Georgia Continues to Lead Nation in Eduaction!

This week we have two more examples of how Georgia is a bright shining beacon on that educational hill.

Leading things off, the Atlanta Board of Education chose to demonstrate it is a paradigm of stability and good governance by electing its fifth chairman in two years.

The new vice chair is Byron Amos, who was the swing vote. And he’s been on the Board for two months. And his meteoric ascendancy is a coincidence, he says there was no deal to make him vice chair. Both were elected 5-4.

Why does this matter?

As The AJC notes:

Board members spent 2010 squabbling over leadership and making decisions on split votes. The discord ended in court, with a judge setting parameters on who the new leaders should be. Then in early 2011, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which oversees the district’s accreditation, placed Atlanta Public Schools on academic probation as a result of board infighting…

The leadership vote was also muddied by a complaint from Atlanta parent and attorney Cynthia Briscoe Brown.

In a sworn affidavit sent to board members, Brown said McDaniel told her he had to run for chairman because Superintendent Davis wouldn’t sign his employment contract if Muhammad was re-elected chairwoman. According to Brown, McDaniel said Davis had concerns about the way Muhammad handled vendor contracts.

And in Gwinnett County, well, I’ll let the AJC do the talking.

Gwinnett County parents and activists have blasted the school district’s response following reports that students at a Norcross elementary school received a math worksheet that used examples of slavery in word problems.

One of the examples: “Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”

Rest assured, district officials “will personally work with teachers to come up with more appropriate lessons.”

Yeah it really isn’t hard to find “more appropriate lessons.” Try: “Each store has 56 oranges. If eight shoppers buy them equally, how many would each shopper buy?” If anyone wants to defend the slavery questions, I’m actually all ears.

22 comments

  1. benevolus says:

    One thing about the slavery issue is that teachers are supposed to sort of cross-pollinate their lessons, and this is apparently an example of that. I doubt there is any racism involved here, just a frazzled teacher who didn’t put enough thought into that day’s activities.

    • saltycracker says:

      If it is even true that was the teachers approach, frazzled is not the explanation, maybe the brain tumor explanation will work.

  2. Calypso says:

    Hey Ed, is it irony or merely wordplay that your headline is “Eduaction” as opposed to Education?

  3. Max Power says:

    I think the “If Frederick got two beatings each day, how many beatings did he get in one week?” showed far poorer judgment than the oranges question.

    • bgsmallz says:

      Frederick showed up in another question, too. I would bet Frederick was a character in a social studies book about slavery that had unpleasant things like beatings and forced labor in it.

      It’s unfortunate. These teachers have to walk a fine line because of the mandates to “cross-pollinate”. There are Susan B. Anthony questions in the homework, too.

      I really have no idea how to make a math question associate with a story about slavery and not make it sound callous. Probably much better ways than to reference beatings….but goodness, don’t fire a math teacher for being an idiot at wording his problems.

  4. Ken says:

    Here’s a real-life math word problem for you:

    Use the following story to answer the questions below.

    A student brings a math workbook from home that contains math word problems using slavery as a part of the problem. A teacher observes the student showing the math workbook to other students at recess.

    1. The student is suspended for bringing inappropriate material to school for 150% more than the average suspension length of 4 days. How many days will that student be suspended from school?

    2. If there is a 30-day backlog at DFACS for cases in which children’s lives are in danger, how many visits would the child’s parents receive from the Department of Family and Children’s Services within 15 days if there are six DFACS supervisors who desire a promotion?

    3a. If there are 25 civil rights leaders in the municipality where this story occurred and each holds a press conference and 20 percent more fly into town to hold pressers, how many civil rights leaders will have held press conferences regarding this incident?

    3b. Use your answer from 3a to determine how many fewer civil rights leaders hold a press conference if a public school teacher uses slavery as a part of a series of problems.

    Yes, the teacher did a dumb thing, but the difference in how a “responsible adult” will be treated contrasted with how a student would likely be treated under very similar circumstances is the outrageous part to me.

      • Ken says:

        Calypso,

        That is correct, but you would get praise even if you had answered 14 puppies and a wombat.

        It is, you see; all about not bruising student egos and keeping them engaged so they remain in school so the school board continues to receive federal tax dollars for the students being in school even if they end up sitting at a desk in the 10th grade eating paste and marveling at the children who can read comic books. *sigh*

        It is hard to be a cynical optimist.

          • Ken says:

            Head of the class, Calypso!

            Don’t forget to do your homework right after you finish those 40-yard sprints like Coach asked, now, y’hear? You know you can’t get by on just those after-school 3-hour football practices.

