Thursday, January 16, 2014

Why sue? Just tweet

The frontiers of social media expanded just a little during Tuesday's school board meeting,  when three public officials tweeted plans to solve a problem that was still under discussion.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board was getting a staff briefing on the challenges of the state's  "Read to Achieve"  mandate.  A flood of new testing for third-graders and rules that give charter schools more flexibility than traditional public schools drew strong criticism from board members.

I was tweeting from that discussion.  State Rep. Tricia Cotham,  a Democrat and former CMS educator,  and state Rep. Charles Jeter,  a Republican who serves on the House education committee,  were following from a distance.  So was school board member Rhonda Lennon,  from her computer at the dais.

At one point,  board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart asked if the board was willing to sue to block the most onerous portions of the law.

I tweeted Superintendent Heath Morrison's response: Morrison on legal action: Better to work with legislators, who seem receptive to revising . Lawsuits are last resort.

Jeter responded: Absolutely willing to work together to resolve these issues. If something needs fixing, let's do it together.


Lennon: Charlie let fix this ... Read to Achieve creating chaos for traditional LEAs, charters not burdened by same laws

Jeter: Rhonda, I'm in, let's fix it.

Lennon: will you join us to fix this ?

Cotham: Of course!!

Lest someone think that Lennon should have been voting instead of tweeting, let me note that there was no action required. In fact, a reasonable person might conclude that staff reports about controversial state mandates, such as Read to Achieve and teacher tenure changes, are more of a public performance than a chance for the board to get up to speed. Members get the details in advance, and the staff presentations tend to be followed by board members' remarks about hardship to CMS and the importance of mobilizing the public to weigh in.

I'm not naive enough to think Tuesday night's Twitter flitter will solve a very complex problem. But I am hopeful enough to think there are officials on both sides of the aisle, at the state and local level, who want to work past the significant snarls in last summer's state mandates to tease out the valuable goals.

Before our lawmakers return to Raleigh in May, it's a smart time for parents, teachers and others who care to get up to speed on the issues and let their representatives know what they want. It's easy to look up contact info at the N.C. General Assembly web site (if you aren't sure which district you're in, look up your voter registration).

I'd suggest you also check out the CMS presentation on Read to Achieve, but oddly, the version posted online eliminates six crucial pages on testing and other "challenging points" from the version that was presented to the board and reporters that night. (Update: A full version has been posted.) Even more perplexing: The video of the meeting starts well into the session, with one of deleted pages on screen and Chief Learning Services Officer Valerie Truesdale reviewing summer school requirements.


Shamash said...

Reading behind-the-scenes government tweets is more fun than the Nixon Tape bleeps.

How 'bout those County Commissioners!

(Brevity in lieu of wit...)

BolynMcClung said...


So one board member suggests legal action to resolve problems.

CMS has been at the losing end of three monumental decisions

Leandro I & II
Sugar Creek Charter

Each changed the course of education.

CMS spent a boatload of money on Leandro trying to get state funds for its poor urban students. That didn't work. CMS discovered all about Judge Manning and south Charlotte families were burdened with the expense of taking money from their district and dumping it into an area that their County Commissioner crudely referred to as a part of CMUD.

In Sugar Creek CMS was the willing defendant. It believed it could withhold funds from charter schools. CMS lost. But more importantly, it was the money charters won that allowed them to improve and be in the position to convince the General Assembly that more charters were a good idea. That extra money took the burden of fully funding charters off the state's shoulders. .

As for Swann, CMS lost but America won.

That board member's public suggestion was terrible. If she thought the threat of legal action would have an impact; she was correct. Too bad she didn't realize in advance it would be the wrong one.

Bolyn McClung

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

As far as the "Read to Achieve" program...

I really don't see the problem with using MAP results.

They are fairly standard.

And three MAP tests a year should be sufficient.

And the "problem" readers should be helped WAY BEFORE the third grade!

MAP testing begins in first grade, so why wait until third grade to get "serious"?

Is this like last minute cramming for "the test"?

Of course, after looking at the state "mandate" with all its flowcharts, diagrams, and double speak (flowchart begins on p. 4)...

Proficient readers are NO PROBLEM.

They just Pass Go and Get $200.

My guess is they can be "safely" ignored by the educrats.

