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HAC attack!

August 29, 2012 3 comments

Home Access Center is out of control! My son has been marked absent for his first two Spanish classes this week – but the schedule they gave him doesn’t even have him taking Spanish this marking period! HAC is apparently either not handling the new block scheduling, or has been handed bad data. I called the school and heard there were other scheduling problems as well.

Then, I just now got a robocall from school telling me my son was absent the whole day yesterday and would I please send in a note? (he wasn’t absent). HAC (eSchoolPLUS) also handles attendance.

Oh, and all the DCAS scores have once again been wiped out.

And it’s too soon to tell if the DOE data gurus have completed their summer homework, which was to fix the HAC usage reporting problem. It’s on my to-do list to find out what’s been done on that front. It would be nice if someone would drop by here and let me know.

Get your head in the game, guys, you’ve had all summer for maintenance and QA!!! Get on the horn with SunGard if necessary, and figure out what’s going on!

By the way, to access HAC log in here. Your new password should have come in a mailer a week or two before school started (at least that’s how it works in Red Clay). If you can’t access HAC, call your school office.

Note: These are my Red Clay centric observations, so let me know if you have a different experience.

And remember why I’m always going on about HAC: Because it’s a parent involvement tool, and deserves more respect!

Communication progress!

August 29, 2012 Comments off

WOO-HOOO! This year my son has two teachers who have SchoolNotes accounts and plan to use them to communicate assignments and tests ahead of time!! And a third teacher who communicates assignments on his own blog!

SchoolNotes is a free web system that is a good second choice for teachers who are unwilling to publish assignments on their default system, Home Access Center. I’d rather just review upcoming assignments and tests for all his classes all on one page in HAC, but I guess it’s better to have upcoming assigments listed on a welter of different websites instead of nothing at all.

Let’s hope they stick with it and see the value of consistently providing assignments and materials online in advance, like Communication Hero Kimberly Flanagan.

But I still don’t get why some teachers insist on doing doublework – entering the assignment in SchoolNotes or some other site, then entering the assignment AGAIN in eSchoolPLUS/HAC to record the grade. But judging from the turnout at the regulatory review meeting I attended, I guess teachers aren’t overly concerned about having too much workload.

You didn’t understand that

August 28, 2012 Comments off

Mitt Romney and his supporters have been making hay with President Obama’s comment “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.” Here’s what President Obama said:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.

President Obama has committed what linguists call an anaphor, which is a grammatical structure very common in rhetoric, and one which Obama has been fond of even before this business comment.

The problem in resolving an anaphor is identifying which antecedent the pronoun is bound to (in this case the pronoun is that). Does that refer to the business? To the roads and bridges? Or to this unbelievable American system?

The rules of English grammar alone aren’t always clear enough to make a determination. We like to think of grammar as an exact science, but it is not. So when grammar doesn’t provide an answer, syntax must be examined as well. If you are interested in linguistics, it is one of those fascinating and exciting problems of language.

Obama opponents insist on a technically possible but least likely interpretation:

you didn’t build that (business)

when the syntax and the political context all point to a more likely interpretation of

you didn’t build that (unbelievable American system)

The Cranky Linguist says:

Note the anaphor that, the last word in this bit of text, refers obviously to roads and bridges.

But I contend that the anaphor goes beyond the nearest antecedent (roads and bridges). I think Obama was using roads and bridges as a part of the whole in a series of examples illuminating the real antecedent, this unbelievable American system. The great teacher and the roads and bridges are both connected but subordinate to the system. But speaking off the cuff, he malformed and interrupted the series and never finished it with more examples. For example, suppose Obama had said the exact same words in a slightly different order:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.

Because English grammar can’t unambiguously resolve the anaphor, humans must naturally look at the syntax (and context) to figure out what that is referring to. The unresolved anaphor still remains, but the syntax more strongly reveals the antecedent (the American system).

Using the pronoun that is another clue. To refer to the immediate antecedent, an English speaker would generally choose it – as in “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build it.” But Obama used that to refer to the more remote antecedent – the public system of teachers, roads and bridges, and all that.

Applications due this week for Longwood’s Community Education Building

August 27, 2012 3 comments

Is the CEB rushing to beat charter reform?

Applications for charters who wish to move into the CEB next fall were released to the public at the beginning of August and are now due this week, allowing fewer than 30 days to complete. CEB says it will accept only one or two charters for next fall. Final decisions will be made by October.

Charters selected by CEB will still have to submit applications to the state by December to approve or modify their charter, after which public hearings will be scheduled and the State Board of Education will deliberate to approve or disapprove the modification, typically by sometime in April or May.

Apparently only current charters will be able to move in next fall. CEB President Riccardo Stoeckicht says:

Under the state’s regulations, only charter schools that are already operating or are approved to open next year could move into the building in the fall of 2013, Stoeckicht said.

Simultaneously, the Governor’s working group on charter reform will be meeting through December when it will deliver its recommendations, which probably won’t be acted on until late spring at the earliest.

