Goodbye 2013

From Blue Ribbon to a Black School, Hapeville to Harvard to Law... this is my journey, and it'll move on still.


Winners! This Round of Race to the Top Goes to ...

Houston (TX), Clarksdale (MS), Clarendon Co. (SC), Kentucky Valley (KY), Springdale (AK).

According to yesterday's news in Edweek:

  • Clarendon County School District Two, a consortium of four rural districts in central South Carolina that describes itself as "very diverse." It encompasses districts with both rural and urban poverty, districts with a high percentage of minority students, and districts with a burgeoning population of English-learners. Winnings: $25 million.
  • Clarksdale Municipal School District in the Mississippi Delta, a mostly black district with 3,350 students. Winnings: $10 million.
  • Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortium of 18 rural districts, that narrowly missed winning last time around. Winnings: $30 million.
  • Springdale School District in the northwest corner of Arkansas. This district near the Tyson Foods headquarters enrolls 20,500 students, including many English-learners. Interestingly, the city of Springdale has one of the largest populations of Marshall Islands immigrants in the country. Winnings: $25.9 million.
  • Houston is a 200,000-student urban district and two-time Broad Prize winner.

I am happy to resources going to the South and rural places where they are certainly needed.  Now, to track the applications from these winners...

Debriefing the 2013 Atlanta-Fulton Co. Election results

  • one of my favored city councilpersons no longer has a seat (pretty bummed about that),
  • a new member of the school board will be representing "me" (though was completely unimpressive/uninspiring when we spoke one-on-one),
  • the mayor is still the mayor (silver lining), 
  • municipal judges running unopposed (hmmmm.....), 
  • FOUR former TFA'ers are now on the APS school board (#onedayall)
  • turnout for my polling place was below 15%--shesh.
Full results can be found here: 


Kellogg Foundation chooses its Next CEO and President: Ms. Tabron aspires to change the world for vulnerable kids

Ms. Tabron is many things:  an employee of the company for 26 years, a woman who grew up in Detroit, the current the executive vice president of operations and treasurer, the organization's 12th leader since its founding in 1930, a Michigan alumna, and the company's first African American leader and first female leader in its history.

After conducting and international and U.S. wide search, Tabron was the best candidate for the job.  She will replace Sterling Speirn, "who announced he will step down this year after heading the organization for nearly eight years."


Research from Boston Public Schools: Student Achievement Scores over Art/Science Offerings

A recent report from a Harvard Kennedy School researcher analyzed parents' school preferences for Kindergarten, Sixth Grade, and Ninth Grade to determine which factors made the most differences.  In his new paper, the researcher, Edward Glaser, found:

"parents favor closer schools and schools with higher levels of academic achievement (as measured by the MCAS test). It also finds that certain school structures -- K1 (over K2 only) schools and K-8 (over K-5) schools – are preferred. . . .
Overall school size, computer facilities, and gyms did not have a significant impact. Art, music, and science lab facilities had minimal or no impact."

For the abstract and more on the paper, see here: 


An agriculture degree instead of a finance degree--makes some sense to me

A recent article by Alex Rosenberg (of course forwarded to me by my father who retired from agriculture field), argues that real goods are going to be much more important than speculative goods in the future.  Precisely, Rosenberg argues that fields like finance are going to be less pivotal than fields like agriculture. He captures this in his article:

 "We are going to be trying to feed 9 billion people by 2050 with the same number of acres of arable land," said Timothy Burcham, dean of agriculture and technology at Arkansas State University. Calling that task "overwhelming," Burcham notes that "the opportunities for a person that has a graduate degree in agriculture are great now, but they are going to be really, really excellent going into the future."
The article (and the argument) have some staying power with me.  By my own admission, I have always thoughts that great mind power should be applied to public policy issues:  education policy (of course), food policy, energy policy . . .

Anyway, for your reading pleasure: Jim Rogers: Skip the MBA, get an agriculture degree

UPDATE 1/8/2014:

From reports in England, it seems that His Royal Highness Prince William is prepping to study agriculture at Cambridge soon.  Hat tip to him.


Interested in Education Leadership in New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Hartford, Dallas, Houston? See Education Pioneers below.

This came across my email, so I thought I would share it with everyone:
On the heels of Education Pioneers’ incredible 10th anniversary celebration, our work is underway to realize our bold vision to transform education into the best led and managed sector in the U.S., with 10,000 pioneers working full-time in the sector by 2023.

