School Board query

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by jamestown1609, Oct 16, 2008.

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  1. Bob Hudson

    Bob Hudson Beach Fanatic

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    It would appear that many are so entrenched on one thing that they have failed to ask this question?

    Why should she be given another term to address the needs when she has done nothing about these Basic criteria used in an overall evaluation of the system not just FCAT scores. Someone needs to ask what she would do about them.

    Can our children and grandchildren afford another four years of the same failed leadership?
     
  2. idlewind

    idlewind Beach Fanatic

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    No we can't but we will have to if people do not learn to vote on the issues instead of continuing to make local politics a popularity contest.:bang:
     
  3. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    Hey Bob: You know me, I don't hide from numbers good or bad. The certification number you mentioned has me real concerned. I have tried to be diligent the past eight years about hiring teachers out of field. In fact, I will have to credit Donnie Richardson for crusading on that issue. Do the numbers you have reflect out of field with ESOL or just straight out of field?

    Also, frankly, the graduation rate does not suprise me. We discontinued an important drop out prevention program or graduation progam two years ago that I believe was making an important dent in the graduation rate It was called the "CAPS" program. As you know,during my re-election campaign, the graduation rate/drop out rate problem was one I want to to attack. I have the staff now looking a specific groups of students to find out what the true rate is. What I mean by that is they are tracking a group of ninth graders through the twelth grade (that graduated last year) to determine what happened to those that did not graduate. For instance if 200 students entered Walton High School as 9th graders and only 140 graduated four years later, what happened to the other 60. Did they actually drop out, transfer, go to the Vo-Tech (Career Developlment School), receive a GED, graduate early (now very possible) or did something else happen to them?I don't think we can attack the problem without knowing someting about where they are going.

    We have an outstanding school to work (formerly known as Vo-Tech) program in this county. We just do a horrible job promoting it and convincing students and parents that is a good option for their kids. The actual program is located in DFS. It is called the Career Development Center. We are now working with those staffers at the Center to move portions of the program into the various high schools. That is expensive, but, doable. In the DFS Career Development Center, there are outstanding programs for automotive shop, masonary, electrical, nursing, computer training (graduates become Micrsoft certified techs). Again, we just don't do a good job promoting that program or that school.

    Part of the reason our student reimbursement is higher that other counties is the crazy FEFP formula. It gives us more money because we are a low student number large geographic area county (the "sparsity" factor). Our ESE reimbursement is much higher because we have a much higher percentage of students with disabilities than neighboring counties (the last time I checked). Do we get the most bang for our buck? As hard as it is for a school board member to say so, I don't believe we do. I really think we have taken some steps backward the last four years. Though our FCAT scores are up, I agree with the poster that way too much time, effort and money is spent on getting those scores up and we sacrifice other skills. The poster is right about critical thinking skills and writing skills especially. I have fought this battle ever since A+ for education was passed back in 1998, but, it is one I continue to lose and have lost badly the last four years. When history teachers tell me that they have to spend a part of their teaching time on FCAT prep every day, something is wrong. All administrative effort and time is spent on the FCAT, FCAT prep, and school grades. But, as long as the public judges schools by those "school grades," then I assume the public will demand that we do well on that exam. What I have argued for years is that if teachers teach the curriculum in a creative and enthusiastic way, then the test scores will take care of themselves. We need to teach every subject like it was tested on the FCAT....

    I was not aware that our advanced degreed teachers had dropped so rapidly. I knew our teaching force was getting younger. There is actually a historic reason for that. As many of you might know, Florida had a teacher strike in 1968. Walton County was the only district in the State that fired all of the teachers that actually participated in the strike. Thus, that year and the few years that followed, Walton County had a huge influx of first year teachers. For the past five years or so, many of the those teachers have retired (with thirty plus years of experience) and our staff is getting younger. That is also why (the younger staff) our "average teacher pay" is lower than neighboring counties. Lower because our "average" teacher is lower on the years pay scale.

    I have proposed some ideas for getting teachers to get advanced degrees in their fields, i.e., math, science. But, they have not yet received any traction. I am still working on that issue pretty hard.

    So yeah, I will be the first to admit that we have problems and we need to be more creative in attacking them. Please no one take this as an endorsement or condemnation of any of current school board candidates.

