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NCLB Outrages

Keep education stimulus money in state

In addition to being Fresno County Superintendent, Larry is a minister, motivational speaker, singer, and songwriter. His favorite past-times include: Family, Church, Golf, Music, and YoYos. Larry is affectionately referred to as Reverend Superintendent by his colleagues. Larry's wife is the Executive Director of SALTFresno, a Christ-centered, faith-based non-profit agency which provides mentoring services to students, teachers, and administrators) and READFresno,a non-profit providing literacy skills. One of their programs is Jail Outreach, where Volunteers read with children while they wait to visit their incarcerated loved one. Children choose a book and after they read it, they get to take the book home with them.
--from official biography and the READFresno website.

The leader of Fresno schools, who wears his Christian values on his sleeve. declares California needs to get the Race to the Top Money no matter what.

And then in the next paragraph he talks about what is "morally reprehensible."

by Larry L. Powell

Whether you agree with President Obama's program for education or not, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is right. The argument is no longer about whether or not to connect student and teacher performance. It is about how to do it in a way that qualifies the state for the Race to the Top money ($4.35 billion) and recognizes the hard work of thousands of teachers.

We must accomplish both and we can! It would be morally reprehensible if the education coalition in the state does not come together to work with the governor and the Legislature to craft such a policy.

While waiting for the California economy to turn around, it would be nice to share in the Race to the Top funds rather than to languish in an attitude of "woulda, coulda, shoulda" and trying to explain to California citizens why none of the $4.35 billion was spent in our state.

Good teachers and administrators do not fear accountability. It is time for individual learning plans for every student in California.

We can create a system that fairly measures each student's progress and each teacher's contribution to that progress. That is not too much to expect from those of us in education who work with our state's most precious resource -- our children.

We cannot allow the tired old arguments to keep us from reform. Yes, our children come from diverse populations and have great disparity in educational starting points. Build that fact into the accountability and evaluation equation.

I am also supportive of innovative, effective public charter schools and the education community must help eliminate roadblocks for the good ones and effectively monitor and remove the unsuccessful ones. Competition that comes from choice must become an accepted part of the educational landscape.

Statewide open enrollment for those students in the lowest 5% of schools in California is an achievable and a laudable goal and will serve to encourage schools across the state to become better to stay out of the 5%.

We must identify and retain our best teachers. Increased pay for effectiveness is certainly one of several measures that should be implemented.

Good teachers regularly tell me that they use test scores now to evaluate their own performance. They anxiously wait for the results each year and they hold themselves accountable when the results are not what they wanted. Good teachers seek solid professional development and welcome coaching and mentoring.

Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the world, and even he has a coach. We need to stop viewing a coach or mentor as a negative and start viewing them as indispensable to the development of highly qualified teachers and administrators.

I know many great teachers in the classroom who could share their stories of success with colleagues and make an amazing difference in performance in the classroom.

Contrary to what some have said, teaching is a calling and not just a job! The good news is that we have many teachers in school districts throughout the county who get it. They are dedicated, hardworking, and expect a great deal from themselves as well as their students.

We are beginning to see the kind of progress that will produce capable, effective young people for communities throughout the county.

Our challenge is not just a fiscal one. We must make sure that administrators are well trained and able to provide the kind of support that teachers need in order to be successful. The challenge is not just to evaluate teacher performance but to successfully identify the factors that make a great teacher great and encourage the proliferation of those factors.

We are creative enough to be able to come up with a plan that is fool-proof and truly honors what good teachers do every day.

Now is the time to make these changes happen. No more excuses. No more delays. Between now and Oct. 5 is plenty of time for statewide input.

We need to return California education to the preeminent position it once held. Qualifying California for Race to the Top funds is a step in the right direction.

— Larry L. Powell
Fresno Bee


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