Get involved

As Reimagine Columbus Education gets rolling, let’s start a conversation, get together at community briefings and reimagine the possibilities.Screen Shot 2012-12-12 at 10.52.39 PM

For now, here’s our request: If social media is your thing, please follow us on Twitter (@ReimagineCbusEd). If you’re more of a traditionalist, sign up for our emails on our homepage here. Your emails will never be shared and our Twitter account will only post about Reimagine Columbus Education or other related news.

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98 thoughts on “Get involved

  1. Hi folks, sorry about the broken link. It should be fixed now. You can also bring the subscription box by clicking “Home” at the top of the page.

  2. I see that there is a broad spectrum of folks from our community on this new committee, which is as it should be, but I am wondering why there is no one from the field of education?

    • Thanks for your interest, Ms. Beardsley.

      We’d like to point out that the commission actually includes education experts from a variety of perspectives.

      Commission members include two college presidents (from Ohio State University and Columbus State Community College), a representative from the Ohio Department of Education, current and former Columbus City Schools board presidents, and leaders of employee unions including the Columbus Education Association.

      The commission will also be tapping expert speakers as it begins meeting.

      In choosing members of the commission, the mayor reached out to people from a variety of backgrounds because, of course, education touches our whole community. You can find a listing of their names and organizations (more complete bios will be coming soon) on this page.

      Thanks again for the question. We really value your input.

      • What I think Ms. Beardsley means (although we have never met) is that this commission is, without exception, made up of “downtown” people. There is no one on this commission actively engaged in teaching, researching best practices or defining how we measure educational success. There are many influential people on this commission, individuals I am sure are committed to improving the educational prospects of students in Columbus City Schools. However, I believe the key to success is recognizing where you are and articulating a clear vision of where you want to go. While I am sure the commission will examine metrics and data, and hear testimony from experts, there is no one from the “ground level” on the commission. I think the input of those who are in school buildings every day would have been valuable. The schedule of meetings may make it difficult for many of those people (staff or parents alike) to participate, as they are all-day meetings during the school and work day. Also, you may be interested to know that this website is blocked by Columbus City Schools’ website filters.

        • I wish to agree “The schedule of meetings may make it difficult for many of those people (staff or parents alike) to participate, as they are all-day meetings during the school and work day.” That Ms. Freeland pointed out & add Board Members as well since we all work fulltime jobs.

  3. I was under the impression that the purpose of this commission was “to examine Columbus City Schools” as stated in the Dispatch, but as I read more about the topics to be discussed it seems the agenda is broader than that. Also, according to the Dispatch article announcing the formation of the commission, one co-chair of the commission “is also chairman of the board of KIPP Central Ohio, a charter-school network. Asked if sharing local property-tax revenue with charter schools — currently against state law — will be part of the debate, Marbley said: “All issues are on the table, and certainly charter schools will be discussed, and funding will be an issue that will be discussed. So the short answer is ‘ yes.’” Isn’t this a conflict of interest? I agree that we need all community stakeholders to work together to improve education in Columbus City Schools, but what measures are in place to ensure that politics and personal agendas aren’t the deciding factors when final recommendations are made by the commission?

    • Ms. Kromer:

      Yes, the commission is charged with looking at teaching and learning for all students in the Columbus school district boundaries, not just current students.

      You also ask about how the commission ensures one member’s ideas aren’t the deciding factors. First, among the 25 members, there are leaders from many different organizations, including representatives of the public school system. But providing balance is one reason why we make such an effort to put as much information as we can on this site. It’s part of why we take ideas and comments from the community here and why each meeting of the commission is a public event.

      Because education is going to play a big part in determining our community’s future. And that means our whole community should play a part in figuring out what’s next for education.

  4. Well, the “subscribe” button on the home page still does not seem to be working. I also tried clicking on “Home” and got a message that said to click the “confirm” button on the “email we just sent you,” but so far that email has not shown up.
    I want to add to the previous comments of concern about the make-up of the committee – they may all be wonderful people, but you have got to have some real input from real teachers if you actually want to understand the problems in our schools. In many ways, it is the “experts,” the armchair quarterbacks of education (so to speak) who have led us into the mess we are currently in. Actually, I think every single person on this committee ought to spend at least one day in one of our schools, sitting in on classes, sitting in the teachers’ lounge, listening to the students in the hallways, etc. Since that probably won’t happen – is there ever going to be an opportunity for those of us in the general public who think we have something to contribute to address the committee? Or is input going to be limited to this on-line forum?

