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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Logo 2

To learn more about ROAR, a new grassroots movement dedicated to changing SC's outdated tax code, simply click the link below!

"Our State Ain't Broke: Our System Is!"
ROAR's message is spreading: But we still need YOUR voice!

Politicians, the media, and South Carolinians like YOU are taking action and building momentum for the comprehensive tax reform our state so desperately needs. As you'll read below, Republican State Senator Tom Davis realizes that special interest exemptions have moved our state away from the principles of the free market. By exempting more ($2.7 billion) in sales tax than we collect ($2.5 billion), SC Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian said last week that we've made "the hole... bigger than the doughnut!"

Our state CAN lower tax rates, create jobs, build a friendlier business environment, and provide core services! But until your voice joins the chorus - until the ROAR becomes deafening! - comprehensive tax reform will remain a good talking point and not a reality. 

Take heart from the momentum we are building... 
Now it's YOUR turn to ROAR: Here's how!
  1. Spread our message to your local community: write a letter to the editor of your LOCAL paper. Linda Bianchone did!  For more ideas, go to to - Contact us if you're published & we'll put it in our next newsletter!
  2. Spread our message to your social network: forward this email to your friends, join our  mailing list, visit, like our facebook page, & follow us on twitter

The momentum IS building. But we still need your voice, now more than ever!
Keep 'em honest! Keep ROARing!
Michael W. Fanning, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 2043
Chester, South Carolina 29706

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interesting Education Links

Here are three sites you might find of interest:

Hope you find something of interest.

Monday, August 29, 2011

ShareHouse To Open in September

The newest Rock Hill Schools partnership is scheduled to open in September, The ShareHouse Supply Zone. This initiative (click here for details) will be a way to coordinate donated teacher supplies and is in need for volunteers. You can also go to the site's facebook page by clicking here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Comments From August Rock Hill Schools Business Meeting

The August Rock Hill School Board meeting was unusually long, with a lot of discussion and items to vote on.

The School Board gave approval to a board initiated community communication outreach.  This is something the board has been discussing for years. With 13 states moving to voucher systems, and will all but one of York County's house members voting to support vouchers, the board felt it was time to start something. Watch the video below:

Click here for a link to the video (youtube). 
Click here for a link to the web site and here to take the on line survey.

The board approved a revised insurance policy for students (Policy JLA) which was driven by the reduction in insurance previously paid for out of the budget. You can see what was approved by the board by clicking here.

The board approved a letter to be sent to the State School Board Association and a resolution against the issue of conducting partisan school board elections. Both  can be seen by clicking here .  For some time, the board has felt frustrated over the location of state school board meetings (most are on the coast) and the degree of information concerning legislative issues.  We don't feel it is appropriate to attend meetings at the same time budget cut backs are affecting classrooms. If the meetings were held in Columbia, it would be possible to drive and save expenses. Our board has stopped attending the meetings. Ann Reid, who is a member of the board, does go but pays her own expenses. I'll have more comments about the partisan elections later, but I'll leave it to say those pushing the hardest for partisan elections are the same ones we can't get to meetings to discuss school issues.

The board approved a School Choice recommendation. Click here to see what the administration's recommendation was. There was a good bit of discussion about the changes to Saluda Trail Middle School. We (the board) just designated it a school of choice for this year and the proposal is to change it again for next year (new program and magnet instead of choice). One board member expressed concern this would be confusing and unfair to parents who are sending their children this year. I agreed, but ultimately supported the recommendation when the administration said they would involve parents and would not make the change if the parents were not on board. The school would change from an IB middle years program to a STEM school. The administration believes they will be able to secure a large grant to make this conversion. This will be the first of many discussions about school choice this year. Points to remember; Choice is a school open to out of zone students who must provide their own transportatin; Magnet is a school where there is an objective to change the composition of the schools population and transportation will be provided.

