Teacher's Desk: Conracks of Colo.

Maybe I need to eat my words, or at least nibble them, when the Denver Post now informs us the DPS board and superintendent support new charter school proposals, as well as, innovative schools. Although I am a strong supporter of innovation, the funny thing with innovation schools is that the district still pays for their facilities; charter schools pay for their own facilities. Innovation schools continue to pay teachers at the current pay schedule. Since charter schools pay for their own facilities, they usually cannot afford the same pay as district schools for their educators. Personally, I’m willing to take a $10,000 a year “cut” (it’s not really a cut unless I received it) by working at a school that treats me with respect and allows me to give input to improve student success. I deal with a reasonable administration and board and not a layer of bureaucracy in between. I like that. I have been checking out a lot of other education blogs lately and will continue to do so as I discover them. Ed is Watching is an Independent Institute blog informing readers of federal and state legislation involving education. Jay P. Greene’s blog is truly eclectic on many education issues. Dr. Greene is the chairman of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and President of the Manhattan Institute. David Saba and colleagues write for ABCTE. This blog informs on alternative teacher licensure. David has an on-line program for those who choose teaching as a career after receiving a baccalaureate degree without education classes. Many times it is a mid-life change for professionals in many different fields. I ran on a platform supporting alternative licensure as a candidate for the State Board of Education back in 1990 when Colorado did not have any alternatives to teacher licensure. I took advantage of alternative licensure much later on when Colorado allowed for alternative licensure. I am a graduate of such a program. I truly support this on-line program as it could bring opportunities for teaching careers in rural Colorado and provides the opportunity to develop really great teachers!!

As I finish coding the backs of CSAP booklets (a truly tedious chore), I am looking forward to my annual trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. My husband plays golf with his sister and we dine on awesome seafood---especially oysters! Last year, I took a tour to Daufuskie Island, a twenty-minute ferry ride away. Daufuskie is the island portrayed by author, Pat Conroy’s (Prince of Tides) book, The Water is Wide. There was a movie back in the 1980s about this story, I believe, starring Jon Voight called “Conrack.” It told the story of a 1960s idealist, Conroy, teaching isolated “Gullah” students about the world, society, life skills, and academics including music. The young teachers I work with are all “Conracks!” They don’t know that there is a “NO.” They only see “what if?” I like that.

I am lucky that many of us, including myself, value education. Accidentally, I instilled that in my youngest son. My 22-year-old son graduating from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs this May with a B. S. in Engineering has been accepted to Virginia Tech’s graduate program in doctoral studies. That is very, very uncommon to go straight into a doctoral program and he is slated to be a teaching assistant.

I hope they give him a classroom. As a 14-year-old, he was an amazing math tutor. I would really like to start a program that has the Brendans of the country go into the middle schools and speak to students about loving mathematics and what mathematics and science can do for them.

What do you think? Is this something we can develop across the country? Let me know. Kathleen Kullback is a licensed special educator at an alternative high school charter with an M.A. in educational leadership and is a former candidate to the State Board of Education.