    I wanted to address the poster about exceptional student education. To answer his question, yes we have specific programs all over the county that address specific disabilities. This is a huge challenge for our district. It is huge because for some reason, our ESE population is so large. I believe it is one out of every 6.5 students. Frankly, I believe that we are slow sometimes in getting the right help for the students, we our staff, teachers, etc., try mightily to do so. I am sure that there are parents who are not happy with the programs that we offer, but, in talking with many parents, generally speaking, we do pretty good with our ESE programs.

    I get asked this question alot and it is a valid one === You have been on the board for 13 years, why haven't you solved these problems before now. First, let me say, the problems have changed. When I got on the school board, the worst problem we had was a complete lack of adequate facilities, i.e, one small elementary school across the bay, facilities that were simply inadequate for the 21st century. We are close to having those problems solved. Not there yet, but close.

    The other problems I think are directly related to FCAT. But, that is an argument for a different day I suppose. In any event, I have a school board email and like to hear from members of the public, not just when I am running.

    As you know, I respect Bob and he and I keep a great give and take going on various issues.

    Sorry for the long post, but, I wanted to put my two cents worth in. Thanks guys....
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008
  4. John R

    John R needs to get out more

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    this sounds vaguely familiar.
     
  5. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    That is one question I can answer. The truth of the matter is that the school grade assigned by the state is dependent on how the bottom 25% improve on the FCAT examination. The greater the improvement, the better the school grade. Freeport High School is a perfect example. Check their scores and you will see that their move from a "D" to an "A" was because their bottom 25% did much better than they did the year before. While that is a good thing, and I applaud the school and their teachers for that effort and result, it raises a valid question, do we sacrifice other parts of the curriculum to get that result? Sadly, I think we do in some instances. It is also arguable that those kids in the bottom 25% are also being cheated.

    Let me explain. The current law in Florida is that if a student in middle school makes a 1 or 2 on FCAT reading or math, she must be remediated in those subjects in addition to her regular reading, read English, and math curriculum. Well, what do you think gets sacrificed? It is P.E., band, art, etc. Now for many struggling students, P.E., band, art, etc., are the reason they are staying in school, yet we take that away to get their test scores up in reading and math. Again, why are they having to be "remediated" when the FCAT is supposed to test the curriculum being taught in the first place. And, how is possible that our elementary school continue to make "As" and have for 8 years or so, and we still have a number of students that have to be remediated in middle school and high school? Its a crazy system.....

    To change this "emphasis" there needs to be wholesale changes from Tallahassee. Have you noticed that the State Rep candidates never discuss this travesty. Thanks for letting me blow. I get frustrated by this sometimes.
     
  6. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    Lastly, I agree with Tootsie to some extent. In fact, I asked a State Legislator once that if he wanted to be a school board member he should run for that job. As a school board member, I have fought against dumbing down our curriculum. It should be more than the FCAT and those subjects tested. Our teachers, adminstrators and staff should be judged by more than just that one limited examination. But, until some changes occur in the current law, that is how we are judged by most members of the public. But, I agree with Tootsie, it is not the way to go. That is why I continue the good fight.....
     
  7. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    mdd88jd:

    thanks for the insight/information. I would like to see something done about the way the FCAT dominates everything--surely there is a way to improve that situation. The students, and all of us, are being shortchanged. Just read your post above. What has been/is being done by Walton County school District to get the FCAT laws changed?

    Does the school system have anyone doing public information or marketing...to the parents even...I have been back in Waltion County for eight years now, and have heard little about the vocational/career center.

    In fact, about the only thing that I have heard much about concerning the school system is the building of the additional schools. I do not have a child in the system; but, I do have a grandchild who just entered kindergarten this year.

    Of course I am interested in the opportunities she will have; however, I am interested in the educational system in general because the students truly are the future. If they do not learn critical thinking; problem solving; research and writing schools, no matter what they do...they will suffer as will the society in which they will be the leaders.

    Anyone who graduates from a vocational or career center needs the basic skills of critical thinking, problem solving and communication just as much as anyone else. And auto mechanics might need it more given how complicated repairing cars has become! LOL.