The board approved a $5 million dollar, 4 year bond to pay for technology and capital projects without having to raise the tax milage. The board also approved the use of $1.4 million dollars to make improvements to Lesslie Elementary school and Sunset Park Elementary School. Click here to see the list of projects. I'll comment on the areas which I've had the most discussion:
  • Why spend $288,000 on football stadium lights? How many computers would that buy? A good question. My answer: If we are going to field football teams, we must maintain facilities comparable to the schools we play against. District Three hosts two of our schools and like a lot of facilities, the lights don't last forever. The lighting level currently is about half the standard for high school football fields. However, another board member questioned going to a higher standard at a cost of $50,000 additional dollars. I agreed, but for different reasons. My lighting consultant recommended a lighting level of 70 as his recommended minimum (which is what the administration was recommending) - my question really applied to their standards and justification due to the fact they were not interested in going to the new recommended standards for the other sports (baseball, soccer, softball, tennis, track). Don't get me wrong, we will be at the standards for high school when those sports start up, just not at the lighting levels comparable to what we will be installing on District Three Stadium or the level most small colleges currently require.
  • Why spend money at Lesslie and Sunset Park Elementary's? Improved traffic flow will improve safety and make pick-up and drop-offs go smoother. Building usability and security will be improved while being more public friendly. You have to upgrade to keep the investment in you facilities.
  • Why aren't we buying more computers and going to one-to-one computing? Why are we spending money on toys such as IPads? The simple answers are; one-to-one computing is not a priority of the district and we believe IPads will help with student engagement (one of the administration's focus areas).  A board member asked during the work session discussion of this topic, "are we behind other schools in technology?" and was given the answer "Yes". The follow-up question was, "Are we falling behind educationally because of this?" My answer was no, not yet. Those of you who have followed my post's know about my disappointment with technology. However, since that post, I've learned a lot about technology implementation. I've talked with Superintendents (or CEO's) of schools with one-to-one computers (one to one means every student has a laptop and all materials and assessments are online) and/or project based schooling and realize if their gains can be duplicated, we will be far behind. I've also learned that 99% of school's across the country have implemented technology without an effective plan (see Project Red) and we need to have a new plan (we have one but several elements are missing) soon. We also need to update our policies for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classes. And as for the IPads? Well, this has been the summer of IPad conferences. The devices are catching on and in many cases, early years and special needs classes, are superior. However, they are still limited compared with functions a laptop provides and would not be adequate for preparing students for life after high school (at least not yet). An interesting note, board member Mildred Douglas teaches in a school with one-to-one computing.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How Did Schools Meet The Budget Challenge?

The Miller-McCune web site has some interesting information on how school districts met the recent budget challenge.

Click here for an info graphic of how schools systems met the budget challenges.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Future of Education?

From the Education Stormfront blog site: This post is a wonderful discussion on the future of education. You should click here to see all the comments and videos. There are three clips from a 1988 Bill Moyers interview  of Isaac Asimov (section 2 is below).

Mr. Asimov has some very interesting observations about the future of education. Remember these comments were made before the internet and cell phones. A quote:  “Once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries where anyone can ask any question and be given answers, be given reference materials, be something you’re interested in knowing, from an early age, however silly it might seem to someone else… that’s what YOU are interested in, and you can ask, and you can find out, and you can do it in your own home, at your own speed, in your own direction, in your own time… Then, everyone would enjoy learning. Nowadays, what people call learning is forced on you, and everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed in class, and everyone is different.”

Click here for the link to the video

Examples of Leadership

From Cool Cat Teacher blog:
Great leaders  hire people smarter, more innovative, and better than themselves.
Poor leaders want to be the smartest one in the room. They always make sure they are.

Great leaders care about those who work for and with them... their life stories, their hobbies, their interests. They know that personal lives can effect professional careers more often than not and to know an employee and care is the key to unleashing their potential at work.

Poor leaders only care about themselves. They will tell their grand heroic story of their own life ad nauseum.

