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Over the summer of 2010 I began to ask myself, "what do you do if two of our Rights, as citizens of these United States, are diametrically opposed?" I came to the only viable conclusion: you compromise. Our great Nation works when there is compromise.

Right now most of you will agree with me that our political system is broken. What we currently have is: the politics of destruction; special interest groups who have the power and money to dictate policy; politicians who must spend their time raising money for the next election instead of doing the People's business; and, there are those who are so concerned about getting re-elected they cede their responsibilities to the citizenry to those groups making the loudest noises and the greatest threats.

The attacks that we were inundated with during the this election cycle belittled the democratic process. Shame on everyone involved. And, shame on the political obstructionists who are more interested in gaining and maintaining power than doing the people’s business. During these very difficult times all of us should be supporting our President. The challenge for all of us is, how do we improve upon this imperfect union that we call the United States of America? One thing I know for is not by dividing us.

I can remember when I was sixteen years old there was a day when my father called out to me, "Jackie, come quickly. You have to hear this. It's Winston Churchill. Come listen." I raced to the radio and for the first time heard a recording of Churchill's speech to a Nation standing alone against the greatest evil the world has ever known: "...we shall defend our island no matter what the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; and we shall not surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until in God's good time, the New World, with all it's power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of The Old."

That day my hero was born. Where are our heroes today? jkt

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who's Running Our Schools?

The Gahanna News reported that teachers' association concerns kept Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools out of the running for Race to the Top federal funds. School Superintendent Mark White said, "the federal dollars had a few strings attached, including a federal teacher evaluation process."

At the same time, voters in the Gahanna Jefferson public school district are being asked to pass Issue 5, a school operating levy, in November. The issue, if approved by voters, will generate about $10 million per year for the school district and will cost homeowners an additional $208.25 per year in property taxes per $100,000 in home value. (White) said Issue 5 is necessary to fund the day-to-day operations in the district, which includes textbooks, utilities and teacher salaries."

The Los Angeles Times recently used school district test data to rank elementary school teachers based upon how much their students improved from year to year on standardized reading and math tests. The data, which school districts across the nation possess on their own students, had never been analyzed. How can that be?  What it found was that "the best teachers often taught just down the hall from the worst, and those highly effective teachers consistently raised test scores no matter who their students were".

As USA Today put it, "bad teachers don't get replaced, great teachers don't get rewarded and students' lives are blunted." Reform doesn't come easy. Michelle Rhee was hired as Washington DC's school chancellor. She was brought in to reform a failing school system. One of the reforms she implemented was teacher evaluations that combined value-added with sophisticated observations. Her firing this summer of 76 teachers has so angered the union that it is now working to oust the mayor who hired her.

"We cannot cede our responsibility to our children to appease those groups making the loudest noises and the greatest threats. Nothing will be right in this country until we put our children first." -jkt-

The D.C. schools have been awarded $75 million in Race to the Top grants. In House District 20, kudos to Bexley, Columbus and Whitehall for going after and receiving Race to the Top dollars.