  5. Mid Georgia Retiree says:

    Dumb questions? Absolutely! Does whoever wrote the questions need some re-training, more supervisory observation? Without a doubt!!! Fire the person(s) just because NAACP demands it? Tell the NAACP to bark up someone else’s tree!!!!!

  6. rense says:

    “If anyone wants to defend the slavery questions, I’m actually all ears.”

    I will do it. This is actually the fault of civil rights leaders.
    1. Civil rights leaders have for decades made the (false) claim that the chronic underperformance of black children were due to white people using curricula and instructional methods that weren’t interesting to blacks and ignored their experience. According to them, black kids were (consciously or subsconsciously) saying “this isn’t about me, this doesn’t represent me, this represents the Eurocentric experience and way of thinking that excludes and marginalizes me, so I am not going to study).

    2. There were two ways of addressing the (false) issue of #1. The first was to teach as much black history and civil rights as possible, especially explosive and sensitive stuff like the KKK, lynchings, Jim Crow, slavery etc. (allegedly to improve black self-esteem, but actually to promote a certain mindset among blacks that can be easily exploited politically and in other ways) and the second was to incorporate this stuff into as many other subjects as possible (cross-pollination) to make them “more interesting and relevant” to get black kids to study (and to do the same with feminist, environmentalist, etc. propaganda … the intent is to get as much of the political agenda as possible into every class, and it has been going on at the university level for some time … and oh yes this is also done in other countries … do a Google search on “revolutionary mathematics” and one of the first links will be an article on how communist China inserted their propaganda into all fields, including mathematics and science).

    3. So, you can add #1 and #2 together, and it is very easy to see how a WELL-MEANING math teacher can try to work slavery into her exercises as a way to implement the instructions by her own superiors to make her lessons more interesting and relevant to the experience of black students to increase their performance. In other words, she is doing EXACTLY what the NAACP and other civil rights leaders and groups applied political pressure for her to do. And these groups are using this attempt to implement their (failed) policy to close the achievement gap between blacks and whites (which exists in Gwinnett County as it does elsewhere) as evidence of the supposed existence of “institutional racism” that is responsible for low black educational achievement. You know, institutional racism, and not the refusal of black kids to study or of their parents to make them study, which is why cross-pollination of math lessons with black history was done by this teacher (to make the lesson more interesting and relevant to black kids) was done to remedy in the first place.

    Basically, it is a no-win situation. You can ignore these people and teach the traditional way, and you get accused of harming black kids by sticking with a pedagogy designed to advance whites and oppress everybody else (except, it appears, Asians. And Jews. And Hispanics after the second and especially third generation. And blacks who immigrate here from the Caribbean and Africa. And … oh never mind). Or you can adopt their advice and be institutionally racist by producing “offensive” math exercises. Either way, you are institutionally racist. Which is convenient, because either way the achievement gap will still persist, and civil rights leaders will continue to blame this achievement gap on everything but the study habits of black kids. And the result is that your school and your district will still be punished by NCLB, because it doesn’t matter if the black kids in your school or district score higher than the black kids in, say, APS or even above the national average, but you get hit under NCLB if the black kids in Gwinnett (or anywhere else) score less than the white kids in Gwinnett. But NCLB does not factor in comparisons between the study habits of black kids and white kids before punishing districts. Instead, districts get punished because of the “achievement gap” whether the black kids study or not. But get this: if the scores of BOTH the white kids and black kids STINK, then there is no achievement gap and you are pretty much fine as far as that NCLB metric goes. Seriously.

    Stuff like this makes me wonder why more parents – and teachers – don’t go the private school route. Not just charter schools, but private ones. Hey, here’s a thought, if you are offended by Gwinnett County using slavery in math lessons, send your kid to a private school. Nah. The concept of using your resources to increase your choices in the marketplace and leverage them to your own advance is not promoted by that crowd. Not something that you are going to encounter in Ebony, Essence or Jet Magazine, or by BET or Radio One. Black Enterprise only promotes it in the business/financial arena but doesn’t extend it to other areas of life. No, the NAACP and similar tells blacks to go to the public school and demand justice, like they have been for going on 100 years, instead of voting with their feet – and dollars – in favor of the private option. So long as these parents keep their kids in Gwinnett (and other) public schools, the NAACP keeps their influence on the black education issue, no matter what the schools teach or how these kids perform. By contrast, a mass exodus of black kids from the public school system to private schools significantly diminishes the civil rights groups’ power, because of A) their own ideology in favor of public schools, B) their own relationships with the public sector unions and other progressive groups and C) it is much easier to influence a single school board than dozens of independently run private schools. So even if a mass exodus of black kids from public to private schools significantly increases black educational performance, it is still bad for the civil rights groups and leaders. Yet either no one seems to have figured this out, or they just don’t care and have decided that it is just easier to dance to their beat, even if it means firing a math teacher (math teachers don’t grow on trees you know!) over slavery lessons.