Great leaders give others credit even when a lot of the credit goes to him or her.

Poor leaders are eager to take credit for everything, even those things that they had little or nothing to do with.

Great leaders have a great staff and tell everyone.

Poor leaders are surrounded by idiots and let everyone know it.

Great leaders focus an organization on the organization's mission. They focus on the customer

Poor leaders focus an organization on pleasing him/ her and become the only customer that matters to the employees.

Great leaders attract other great leaders.

Poor leaders repel great leaders.

Great leaders are watchful.

Poor leaders are verbose.

Great leaders can turn poor leaders into better leaders. They mentor and create other great leaders.

Poor leaders make other poor leaders out of their buddies and cronies whether they are competent or not.

Great leaders work hard and smart and are able to tell which work is the most important. They never mistake urgent work for important work. They know that an open door as much as possible during working hours means that people will communicate with them.

Poor leaders cut corners and make excuses for why they need time away or to close their door. They know that a closed door as much as possible during working hours means that no one will bother them so they close their door.

Great leaders encourage and inspire the best and trust others to do their best. Most often they are made proud by the results. Sometimes, they are let down when someone misuses their freely given trust but believe it is still worth it to trust and give others the joy of service. Dale Carnegie is his friend.

Poor leaders have to manipulate every situation. They strategist every move with their sometimes hidden supporters. Machiavelli is a friend of this person.

Great leaders know that their words of encouragement are like $1000 dollar bills and look for opportunities to give honest praise and spread the wealth. They do not spend their praise for it to return to them, but it multiplies exponentially anyway in good will.

Poor leaders know that their words of anger cause immediate action and "respect" and are like stealing $10 out of someone's wallet. They like the feeling of power and seeing people stand at attention when they are around. They do not know that stealing self-respect is a pathway towards imploding a person's potential.

Great leaders believe that most people want to do a good job and use mistakes as teachable moments. His ability to wisely, discretely handle staff problems earns the loyalty of the flawed humans he leads. His staff is more willing to forgive his inevitable mistakes (when they happen) and are willing to provide valuable feedback to him so he can have a teachable moment as well. The leader's attitude about mistakes is ALWAYS paid back to him in his moment of need.

Poor leaders believe that most people are slackers and want to do as little as possible to draw a pay check that they don't deserve. He thinks the whole organization will fall apart if he is  not there to make sure it runs. He believes that since he is the only person who cares about doing a good job that it is his job to personally inspect, find, and note EVERY mistake he sees - after all, he can only be finding just a small percentage of the mistakes anyway. He is never willing to forgive even the smallest mistakes and makes large publicly-known incidents out of the smallest discretions. He publicly humiliates those who make mistakes. The leader's attitude about mistakes is ALWAYS paid back to him in his moment of need.

Great leaders take criticism, examine it, and examine themselves to determine if there is a grain of truth in the criticism. She knows that most criticism has a grain of truth but there are the rare instances of a mean person (usually poor leaders) who just make stuff up.

Poor leaders never take criticism well and condemn those who give it as being subversive and enemies of the organization. She thinks she IS the organization and so her enemies are enemies of the organization.

Great leaders often have their heyday and a tradition of leadership. But every great leader typically has a horribly dark moment. It is most often when the great leader stands against a poor leader who has taken root somewhere and is doing harm. It is during these times of alienation, loneliness, and enmity when poor leaders and their oft-intimidated followers malign the great leader's love of the organization and the organization's mission. As the poor leaders and their followers circle, machinate, and manipulate, the great leader often questions the meaning of his whole life and if it is for naught. It is at these times the Great Leader must turn to his Maker and his mission and remain consistent with all he believes. He rarely realizes that great leaders like Churchill, Lincoln, and Roosevelt were partially made by their darkest days. Great leaders eventually see the opportunity for rain amidst the dark clouds.

