Friday, January 16, 2009

Lion’s Jim Schwartz - Come Live in Birmingham

Coach Schwartz, from everything I hear you’re a numbers guy. I share that passion so I’ll cut to the chase, come live in the Birmingham community. I can give you many reasons why you’d want do this, but here are a few I think you’ll appreciate:


So come find a home in the Birmingham community (an area that includes Birmingham, Franklin, Bingham Farms, Beverly Hills, and parts of Bloomfield Township, West Bloomfield Township, Southfield, and Troy) , your children will thank you!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, someone better tell Coach Schwartz that the Ignite program you brag about for Birmingham Schools is by lottery only! Yes, technology for a select few.

Sorry Coach, left out a few details! Looks like the twins might not get to make that podcast after all!

Rob Lawrence said...

Actually, this program is a preview of the system wide program. It was a pilot and is being evaluated and adjusted as we move forward. It would not work as well if it were rolled out all at once due to the training and development that goes into it. Keep in mind, the curriculum taught is NOT different than "non-ignite" classes - its simply delivered in a different fashion. Plus, the practices that are part of ignite (professional learning communities, principals as educational leaders) are being absorbed by other teachers as the program rolls out. This is not a simple change to implement, and the way it's happening has benefits to everyone.

Anonymous said...

It's no secret the Ignite program is in big trouble. I hear the parents are complaining at all the schools in your District and trouble is brewing. Class sizes are increasing, cuts are happening and yet, Birmingham has chosen to spend a lot of money on a select few.

Also, you failed to address any of the comments left by the previous person (which were quite funny). It IS a lottery, which doesn't seem very fair.

So tell me, since you said all the students benefit, how does my child benefit when he is NOT selected in the lottery? What do I tell him when all his friends are blogging and making podcasts while he's doing the same old curriculum?

Rob Lawrence said...

To your points:

First - Ignite is not in trouble. Not sure why you'd say that. Yes, there is a lottery but this is still a pilot program. Simply introducing it system wide is not wise (nor is it possible given capacity constraints).

Second - Class sizes are not increasing. There is always fluctuations in class size between all schools depending on individual situations and demographics. Class size across the district is virtually identical to last year.

Third, there is a lottery - same as BCS and we've been doing that for 10 years. Again - this is a pilot designed to ensure success and to disseminate the best practices to other teachers in the process.

Fourth, as to addressing the comments of the previous person, that poster did not actually ask a question so I was attempting to provide clarification that was relevant. Sorry if it missed the mark.

Fifth, as to how it benefits your child; again, let me stress - there is NO difference in the curriculum between ignite and non-ignite classes. All students and all teachers leverage technology in the curriculum in every classroom - your comments imply there is no technology in other classrooms and that is simply not the case. The methodology of the integration of that technology is the difference with the ignite concept. A major value of the program (which is not visible to parents) is the interaction between teachers during common planning time (as part of the professional learning community model) when disseminating ideas about what happens in the classroom. That's how all children benefit. That professional collaboration benefits everyone.

Blogging and podcasts are just methods employed as part of the learning process. The net result is no different than written reports, oral presentations and classroom discussions relative to the learning process that occurs. The big picture is this: outstanding student achievement is and continues to be the core value of this district. We are measured and tested every which way till Sunday and year after year Birmingham is at the top of the list. There are MANY differentiated methodologies employed in the district (the Flex program, the Encore program, the BCS Covington School) and by nature they are limited (so there are lottery options, class size limits, etc.) in availability; yet across all of these options the kids thrive and succeed. Locking into a single method without validation is not a reasonable way to proceed when presented with multiple successful options.

I suspect that my comments will not satisfy you, to that end the board meets every other Tuesday -- the schedule is on the districts web site. I encourage you to attend to express your concerns.

Anonymous said...

Parents tax payers and voters are supportive of plans to increase student’s exposure to technology and its creative uses.

No one, however agrees with the method developed and implemented by BPS administration to exclude possibly half of a grade of kids. Dr Koehler from MSU says the professors consulted only with the teacher training and any decisions or methods for selection of students and teachers is solely the property of BPS.The lottery system that excludes kids and random selection of teachers makes no sense and is contrary to all published philosophies of BPS. Separating kids into 2 or 3 classrooms is very different than the BCS model. Students are locked into a group for up to 3 years .The students not in Ignite received no mark in the technology section on their report card .That says it all doesn't it?