    • Thanks for your comments and questions, Ms. Petruzzella.

      We agree that teachers must be a part of this effort.

      That’s why the commission includes the head of the Columbus Education Association and several other representatives with hands-on experience in education. The commission will also be hearing from educators as part of their meetings — for instance, Eastmoor Principal Alesia Gillison is one of the speakers at Friday’s meeting.

      But beyond that, we encourage every interested educator to join in this discussion. One way to do that is to provide feedback on this site or take part in the conversation on Twitter (our account is @ReimagineCbusEd). We also will be announcing a series of neighborhood forums to give members of the community a chance to speak publicly.

      When those events are announced, we hope people who follow this website and our Twitter account will help spread the word. The more people who join in the conversation, the better, because the goal of Reimagine Columbus Education is to chart a path forward that fits our entire community.

      • OK – I see that you’re really trying, and I appreciate that. But the make-up of this committee is a perfect example of one of the basic problems in public education, which is that it’s not run by educators. The field of medicine is generally regulated by doctors, the judiciary system by lawyers…but boards of education are made up of business people, real estate agents, budding politicians – citizens who are probably good people, but probably have not stepped foot in a school for a long time. Everybody thinks they know what schools ought to do – after all, everybody went to school – so people who wouldn’t think of telling their dentist how to use a drill, or their mechanic how to adjust the brakes on their car, feel competent to tell teachers how to do their job. (I know that you think you have educators on this committee, but I don’t really think so – college presidents are more like CEO’s. Gordon Gee has an empire to run – I can’t imagine that he knows much about what goes on day to day in the classrooms at OSU, much less in our public schools. Rhonda Johnson, as head of the teacher’s union, at least has contact with teachers, but the focus of the union is much narrower than the scope of the problems we face.)
        Now, the mayor is certainly correct in saying that education impacts the entire community. And of course parents want to have a say about what schools are doing; someone said that the two most important things to people are their children and their money, and schools are where those things intersect. So I’m not saying that the general public should not have a voice – just asking that people understand that schools do not exist in a vacuum – the problems in our schools are reflections of problems in our culture, beginning with poverty, the breakdown of the family unit and the fact that our popular culture is in the gutter. These are hard problems, and rather than really addressing them, the tendency in recent years has been to blame teachers and school administrators for things they can’t fix – like getting kids to school in the first place. We have “raised standards,” increased requirements for teachers, tinkered with the school schedule, with the curriculum, we have renovated buildings, etc. And things have only gotten worse.
        But the committee needs to understand that all our schools do not function alike – I think there are actually quite a few schools in our system that are still working pretty well – the Columbus Alternative High School, for example, and maybe Centennial and Whetstone. I know more about high schools than elementary schools, but my general impression is that we do a better job in the lower grades, and that the middle school years are where we start to lose kids. A one-size-fits-all approach is not what we need – that’s the problem with the state report card, the standardized testing, and a lot of other policies that come out of the state legislature or the Ohio Dept. of Education – we need to tailor our solutions to the situation that actually exists in each community and school. The needs at Whetstone are different from the needs at Linden McKinley. We need to hire good principals and give them a degree of autonomy within their schools. And, hire good teachers (they are plentiful), and give them autonomy to design curriculum that meets their students’ needs – stop the stupid “scripting,” where every teacher is supposed to be on the same page on the same day – that doesn’t work!
        Here’s a summary of what I think are the most important issues in schools where the biggest problems are :
        1. Stop passing kids who haven’t learned the material.
        2. We need much stronger school discipline policies. Teachers tell me that kids get away with almost anything, that there are no consequences for even really awful behavior. School only works when students are reasonably cooperative. The most talented teacher in the world can’t teach if the students won’t sit down and get quiet long enough for the teacher to present a lesson. This is one reason for my earlier suggestion that committee members get out and visit some schools – I doubt if they have any idea what kind of disrespect and bad language students get away with in some schools – I don’t even want to repeat here some of the things I’ve heard kids say to teachers, but their use of the “F-word” is quite creative – as a noun, an adjective, a verb, an adverb, sometimes a syllable in the middle of another word. Teachers should not have to put up with this.
        3. We need to convince kids that they actually need an education – that school is a good thing, that it’s the key to a decent life. To do this, we have got to get rid of the ridiculous notion that everybody has to go to college. We used to say that our goal in school was to prepare student for real life, but now we only talk about preparing them for college, and our schools are full of students who know darn well they’re not going to college – they’re not smart enough, or academically inclined enough, or they’re never going to have the money. The emphasis on college makes these kids think they have no future, so what is the point of school? Many of our students live in neighborhoods where they don’t know anyone who actually has a job – if they can’t get in the NBA or the NFL, on on American Idol, they have no idea what they might do with themselves. The only people they know who have any money are drug dealers. We have got to revive excellent vocational schools and apprenticeship programs, because the truth is, it’s actually the blue-collar working class that keeps society functioning in many ways – where would we be without our plumbers, auto mechanics, electricians, roofers, police and firemen, they guys who fix the roads, the absolutely necessary people who come by every week and pick up the trash?? These people contribute much more to our society than silly sit-com stars or professional athletes – we need to give them more respect – and decent salaries.
        4. We also need to make school more fun, and more the center of students’ social lives – because the social lives they have outside of school are often not very healthy. We need to encourage school bands and orchestras, we need to bring back school dances after football games – and chaperone them adequately. Every school should have a student newspaper, and we should get kids out into the community more – to the art museum, to COSI, to the conservatory, to the metro parks – many good schools already do this, but we have lots of kids who have no idea what their own city is really like.
        5. We need to revive PTA – we need serious community outreach (not more useless “staff development.”) Parents have to be on board – we can’t succeed without them – they have to be the ones who get the kids to school, so teachers have a chance to teach them.
        Ok – that’s a start – there is lots more to be said, but this is getting too long for me to think anyone will actually read it. A few other ideas, in brief –
        Consider school uniforms, or a least decent dress codes, so children come to school looking like children, rather than street thugs – or street walkers. Parents may resist at first, but when they realize it saves them money, they usually get on board. Teenagers, of course, will resist forever – that’s ok, it’s part of their job as teenagers – don’t give in.
        Don’t give up on Head Start – it really does work, but some school systems have gotten discouraged because the results wear off abut middle-school age – there are reasons for this – hormones start to kick in, school gets more demanding, parents become less influential and peers more so – what they need in another shot at classes in how to do school – more reading classes, how to take notes, how to summarize, and other study skills – also social skills. And, give serious consideration to single-sex classes in middle school – maybe even single-sex schools.
        I am actually delighted that the mayor has gotten a wide spectrum of community leaders interested in saving our schools, because although it became a cliche, it really does “take a village to raise a child.” I am pleading for all the committee members to take this work seriously, to listen to teachers, to educate themselves about what the problems actually are, and to include teachers in the solutions – they after all, will be the ones implementing whatever plans you come up with. And teachers KNOW what’s going on – everybody I knew for the last couple of decades knew that school officials were tinkering with attendance data – all we had to do was contrast what we saw in our classrooms with the figures we read in the paper. Teachers knew all along that “Credit Recovery” was a crock. (So is the STEM program, btw – kids can’t read the books.) It’s time to drop the B.S. and tell the truth – many (not all) of our schools are a mess, we are throwing away kids every day. And teachers, too – did you know that approximately 50% of our new young teachers get so discouraged that they leave the profession within the first five years? You, dear committee members, are our best and possibly last chance to save our schools – please don’t screw up. Best of luck to you all.