    I wonder what the overall vision for the School District is as it has to do with the teaching of the students. I have done some substituting here and I was very disappointed--not with the students--but with the administration and other faculty members' attitudes toward the students and toward me as a substitute teacher. I wonder what that is about?
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008
  8. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    Goodwitch: I need to put you in touch with the folks at the CDC (Career Development Center). They really do a wonderful job. In the interest of full disclosure, my brother is the principal there. They are trying to develop high school diploma programs that integrate academics with certain vo-tech skills. They are called "academies." They are trying to move some of those programs into the various middle and high schools. It is an interesting approach to education and one I think is the future of education.

    Can't explain the teachers' and adminstrators attitudes. Most sad...
     
  9. mossyhead

    mossyhead Beach Fanatic

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    I have heard some very good comments on the Walton Career Developement Center. Hats off to Mike.
     
  10. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    Thanks mdd. Makes sense to me. I do wonder how much the remaining 75% increased their scores in relation to the percentage of increase in the lower 25%. Are we encouraging the middle 65% of the students to improve to become B and A students? What about those gifted students? Are they not potentially the go-getters of tomorrow? People grow when placed in groups with others who want to excel, regardless if they are a student or an adult working in an automobile manufacturing plant. That also goes for teachers. Teachers will thrive when placed in schools with other teachers who get excited about teaching. Are we encouraging those good teachers we have? Are we firing those who don't perform? Most children will go only to the point of requirement. If we set the bar high enough to be achievable, and instill confidence in our students, as well as self-esteem, that bar can keep increasing for each student. Students learn in different ways.

    I am not a school teacher, though I highly respect great teachers. I've been lucky enough to have some who pushed me beyond where I thought I could cruise through. They may have been tough, but even while being pushed, I held great respect for them, and certainly now, they stand out in my life. IMO, if you get the right teachers, NO kids will get over-looked as the focus will not be on the test scores of the kids in the lower 25%. When students realize that learning is fun and exciting, rather than dull and boring, all will thrive.
     
  11. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    The improvement for the other 75% could be described as marginal at best. But, remember those are students who are making 3, 4, and 5 on the examination and they are considered "successful" so the system frankly them that way. I have a real affinity for the gifted programs. We do not spend enough of those programs or the AP programs. Part of the reason why is the size of our schools and the costs of doing so. But, I have not given up hope here. I truly believe we can do both, improve the bottom 25% but, continue to encourage and challenge the other 75%. Frankly, I feel we have not done that so much the last four years. I really want to try to attack that problem.... How do we do that, I have argued for years just what you said, teach every class like it is a honor class. Push, challenge and good things happen to ALL students. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008
  12. Bob Hudson

    Bob Hudson Beach Fanatic

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    Mark:

    We have had discussions on these issues in the past and I have heard your comments on many of these topics during board meetings. I have the highest respect for your service to the citizens of this county and more specifically your service to the children and grandchildren of Walton County. ( Have you switched parties yet ?)

    I understand how difficult these items are to address, but feel that the first steps towards addressing them is having a public that is aware of them. I also believe that the School Board members must be the ones to lead and the citizens of Walton County must become involved in solving these issues. I wish that I could say the I believed that merely throwing more money at the problems would be the solution (I don't) , I simply think we need to priortize where we spend the money and find a way to engage parents back into the system.

    Someone told me the other day " Man you sure attend alot of meetings". Caused me to think about the shere number of hours and miles spent in being an engaged citizen. I have lobbied for expenditures where I personally felt they would help and lobbied against what seemed to be wasteful.

    I truly believe we can do better for our children an grandchildren. I have sat where you sit and gave it all I had for 5 years. We made some progress, but not what I had envisioned or wished for. Alot of things have changed since I served and I am sure it is even more difficult to make even the smallest change in course than when I served.

    I am truly concerned about the future of our children and grandchildren. Not only are we passing down a tremendous debt to them, but we are not preparing them to compete. We must do better and I challenge you and those who sit on the School Board to become the leaders that I know you to be.

    You have my utmost respect and support.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008
  13. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    Bob: Thanks for the kind words and for your constant vigilance. I will continue the good fight.
     
  14. shellak

    shellak Beach Fanatic

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    walton county is NOT a christian community. it is a community made up of many different people of many different faiths and ethnic backgrounds. i agree that i would have to vote wilkerson over nelson based on that idiotic pinata event but we really need some fair minded people in the school board, ones that don't think that christianity or any religion needs to dominate the PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM!!!!!! why is this such a difficult concept????
     
