The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

Blog Rules

Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Rich schools vs poor schools: Indiana

A recent study ( here is the Star's editorial on it) seems to show that the gap in school funding between rich schools and poor schools is smaller in Indiana than in other states. In fact, through the General Fund funding formula, Indiana actually pays additional funds to schools with more non-English speaking students, and students on free and reduced lunches.

I wonder whether there is a gap or even if it is inverted in some cases when you factor in federal dollars as well? I did this study for our district once with spreadsheet data provided by the state department and found that despite Wawasee's high property wealth per student (go here, type in "Wawasee", go down the page and click on "top 10 corporations," choose "assessed value per A.D.M." and you will see we are number 2 in the state) , yet, we were still under state averages in per pupil revenue. When I factored in federal grant dollars it drove us even lower.

In other words, most of these studies usually involve state funding only, not additional federal grant revenue which is almost always distributed based on poverty and other at-risk factors.

Indiana has pretty much "uncoupled" property wealth from state General Fund expenditures. In other words, just because a school has high property values doesn't mean they get a lot more money to spend on instruction. Overall, this isn't a bad thing, at least from the standpoint of equity around the state. When you review this country's history of inequities - you can see why school funding formulas had to change.

However, the study shows that inequities do exist in facilities and projects. Why? Because those are more often local decisions, not state decisions. The local community may want to purchase "artifical turf" for the football stadium or some other perceived "luxury." In districts with high property wealth, even a very small rise in taxes can generate a lot of revenue for such things.

On a broader scale this is a perfect, textbook example of the liberty VS. equity tug-of-war. The more equity the less freedom. The more freedom - the less equity.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Superintendent calls for abolishment of NCLB

Here is an online news article from a superintendent that decries NCLB is a fraud and needs to be abolished.

The public comments are interesting too.

I would at least like to see NCLB based on a growth model instead of the current proficiency model.

Here is an example using the track event of high jumping.

If you count the percentage of students who can high jump over 5 feet in your school you have used a proficiency model. In a proficiency model the bean counters don't care how many athletes already jump well over 6 feet or how many students are handicapped or can't jump at all. We hold you accountability for the standard - which is 5 feet.

In a growth model you are looking at how many improved their jumping ability and how much.
In this model accountability is based on individual improvement of each student as opposed to only a pre-set standard. If a student is jumping 3 feet and they improve to 4 feet they have made more normative progress than a 6 foot high jumper who is only jumping 5 foot now.

There are other side effects of NCLB but at least this would help make the model more "fair" in the minds of some.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Classroom Blog - Pinellas County, FLA

This link (click here) will take you to the Pinellas County, Florida blog of School Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox.

The Classroom Blog is usually a monthly/weekly question posed to the greater education community with comment threads from registered readers. It is a different style and I thought you might be interested to see so many of the same issues and concerns, even in a different state and a different blog format.

Dr. Wilcox and I have been invited to speak to the nation's superintendents and school board members at the 2007 AASA (American Association of School Administrator's) National Conference. The topic of course, is blogging and how to handle the rough-and-tumble interaction of the public forum.

I will not be posting for a few days. Enjoy your holidays!

K student suspended for sexual harassment

Here is a short news blurb reporting on a Kindergarten student disciplined for sexual harassment.

Interestingly enough it seems like most people are beginning to see that "zero-tolerance" has an evil twin called "zero-common sense."

Having said that, my caution to everyone who reads this type of an article is to remember that there may be a lot more to the story that the school is unable to comment on or reveal to the public for privacy reasons.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Same old song and dance...

If you get a chance, Click on this link and read this magazine article I have posted. (Note: It will take you 5-10 minutes to read it all. If you are short on time (who isn't LOL) read about half and skip to the bottom.)

Hint. As you read it, try to guess who wrote it and when.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Teaching children about giving

Here is a very quick read that provides some ideas about how to teach your children about giving during the holiday period.

However, I suppose the best lessons learned come from everyday life as opposed to holidays and special occasions.

A personal example comes to mind.

My wife, Sandy, used to volunteer several hours every week at the North Webster Library. During the summer she used to take my elementary school age son along to help. After several weeks of helping and watching, my son announced that he wanted to donate $40.00 of his allowance money to the library as a gift. We thought it was a great idea and encouraged him.

He learned that many great things that make up our communities are volunteer efforts and funded by gifts. He wanted to do his part too.

May all our children learn the best about giving this holiday season and avoid the excessive materialism and "me-first" philosophy that permeates what passes for popular culture these days.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More calls for change

A high-profile commission warned Thursday that U.S. workers will lose more jobs overseas and will see their standard of living drop unless dramatic steps are taken to improve how kids are educated.

