A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Federal support for education: Watch those strings

It's always good to remind people that the federal government actually contributes very little financial support to public school districts throughout the country.

Here is the link to an Associated Press article that explains the details. Basically, federal monies provide only about 8 percent of a school district's budget. School districts need to consider whether this is a good bargain for them, since that 8 percent leads to all kinds of requirements and regulations that actually may not be value for the money.

Traditionally, schools have been funded by local taxes-- usually property taxes as the bulk of the sourcing. Even with the proposed increase in funding that has been recently promised, that may not make up for all the other requirements that will inevitably be tied to those dollars.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

An apology for supporting segregation in Virginia

Well, I guess this is "better late than never."
A Virginia newspaper expressed regret Thursday for supporting a systematic campaign by the state's white political leaders to maintain separate public schools for blacks and whites in the 1950s.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch acknowledged in an editorial that it and its now-defunct sister newspaper, The News Leader, played a central role in the "dreadful doctrine" of Massive Resistance. "The record fills us with regret," the newspaper said.

The newspaper took the unusual step of promoting the editorial on its front page. The editorial was published on the eve of a conference in Richmond marking the 50th anniversary of the end of Massive Resistance, which was dismantled by a 1959 court ruling.

Massive Resistance was Virginia's answer to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that outlawed school segregation. Endorsed at the highest levels of state government and promoted by U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd, the policy cut funds to any school that dared to integrate.

"The hour was ignoble," the editorial says. "Editorials in The News Leader relentlessly championed Massive Resistance and the dubious constitutional arguments justifying its unworthy cause. Although not so intimately engaged, The Times-Dispatch was complicit."

Words are indeed powerful. Although, these words of apology would certainly have been more powerful if they hadn't waited fifty years to utter them.

You know, I've heard apologists for segregation repeatedly act as if the problems of the civil rights movement were purely a "Deep South" phenomenon, all a part of the "it's just a part of the Southern culture" mumbo-jumbo-- that it was in places like Mississippi and Alabama and South Carolina, especially areas where blacks outnumbered whites, that the worst kinds of race relations took place. That kind of thinking flies in the face of facts, such as that Linda Brown lived in Topeka, KANSAS. They also ignore the fact that the Brown case was actually five cases combined together: besides the Topeka action, lawsuits from Prince Edward County, Virginia; Summerton, South Carolina; Claymont, Delaware; and Washington, D.C were part of the Brown decision. Although Delaware was technically a Northern state, as was Kansas, our nation's capital was (and is) a Southern city. The evils of segregation and discrimination remain a legacy ALL Americans must acknowledge.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

And I thought summer would never begin for me...

but this is worse!
Summer break will finally start at two Southern California schools after the state rejected a district's plan to use summer sessions to make up for a potentially costly administrative error.

Officials at Chino Valley Unified School District said Friday they have ended the sparsely attended classes and are now depending on a state bill that could waive a $5 million penalty for not meeting the state requirement for school day hours.

Students had been attending extra classes since June 15 at Dickson Elementary in Chino and Rolling Ridge Elementary in Chino Hills. With grades already final, attendance dipped as low as 8 percent at Rolling Ridge.

The error occurred when administrators shortened bell schedules on 34 Fridays below the requirement of 180 minutes a day.

Well, it wasn't much of a program if attendance was voluntary, although it must have just stunk for the staff. I wonder what the people who made the error have learned?


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