  15. idlewind

    idlewind Beach Fanatic

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    Bob and Mark:

    Thanks for the reasoned exchange of ideas and issues that has occured here this afternoon. We need far more discourse and the public needs "educating" on what the real issues are in the school system. FCAT is a great concept but has failed our children miserably in its execution. We need those "in the know" to share with us both the accomplishments and failures so that we all can intelligently participate in the process. Many of us are unable to attend meetings as Bob does so these types of open discussions are invaluable.
     
  16. crimsonclay

    crimsonclay Beach Comber

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    Ok, I can understand if you are not Christian or are Christian and chose not to let that influence your decision. That is your given right. But, you can not be serious in thinking that some people making their decision based on their beliefs or religion is any less important than you and several other people on here making your decision based on a stupid pi?ata.

    I believe Robert Nelson is by far the best choice in this election for many, many reasons that have nothing to do with religion or a certain belief system. I don't even really care if Mrs. Wilkerson would have answered them completely against my beliefs. It was (as I have stated several times) her indecisiveness on issues. I would have even respected her more if she would have chosen not to answer at all and just simply thrown the survey in the garbage.

    I have gotten lots of replies to my response about this survey and Christian belief issue but I haven't seen much commenting from the same people on the millage/tax issue that has been brought up. I wonder why?

    I will not comment on this survey issue anymore (to the relief of many I am sure):blink:because I feel I am repeating myself over and over and it isn't about the questionarre. It is about me thinking she isn't the right choice for the future of my children's education. Her indecisiveness and her lack of knowledge on important things School Board members should have a thorough understanding of, especially one that has been there for 8 years.
     
  17. DemoLady

    DemoLady Beach Lover

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    Thanks, mdd88jd, for your posts

    Finally, information rather than inflammation! You highlighted the complexities of running a school system so well. I just wish we had generated more community-wide discussions of these issues during this election period.
     
  18. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    Maybe you could get the DeFuniak Breeze-Herald to do a feature story on these academies. I think many people in Walton County would like to know about this approach....

    AL--are you interested?
     
  19. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    I imagine some candidates are afraid to post here. If I were one I would post here but be careful and stay above the fray. Because the fray can be intense. Kind of like discussing politics openly face to face, as we did in days gone by. Not like the staged, negotiated, and scripted debates and infotainment media these days.

    Also keep in mind that candidates running for re-election are less likely to post publicly for obvious reasons. I imagine in the future we will prepare and publish questionnaires with candidate responses.

    Some lament the fact that we have anonymity on this forum. However that has benefits in truthfullness, even if it can be incendiary at times. That's why we have moderators. But moderation is light. I'd rather have heated exchanges than the chilling effects of heavy-handed moderation.

    We are open to suggestions on how to make our community forum better for the community, by the community.


    I would guess that some majority of voters know we exist, but I'm sure many have never been to our site, wouldn't know what an online community forum is, and quite a few are not on the internet very often at all, and some never. From what I've seen and heard, people tend to forget that the vast majority of folks who read this forum are silent, a group which includes some candidates.

    As for leaning left, I believe it may have before this election year, but I think it's about equal now. It may not seem that way because some of the posters with high post counts are opposite from your views. Believe me, I have equal complaints from both sides about which way it leans.

    In victory, as in defeat, true colors are easily seen.
     
  20. Bob Hudson

    Bob Hudson Beach Fanatic

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    Kurt:

    I enjoy this community and tip my hat to you for your site and involvement in providing a place for all that choose to participate.

    I agree that there are many who visit and do not participate for many reasons. The exchanges do get heated at times and when they get "over the top" I just change channels. The post count of those with oposing views has no impact on my assessment of their postings. I find some with very low post counts can be in oposition to my viewpoints as well. That is the nature of things.

    "Perception is Reality" to many. A general perception of those that lean to the right of center is that we are outgunned on this site. That is improving due to many peoples encouragement to many to express their conservative viewpoints and not sit silent. It would be my hope that they do that with a high ethical standard. Some do some don't.

    Anonomity of posters doesn't bother me in anyway. I simply read the post and respond or move on. It is the quality of the post that determines the value that I personally give to the poster not how many posts they have made.

    Thanks for providing the resources that allow for the exchanges.
     
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