What I did last night December 8, 2009Posted by truthspew in Uncategorized.
I participated in the Rhode Island Department of Education’s (RIDE)forum on the Race to the Top money being disbursed by the federal government. It amounts to $4.3 Billion among 48 states over 4 years. So if you divided it among the states it’d be $89,583,333.33 per state, and over four years it comes out to $22,395,833.33 per year.
That is a fairly significant chunk of change. If you divide it evenly among RI’s 36 school districts, each one would get $622,000 or so. But I suspect more will tilt toward the urban core so that could be changed. If we confine it to 10 core urban districts (Which ten to be of the poorer both population and performance.) it would mean $2,239,583.33 for each district which is significantly better by a factor of five.
The table I was at was mostly teachers, administrators and two RIDE employees. I stayed quiet through most of the discussion only agreeing at some points. But when it came to the I.T. side I inquired how grading was being captured. It’s still a paper based system. I explained that a web interface viewable on a smart phone could change that and how automating some of the tasks would free up time for other things. Not only that, I explained how it would make it easier to spot trends over time. One teacher chimed in that she uses her own Blackberry to show graphs and things to students of performance grades, etc.
I learned quite a bit last night. For example, I hadn’t been aware that elementary school teachers take an awful lot of childhood development courses. (I actually loved developmental psychology in college!). Then of course the subject of ESL was brought up and many of the teachers had horror stories about kids being shipped into their class not speaking a word of English. The other topic that came up is how union rules need to change in order to implement some of the requested additional duties.
Another interesting tidbit popped up. Seems that when it comes to grade level math standards, they’re all over the map. When I think about my high school math, I had Algebra I & II, Geometry and Pre-Calculus. But in some schools they may have what I did, while in others they won’t have pre-cal, or they won’t have Algebra II/Trigonometry like I did. So the grade level comparisons are apples to oranges.
Another thread that I picked up was the move to unite the educators and make ALL of them responsible for a child’s education.
Ran into Vanessa who I’d met when I did the program review down at Chariho. Also got to meet RIDE Commissioner Deborah Gist. Very nice lady, and I’m told she’s the real deal when it comes to education.