Poor leaders often have their heyday when they are able to take on great leaders. This bright moment brings him to the peak of what he likes: chaos and plotting. It is often when a poor leader is being attacked from his position by a great leader because the great leader has had enough. It is during these times of plotting, people, and malignment against a person with the respect and tradition of others that the poor leader experiences his greatest memories. As the poor leaders and his followers circle, machinate, and manipulate, the poor leader enjoys every moment never realizing that poor leaders are never made by taking down great leaders. Poor leaders lead a trail of destroyed lives and people in their wake: castoffs in their quest to feel important.

Great leaders have great character, mission, and are well grounded in things that are important in life. They are real but they are not always recognized. They are loved but often not by the powerful people. They are great because they make us all greater and we do great things when they are around. Their power is lasting for when they are gone, they leave a legacy of what it means to live a good life.

Poor leaders have little character, no mission but self-promotion and are not grounded in what is important. They are fakes and make sure they are recognized. They are loved by the powerful but often disdained by the average person. They are poor leaders because they make the people around them poorer in spirit, life, and love and we do worse when they are around. Their power is often temporary for when they are gone, the power vacuum is quickly absorbed by other poor leaders ready to jostle into place.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Student Voice

I found a couple of video links from the blog TeachPaperless. You should go to the videos for a student perspective:

 "If I could change education" and"What you want"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The College Class of 2015

Find out what their world has been like by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Students Perspective On Education Techology

Comments from the Cisco Blog:

A Student’s Perspective: We Need More Technology – Faster

My name is Tom Patton, and I am a student at the University of Oregon. 
 I have watched as technology has become more prominent in teaching and learning. In elementary school, I can recall scribbling down long division notes from the overhead projector and taking weekly trips to practice typing in the school’s computer lab ....  During my middle school years, friends and I would write and upload journalistic articles to the school-sponsored website. For three years in high school I took drafting and photography classes. These classes taught me to use AutoCAD and Photoshop programs: utilities that allowed me to design and build model houses and edit, enhance and manipulate digital photographs. These experiences, where I was immersed in technology, were by far the most memorable and engaging aspects of my 14 years in our formal education system.
..... the next five years will bring more change in education delivery than in the last twenty. Soon, there will be no middle ground between technology and education. Ultimately, technology will become education. Students will be able to attend office hours via online software, take video field trips to places thousands of miles away, and re-watch lectures online. .. This shift will bring about an unparalleled rise in student engagement, attendance, collaboration, communications, participation, and outcomes.
“If we teach today’s students as we did yesterday’s, we are robbing them of tomorrow.”John Dewey 
Why does the education system need to evolve? Frankly–students are bored and frustrated with the current pace of technology’s use in the classroom. The education system has changed little to none since the turn of the century, and consequently it is less relevant to the everyday lives of kids. Yet, students are immersed in a world of technology from the time that they wake up in the morning, until the moment that they go to sleep at night.
The only period of time when they are not completely surrounded by technology is when they are sitting in the classroom.
As students and the classroom evolve – hopefully teachers, administrators, school board decision-makers and the community will unite to accelerate the pace of technology in teaching and learning.

Rock Hill School Board Has Long Meeting

Notes from the Monday, August 23 Rock Hill School Board Meeting are below:

