Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Abyss, Individual Student Achievement, and the Packer Sweep

Effective responses to moments of crisis rely upon a laser-like focus on an Objective.  A commitment to achieving that Objective requires resolve.

Hal Holbrook Wall Street

Wall Street,  Oliver Stone’s homage to the 1980’s excess, is best remembered for Gordon Gecko’s (Michael Douglas) infamous “greed is good” speech.  One of my favorite scenes, however, is when Lou (Hal Holbrook) counsels the disgraced Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) that when “man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.”

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Filed under GPPS Academics, GPPS Budget Decisions, State of Michigan Finances

Looking Ahead: August 24th Board Meeting Topics

Most significant topics include Approval of Millage Renewal Language and Sinking Fund Renewal Language, Superintendent Goals for 2009-10, and Oath of Office for Karl Kratz, newly appointed trustee.

The School Board has three meetings scheduled for tomorrow night.  All are to be held at Grosse Pointe South High School. The first meeting is a closed session that starts at 6pm.  The administration is engaged in renegotiations with the Grosse Pointe Education Association (GPEA)  and these updates are schedule from time to time to update the Board on the progress of those discussions.  It may surprise some people to know the Board members do not engage directly in these negotiations.  However the GPEA is represented by teachers and by other representatives of the Michigan Education Association (MEA).  This meeting is to conclude at 6:45.

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Filed under Current Events, Meeting or Agenda Announcement

Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools, and Grapes

The Detroit Public School System is the least envied school district in the United States, but can other districts actually learn a thing or two from their situation?

Robert Bobb The story of the Detroit Public School System is a sad one no matter where you live or your political persuasion.  DPS’ dysfunction has directly impacted literally tens of thousand of the city’s children over the years.  I saw the extremes, having taught at both Cass Tech (one of the best) and Southeastern (hopefully the worst).  As I left Southeastern after feeling physically unsafe at the school, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that some great kids were simply doomed.  It was an unbelievable experience – one I will never forget. Continue reading

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Filed under Current Events

Lansing: Local School Districts’ Largest Funding Source

School funding flows downhill – and slowly – from Lansing.  To understand local district budget issues, we must first understand their largest source of revenue – the state budget.

LansingAmong the greatest misconceptions about public school budgets is that local property taxes provide for the majority of funding.  This is understandable because that was indeed the case – before 1994’s  Proposal A.   Before Proposal A, a typical district might count on the state for 20% of its revenue.  Today, for the majority of districts in Michigan, the state provides about 80% of the operating revenues. Proposal A was a radical change that brought property tax relief, but created great dependency for the local school district on Lansing’s financial health.   Given its current condition, this is obviously unwelcome news.

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Filed under State of Michigan Finances

Role of the Board: The Micromanage v. Rubberstamp Debate

Understanding the decisions the Board makes requires an understanding of what the Board is supposed to do and how it executes its responsibilities.

rubberstampIt never ceases to amaze me how often people assume that being on the Board of Education is my actual job.  While sometimes it feels like my job, serving on the Board is an elected, but volunteer position.  But this misunderstanding is typical of a larger issue.  How well can the Board be understood if so many people think we actually work for the district?  Or that we are full time politicians?  The issue is that taxpayers, parents, homeowners, neighbors don’t think of Board members as people just like them.

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Filed under GPPS Board of Education, GPPS Policy

Welcome to My Blog about GP Public Schools

My goals for this blog site are to share information, create a direct line of communication with the community, help people better understand how the Board works – the why, when, and how of decisions.

Digital media content is being generated at a dizzying pace, yet I have decided to start a blog to share my views on matters relating to education in Grosse Pointe.  Similar to my entry to public service as a trustee on the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education, I do not undertake the task lightly.  The public appetite for information on matters of local public education and governance is healthy, but insatiable. Continue reading

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Filed under General Information