In a report, the panel called U.S. schools outdated and said they were failing to prepare students to compete in a global economy.

Article here!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Board Meeting Overview

At last night's board meeting, the WCSC board...

1. was presented an American flag from Mrs. Hazzard that was flown over Baghdad on September 11, 2006. It was given to us from Mr. Charles Hazzard who is supporting the military on behalf of the Joint Area Support Group (JASG)
2. approved minutes, claims, personnel, and the North Webster Library Board Reappointment
3. heard ISTEP reports from Dr. Stock and Ms. Swartzentruber
4. approved the financial report
5. approved a summer tour of France chaperoned by Ms. Harrison
6. set the mileage reimbursement rate at 44.5 cents per mile
7. approved tax anticipation warrants - due to property tax reassessment issues the amount borrowed for cash flow purposes could be higher this year
8. approved a three year renewal of property and casualty insurance
9. heard reports from the Superintendent and Curriculum Director
10. recognized outgoing board members Marion Acton and Brian Dawes for their service

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

So how did we do?

In Math there were 1,566 students tested in grades 3-10. Seventy-five percent (75%) were above the proficient cut score. Our only year higher than this was 04-05 when 76% were above. In 5 of the 8 grade levels tested, Wawasee posted the highest percentage pass rates since the new test was given.

Writing skills have shown major improvement in some grade levels.

In the total Language Arts scores it is a different story. There were 1,450 students tested in grades 3-10. Sixty-nine percent were above the proficient score. However, in 4 of the 8 grade levels tested, Wawasee posted the lowest percentage pass rates since the new test was given.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Organized abandonment

A recent workshop presenter made the statement, "If we don't get a child up to speed in reading by the time they are 9 years old, it will be very difficult to close the gaps."

He then described a protocol for the lower grades (K-3) that requires 90 minutes per day of language arts instruction. If the child is still behind then they are assigned three 30 minute one-on-one tutoring sessions a week and if that doesn't close the reading gap sufficiently then they are assigned two 30 minute one-on-one tutoring sessions per DAY....all of this is in addition to the 90 minutes of language arts instruction provided by the regular classroom teacher.

So....from the stunned looks of the audience it was easy to see what they were thinking. What do schools have to give up in order to be able to provide that level of support?

One expert calls this "organized abandonment." In other words, in some organized fashion, schools must come to consensus and STOP doing some things in order to do others.

A few years ago we had a public initiative titled, "What do you want the public schools to do?" The overwhelming consensus was that our main mission was to send all students to 10th grade, reading, writing and doing math well.

What wasn't discussed was, "What should schools STOP doing in order to provide resources for those that aren't reading, writing and doing math well. I sense it may be time for a public discussion on what will prove to be a rousing debate.

If you have opinions on this...please be kind to each other.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Property Tax Assessment Delays

The Journal Gazette discusses the implications of property tax assessment delays. Most individuals are aware that the state is trying to adjust property tax rates more frequently using "trending" data. As more and more homes sell on the market, the idea is that the property tax assessments will keep more current with the market.

However, getting that done is harder than it looks.

FAQ's here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wawasee student is a published author!

A Wawasee High School student has her first book contract with a publisher. Her delightful children's book, "When You Don't Clean Your Room" was such an inspiration to the publishers that they started an international competition for high school students to write children's books.

Read more about Jami McDaniel on Ruth Ayres blog today.

PS: Twenty-two students in the 8th grade at WMS had the highest possible scores on their ISTEP writing sample. This is a new record for us! Jami is not the only one learning to write - but she is the first one PAID to write!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Guv proposes full day K

Governor Mitch Daniels proposes a 3 year phase in for full day K beginning with students on free and reduced lunches. The second year he proposes all students in schools above the state median for free and reduced lunches and the third year he proposes all students in the state receive the option of full day K.

Article here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mark's Mini Poll

Trying hard to be a good public servant and not a lazy slacker... :-) .... I have created a mini-poll of several popular radio stations that we can add to the call list if there is a demand for it. We can also poll on TV stations next week.

I will leave the poll up for about a week.

(Note: I have set it up so you can only vote once in case you were wondering why you couldn't vote 1,000 times :-) whining if yours isn't picked!!! :-)

Friday's Funny

Regina Barreca writes a funny article on the - I Want (and Expect) It NOW Generation.

It takes a comical look at today's kids who have all the techno gadgets and have learned all about instant gratification.

Underneath the humor lies a serious question....

Could it be possible that school is now the main place where people have to learn a whole set of social skills like.....wait your turn, work with others, be reasonably polite, delay gratification, don't eat the crayons, don't trip your neighbor, say "please", be patient with those that don't learn like you, etc. etc.......