So it is very likely the first two existing charters will be approved by the SBE under the current charter law rather than any reformed charter law. Even though CEB has engaged a third party to promote independence in the selection process, given the short timeline it’s easy to wonder if there has been some pre-discussion with certain charters.

I keep hearing charters are public schools. So why is the selection process private? The public certainly has a strong interest in deciding what kinds of schools it wants or doesn’t want in the building. When the state board hearings come for the selected CEB charters, I’d certainly like to know who the other applicants were and why they were rejected.

(thanks to Larry Nagengast of wdde.org for his indispensible reporting on these topics)

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Third and final DOE regulatory review meeting Thursday in NCC

August 22, 2012 Comments off

Teachers, educators, parents – The Department of Education wants to know:

Do you have specific ideas about regulations that should be modified or eliminated? If so, we want to hear from you.

They have set up a series of meetings just so you can come and tell them about regulations that need to be changed or removed. The third and final meeting on this topic is tomorrow, Thursday, Aug. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the New Castle County Government Center, 77 Reads Way, New Castle.

I think this is an opportunity teachers should not pass up.

If you know of some regulation or requirement that is preventing you from doing your best work educating our children, please don’t keep it to yourself. Come to this meeting. Or post your concerns here, and if it checks out I’ll take it straight to DOE myself.

I will be attending this meeting, and I will be happy to bring your comments to the meeting in person. I know some teachers are rightly concerned about seeming to be too outspoken before District or state administrators. As a parent, let me assure you I have no such concerns for myself.

You can always submit your comments in writing using the comment submission form.

Delaware DOE announces launch of Education Insight system

August 22, 2012 Comments off

Today the Delaware Department of Education announced the upcoming statewide launch of the new Education Insight data system on September 4th:

Funded with part of the state’s $119 million federal Race to the Top grant, the project includes the development of web-based “dashboards” that provide educators access to timely and actionable information on all students to help manage academic performance and anticipate issues that could arise throughout the year. The dashboards aggregate data from existing sources to show a comprehensive view of each student — including items such as student biographical information, schedule, attendance, assessment scores, grades and credits — as well as roll-up views of the data for classrooms, schools and districts.

Here’s the state’s main project page for the Education Insight system, and here’s the page for the educational metrics underlying the dashboards.

The project is based on tools and code from partners of the Shared Learning Collaborative and the Ed-Fi initiative.

I first became interested in this system when the RFP was issued in late 2010, and I wrote several guest posts on Delaware Liberal outlining the project (click here and here). I continued writing about the project after I launched the Seventh Type (click here), and with the series on eSchoolPLUS that kicked off this blog.

I’ve made my own comments, observations, and criticisms of this project in my previous posts, but for this post I’m just trying to provide an overview and acknowledge the rollout.

On September 4th the only user-visible part of the system will be the Teacher Dashboard, which is available only to teachers. I’ve posted about the Teacher Dashboards previously. However, a lot of work was also done to establish the underlying data warehouse and other infrastructure. DOE’s Education Insight Project Manager Reese Robinson has posted a good overview.

The next phase of the Education Insight project will be largely funded by a $4.6 million Federal grant. The grant application provides a lot of detail about the planned work, and the work that has already been done.

Additional dashboards are planned for principals and administrators, although unfortunately none for parents or students or for the public.

Longwood Foundation names board, announces applications for Community Education Building

August 6, 2012 7 comments

 

 

The Longwood Foundation has revealed more about its intentions for charter schools in the Wilmington building donated to the Longwood Foundation by Bank Of America in February. As the Foundation announced at the ceremony, the plan was to create a “Community Education Building” not-for-profit organization to manage the building and its schools.

And now, the Foundation has revealed its new website at cebde.org. The website has been under construction for a few weeks, but now there is plenty of new content.

Check it out at cebde.org.

To begin with, the Board of Directors has been named. You may recall we speculated last February that Charlie Copeland was involved in this and let slip some inside info. Charlie said in February:

The Longwood Foundation plans to take that building and create the “Community Education Building” (CEB) and put 4 Charter Schools right in the heart of the City of Wilmington.

It turns out Charlie is on the Board of the CEB after all.

And then we noted that Chuck Baldwin of CSW gave some more clues:

This building, which will be used for education, will allow for successful models to replicate in Delaware (KIPP, Montessori). Schools will be established in the inner city and provide educational opportunities for thousands of our children. DuPont and Bank of America are committing million of dollars in resources and are truly “putting their money where their mouth is” when it comes to education reform.

I didn’t see Chuck’s name on the CEB website, but he’s right down the road at CSW. Let’s look for those Kipp and Montessori schools to show up.

And the CEB application process for charters is also online, announcing a third-party organization for school selection:

This summer the CEB will entertain applications from charter schools interested in opening their facilities in the building in the fall of 2013. Charter Schools interested in joining the CEB in 2014 will be invited to submit their application in the late spring of 2013.

To ensure that the CEB achieves its mission and vision, the Board of Directors has engaged the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust (CEE-Trust) to create and manage an independent school selection and performance review process.

Here are the members of the selection committee, and here are the application materials for new and existing charters.

There’s a lot of info to process here. I’ll be reading this more and posting more over the coming days. What do you think?

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