        P.S. Ok, one more thing – please, read the book, No Excuses (Closing the Racial Gap in Learning) by the Thernstroms. I think the “gap” is really economic, not racial, but it is the best book I know of abut how schools can succeed, even in not-to-great neighborhoods.

        • Brenda Petruzzella is spot on with all her points! But most importantly is the input of teachers. They are the experts, they put all they have into the education (and oftentimes the upbringing) of children that will be our future leaders in government, business, community, and education. It is not downtown administrators, union leaders, college / university presidents that really know the needs of children in their education. This has been a downfall to many initiatives that CCS has undertaken. Many great ideas, but it was administrators with their own agendas and pre-concieved notions that put forth innovations in education that have not been as successful as they could be, because teachers were not involved in the process – from beginning to end.

        • OMGOSH…Brenda Petruzzella, I could not have said it better myself ESPECIALLY about the vocational education programs! With both Presidents from CSCC and OSU on this committee I think agreements could be made that could take a student from vocation skills in HS to a AAS program at CSCC and if the student wanted a BA/BS at OSU.

          I think I found a candidate to nominate for the next Superintendent or at the very least President of the School Board. Using common sense is a lost art.

          I would like to add to her list…. STOP teaching to the test bring back the critical thinking skills that are so important.

          • You are most welcome – ’bout time somebody did, don’t you think? I liked your post, too – very good points!

