candland advocates raising the amount of money the School Board automatically gets from the county in an annual budget transfer, which is currently 57.23% of the county budget, to allow the Board to hire additional teachers and to pay them salaries comparable to what educators earn in surrounding counties.

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Virginia schools fall from 93% to 77% accredited

September 23rd, 2013 Comments off

WJLA.com:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia education officials say new, more rigorous assessment tests drove down the number of schools meeting state standards.

The Virginia Department of Education says 77 percent of Virginia’s public schools are fully accredited after meeting state benchmarks. That’s down from 93 percent last year.

Officials say 1,413 of the state’s 1,828 schools met objectives on 2012-13 Standards of Learning tests and other assessments in English, mathematics, science and history – and, for high schools, graduation.

The number of schools accredited with warning nearly quadrupled to 395, and six schools have been denied state accreditation because of chronically low achievement.

Over the last two years, the state has implemented new math, English and science tests aimed at better preparing students for college or post-graduation employment.

Is it time for hysterics? Are Virginia schools going to hell in a hand basket?  No.  New tests have been implemented over the past two years.  Make no mistake.  It is all political.

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The Pledge of Allegiance: One nation, under God

September 3rd, 2013 22 comments

pledge

Schools open again today and across the nation, millions of kids will be reciting the Pledge of Allegiance:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

It sounds harmless enough.  However, to some parents, the phrase “under God” is unacceptable in schools.  The parents feel that the Pledge tears down the wall of separation between church and state because it contains the words, “under God.”.   The Pledge heads back to court in the very near future.  How does it hurt anyone to say two little bitty words?

That isn’t the point.  Kids are a captive audience forced to recite something their parents find objectionable.  Can kids be pulled out?  Of course.  However, pulling a student out of the pledge makes them stand out–opt out programs always call attention to those who dare to be different.

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Standing ovation for Mount Vernon High’s dress code

August 28th, 2013 38 comments

jeggings

Washingtonpost.com:

When students at Fairfax County’s Mount Vernon High School return to classes next week, they no longer will be allowed to wear “jeggings” as pants.

What exactly are jeggings? They are the fashion cousin of leggings, the skin-tight staples found in many high school hallways. Jeggings are leggings with a faux-denim appearance, providing the tailored jean look that is in vogue among teenagers. To dress in leggings or jeggings, Mount Vernon students must wear them underneath shorts, dresses or skirts that are at most three inches above the knee, according to school regulations.

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Antoinette Tuff: a real hero!

August 22nd, 2013 7 comments

I think that the word hero is tossed about was too casually and way too often.  We call people ‘heroes’ when they really have done nothing out of the ordinary or heroic.  However, Antoinette Tuff, bookkeeper at Ronald E, McNair Discovery Learning Academy, showed heroism in the face of danger that most people couldn’t imagine.  She showed compassion, strength, and calm demeanor during what could have been a deadly situation.  She saved literally hundreds of lives when a lone gunman toting an AK-47 and 500 rounds of ammo slipped into a locked door at her school.

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abcnews.com:

 The 911 tapes from a frightening standoff and shooting at an Atlanta-area school show how a school employee’s calm demeanor and kind approach helped end the ordeal without any injuries.

Police said Wednesday that school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff was heroic in how she responded after being taken hostage a day earlier by Michael Brandon Hill, a 20-year-old man with a history of mental health issues. Hill went to the school armed with an AK 47-style rifle and nearly 500 rounds of ammunition, police said.

On a recording of a 911 call released Wednesday, Tuff can be heard relaying messages from Hill to DeKalb County emergency dispatchers before convincing him to surrender. She tells the dispatcher that Hill said he wasn’t there to hurt the children but wanted to talk to an unarmed officer.

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Cuccinelli Ed Plan to funnel government funds to religious schools

August 13th, 2013 28 comments

Washingtonpost.com:

Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II unveiled a 12-point education plan Tuesday that would push for charter schools, offer voucher-like scholarships for preschoolers and empower a majority of parents to take over their children’s failing school, according to an outline of his K-12 education plan.

Cuccinelli wants to double the number of female students who focus on science and technology, expand virtual schooling and build on the commonwealth’s nearly two-year-old law that gives tax credits to donors who provide voucher-like scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools. He also would seek two amendments to Virginia’s constitution, including one that would clear the way for government funds to flow to religious schools.

The package of reforms contained in Cuccinelli’s K-12 education plan include several that have become popular in recent years, especially among conservatives, although the efficacy of some of the initiatives has been disputed. The proposals would generally push Virginia in the direction of so-called school choice and private or community-based solutions to the problem of public education.

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Those Georgians and Creationism!

August 9th, 2013 20 comments

Huffingtonpost.com

A new Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll finds that a majority of Georgians believe in creationism over evolution.