To get there, we need your help to identify new emerging leaders and organizations that need top talent for our 2014 programs:
For our Fellowships, we are seeking over 500 talented emerging leaders from diverse academic, professional, and personal backgrounds.  Specifically, we are interested in recruiting people who:
  • Are skilled in data analysis, strategic planning, and finance and operations;
  • Are interested in working in our high-priority cities, including New Orleans, LA; Memphis and Nashville, TN; Hartford, CT; and Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston, TX;
  • Have roots in and ties to the communities where we work.
We also remain committed to engaging and supporting emerging leaders of color; 55% of our 2013 Graduate School Fellowship cohort identified as a person of color.
Applications for the 2014 Graduate School Fellowship (10-week summer and yearlong placements) and 2014 Partnerships are now open; please encourage the emerging leaders and the education organizations in your network to apply!  (Applications for the 2014 Analyst Fellowship will open later this year.)

Thank you for helping our 2014 Fellowship and Partner recruiting season be our best yet!


Frances McLaughlin

This is what a hero looks like: An Atlanta School Shooting Averted

This is what a hero looks like: Tuff, a school clerk, dissuades the gunman at a nearby (to me) Atlanta school. Watching the footage yesterday of the babies running from the building completely tore my heart. Very happy all were safe.

Photo Credit: EverydayJoe/Antoinette Tuff

Here's the article:

antoinette, tuff:, meet, the, woman, who, prevented, a, mass, school, shooting, yesterday,


Top Universities in the World -- Another LIst

According to a British higher education magazine, Times higher Education,the rankings for the Top Universities in the WORLD are as follows.  Not bad Michigan (special place in my heart), The Ohio State University (dad's alma mater), U of Florida (SEC pride?), and of course... Harvard :-)

More after the break...


Job Opportunity: Annie E. Casey Foundation

Senior Associate, Capacity Building
Deadline: Until filled
Location: Baltimore, MD
Group: Capacity Building Team
Division: Talent and Leadership Development

Position Summary
The Senior Associate, Capacity Building is a full-time, senior-level professional position at the Foundation and reports directly to the Director of Capacity Building. The Foundation’s Capacity Building efforts are based on the belief that supporting Casey staff and Mission Critical Grantees & Networks to improve their leadership, management, strategy, and execution will lead to improve outcomes for children and families. The Senior Associate will have primary responsibility for strengthening Casey’s Mission Critical Grantees & Networks. The Senior Associate will also be responsible for contributing to all Capacity Building work:
 Strengthening Mission Critical Grantees & Networks
 Building Critical Capacities at Casey
 Advancing Equitable Opportunities within Casey and for the children and families we serve

Senior Associates have opportunities to deepen their formal knowledge, expand their networks, and challenge their thinking about improving outcomes for disadvantaged children and distressed neighborhoods.

 Develop and implement an organizational capacity building strategy that:
Strengthens Mission Critical Grantees & Networks to have greater collective impact;
Is responsive to high need, time sensitive, priority grantee capacity building needs; and
Contributes to building the infrastructure required to support more broadly nonprofit capacity building efforts aimed at improving results for children and families.
 Partner with Casey Program Officers and Mission Critical Grantees & Networks to make high-quality organizational development grants that build their capacity to meet programmatic results.
 Build and maintain clear, respectful, results driven, and action oriented communication with Casey Program Officers and Mission Critical Grantees & networks.

 Provide thought partnership and technical assistance to Program Officers and Mission Critical Grantees & Networks to assess and support capacity building efforts.
 Work closely with Director and Capacity Building Team to integrate and improve the team’s collective capacity building efforts
 Make grants, further strategy, and engage leaders in the field of nonprofit organizational and network effectiveness
 Implement strategic planning, oversight, and deployment of technical assistance.
 Serve as a technical resource providing content expertise and strategic input to Foundation staff working on a diverse range of projects and initiatives.
 Prepare budget requests for assigned projects and monitor spending.
 Assist in establishing and maintaining positive relations with key contacts, leaders, public officials, residents, and organizations as required.
 Perform analyses in support of reform initiatives, including financial and statistical analyses.
 Prepare written reports and program/policy analyses.
 Representing the Foundation’s mission, principles and work, as assigned and requested, by participating in meetings, public presentations, and the preparation of written materials.
 Exhibit sensitivity to and respect for differences in personal, professional, and business relationships on behalf of the Foundation. Seek to use Foundation resources in an equitable manner with regard to race, ethnicity and gender.
 Demonstrate awareness and appreciation of the Foundation’s mission, values, standards, principles, and programs, drawing on Casey’s Knowledge Management System, intranet, website, staff development sessions, and other learning opportunities to establish this competency.
 Perform administrative duties in support of the above work.