      • At the first meeting on Jan. 11, there was mention of a book called (I think) Needles in a Haystack, about schools across the county that are successful, even in difficult neighborhoods. Barnes and Noble couldn’t find it for me – do I have the title wrong?

    • To whoever is monitoring this site- I wrote once before explaining that I had written the Jan. 7 post above in response to an email message that I later realized was not on this website and apparently had been sent to me by mistake. I asked to have it removed because of that, and I received an email that it had been – however, it’s still here – can you please get rid of it, as I don’t think it makes much sense out of context.

  5. Can you send me the locations of the meetings and please keep me posted by email on all updates.

    Regards Rev Snyder

    • Absolutely Reverend Snyder.

      You should be be receiving an email from our system (WordPress) to confirm that you want to receive the updates. Once you follow the steps in that email, you will receive a note every time we publish new information.

  6. Have been getting regular emails from senders using this website whose messages clearly have nothing to do with this commission or its purpose. Any way to install some filters to keep those from coming through?

  7. Well, many thanks to Laura Beardsley and Cassandra Freeland for the support. However, there seems to be no maintenance on this site – it’s still cluttered up with all those first complaints about the email subscriptions not working properly, and I’m not sure it’s working exactly right yet, given Marleen Kromer’s comments about getting email that having nothing to do with the site – the same thing has happened to me. More importantly, there have been no new posts here for over a week – it’s beginning to look as if we need to find another avenue for participation – the promised “discussion” just does not seem to be happening here, and I have no confidence that anyone on the commission is actually seeing anything we’ve said.

  8. Brenda, I think the site is set up more like a blog than a typical website: mostly through a series of posts on the home page. I agree it would be easier to navigate if it were set up like a traditional website with tabs at the top for upcoming meetings, meeting archives, about the commission, etc. But I have received e-mails about the meetings with background information and recaps, which were useful. I also started following the twitter feed, which is the place to see much of the content. It’s not a great communication system for someone who is not a heavy user of technology, but they are sending out lots of information. As for the spam responses, I think the best thing is to ignore them.

    • Hi Ms. Freeland and Ms. Petruzzella:

      We appreciate your comments.

      Recently, we made some changes to the our spam filtering that appear to have eliminated the problem. Thanks for ignoring those early messages and sorry for the inconvenience.

      We want you to know that we are making updates throughout the site, but the home page is the best place to see new content. As this process unfolds, we’ve been posting the latest information there (often with links to other parts of the website). For instance, we update the Background Materials page before each meeting. We’ve also recently created a new Public forums page with a map and schedule of those events. (One tip: to see the sections under the various headings near the top, just hover your mouse over them for a moment. For example, to see the new background materials, hover over “Get Info” and then the link to “Background materials” will appear.) You both also might be interested in the videos we’ve posted in the “Watch it”

      Last, we want you to know that the commission is receiving regular reports about the conversations taking place on this website, on Twitter and at community events. We hope that helps.

    • Cassandra – You are no doubt right on all counts. I am definitely not a “heavy user” of technology, and don’t do twitter (smile!) However, I have attended some of the sessions of the committee meetings, and I have to say I am impressed with the level of the discussion, and the professionalism of most of the people on the committee. These folks have taken on a huge job, and they seem to be taking it seriously – most importantly, they seem to be listening…I’m beginning to feel more hopeful for the future of our schools.

  9. Greetings,

    I will first say that I am nervous about posting this comment. Only because my high school English teacher (Ms. Petruzzella) is apart of this conversation. Please Jesus help me not to let her down with to many grammatical errors.

    My name is Lolita Augenstein and I am part of this commission. I just wanted to say I am reading every comment, I am taking the commissions work serious, I am listening and including real teachers in my continued education of our public school system. I firmly believe that I can speak for my fellow commission members and say that they feel the same.

    Ms. Petruzzella, thank you so much for being one of my educators (South High School). I also want to thank you for sticking around and not giving up on our students in your retirement.

    Just like in high school it may not seem like I am listening but, you have my full attention. I can assure you I am in a different school at least 3 times a week. I know first hand what our students look like in each schools community. I will do my best to represent that part of the community that is deeply invested in our kids. I PROMISE!

