Willful Ignorance Is Not A Desired Trait For Elected Officials

Last week, by majority vote, PWC School Board chose to send a letter to Governor McAuliffe asking him to allow Virginia to remain independent from the Common Core State Standards initiative.  The vote was close, with 4 in favor of sending the letter (Trenum, Johns, Satterwhite, and Otaigbe) 3 against sending the letter (Bell, Jessie, and Williams), and one abstaining from voting (Covington).  Several school board members stated that they didn’t know enough about the Common Core to vote either way.  (Bell, Williams, and Covington).

I have to admit that I was more than a little surprised that individuals elected to the school board for our county wouldn’t know much about the Common Core. The Common Core first burst onto the US stage in 2009 and have been one of the biggest issues in public education since then, so I found their lack of knowledge more than a little concerning.

I believe elected officials have a responsibility to research issues before them, rather than rely solely on reports from staff.  School board members aren’t elected to blindly nod their heads at everything staff says or suggests.  Staff will present whatever information supports their viewpoint.  I expect elected officials to view staff’s assertions with a degree of professional skepticism and to do their own research, particularly if the issue before them is controversial.  If they’re unwilling or unable to do that, then I question why they’re serving.

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Are Specialty Programs Worth the Cost?

PWCS offers something other school divisions don’t – choice.

In PWCS, high school students can choose a specialty that they might be interested in and can transfer to a school that offers it, assuming the school is accepting transfers. We have specialty programs in IT, Bio-tech, Fine and Performing Arts, Engineering, Culinary Arts, and others.   PWCS also offers AP, IB, and Cambridge courses.  PWCS provides transportation for students transferring into specialty programs from other schools.

Is the value of the speciality programs worth the cost of programs, transportation, and all the weird enrollment numbers?

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Lowest Test Scores in the Area

At the last school board meeting Harry Wiggins, Chairman of the PWC Democratic Committee, addressed the board.  He stated that PWCS had the lowest test scores in the area.  Dr. Otiagbe appeared taken aback by that  and asked the Superintendent to address it.  The Superintendent responded that PWCS consistently exceeded state averages but didn’t elaborate further as it was quite late.

Both are mostly correct.

Confusing, isn’t it?  I’ll try to break it down a bit.

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Everything is Awesome…

Everything is cool when you’re part of a team.

Everything is awesome,

When you’re living the dream! 

I just saw the Lego movie with my children, and that song was an integral part of the movie.  As a Mom with two children, I spend a lot of time at movies like this and, as so often happens in these types of movies, my mind wanders a bit.

See, if you listen to the reports about Prince William County, everything here is Awesome.  We have the lowest taxes in the area and are one of the wealthiest counties in the nation!

Everything is Awesome and PWC, we are Living the Dream!

Except where we aren’t.  Our taxes may be among the lowest in the region, but our tax rate is among the highest.  Our household income may be among the highest in the nation, but it’s one of the lowest in the region.

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Staff’s Presentation on the Common Core

At the Feb 5, 2014 school board meeting, staff presented what was supposed to be an overview of the Common Core State Standards, which you can find here.  The presentation was, in my opinion, incomplete.

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School Board Report for February 5, 2014

School Board Report for February 4, 2014
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Party All Night Long

The agenda for the Feb.5, 2014 School Board meeting is available, and it will be a long one.  Because the last meeting was cancelled due to poor weather, the meeting will cover all of the topics from the January 22, 1014 agenda and all of the topics from the Feb 5, 2014 agenda.  Double the fun!!

The following items will be discussed and or authorized: Read the rest of this entry »

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