The following action items were approved with 7-0 votes:
  • Consent agenda (including; minutes; personnel recommendatins; Impact Church facilities request for the use of Rawlinson Road Middle School; 6 overnight field study requests; approval for Ann Reid to attend a School Board meeting at her own express; Jim Vining's board compensation to be distributed to Early Learning Partnership, Elementary Honors Choir, and High School Math Departments)
  • The appointment of Cassidy Valerino as the new Principal for Northside Elementary School of the Arts
  • The School Board's Community Outreach and Communications Effort 
  • Insurance Policy JLA for second and final reading
  • Facilities request for Elevation Church for the use of Northwestern High School
  • A $2.5 million request for technology purchases
  • A $2.5 million request for capital upgrades and purchases
  • A $1.4 million request for improvements to Lesslie Elementary and Sunset Part Elementary Schools (To be paid from funds left over from previous bonds)
  • A 4 year, $2.5 million dollar bond (to pay for technology and capital upgrades). There will not be a tax increase associated with this.
  • A resolution against the republican parties request to make school board elections partisan.
Action items that did not receive a unanimous vote:
  • The board voted 6-1, with Brown against, to move forward with a plan to make Oakdale Elementary School a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Magnet School and convert Saluda Trail Middle School from a middle years IB Choice School to a Middle School Magnet starting with the 2012-13 school year. Brown's objection was over the district's image of changing Saluda Trail two years in a row and the negative impact this would have on parents who transferred in this year. The administration promised to utilize the Saluda Trail SIC in evaluating both programs and if the parents did not support the move, it would not be made. The district will provide transportation for magnet schools but not for choice. They anticipate being able to acquire grant money for the STEM conversions and do not believe there will be any impact to next years budget. 
  • The board voted 6-0-1 with Reid abstaining, on a letter to the state school boards association expressing displeasure over some of the association's current practices. Reid abstained because she is a member of the board but supports the will of the board.
The board recognized; new administrators; Cindy Elder as the SC Volleyball Coach of the Year; Jennifer Molnar as a State Economics Winner; Kent Murphy as a State Economics Poster Contest Winner and; Kelly Hollingsworth as the new District Teacher of The Year.

The board heard reports on; the opening of schools; AYP results and; district performance measures.

There was way too much on the agenda for the meeting, which adjourned shortly before 11 pm. I'll have follow up comments later in the week.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rock Hill Schools Business Meeting on Monday

Meeting of the Board of Trustees
Monday, August 22, 2011
6:00 p.m. – District Office Board Room


I. Call to Order
Approval of Agenda
(Under consent agenda, all action items will be voted on after one motion and second to approve them without discussion. If a board member wants any action item discussed or voted on separately, the board member, before the agenda is approved, must ask that the action item be moved to the discussion item section.)

II. Executive Session – Personnel Matter

III. Special Business
    1. Recognition of New Administrators
    2. Recognition of Cindy Elder, SC Volleyball Coach of the Year
    3. Recognition of Jennifer Molnar, State Economics Winner
    4. Recognition of Kent Murphy, State Economics Poster Contest Winner
    5. Recognition of Kelly Hollingsworth, District Teacher of the Year

  1. Citizen Participation
V. Consent Action Agenda
A. Approval of Minutes
1. June 27, 2011 business meeting
2. July 15, 2011 special executive session
3. July 20, 2011 called executive session
4. July 22, 2011 called executive session
5. August 1, 2011 called work session
6. August 8, 2011 work session
B. Approval of Personnel Recommendations
C. Approval of Use of Facilities Request (Impact Church)
D. Approval of Overnight Field Study Requests (6)
E. Approval of Board Travel (Reid)
F. Approval of Distribution of Jim Vining’s Board Compensation (June-Dec)
VI. Communications
A. Board Communication Effort – Jim Vining

VII. Report of the Superintendent
A. Announcements
B. Opening of Schools
C. AYP Results
D. Shared District Performance Goals

VIII. Review of Work Session(s)
IX. Action Agenda
  1. Approval of Policy JLA – 2nd Reading
  2. Approval of Use of Facilities Request (Elevation Church)
  3. Approval of Technology Plan (2.5 M)
  4. Approval of Capital Plan (2.5 M)
  5. Approval of Capital Projects (1.4M)
  6. Approval of Bond Resolution
  7. Approval of School Choice Strategic Direction
  8. Approval of Letter to SCSBA
  9. Approval of Resolution to Oppose Partisan Elections (Legislative Update)
  1. Other Business

XI. Adjournment

Click here to go to a link for the video.