    Lolita Augenstein
    Commission member

    • Lolita – How absolutely wonderful it was to hear from you and know that you are part of this commission! I hope you read the post just before yours, where I said that after Thursday’s meeting, I am really feeling much more hopeful that this group will actually be able to save our school system. I’m sorry if some of my initial comments may have been too harsh – it’s just that it’s been so frustrating to watch the problems of our school system get worse, and even more frustrating that so many folks want to blame teachers for problems that they did not cause and cannot solve – at least, not alone! Don’t worry – I’m not giving up – I can’t, even if I wanted to, as my only child is now part of our system. (And I’m not correcting anyone’s grammar any more, either!) And I do appreciate being able to participate in this discussion – I will try to “vent” less and be more constructive. Great to hear from you!

    • Lolita –
      I wanted to say that because of your position with the PTA Council, you are a really important member of this committee. In the tape of the focus group shown at the second meeting, there was a woman who said, “It all begins in the home,” and of course, she was right. Any meaningful improvements in our schools will have to involve parents. So many of the students in our most troubled schools are being raised by very young single moms, or grandmothers, with few resources. It’s easy to criticize parents for students’ bad language, bad behavior, lack of interest in school, poor attendance, and all the other issues that make it hard for students to learn – but “blame” is wasted effort. People, any people, can only know what they’ve had a chance to learn. If some parents are not doing a very good job, it’s usually because they simply don’t know how to do better – not because they don’t care about their children. They need help and support – not just from schools, but from their entire communities. I believe the PTA could be a really important tool in this process! We need lots more community outreach in places like the south side and the Linden area, and lots more connection between the communities and the schools.

      • Ms. Petruzella,

        I absolutely agree!! The only problem is, if they don’t know that Education is a value, then they don’t know they need to be involved. We are hoping to learn and develop new and improved ways to reach every parent. I believe that every parent wants whats best for their child even if they aren’t sure what that “best” looks like. You have been involved with our families longer then me. So I am sure that you have had to use every measure to reach your students families. I hope you will continue to share more of your great ideas. I am looking forward to hearing more from you.


        • Well, Lolita, I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but here are some things I feel strongly that we should do:
          We should start with the premise that improving our most-troubled schools goes hand-in-hand with improving the neighborhoods in general – and the folks who live there have to take responsibility. I visualize PTA volunteers canvassing neighborhoods over the summer, and recruiting community volunteers to knock on doors and speak to parents about what they need to help their children succeed. We need to involve as many people as possible, whether they have children in school or not, in making the neighborhood a better place – church leaders, community business people, and anyone else willing to help. There is no substitute for personal contact. Then we need to involve them in the process.
          (I am realizing as I write this, that it sounds a lot like a mini-version of what the mayor’s commission is trying to do for the whole city! I guess that makes sense – whatever the overall plan is, each school, each community will have to implement it for their specific needs.)
          I believe there is potential for leadership in each neighborhood – sometimes, people just need to be asked. I was impressed with the people in the Linden area who were interviewed after the student there was shot – they were concerned and articulate. I was also impressed with the folks I met at the public forum at Linden McKinley – they care, they have good ideas, they have an interest in making their neighborhood a better place to live – good schools is a part of that vision. I think the PTA might be a vehicle for getting things started.
          I dream of a beginning-of-the-year meeting in each school to which parents, community business people, church pastors and anyone else who cares about their neighborhood can come and meet the teachers and talk about what they can all do to help students succeed in the coming year. It should be a community party – there should be child care for little ones, and food, music, and fun – more fun than families sitting in their houses alone watching tv – but it should be recognized that the main purpose is serious business. School administrators and teachers should talk about what they need – maybe monitors on buses, or more aides in classrooms, or volunteers to take students home when they come inappropriately dressed, and then bring them back to school when they’ve changed. Parents might ask for a child-care room on parent-teacher conference nights, or more tutoring options – I don’t know – the whole point would be a chance for parents and teachers to communicate with each other about how to to cooperate in the children’s education. Parents need to feel that they are being heard. Teachers, too. Right now, I think everyone feels frustrated by having rules imposed by “higher authorities” who don’t really understand their needs. And I think the PTA could be a powerful advocate for parents and teachers alike, when their efforts to expand students’ horizons come up against silly regulations, whether they are imposed by the school board, ODE, or the state legislature – all of whom mean well, but have been trying to use a one-size-fits-all approach for our schools, rather than recognizing different needs.
          Personally, I dream of a coalition of community business people who can come into the schools and speak to students about acquiring work skills, and perhaps provide some after-school jobs. Or involve students in a community garden project, or other activity.
          I dream of connections with churches and pastors whose congregations might have people willing to counsel parents, tutor students after school, or who would be willing to provide students with other activities – take kids to community sports events, field trips to the art museum, the State House, the theater, a metro park, Franklin Park Conservatory, etc. I know schools try to do some of these things, but their resources are stretched thin and teachers in our most-troubled schools already have their hands full.
          I also feel very strongly that activities we sometimes dismiss as “non-academic” can be a very important part of education. The main reason young people get caught-up in gangs is the intense need to “belong” to a peer group. Sports, drama club, the school newspaper, chess club, the band, the chorus – all of these activities can provide a sense of pride and belonging, and a good peer group – they are vitally important, especially for students who don’t have good support systems at home. The PTA can advocate for those activities.
          Also – and I think this is really important – we should have an adult education facility in every neighborhood where the school dropout rate is high. Sometimes, students who fail to finish high school realize, after a few years without a decent job and with a bit more maturity, that education is important, after all. If there was a school right in the neighborhood with caring, helpful and non-judgmental teachers, at least some of them would come. This would not have to cost a lot – we used to have night school classes in some of the regular school buildings. We could bring back that concept. It would not interfere with daytime work, and students could pay a small fee to help offset costs. (I would like for any interested person to be able to attend classes, but I’m thinking here that people tend to value what they pay for.) The concept of “adult education” may still exist in Columbus, but I don’t hear anything about it these days – clearly, it is not the force it needs to be. And, by the way – this cannot be done online – some of the people I’m talking about probably don’t even have computer access, and they need personal contact, anyway. Although, including computer skills in the curriculum would be a good idea.
          This system should offer classes in study skills, reading, math, and life skills and parenting classes. Many students drop out, not because they aren’t smart, but because their life is just too chaotic and filled with personal problems. – they need to know about resources for help with addiction, abuse etc. And – this program should also offer child-care for students while they’re in class. Teen pregnancy rates are not as high as they once were, but I believe unplanned pregnancy is still the main reason for girls dropping out of school. If they (or their children) are to have any sort of chance, they have to have at least a high school education. I think that retired teachers might be a rich source of staff, although I think community folks without teaching degrees should also be taken into consideration.
          I hope this is useful. I’ll probably think of more things to suggest later!