The duties listed above are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them from the position if the work is similar, related, or a logical assignment to the position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

 Minimum requirement includes a graduate degree in business administration, law, community development, political science, human services, urban planning and development, public policy, public administration, or a related field. Senior public sector experience may substitute for a graduate degree.
 Candidates should also have substantial relevant post-graduate experience in public human services management and/or private sector that includes but not limited to:

Background in implementing outcome-oriented initiatives for disadvantaged children, youth and families.
Experience in self-managed, task-driven initiatives with the ability to balance demands related to multiple projects and meet multiple deadlines.

Essential Skills & Abilities
 Strong diagnostic skills, strategic planning, management, and public policy analysis.
 Exceptional writing ability and excellent oral communications.
 Intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for diverse professional challenges.
 Political savvy, good judgment and instincts, and excellent social skills.
 Commitment to a service concept of philanthropy and to the public trust.
 Proficiency with computer software such as Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Access.
 Ability to build and use analytical frameworks, models and approaches for use in large-scale system change efforts.
 Ability to travel extensively up to 40 percent of the time.
 Ability to take responsibility for day-to-day work activities and projects with very little direction.

 Salary will be commensurate with experience.

To apply or for further information contact:
Maxine Norris
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
701 St. Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21202


All About HBCUs

I take pride in having chosen to attend an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities).  Like many blessed, mentored, hard-working and inspirational students, I had many choices of post-high school schools to choose from, including HBCUs and Ivy League schools.  I made the choice to matriculate at Hampton University.  I have been pleased with that choice through all these years.

I get the kind of pride from my undergraduate institution that many have... deeply wired in my psyche with warm nostalgic remembrances. So, it is with that pride, that I was happy to see this spread come through my emails today:  US Airways is doing a multiple-page spread on HBCUs. Begin on Page 48.

I hope you enjoy it.


Judge Profits from Jail Sentences

The School-to-Prison Pipeline is real.  Education policy spaces are full of statistics, anecdotes, narratives, and campaigns to inform and correct for what happens to many, many students and youth, particularly our black and brown babies.

Well, here is a REAL account (so it seems) of a JUDGE that has allegedly been sentencing adolescents and teenagers to JAIL and PROFITING FROM IT.

It's sickening.  Deeply sickening.

Judge to serve 28 years after making $2 million for sending black children to jail

2:15 PM EDT
"Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, 63, serves as an example of why the private prison industry can do more harm than good. Ciavarella worked alongside owners of private juvenile facilities to ensure that the prison remained occupied. The more prisoners equated to more profits for the owners of the prison"

(Read more directly from the article.) 


August Trial Date for (first of many) APS Cheating Scandal Legal Proceedings

A judge has set a trial date for this August 2013 for the state to present its case against a defendant-former executive.  These charges are separate from the conspiracy case that envelopes most of the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal legal proceedings that are certain to come later.  As reported, this trial is for actions of intimidating witnesses.

Watch for yourself (courtesy of local news affiliate WSB):


Affirmative Action still not "decided"

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court released its Opinion of the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin et al. case, also known as our time's Affirmative Action case.

For the non-lawyers, my reading is that the Supreme Court held that a university gets deference in deciding and determining its diversity mission...but University does not get deference in deciding how to go about achieving diversity. Judicial review (strict scrutiny) is required. The case now goes back to lower courts to review whether the university went about achieving their mission in a "narrowly-tailored" (as race-neutral as possible) way.

So, the Court did not do much "deciding" today on the merits on the case (which means they did not get into whether "diversity" is actually a compelling interest, except Justice Thomas who long ago decided his stance that no use of race is acceptable to him) but rather did some clarifying on what the judicial standard is for college admissions cases. The initial Plaintiff, Fisher, did not ask the Court to decide whether past cases on college admissions (Grutter, especially) needed overturning -- a point which Scalia writes separately to justify as his reason for joining the Court's decision on this case. 

