What Do You Realllly Think of the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards? Input, Please

Loaded question, right? Wellll….the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) is giving everyone…and I mean everyone….the opportunity to state whether they agree or disagree with any of Alabama’s English Language Arts (ELA) or math standards. This is your chance, folks. Speak now. Make. The. Time. Are you with me? Beginning on October 6, the ALSDE began […]

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Going to Jail Because of Your Child’s Chronic Health Problem

Right now, in two different school systems in Alabama, two sets of parents have been ordered to spend time in jail because their child missed too many days of school. In each case of these two cases, the child is suffering from chronic health issues that have been well-documented by physicians. In each case, school officials challenged […]

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Are Board Meetings a Good Place to Seek Solutions?

In the past few weeks, we have heard many stories of the public’s frustration with their board of education erupting into tension-filled boardrooms. Typically that happens during the “public comments” or “public participation” section of the meeting. This one was in Hoover, where parents are frustrated with what school officials admit is an attempt to engineer racial […]

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Student Privacy and Education Technology – What You Need to Know (Or Should At Least Be Asking)

What kind of information is your child sharing through the education technology used in your child’s school or classroom? What procedure did your child’s teacher, school, or district go through to ensure that the chosen education technology is using your child’s information only for education purposes? What board policies govern the choice of that education technology? Have you […]

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ACT Aspire Results – What to Do with Them

Word on the street is that the ACT Aspire results have been released to schools and districts…and will be heading home to students’ families in the near future. The ACT Aspire reading and math tests were administered to students in the 3rd through 8th grades in the spring of 2014. The idea behind using the […]

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How Much Is Too Much to Keep in the District’s General Fund?

    Public school funding trends seem to be taking a positive turn, though Alabama’s schools aren’t receiving anywhere near the amount of money they did in FY08. Here’s a quick visual, depicting nominal and real (deflated) dollars, which takes into account the time value of money, of state funding for public schools from FY01 to […]

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The Role of Schools in Eliminating Bullying and Cyber-Bullying – Thursday, September 18 Forum

Here are all resources handed out and discussed at the Forum Would you like to know what your school officials are doing to positively impact bullying and harassment in our schools? Or what role school officials can play when students are cyber-bullied? Join me on Thursday, September 18, at Samford University in Birmingham from 6:00 to […]

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Local School Tax Millage and the 10-Mill Local Match Chargeback Thing – Explained

Alabama has had a flurry of city school districts break off from county districts in recent years. Many more are waiting in the wings. Most cities seeking to form their own school systems cite the reason for wanting to break off is to have local control over how funds are spent. County districts serve large areas, […]

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What Do Your Public School Officials’ (Including Your Board!) Statements of Economic Interests Reveal?

With this being budget season and all, it is good to know that if you have any questions about what kinds of economic interests any of your public school officials have, you might find the answers in this handy-dandy online database. The Alabama Ethics Commission maintains an online database of all public school officials’ Statements of […]

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State-Mandated Testing for This School Year

The 2014-2015 state-mandated testing schedule has arrived.  Two new things for this year: (1) the Alabama Science Assessment (ASA), given in grades 5 and 7, is being replaced by the ACT Aspire Science exam in spring 2015. The decision to use the exam was made back in 2013 when the State Board of Education adopted the […]

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What Are Your Board’s Budget Priorities?

Board of education members have three reallllly big tasks: (1) Hire the Superintendent (unless they serve in one of the 37 counties where the superintendent is elected), (2) Hire the Chief School Financial Officer (CSFO), and (3) Approve the School Budget. Arguably, all three of those are extremely important tasks. But since it’s now school budget-approval […]

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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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