          • Ms. Petruzzella,

            I must be technically challenged because I thought I signed up to get a notification when you commented. I am sorry it has taking me this long to respond to your most amazing analysis.

            I think I absolutely saw your visions in clear techno-color. In fact I am going to print your comments and take your ideas to my next board meeting. I am so excited that you are engaged and offering your expert advice. I am hoping that you are getting bored with your retirement and want to get a little more involved. I hope that you are planning on attending our next Commission meeting on March 6. I would love to see and talk to you.


  10. I was able to attend the morning portion of the meeting today, and I agree. It was a great discussion with many insightful questions posed and points made by the members of the commission.

  11. Rob – I was not able to use the email address you gave me above “info@ reimagine…) I got a window saying I couldn’t send until I entered my SMTP host name, but no information as to how to do that. I may not be able to attend the meeting Friday – I have a book I’d like to give you to pass along to someone. Is it possible for me to stop by your office for a minute on Thursday some time?

    • Hi Brenda,

      An email from you made it to me this morning so it looks like everything’s working. I’ll give you a call shortly and we can arrange something to get your book. Thank you!

  12. Ha! Well, that was fun to read, Stacie, and I certainly thank you for the support, but I don’t want either of those positions – all I have wanted (for the last couple of decades) is for someone to LISTEN, and understand that teachers can only work with the students they have – and that both students and parents have responsibilities in the educational process. Yes, many of our schools are in serious trouble, but there have been so many people who want to blame teachers and school systems for poor performance, without recognizing that students are influenced by their homes and communities more than anything else – as if we could just move all the teachers from Upper Arlington into some of our failing schools, and the test scores would improve – talk about “magical thinking!” Meanwhile, of course, some of these critics have never spent a day in an urban school…it’s made me want to tear my hair out at times. (As far as I know, after several years of graduate study and independent reading, the single factor that correlates most closely with school achievement is family income. Not how many master’s degrees teachers have, not how much money is spent, not how much technology is employed, not class size – family income. As numerous people have already said – the basic problem is poverty. That, of course, is not what anyone wants to hear, because that’s a hard problem to solve – it’s much easier to tinker with the school schedule, demand more “professional development” for teachers, or talk about “higher expectations.” We will probably never eliminate this issue entirely – but we can do much, much better than we are currently doing. What it boils down to is an attitude among school personnel something like this: We are sorry that your home life is hard – we can’t fix that overnight – but regardless, when you come to school, THIS is what you HAVE to do – dress appropriately, attend regularly, respect yourself and others, and work hard. I used to tell my education students at OSU that what teachers need from students boils down to two simple things – mind your manners and do your work. We must insist on it.
    Now, having said all that – I have to say that I have attended as many of the various meetings of the mayor’s commission as possible, and I am cautiously impressed. The mayor has acknowledged that education is a community endeavor. The people on the commission DO seem to be willing to listen – in fact they are actively seeking input from everybody who wants to give it and the public is responding, including parents like yourself. In fact, they are getting so many ideas, I don’t know how they’re ever going to sort them all out – but there are a lot of people involved, and they are working really hard – there have been many meetings, and will be more. I think they really want to improve our city schools and that they may actually come up with some ways to do it! I am more hopeful than I’ve been in a long time – we must all realize, however, that seeing a significant difference will take a while – academic improvement has to start in the elementary grades and work its way up – although better discipline could be implemented in the high schools right away, it will be probably be years before test scores in our most troubled schools improve. We must have patience and persistence.