The rest just keep rolling the dice (teach to the test, retest, summer camp, "good cause", etc.)until they get the correct Chance card (such as failing multiple grades) and finally get to Go whether they can read or not.

Again, the educrats get bogged down compensating for the failures in the system.

And end up punishing everyone else in the process.

What about all the kids who are proficient and above?

The simplest solution would be to focus on TEACHING reading instead of testing, and retesting, and making excuses, etc., etc., for not reading.

But naaah...

Why mess with their success for supporting failure?

Again, all this excessive attention on the failures of society.

What about the kids who score a few grades above "proficiency"?

Say a third grader who reads like a fifth or sixth grader.

Who is worried about keeping them "on track"?

Where is their legislation and flowchart?

Why are they even in the same class with the kids who are not even proficient?

They supposedly have "accelerated reading class" for the kids who are behind.

Wow, just think if they had that for the kids who are ahead and already show an interest and capacity for reading...

Anonymous said...

Scary thing is that the board member suggesting we sue was once the chair. But of course we know how her one year tenure as chair turned out (mysteriously funded ticket to London, an attempt to impose Wilhelmenia Rembert on District 6 as its board representative, etc.). Sad to see that she is still playing politics rather than finding solutions.

Wiley Coyote said...

Business should be conducted during the meeting in the open, regardless of whether what was being presented was already known to BOE members and presented on behalf of the public.

Are the twitters, emails or instant messages coming from a taxpayer/government account?

If so, pay attention to the meeting instead of playing on the device.

Stewart didn't tweet her question. She asked it in open meeting.

Lennon should have done the same along with her solution to fixing the problem.

Anonymous said...

To clarify Mr Coyote:
My phone and IPad are personal devices, not CMS not paid by CMS. My twitter, facebook, linkedN are all personal acounts that i set up, monitor and utilize.
In regard to the comments I tweeted, those were all said close to verbatim from the dais earlier. I called for our legislative partners to work with us to fix this along with asking the taxayers to help us lobby for this to be revised.I was the first board member to speak after the presentation. I spoke for several minutes quite a while prior to Ms Ellis-Stewart.
I hope that clarifies things. Have a blessed day!
Rhonda Lennon

Kool aid said...

This is humorous. If this is going on at a BOE meeting, just think what is happening all day long at school with the little and big kiddos on their personal tech devices, not paying one bit of attention to the front of the classroom.

Wiley Coyote said...


Thank you for clearing up the personal versus government accounts.

Robert -

Anonymous said...

Who cares... If my child could not pass the test, I would want them held back.. Then i would kick my own butt for being a poop parent. They better start pushing the meatball.. We are going to need 3rd grade teachers

Anonymous said...

Classic EES reach the hand out and sue someone. Maybe a percentage of that would come your way? What a joke .
Rhonda , you need to expense those items and services.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The idea that the kids are just wandering around on their "devices" all day and/or playing with them instead of paying attention in class is just plain silliness. In my HS classroom, there are times when personal devices are allowed to AID IN THE GOALS OF INSTRUCTION. For instance...not enough school iPads, computer labs, etc. for students to do research and writing, etc. while at school. As a teacher who teaches research and writing, it is often VERY helpful to help students AT SCHOOL with learning how to and expanding on their knowledge of doing these things. I am available for questions, guidance, etc. while students are working. However, sometimes the computer labs are booked...there are 180+ teachers...there is an increased demand for including TECH integration in fact, it's on the teacher evaluation tool. How then is all of that supposed to happen with only two computer labs available with an entire student body of over 2,000? How then is all of that supposed to happen with only two iPad carts (20 devices total) to be signed up for with a student body of over 2,000? The answer is: PERSONAL DEVICES. I tell them when to take them out. I tell them to turn completely off and they often show me the screen before going to their next class or before we continue to another part of the lesson. I do not write lessons where students would leave a device OUT and ON in the midst of what we are doing. I give instruction then they POWER ON and work and I monitor. IT'S CALLED GOOD PLANNING!! I have colleagues and I have used certain apps to help with instruction, but it's not like kids are sitting in class with their devices OUT and ON the entire time and they can just pick them up willy nilly as they feel like it. If someone IS doing that, then fie on them, but as I was trained to be a PROFESSIONAL in my field...I know best practices and I know how to integrate tech into my lessons in a non-disruptive, cohesive manner. The idea that you put out that kids are just hanging out with their phones all day tweeting their lives away as a result of this BYOT policy is ABSURD.