    • bgsmallz says:

      Not to endorse this opinion by any means….

      but interestingly one of the other questions was “It costs Susan B. Anthony $100 to vote for President. If she only has $25, how much more does she need to vote.”

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Many parents likely would send their children to private schools in a heartbeat if there were more spots at private schools and the tuition and fees for a private school education wasn’t consistently well north of $10,000-per-year and approaching $20,000-per-year at many schools, which is on top of the property taxes that still have to paid to support the local public school system even if the kids are sent to a private school.

      Heck, I even know of a few seemingly well-heeled parents in Gwinnett County who remove their children from private schools like GAC (Greater Atlanta Christian) and Wesleyan, which are both private schools where the tuition can approach upwards of $20,000-per-year, and place their children in highly-regarded public school in Gwinnett in clusters like Norcross, Brookwood, Buford, etc.

      Just in Gwinnett County alone, there are only four private schools with a total enrollment of not even 6,000 students compared to the two public school systems in Gwinnett (Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City Schools) which have a combined enrollment of approximately 165,000 students in approximately 130 schools.

      Now if more parents did happen to elect to send their children to private schools, there would be some degree of expansion to accommodate the increased demand, but even so there is no way that a handful of private schools, that can be counted on one hand at present, could ever be expanded enough to accommodate even a substantial part of the 165,000 student enrollment of the two public school systems in Gwinnett.

      The comparatively scant few number of private schools is also a big reason why I laugh cynically whenever vouchers are presented as a wholesale way of ‘reforming’ an underperforming public school system.

      Families with children in failing public schools should always have the chance to escape those miserably performing schools whether it be through vouchers, charter schools or whatever it takes to give those children better opportunities, but when put into perspective there are very few private schools in comparision to the overwhelming number of public schools. And even in theory if every public school student was able to obtain a publicly-(or privately) funded voucher to attend private schools, the private schools could take their very select pick of which students they would permit to attend school at their respective private institutions because of the massive and overwhelming disparity in the physical number of available private school spots (approximately 6,000 in Gwinnett alone as an example) compared to the number of students (165,000 in Gwinnett alone) that theoretically could demand one of those spots if every student received a voucher to attend private schools.

      The very selective process by which the private schools would go about choosing students in a publicly-funded voucher system would go something like this in order of approximate importance: ‘Legacy’ students whose parents have the resources to pay tuition without financial assistance (by ‘legacy’ I mean students who have a family member who previously attended school at a particular private institution); Academically high-performing students whose parents have the resources to pay tuition without financial assistance; Average or even underperforming students whose parents or relatives may have donated very large sums of money to a particular private institution in the past, may continue to donate very large sums of money to a particular private institution in the present, will continue to donate very large sums of money to that private institution in the future and, by extension, have the resources to pay tuition without financial assistance (as virtually all private schools are NON-for-profits who are almost exclusively dependent upon gifts from private donors and revenues from tuition to operate); Academically EXCEPTIONALLY high-performing students who might need financial assistance to attend a particular private institution; Supremely-talented student-ATHLETES who might be trying to prepare academically for a postsecondary education.

      Notice that academically average students, academically underperforming students and psychologically-troubled students, all with the inability to pay tuition without financial assistance, didn’t quite make the list of the types of students whom the comparatively very low number of private schools would very-selectively let attend their respective institutions in an ‘all-inclusive’ voucher system….Sort of just like now without vouchers.

      Although, I guess that there’s always a chance that an underperforming psychologically-troubled academically below-average student, without the ability to pay tuition without financial assistance, could ‘win-the-lottery’ and be selected to an otherwise very selective private institution, no matter how improbably remote of a chance that might be.

      • benevolus says:

        I have no kids to send to school and yet I have paid into the system for 25+ years. If anyone is going to get vouchers for not sending kids to school, it better include me.

        • Calypso says:

          If one has no kids to send to school, then your vouchers take the form of passes to your local AMC theater (not valid for IMAX screenings).

  7. drjay says:

    meh, we moved our kids into the public school system when the new “neighborhood school” opened in our district, it’s had it pluses and minuses so far, and we have seen some of that “cross polinating” stuff show up in math problems here and there (not that example specifically) but similar, i don’t think it’s that scandalous personally, esp. as long as the actual concept for the actual subject is being taught…

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