  13. I believe that each elementary building should have an Rti (response to intervention) specialist. The Rti specialist would be responsible for providing individualized interventions for struggling students who are going through the IAT process. Teachers in Columbus City Schools are currently responsible for providing individualized inteventions to students who are struggling. Teachers have this responsiblity on top of the curriculum demands. Many elementary teachers have a high number of student’s falling below grade level in reading in primary grades. Many of our students fall through the cracks because teachers do not have enough time to provide interventions and progress monitor those interventions for each struggling student at the elementary level. Students falling behind early have difficulty catching up in the later grades. Research has shown that early intervention (when a child has the most brain plasticity) is the key to a child’s success with learning. An Rti specialist would be able to provide early interventions to struggling students, therefore catching them up and provide ongoing interventions to those students who need extra support. This would eliminate many student’s need for special education or provide early identification for those students who have disabilites. Right now the current model in Columbus City Schools is overwhelming to many teachers.

  14. You are most welcome – ’bout time somebody did, don’t you think? I liked your post, too – very good points!

  15. I encourage all of you that have left comments to attend one of the public forums being held. It is a wonderful opportunity to let others hear your ideas and to also build on those ideas with others who are equally concerned. I have attended one and plan to go to more. We need to speak up and have our voices heard and continue to speak up until they listen! Now is the time to stand up and fight for what is right for our children.

  16. As a 1994 graduate of Columbus City Schools, the son of a retired veteran Columbus City Schools teacher, and the husband of a teacher in an inner-city Columbus High School, I have an obvious vested interest in the effectiveness of our public school system. Though like any organization, CCS has numerous strong and weak points, I will focus here on what I believe to be one of its most overlooked shortcomings: the lack of administrative leadership within the schools.

    In order for any teacher to be effective, they must have a strong support system; one that bolsters confidence in the teacher’s abilities, decisions, and methods; foremost among this system should be school administrators. Unfortunately, from the numerous accounts I’ve received from my wife, I can ascetain that this is completely not the case in her school.

    To start, the administrators treat the teacher’s with as much (if not, more) indifference than they do the students; with everything from unanswered e-mails to blatant refusal to engage in any conversation with teachers about subjects school-related or not. Further disrespect and contempt is shown when administrators undermine teacher authority by randomly refusing to accept disciplinary actions implemented by the teacher. In plain words, by sending back “190′s” (disciplinary action forms, for those of you who don’t know the lingo) to teachers with little or no explanation as to why this student shouldn’t be punished. (Of course, when one takes into account the realities of reduced funding for schools with too many disciplinary actions, one might begin to wonder if this is the reason the 190′s are always sent back to the teachers!). This, to me, is a clear case of “playing the numbers”; much like “teaching to the test.” It becomes more about administrators securing their current and future salaries and far less about a young person’s education. When no disciplinary action is taken, due to lack of administrator follow-through, this creates an assumed atmosphere of “no consequences” for the students; which they, in turn, take advantage of to the fullest extent. At this point, the teacher becomes nothing but a babysitter; and one with no authority whatsoever. This is not in any way condusive to learning.

    The general attitude of the administrators at my wife’s school is one of complete apathy. They take no interest in the students’ academic success. I can illustrate this very easily by relaying here the time my wife was told the following, by an administrator, with regards to students who repeatedly failed her class: “Just give them all ‘D’s’.” If this is the attitude of administrators, then one can deduce their only interest is in maintaining an inflated (and artificial) graduation rate; which is a disservice to the students themselves as well as their community.