More kids can enjoy increased technology use without harming classroom dynamics , excluding students or additional cost. Here are some suggestions:

1. All 5th grade classrooms in the district could participate. That way each buildings teachers could support each other and plan together daily. They could collaborate with other 5th grade teachers throughout the district. This would be a perfect preparation for all kids into the fall 2009 planned all 6th grade Ignite.

2. Hardware and framework could be rotated to all classrooms throughout the year. All students would benefit. This system works very well with the sharing of science kits and curriculum. A plan like this would have no additional cost . Both teachers and students in all 3rd ,4th and 5th grades are included.

3. More or all classrooms and students could be included by asking parents to donate, raise funds or purchase laptops for their kids. Again no additional cost, no one is excluded.

Why are is the School Board and administration resistant to addressing these concerns ? Parents are not happy with this.

Anonymous said...

re: Rob Lawrence's comments on Ignite
1. Let me assure you, Ignite IS ABSOLUTELY in trouble. Is the Board that out of touch that is doesn't realize there is a MASSIVE parent revolt taking place?
2. You state "the program is being evaluated and adjusted as we move forward". Well, according to both the Disrict Head Dr. Larson and the Technology Director Ms. Martinenco, the program requires no adjustments at all.
3. Are you serious that you think class sizes aren't increasing???? That is FACTUALLY INCORRECT. Comments like these do nothing to ensure the public that the Board is in touch with what is really happening in the schools. Check your elementary schools and look at class sizes over the last five years. Dr. Larson has acknowledged increases in class sizes on average ... are you contradicting your Superintendent?
4. Do you really think that parents will swallow the BS the Board (YOU) is dishing out about other kids (who are NOT in Ignite) benefitting from teachers "sharing" their technology experiences?? Come on! They can do all the sharing they want, but even if teachers wanted to replicate the "shared experience" they couldn't because they don't have the training or technological tools!!

The bottom line is that an increasing number of parents at ALL the elementary schools are unhappy with the Ignite program roll-out and, the District's refusal to listen to their concerns. Subsequently, concerned parents have begun to collaborate together in public forums to seek answers.

Oh and one final thing, are you aware that the goals and roll-out of Ignite blatantly disregard and contradict BPS's Strategic Plan??

Anonymous said...

Comparing Covington and the Ignite models is like comparing apples and oranges.

Anonymous said...

I don't give a flying flip about Birmingham schools or the technology they might/might not have in their classes.

What I do care about is yet again another member of a public board simply ignoring the concerns and complaints of the public.

Why do all elected officials choose to turn a blind eye once they get some power? Are you really any different than the politicians you complain about for reducing funding?

Rob Lawrence said...

From Anonymous...

"More kids can enjoy increased technology use without harming classroom dynamics, excluding students or additional cost. Here are some suggestions:
1. All 5th grade classrooms in the district could participate. That way each buildings teachers could support each other and plan together daily. They could collaborate with other 5th grade teachers throughout the district. This would be a perfect preparation for all kids into the fall 2009 planned all 6th grade Ignite.
2. Hardware and framework could be rotated to all classrooms throughout the year. All students would benefit. This system works very well with the sharing of science kits and curriculum. A plan like this would have no additional cost. Both teachers and students in all 3rd ,4th and 5th grades are included.
3. More or all classrooms and students could be included by asking parents to donate, raise funds or purchase laptops for their kids. Again no additional cost, no one is excluded."



I think this type of suggestion is great. I will take this forward and bring it to other board members to add to the discussions. We can always do better, and ideas like this are VERY helpful to me, thank you.

Maureen Evans Cameron said...

As a parent in the Birmingham District, I applaud your efforts at this blog and, your passion and dedication to the Board and its students.

Reading through your various posts, I'm particularly interested in the numbers, stats and figures you provide -- your analysis of many funding issues is thought-provoking. On that note, I do have a question with respect to !gnite, what are the total costs of this program?

Thanks again for your time and efforts. And keep up the blog - you just have to love that user generated dialogue!

Rob Lawrence said...

I believe the line item budget was about $150,000, but that's from memory.

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