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Parent Involvement

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By PAA Co-founder Pamela Grundy I wrote this post for the Mom Congress Back-to-School Blog-a-thon (I was the North Carolina delegate to the 2011 Mom Congress, sponsored by Parenting Magazine). You can read more Mom Congress blogs here, and more of my “Seen from the ‘Rock” blogs here. As the letter notes, my husband Peter, 10-year-old son Parker and I will be spending the fall in Shanghai. Peter will be a visiting professor of architecture at Tongji University, and Parker …

Thoughts on Gates-funded publicity

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By Pamela Grundy The first clue came when the phone rang at the house of my friend Carol Sawyer. At the other end was a pleasant woman who said she was conducting a survey on education in our school district, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Carol doesn’t much care for phone surveys, but she’s interested in anything that has to do with CMS. She said yes. A few minutes in, she realized that this was no ordinary survey. Question after question sought her …

Requiem for a Librarian

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By Pamela Grundy I have never met anyone who loves books and reading more than Margaret Hollar, our Shamrock media specialist. That love shows in her face whenever she picks a book up from her desk, looks at the cover, then pages intently through, searching for a favorite passage.  It fills her voice as she expounds on characters or turns of phrase or the many different lessons she believes stories can teach. And it is shining at full force this …

Standardized Testing: Playing into the Privatizers' Hands

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By Pamela Grundy The scene: a Board of Education meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina The situation: Board members are considering a motion to roll back an testing program that mandates high-stakes standardized tests for every child in every subject in every grade – a program that has sparked anger from teachers and parents across the district. “Coach” Joe White, a lifelong educator and the board’s longest-serving member, addresses the audience in a gravelly, passionate voice. These are dangerous times, he …

The Broad Foundation in Charlotte

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The Charlotte Observer has published an insightful article on the Broad Foundation in Charlotte: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/05/08/2281054/whos-the-power-behind-cms.html. The first paragraph: “Superintendent Peter Gorman may be the face of public education in Charlotte, but is a Los Angeles billionaire the power behind the scenes?” Observer education reporter Ann Doss Helms also has a blog post that lays out the process by which she came to write the article, as well as the sources she drew on, which included interviewing, Web searches, tips from …

Testing Madness: Charlotte Today, Your Schools Tomorrow

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By Pamela Grundy This spring, Charlotte, North Carolina, saw an explosion of standardized testing. In March, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) rolled out 52 new standardized tests for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our Broad Foundation trained superintendent proudly proclaims that we will soon lead the nation in testing, with standardized tests for every student in every subject. In addition to the mandated state tests in reading, math and science, CMS students will take tests in art, P.E, dance, band, orchestra, …

Test Season

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Pamela Grundy ‘Seen from the ‘Rock (http://seenfromtherock.blogspot.com/) This spring, along with the dogwoods and the pollen, Mecklenburg County has been hit by waves of standardized tests. It’s the season of pay for performance, the latest fad in a long line of efforts to change American education from the top down. State standardized tests already consume a good chunk of the school year, when you count the weeks of focused preparation, the drawn-out process of making sure that every child is …

Charlotte value-added fight moves forward

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PAA affiliate Mecklenburg ACTS is pressing forward with its challenge to the use of value-added calculations in the pay for performance system being developed by Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (Charlotte, N.C. ) We’re moving toward 300 signatures on our petition calling for better and fairer teacher evaluations, and have just published an explanation of our stance in the Charlotte Observer, titled “Stand Up for Teachers Now.” We’ll be meeting April 5 to plan our next steps, and will turn out in …

Fact-Challenged Policy

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From: National Journal Online By Richard Rothstein Last week, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates published an op-ed in the Washington Post, “How Teacher Development could Revolutionize our Schools,” proposing that American public schools should do a better job of evaluating the effectiveness of teachers, a goal with which none can disagree. But his specific prescriptions, and the urgency he attaches to them, are based on the misrepresentation of one fact, the misinterpretation of another and the demagogic presentation of a third. …

PAA Affiliate Launches Pay for Performance Petition

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Mecklenburg ACTS, an affiliate of Parents Across America in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, has launched a petition that calls on Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to remove standardized test scores from their developing pay for performance system. We’re urging parents and community members to stand up for treating our teachers fairly, and to oppose the expansion of high-stakes standardized testing. If parents band together, our voices can be heard! Our petition can be found at www.mecklenburgacts.org. For more information on Pay for …