    What do I suggest? Foremost, there should be closer scrutiny of and much higher standards of accountability for CCS administrators. As it stands now, their lack of motivation and lack of interest in student success (both of which are detrimental to teacher effectiveness) are some of the chief reasons that CCS is in crisis.

    • Mr. Matson,

      I totally agree! I have seen this happen before in a school. What would be your suggestions for discipline? What would be your suggestion for setting a new cultural that diminishes the “no consequences” attitude?

      Please be as candid as possible…………

      Lolita Augenstein

    • Hi Jillian:

      The next commission meeting will be held at COSI in the WOSU media center and runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

      Hope you can join us!

  17. Is there a reason some emails have been removed from this site? I said nothing of an inappropriate nature, but my comments (and those of many others) have disappeared. It does not seem to have anything to do with the date the suggestions were sent. Were my suggestions irrelevant to the goals of the commission? I am not complaining; I am merely inquiring so that I may better help my peers formulate their suggestions if they would like to comment.

  18. Laura, I still see all of your comments by going to the Get Involved tab and scrolling down. The site is set up like a blog, with the most recent posts first on the Home page. If you scroll down the Home page, you will see various posts and a little bubble at the top where you can leave a reply to that post. If there is a number above the bubble, it means that number of replies have been posted and you can click on it to read them. Hope that’s helpful.

  19. This is not a reply. It is just a question.
    Somewhere on this website, several weeks ago I saw a comment by ?Tom Dillard?. He had said something like, “You are leaning your ladder against the wrong wall.” And, that he had a list of references that explained the difference between education and learning, or something like that. HOW DO I FIND A COPY OF TOM’S LIST ON THIS WEBSITE?

  20. Hi, Lolita,
    I did stop in at the commission meeting this morning, but I couldn’t stay too long – I may have missed you – I think the weather delayed a few people. I’m glad you appreciated my comments about possibilities for PTA, and I’d be happy to get together sometime and talk more. I am getting email notices of new postings, but the website does seem a little confusing – I have never participated in a “blog” before, but apparently new comments go to the front, which makes sense if it’s a “new” post, but is rather confusing if you’re writing a response to a previous post – for example, this note will be at the beginning, rather than after your comment on Feb. 27….sometimes that makes it hard to follow the “thread.” When I hit “reply,” I assume my response will appear after the comment I’m responding to, but that doesn’t seem to happen. (It also doesn’t help that there is a whole other set of comments under the “good idea” button!) It’s great to have so many people participating, but you really have to work at finding the posts you want – I guess we all still have somethings to learn about using this new technology – it’s somewhat reassuring to find I’m not the only one who’s confused sometimes!

  21. P.S. Rob, I see that you don’t want to delete anyone’s comments, but wouldn’t it make sense to at least remove those first posts where people were complaining about the system not working properly, or a few others that aren’t concerned with actual content? (like this one?) Just seems like that would clean things up a little…

  22. A few thoughts about the March 7 article in The Dispatch summarizing some of the Committee’s ideas so far:
    The first one mentioned was providing all students with an “internet device” to replace textbooks by 2015. I hope someone looks at how that’s worked in schools that have tried it – it sounds expensive, and my information is that theft has been so rampant that schools have ended up requiring that all such devices do not leave the building, which makes them useless for homework. I realize, of course, that textbooks are also expensive (some ridiculously so), that e–readers are the coming thing and that kids like them…I’m just not sure how much they actually do to improve student achievement. Do we have data on this?
    The second idea was, “Persistently low-performing schools need to be closed…and an aggressive plan is needed to start new schools.” What, exactly, does this mean? When we close a school, the students have to go somewhere. The high school buildings of South, East and Linden just underwent extensive and expensive remodeling – surely we are not going to abandon those buildings…is the thinking that we will “close” the current schools and invite a “high-performing charter” to take over education in those buildings?
    I am all for choice, and have nothing against charter schools, but I thought the goal here was to save our public system…can we not find out what it is that makes certain charter schools work well, and implement those ideas? Personally, I’d rather fix our own schools that invite new ones in.
    I was glad to read the conclusions that “student success today overemphasizes test scores, and undervalues other skills that lead to employment”, and that “communities lack the organization to align education with labor markets.” Those issues certainly need to be addressed.

  23. We already allow the business community to decide how our children get educated. How has that worked out? Is working bees all we want? Do we need creative, thinking, problem-solving citizens? Leadership? Are these children going to have the tools they need to solve 21st century problems? Do we need passionate out-of-the. box leaders?

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