Friday, March 18, 2011

Saving NC Governor's School, Round Two

NC Governor's School is a program for the best and brightest to be challenged during a six week summer institute of sorts. It's a program near and dear to my heart since I spent the summer of 1985 being challenged, learning new ways to think, and building friendships with other academic teens.

In April of 2009, I blogged about the impending budget cuts to this incredible state program that uplifts and meets the needs of our highly academic students. I find myself two years later encouraging folks to stand strong and to contact their legislators.

This year's state education budget calls for ELIMINATION of this program.

Here's a note to share from the GS Alumni President:

Dear GS Alumni,

2011 may go down in infamy as the year that North Carolina abandoned all pretense of promoting gifted education. According to sources within the Legislature, the proposed budget from our new majority in the General Assembly includes reducing the allocation for Governor's School to zero.

Last week, I received a message from one of our alumni containing a link to a document entitled "Education Budget Reduction Options - Public Schools" that lists the changes that are being proposed in the Department of Public Instruction's budget for 2011-2012. Here is the link:

On page 8 of this document, line item 34, you will see that the proposed option for Governor's School is to reduce its budget by 100%.

Today, I received a message from Joe Milner, past Director of GSE and husband of current GSW Director Lucy Milner. He went to the Legislature today and spoke to three Senators. He did not hear any encouraging news. The two majority Senators seemed supportive of the idea of cutting GS, and the one minority Senator indicated that there was little that could be done legislatively to prevent this cut.

I realize that our state is in the middle of a budget crisis and that cuts have to be made somewhere. But the $850,000 annual GS budget is practically pocket change by comparison to other programs, and the benefits to the students and the state far surpass the cost. The only thing that I know we can do is to make ourselves heard. We need to raise public awareness of the value of Governor's School and make it one of the programs that the citizens of North Carolina believe cannot be abandoned or destroyed.

This is a huge challenge, one that we must meet with everything that we have. I encourage all of you to write your legislators, write the Governor, write your local newspapers, blog - do anything to get the word out. And let's make sure we are heard down on Jones Street.

I will keep you informed as we make plans. If you have any ideas, contact me via FB message or at my home address,

Thank you,
Jim HartGSAA President

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One of My Favorite Blogs, Grocery Store Feet

One of my favorite blogs to follow is "Granny Beads and Grocery Store Feet", formerly "Books, Bytes, and Grocery Store Feet". The blogger is a down-to-earth, no nonsense Southern country boy whose voice and stories resonate with my own tales and the telling of them.

If you don't know what grocery store feet are, you can certainly read the author's explanation of them. I've had my own blissful days of grocery store feet, although mine would probably best be called hardware store feet. I spent many a summer day in PaPa's hardware store with my tender ten-year-old feet bare on those dirty hardwood floors. That makes for some pretty nasty bathwater!

I love reading about life in his small rural town, his Mama and Daddy, and his wife, whom he calls Budge. The stories more often than not resemble my own childhood and some of my experiences growing up in a small town where everybody knows your name, your family, and your business.

Oh, and if you don't know what Granny beads are that's the ring of dirt you get around your neck from playing long and hard outside, digging in the dirt, playing in your sandbox, tromping through the woods. My mama never used this term with me, but she has been known to "dig potatoes" under my neck in the bathtub after a hard day's play. Funny what sticks with you.

I like reading this blog because ultimately it inspires me to write more.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Professional Renewal at a Instructional Technology Conference

I'm spending the next two days at the NCTIES conference, hearing from the gurus in instructional technology and seeing the latest gadgets and products to engage students.

I've spent the three concurrent session spots so far listening to the same presenter, Patrick Crispen. Before the conference, I had never heard of him, knew nothing about him. But after spending three hours with him - two this morning and one right this very minute - I've had some new insights and my own personal revelations about technologies.

Here are my random notes and thoughts about what I've heard so far:

  • Cloud computing - "K12 is broke"; therefore, we need to find cost-saving technologies to assist with instruction. But while using open source, web-based applications, there are still issues: security, safety, storage.
  • Mobile is big! With open source, web-based applications, you don't need a browser, or at least you are not tied to Internet Exploiter.
  • Considerations? Where is my stuff? Is it private? Do I still own my stuff?
  • Technology is the delivery; the content and teaching is what really matters.
  • Choose the best media that supports cognitive processes needed to perform the tasks at hand.
  • We need declarative knowledge before procedural knowledge.

Okay, so those are random notes and thoughts. But they have me thinking about my own personal tech savviness, my own professional growth, my own teaching and students and teachers, and what the future classroom and library media center looks like, will look like, should look like.