I did find some of the Court's point particularly interesting.  First, the Court actually said that universities are not required to exhaust all the race-neutral means of admissions processes that they can think of.  Instead, the Court said that universities are required to have serious, good faith consideration of race-neutral means of admissions and then justify why those alternative admissions process would not work.  570 U.S. ___ at 10 (2013).  Further, the Court reemphasized that the university's decision must be a workable decision, and tipped its hat that an administratively viable solution might be a consideration in the narrowly-tailored analysis that will follow once the lower courts sort out the judicial review.  570 U.S. ___ at 11 (2013).  Finally, the Court also restated that the judicial standard of strict scrutiny not be "fatal in fact"--which means that it cannot be the case that each time a court reviews a program by which the state has taken action or made some type of determination, a court later strikes it down and says that it was not good enough to muster the constitutional protections of the 14th Amendment.  In fairness, the Court also stated that the strict scrutiny analysis cannot also be "feeble" such that state action gets deference or an easy pass in its process.  570 U.S. ___ at 13 (2013).  

For me, I'm kinda happy that the deciding did not come today (dunno if my heart could take it), but in line with many of my colleagues' sentiments, I don't know whether the odds are going to be better years from now... And, I certainly would have loved to hear Justice Ginsburg on the merits of this case another, wonderful time.

As always, I'm providing the actual Opinion:

INDICTMENTS! [No April Fool]

The floodgates have opened and, to my surprise (since I had been reporting that no one else seemed interested any longer and that no charges had been brought as of last week) there have been several administrators, school leaders, and teachers INDICTED for their roles in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

From the headlines are the specific charges.  Here is more about what happens after the indictment.
In what has been described as one of the largest cheating scandals to hit the nation's public education system, 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators and administrators were indicted Friday on charges of racketeering and corruption.
The indictment is the bookend to a story that was once touted as a model for the nation's school districts after the district's test scores dramatically improved in some of its toughest urban schools.
Among those indicted by a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury was Beverly Hall, the former schools superintendent who gained national recognition in 2009 for turning around Atlanta's school system.
Local Channel 2 news (WSB):

More after the break...


Former Georgia Superintendent of Schools Got Out of Prison Last Week

Ms. Linda Schrenko was released from federal prison on March 6, 2013 after serving time for embezzling federal education funds.  She was convicted in 2006, according to public sources.  Supposedly, she spent "half the diverted funds . . . [on her] 2002 campaign for governor, plus $9,300 more for a facelift."

She'll spend the balance of her 5-or-so months in home confinement, pay $414,888 in restitution, and spend three years in a federal probation program.

Crazy right?


DeKalb County Schools (Atlanta) -- Over 400 Applicants down to about One Dozen

When the State School Board decided that six members of the DeKalb County School Board (Atlanta, Ga) would lose their seats due to mismanagement, over 400 applications were received to fill those positions.  I wrote about it here and here.

News just in today?  A special committee tasked to recommend candidates to fill those seats should widdle that list down by the end of the day to about one dozen, or 2 for each seat, to be presented to the Governor.  Here's the article from the local WSBtv affiliate.


DeKalb County School Board Members OUT -- Governor Removes 'Em

Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia removed members of the DeKalb County School Board last week.  The news went national: Huffington Post.  I wrote about my thoughts in several previous posts: Another Atlanta district is on suspension -- UGH!

My thoughts haven't much changed-- it's an embarrassment.

According to Georgia news, Georgia governors have done this often.
The state's last three governors—Roy Barnes, Sonny Perdue and now Deal—have suspended or removed from office members of local boards of education in Spalding, Clayton, Warren and Miller counties when those districts' accreditation was threatened, in part, by dysfunctional behavior on the part of their boards. -- The Daily Report.

 Further, supposedly more than 400 people have applied to fill the school board vacancies. 


Case of First Impression: Georgia Supreme Court rules that 12-year cannot appeal his placement decision -- UPDATED

The case is In the Interest of W.L.H., No. S12G1049 (Mar. 4, 2013) in the Ga. Supreme Court.  The article on which I am relying can be found on The Daily Report, "Ga. high court: Children can't contest rulings on their care."

On the facts, a young man had been cared for by his cousin from the time that he was 17-months old until he was 12-years-old.  His father is deceased and his mother not in the picture.  He stayed with his cousin by authority of a placement from the state of Georgia.  However, after accusations of abuse on the young man surfaced and there was evidence that he had been struck by the cousin, a Georgia court appointed a legal guardian for the minor.  Later, the court made a legal determination that the minor was experiencing deprivation in his home.  The court ordered that the young man be removed from the cousin's care-- first to foster care and then to a group home.

The young man, armed with an attorney, appealed the court's decision, and then appealed the decision of the Georgia Court of Appeals.  When the case reached the Supreme Court, the question was whether the judges would grant the young man "standing" to actually be heard on his case.  Standing is a legal burden that must be overcome before one can bring a case or controversy to court.  Basically, if one is not appropriately situated in his relationship to the facts and harms of the case, a court will not allow that person to bring the matter to the court's attention.  (Of course, standing is much more complicated, but that's the idea).


