Budget Hearing Dates….Uh, Kinda.

The idea of crowdsourcing budget hearing dates wasn’t as fruitful as I had hoped. My sincere appreciation to the five folks who took the time to find the dates and times of their district’s budget hearings. So, I began the arduous task of searching for budget hearing announcements in a familiar place: Google. “Alabama school […]

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The Future of Public Education Tour – Make Plans to Attend

Here is your chance to engage with the state superintendent of education. Alabama’s State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice kicks off a 12-stop tour across the state to share information about public education initiatives on Tuesday, August 26, at 6 p.m. at Lee High School in Huntsville. In the weeks that follow, Bice will crisscross the […]

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Is Using Test Results a Good Way to Compare Schools?

In this age of accountability, test results, and cool comparison tools, it is all too easy to reduce schools to test scores. But is this really a good way to compare schools? After all, that test score is only the result of one test on one day. We intuitively know that schools are made up of more than […]

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Budget Hearing Dates: Help Wanted!

It’s that time again. Budget Hearing Season. FY15 budgets are due to the Alabama State Department of Education by September 16, 2014. Your help in gathering the dates and times of your school district’s budget hearings is appreciated. Fill out the Google form below to share those dates and times. No contact information is required. Be […]

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How Much Do Alabama’s Superintendents Get Paid?

While some folks are pretty upset about State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice being offered a 26%, or $52,000, pay raise at Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting, I thought it might be helpful for us to see how much the superintendents in our own districts earn. This map contains data on superintendent salaries across the state published […]

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The Principal, the Test Scores, and the Investigation That Wasn’t

What happens when a principal pushes for answers to questions about an unprecedented drop in high-stakes standardized test scores? Wouldn’t you think that district officials would take every measure possible to ensure the scores reflected valid measurements of students learning and teachers teaching? What if they don’t? What if the answers are never found, yet the […]

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Useful Information During a Rezoning Debate

Anytime the word “rezoning” is mentioned, folks begin to dig in their heels to stay where they are. And when rezoning is discussed without factual information about enrollment, building capacity, and achievement (a.k.a. test scores) accompanying the rationale for rezoning, misinformation usually fills the void. Hoover City Schools Superintendent Andy Craig has been floating a rezoning […]

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The Importance of School Communication for Non-Custodial Parents

Communicating with the folks at your child’s school can be challenging for any parent. But when you are a non-custodial parent, establishing a means of communication may be even more difficult if school officials don’t know and follow the law. We know that a child’s education is best supported when both parents are engaged in a child’s education. And engagement can’t […]

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School Starts Next Week (for 54 Districts)!

With no restrictions on how early local boards of education could require students return to school, start dates are all over the calendar. The first day of classes for students in 54 districts is next week. The next week sees students in 72 districts return to school. Students in the remaining nine districts start back to school […]

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Nonpublic School Students and the Local Superintendent

What do nonpublic school students and a local public school superintendent have to do with each other? More than you think. While the Alabama legislature made it clear they do not want the State Board of Education (SBOE) regulating nonpublic schools, there are still some requirements that local superintendents must fulfill to keep track of the number of […]

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Public School Spending By Category

The numbers that are attached to public school spending are really big. It’s tough to get a real sense of how and for what reasons that money is spent. So let’s take a look at spending by category. The Alabama State Department of Education uses an accounting system where all expenditures are placed into one of […]

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Is It Still 2002 for Alabama’s Schoolchildren?

If you look at what we’re spending for Alabama’s children to be educated in our public schools, you might think it is. With renewed discussion about how Alabama is second only to Wisconsin in cuts to spending on public education since 2008 (the zenith of public education spending in Alabama), I couldn’t help but wonder what […]

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Protecting Student Privacy: FERPA and PPRA Notification Requirements

Student privacy. Protecting educational records. Hot topic these days. There are only a couple of ways parents can impact who has access to their child’s educational records in a public school. One of those opportunities comes at the beginning of the school year when parents are notified of their rights under the Family Educational Rights […]

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Scholarship Granting Organizations: What Do They Do?

With the Alabama Accountability Act’s provisions entering the second school year, here is a little better look at Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) and what role they play in assisting students who choose to attend nonpublic participating schools (see this for more information about nonpublic participating schools). The questions and answers below have absolutely nothing to do […]

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Number of Nonpublic Schools Participating in AAA Grows

The number of students using options provided through the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) aren’t yet publicly available, but with the 2014-2015 school year opening in the next few weeks, here’s an update on which nonpublic, a.k.a. private, schools have agreed to take students from “failing” public schools along with the scholarships from donations that were […]

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Residency Requirements – What’s the Fuss?

This is the time of year parents and families dig out the utility bills and ask for copies of leases and deeds to prove they live where they say they live in order to enroll their children in a school district. Typically, proof of residency is required in order to establish residency within the actual school district and […]

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Enrollment Procedures: Which Documents Are Required?

It’s that time again. School registration time. As you begin to fill out forms and submit your proof of residency to school officials, you need to know which documents school officials can and cannot request during enrollment. In May 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a letter to State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice delineating various ways school officials […]

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Civics Education in Alabama’s Public Schools

Having celebrated the 4th of July, a.k.a. Independence Day, a few days ago, I thought you might like a look at what our children are expected to learn about civics in our Alabama public schools. I wrote about this a couple of years ago, but figured that since a new Social Studies course of study will be implemented in […]

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2014 Legislative Session Wrapup

Yes, the session ended months ago. A number of these laws go into effect tomorrow, July 1. Most folks concerned with education haven’t had the time to really dig in to what new laws the Alabama legislature laid down during this year’s session. So here’s your rundown. [The full list of education-related laws we followed was provided […]

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We Don’t Need No Federal Dollars for Education! Or Do We?

So goes the battle cry. Particularly now that it’s election season. Candidates opine about the good old days before the United States Department of Education (USDOE) existed. Candidates enlighten us with how we Alabamians would be so much better off if we could just determine our own education policies and not have to listen to what […]

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Tying Student Test Scores to Superintendent Evaluations

Everybody’s talking about tying teacher evaluations to student test scores. What if student growth, achievement, and/or test scores were tied to superintendent evaluations? What if, building upon the superintendent’s management skills, community-building skills, fiscal management skills, personnel recruitment and retainment skills, the superintendent was actually held accountable for how well students achieved (or didn’t) in his or her […]

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About Those School District Spending Numbers…

A whole lot of y’all looked at that table of per student spending by district I published on Monday. That’s a good thing. Hopefully you poked around and compared districts and did some thinking about whether those amounts were in line with what you expected. Here’s a different look at those numbers. A map of […]

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LIVE BLOG: Special Education Advisory Panel Meeting – 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) meets today (Wednesday, June 18) from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Public comment is allowed from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. LIVE BLOG and additional information here. Learn about Alabama’s SEAP as well as other states’ SEAPs for you to peruse. This is the only official state advisory panel where parents […]

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How Much Does Spending Differ Among Alabama’s School Districts?

Last Thursday, we heard the preliminary findings from the school funding study commissioned by the State Board of Education. There is so much to say, it is hard to know where to begin. Over the coming weeks and months, we will take a verrrry close look at how Alabama’s school districts spend money. The toughest […]

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Staying Informed: Board of Education Notice and Agenda

A central tenet of engagement is being informed. How do you stay informed without knowing what your board of education is up to? And how do you know what your board is up to if you don’t receive the proper notification and an idea of what will be discussed in advance of their board meetings? Most, but […]

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