Anonymous said...

To Nicole Jenkins, you are doing it Right! But, I can assure you through my personal experience in the classroom that students are PLaying on their tech devices at school. I've seen them doing Instagram, Minecraft, Mario Cart, snapchat, taking photos of eachother etc... So what I say is not ABSURD!

Teachers see the kids race through the class work so they can "earn" technology play time, it's happening everyday. I've also seen at the middle school the kids have their devices "hiding" on their laps and in their books. You are kidding yourself if you think that this is not happening at CMS schools, maybe not in your classroom and that is great that you are managing your classroom closely. At my daughter's south char MS just last year the kids were taking naked photos of themselves and reading raunchy text from on-line books, ALL while at school. Sorry, I'm not making his stuff up and it's ABSURD for you to think that the BYOT program is running as smoothly elsewhere as it seems to be running in your classroom.

Anonymous said...

Your response painted everyone with the same brush. My response was to point out that simply isn't true...generalization is dangerous. Technology and Social Media are a part of this generation and our society. It isn't just the school's job to teach responsible behaviors. If your kids are going to take naked pics of themselves and "sext" then maybe they aren't mature enough to handle devices...if your kids don't have parents that won't teach the rights and wrongs and ins and outs of tech at home BEFORE plopping a device in their hands...then you get the results you described. My nephew received a Kindle Fire for Christmas this year at the age of 10, while he will need more guidance than my chat...I spent some time with him discussing the right and wrong way to use his device. That the camera function is not for x,y, or z, like you describe. I then set the controls and gave him mom the password where he can't even use social media on the device. Parents can choose whether or not their child has access at that age to certain apps, etc. and what can be downloaded on the phone/device. If parents are allowing their middle schoolers to have social media accounts, then parents should be monitoring them...and certainly all are not and I find that ABSURD. That old African proverb of it "taking a village" is true now more than ever...I don't allow "earned" free tech time and in the times I have caught kids going where they aren't supposed to as children with undeveloped frontal lobes are want to do...I make them turn off their device completely. Just a couple of days ago I had a kid ask if after his exam he could listen to music. I said no. School rules indicate no...he asked me if I wanted my students to like me...I replied that if breaking school rules is the foundation of like-ability, I'm OK with not being "liked" in that regard...He replied that he liked me anyway and went on with it. Now...let's be clear...I am sure kids are sneaky...they hide their phones in their hoodies and can text without looking...they go to the bathroom and scroll their feeds...I'm not stupid. But if, as a parent, you allow kids access to devices and media then it's also your job to monitor fastidiously and limit access where it is age appropriate. Don't blame the schools because some kids don't have the home training to not know they aren't supposed to text naked pictures of themselves...that is a head in the sand approach on the part of a parent and that is ABSURD.

Anonymous said...

Nicole Jenkins, why so angry? I'm just the messenger. The incidents mentioned are going on at ALL CMS schools, with the good kids and the bad. Teachers can't monitor what is going on with the students and the devices all day. But parents, allowing their children to bring the devices to school, expect that the use is being monitored and that the devices are only being used for educational purposes. I am saying that is NOT happening at all CMS Schools (and the teachers and administrators know it).

I do find it interesting that CMS is now encouraging our young children to have and use (become dependent) on these devices at such a young age. I would never even consider buying my elem kids such devices. They are a constant distraction for children, and ironically, there is no data suggesting that children are learning more because of these devices but actually the opposite is proving true. Our kids are becoming lazier, less socially adept, expecting immediate gratification and able to skim, cut and paste well from the Internet.

BTW, CMS students attend Safe media and tech use classes and talks in the ES and MS.

Most parents have no objection if the devices are being used appropriately and occasionally in middle and high schools. Now if CMS is teaching computer diagramming and coding classes, I'm all for it.

Anonymous said...

There was no anger in my response. Just a constant disbelief at how the public wants to always assume the worst about teachers and schools...

Anonymous said...

Most people don't have issues with the teachers but support the teachers, and understand that the teachers are doing, for the most part, the best they can.

People do have an issue with CMS and administrators not properly handling situations such as those mentioned and hundreds more like them. That's what gives CMS a bad name in the public eye.

Anonymous said...