Out-of-School Time Opportunity: IKEA is having a Bring a Friend Day

If it takes a village to raise a child (including corporate "villagers"), and out-of-school-time is supposed to be productive, then here's a family outing that might be worth your time.

On March 9th IKEA is hosting a day of "Bring friends to a local IKEA store."  there is supposed to be some special perks & rewards.

Here's the link to the coupons:

Here's information about the event:


When you got prosecutors spewing prejudices...

A Texas prosecutor stood before a jury and asked them to make logical connections based on prejudices of what African-Americans and Hispanic people would do with a bag of money.

Have no idea where I was when this story first broke, but I'm reading about it now and it sickens me on sooo many levels.  Usually, I just list the link and ask readers to explore, but because of the gross miscarriage of power that has been entrusted in a prosecutor (presumably a representative of the people to seek justice), here's the text of the story.

I would make my own comments, but Justice Sotomayor has made the points that I feel in a way that is much more thoughtful that I would probably put together.  I've highlighted her comments in purple.

More after the break...


Contest for High School Students -- Law Day Art Contest

Law Day Art Contest for U.S. Students Grades 9 through 12
Group and individual entries welcome.

2013 Theme
: Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.

: Students should create an art piece that can be represented in two dimensions (including, but not limited to, drawings, paintings, films, photographs, graphic novels, comics etc.) that highlights the theme “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” The submission must comply with the terms of the Law Day Art Contest Rules which may be found on the contest website ( 
Eligibility: All U.S. students grades 9 through 12.

Entry Deadline
: April 1, 2013

Recognition and Awards: Four prizes will be awarded.  Runners-up for both the individual and team categories will receive prizes with a value not to exceed $250 and winners for both the individual and team categories will receive prizes with a value not to exceed $750 in addition to a party hosted by the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division in the winners’ hometowns. 

For a flyer, see here: Law Day Art Contest Flyer

For questions, contact:
Public Service Team Lead, Leslie Need or ABA YLD Office Administrator, Tara Blasingame at


APS "Top-Lawyer" moves to Michigan

Reporting of the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal has mostly subsided.  I am probably in the minority of people with long memories on this and a desire to still know what's going on.

That said, today's reporting in the AJC (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) speaks of APS's "Top-Lawyer" ("top" being the woman-in-charge) moving to Michigan to take up a similar post.

And, part of the first reporting (see paragraph #2) includes her paycut -- from Atlanta Public Schools salary of $211,000 to Grand Rapids Public Schools salary of $115,000.  I'm not particularly sure why this being reported first struck me.  But it did.

The article goes on to report "She was Hall’s chief of staff for about 10 years before Davis appointed her to the interim general counsel position when he took over in July 2011."  Moreover, Superintendent Davis "barred" her from being involved in the cheating scandal stuff once he came on.

And, as I just indicated at the onset -- there have been no indictments.  None.  

"No one has been indicted, and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has declined to comment on the investigation."


StudentsFirst grades States: Georgia and Massachusetts get D+

Did you ever think you'd see the day when the shining beacon on a hill, Massachusetts, would get a state education ranking equal to that of Georgia???  I didn't.

Well, this is what StudentsFirst is proclaiming with its new State Policy Report Card.  If I list out all the states in which I've gone to school, worked, or otherwise have a remarkable connection to, here's what I find:
  • Georgia, D+
  • Massachusetts, D+
  • Virginia, D-
  • Mississippi, D
  • Michigan, C-
  • Florida, B-
  • District of Columbia, C+
More after the break...


Member of the Tea Party wave now House Chair of K-12 Education subcommittee

In 2010, the Tea Party ushered in a number of Representative to the U.S. House.  One of them was Mr. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.).  Now, I must admit, I need to begin my homework on this man.  So far, I've just done preliminary searches and uncovered what Education Week has to say about him (like that he wanted to reduce the number of federal employees in the U.S. Department of Education) and what he says about himself (like being the former secretary of state for Indiana and working as a pro-business, health care consultant).

What I care about is that the 113 Congress House Education and Workforce Committee has appointed him subcommittee chair for K-12 matters, named the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.  And from just this one snippet he supplied:

“As a parent of two young boys myself, I know firsthand how important our education system is. I look forward to working with Chairman Kline, ranking member Miller and my other fellow members of the committee to advance key reforms in the next Congress”  -- Mr. Rokita.

I'm getting a headache. 

More after the break...