Entitled “Georgia Miscellany,” the Thursday item surveyed a pool of 520 voters on 32 questions. On the issue of creationism vs. evolution, 53 percent believe more in the former, compared to 29 percent choosing the latter, and 18 percent voting not sure.

When that question was transferred over to party lines, Republicans had a staggering split — 70 percent for creationism, 17 percent for evolution and 13 percent not sure. Democrats split along closer lines — 43 percent for creationism, 33 percent for evolution and 24 percent not sure. Independents held an even narrower divide — 46 percent for creationism, 40 percent for evolution and 14 percent not sure.

Back in June 2012, a Gallup poll recorded some national growth among Americans believing in creationism. Among a sample of 1,012 adults, 46 percent said that they were believers, marking a two percent jump over the past three decades.

UFB! Surely this many people don’t still think that Darwin is a bad word? I can’t believe that many people in Georgia missed science class. I went to school in Georgia a few years and I am pretty sure we studied the origins of the earth and man from a scientific point of view.

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Sandy Hook and Oklahoma: Thank the teachers

May 22nd, 2013 7 comments

teacher

For the past couple of years, if most teachers are honest, they will tell you that they feel beaten up, under-appreciated, over-worked and the political victims of whatever people feel ails American education.  Any time someone has a gripe, teachers have been in the first line of fire whether it’s over  test scores, the decline of America’s youth, the graduation rate,  or unions financially strapping municipalities.

In Virginia, not to stray too far from home, legislation has tinkered with teacher accountability, teacher evaluation, and teachers’  job security, especially along the lines of continuing contract.  More is being asked of teachers and less is being given to them in the way of reward and compensation.   In Virginia, teachers now must pay their own VRS.  Elementary teachers still don’t have adequate planning time and secondary planning time is often encumbered with meetings and other wastes of time. Teachers often plan from their own homes, far in to the night.

On the one hand, teachers are trusted less which is evidenced by the frequency of evaluation, and general supervision by administrators, as though the teachers are the students.  Ironically,  more is being demanded of these same people.

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“I can’t read cursive”

April 23rd, 2013 39 comments

cursive

A person near and dear to my heart just told his mother that he couldn’t read cursive when asked who his birthday card was from.  Was this a 6 year old?  No.  It was a 12 year old.  Why can’t a 12 year old read cursive?

When I was little my parents used to speak French to each other when they didn’t want me to hear them.  I stupidly took Spanish in school.  But I digress…..

Can parents now just write something in cursive to be secretive around their kids?  Why isn’t cursive being taught in school?  I want to be old fashioned for just a minute.  Texting is an invention of the Devil.  It is making morons out of society.  It has destroyed grammar and spelling even worse than CB radios.  Perfectly educated people now write in ignorantese.

Learning to write cursive develops a child’s cognitive ability and helps him or her with spacial relationships.   Expect more kids to fail geometry.  That branch of mathematics definitely relies on finely tuned spacial relationships.  Writing cursive also develops fine muscle control.

Reading and writing cursive is a skill.  There are too many of us around who still communicate in cursive to let it go the way of the dodo bird.  How will people sign their names?  Will they print their name on a check?   It’s one of those things people should be able to do just because….

Do local schools no longer teach cursive?  Do teachers text their students?  Keyboarding is not longer taught either.  I think I see illiteracy coming…it is right around the corner.  Schools!  Rethink this one!

Signed, Moon-howler

wolfp rint small

 

 

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Mike Rice Fired: Too little, too late?

April 4th, 2013 14 comments

 

Mike Rice should have been fired the moment his abusive behavior was discovered. Let’s not stop there. The athletic director and the president of the university need to go also. They were aware that Rice treated his players like this. For that matter, it is their business to know how he treated his players.

Mike Rice hurled racial slurs, homophobic slurs, hit players, pushed them and threw basketballs at their legs and groin. He was verbally and emotionally abusive. Who on earth thinks this behavior is acceptable? It is unacceptable behavior for any coach at any level of competition.
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Teachers to attend BOCS Tues to ask for tax rate that supports schools

February 18th, 2013 16 comments

public education

Prince William County teachers plan to attend the BOCS meeting tomorrow en mass.  Prince William County teachers have not had a step increase in 3 years.    They are not expected to get one until 2016.  They have had a couple of very small raises.  They will once again ask for the supervisors to set an advertised tax rate that sustains a teacher raise and reduced class sizes.

Teachers want  the Supervisors to set a tax rate high enough to accommodate a step increase, raise, and reduction in class size.  The uninformed often wonder why teachers don’t approach the PWC School Board for this raise and reduction, rather than the BOCS.  They do.  However, school boards, in Virginia, do not have the power to tax so they must get the funds from the governing body, in this case, the Board of County Supervisors.   The BOCS sets the tax rate and so they are who the teachers must appeal to.

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