Why Teachers Should Use Web 2.0

Click here to see the video.

The college class of 2015

Click here for the video link.

Click here for an article on IPAD education apps.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Difference Between Great and Bad Teachers

Here is what Todd Whitaker thinks about teaching:

Click here to see the video

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How To Be An Amazing Teacher

Steve Spangler talks about being a great teacher:

Click here to watch the video.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another Goal For Schools

Protect your dreams:
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Click here to watch the video

Sunday, August 14, 2011

School Starts Monday

Don't forget that school starts on Monday. Be on the look out for children, buses, traffic to schools. Plan a little extra time if your driving route takes you by or near a school.

and remember to pick your child up on time at the end of school:

Why Is Ice Slippery?

Click here for the video.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back-to-School Prayer Rally on the 14th

There will be a back to school prayer rally on August 14, 2011 at the Old Town Amphitheatre beginning at 6 PM.  Click here for more details.

Friday, August 12, 2011

An Education Issue Discussion - Matt Damon

Matt Damon has some  very good insight on education issues today. Click here for his video comments.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gains For Free and Reduced Lunch Children

Kelly Hollingsworth, Rock Hill Schools Teacher of the Year

Photo by Melissa Cherry, Rock Hill Herald
Kelly Hollingsworth, a Mount Holly Elementary School Special Needs Teacher, is the Rock Hill School District's teacher of the year for 2011-12. Find pictures and a write up of Wednesday's celebration by going to The Herald's web site by clicking here.
Click here for pictures by Melissa Cherry of The Herald
Photo by Melissa Cherry, Rock Hill Herald
Patti Tate, Northwestern High School Teacher and current South Carolina Teacher of the Year addresses Rock Hill School District Staff.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Measuring Student Success

See the video on measuring student success around the world by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade

A question for guys of my generation ( mostly 1960's); do you remember having to get your hair cut? That everyone of your parents age insisted  the world would go haywire if you didn't have fairly short hair - which was contrary to the youth movement of the time - and also very absurd. Well, below is a quote from an article Jane Sharp sent me about resistance to integrate technology and change learning:

Simply put, we can’t keep preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist. We can’t keep ignoring the formidable cognitive skills they’re developing on their own. And above all, we must stop disparaging digital prowess just because some of us over 40 don’t happen to possess it. An institutional grudge match with the young can sabotage an entire culture.

Made me think about my hair cuts and how insignificant that is compared to changing to a 21st century learning.
Click here to read the full article from the New York Times.

Treating School Like A Business

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Technology Discussion

On Monday night, the Rock Hill School Board will have another discussion on technology purchases. Something that is always controversial because so many citizens do not believe in its use in schools. But we should really be discussing the correct application and use of technology. Iowa has a "Did You Know" video about their state. Maybe South Carolina (or Rock Hill) should make one.
Click here to watch the video.

Last Minute Creativity

Friday, August 5, 2011

Who Spends The Most Hours Teaching?

Rock Hill Schools Capital Project Discussion

Projects of $300,000 or more:

Project School 2011-12 Cost
Install Wireless Overlay Half of Elementary Schools $750,000
Computer Replacements and additions District Wide $500,000
Replace Roof Sections Belleview Elementary School $463,995
Expansion of IPAD pilot program Select Schools $450,000
Replace 42 HVAC units Mt. Gallant Elementary School $400,000
Teacher laptop replacements District Wide $325,000
Replace Lights District Three Stadium $300,000

Of course, the discussion will center around which are really needs and which are wants.

Click here for a printable copy of the list.

1st Day of School Program on Palmetto Mornings

Palmetto Mornings: 08/05/11 Michael Waiksnis and Norris Williams

Michael Waiksnis, principal of Sullivan Middle School and Norris Williams, principal of Dutchman Creek Middle School join Andrew and Sheila on the air discussing the upcoming first day of school — and how parents are encouraged to take part in it.

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