Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CEDO 535 - Week 2: Choice

This week I haven't done much studying or work for the class as I was inundated with administrative work for my school preparing and compiling documents for our December Department of Public Instruction (DPI) pupil and financial audit. Since I don't have much to comment about classwork-wise, I'll fill you in a little bit about what I was working on this week.

I work at a Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) school, a voucher school system that the whole country is watching in order to evaluate how voucher schools are run and how they perform. (All WKCE test scores from MPCP students are submitted to researchers at the University of Arkansas for a longitudinal study of MPCP schools/students compared to a sampling of MPS students.)

For those of you don't now much about MPCP (and now in Racine as well) here's some info.
  • MPCP schools are independent schools. WI DPI holds the strings and MPCP schools are accountable to DPI but are not under their direct jurisdiction. MPCP schools have relationships with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) for certain items such as Title I, II, III & IV funding and a few other services but do not fall under their jurisdiction either.
  • All MPCP schools must be accredited. Something most public schools don't have to go through individually. I'm sure if they would have to go through the accreditation process, many would fail (as do some MPCP candidates).
  • Students (parents) have a "Choice" to enroll in an MPCP school based on family income eligibility and residency.
  • MPCP schools are funded by the State, not local property taxes. We get about $3200 per student per semester, about 50%-60% of what MPS gets for each student.
  • We get our money based on student count/attendance in September and January. 
  • We need extensive documentation for each and every student that includes family financial and residency information. Without this, we don't get paid.
  • DPI requires 2 pupil and financial audits per year. A missing or incorrect form, documentation or signature results in non-payment for a student. Financial information is checked and audited down to the last Office Depot receipt spent on pencils. I don't know what kind of financial accountability individual public schools must go through (as opposed to district accountability) but I know MPCP school numbers have to be spot on or they can boot you out of the program.
  • Besides the accreditation and audits, there are numerous other requirements that MPCP schools must comply with and document that I don't think public schools need to do.
MPCP schools are a mixed bag, just like individual schools in Milwaukee Public Schools. Some good, some bad. I don't think we're "stealing" students away from MPS schools. In fact, we end up getting a lot of students that can no longer enroll in MPS (read: rejects, problem students - those who have been expelled).

I think Choice schools will be around to stay. I have mixed feelings about Gov. Scott Walker. I don't necessarily agree with everything he does and how he goes about doing them. However, he is pro Choice schools. This year Racine was added and I believe more counties and districts are to be added in the near future.

Now that my time, energy and mind are off the audit, I can begin to play catch-up with my coursework and next week my post shall directly relate to items at hand.

Any questions about MPCP? Comment here and I'll try to answer.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CEDO 535 - Week 1: Blog Blog

Brought to You by the Department of Redundancy Department: Affairs of Internal Affairs
A Blog about Blogs.

I've never been much of a writer and I still don't like to write though I'm much better at it now than I was doing Civil War assignments. I don't think it's just writing either because I tend to be a quiet person when gathered around people and often have a hard time jumping in. Sometimes by the time I've collected my thoughts the conversation has moved to another universe. Mostly it's a matter of I don't have (or think I have) anything important or exciting to share or start a verbal or written conversation about.

I've been OK with writing this blog because it's something I have to do. Time will tell if I will continue this or create another one when this program is over. I'll probably try to continue this one to maintain a professional presence. If I were actively teaching I would most certainly have one for my courses/classes. I think I will need to find my voice for a blog. What is it that I know well? I'm good at How-To's but for me to do this sort of thing I wouldn't be satisfied unless I could fill an empty niche. No need to be redundant.

Another thing about blogging as well as following blogs is the time I spend at the computer. A lot of the work I do is on the computer. Working on this program I'm on the computer. I'm already on the computer enough as it is. I don't have the time right now to invest in actively interacting professionally with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linked In, Diigo and the like. I'm also not a very networking kind of a guy. I know I should change this but it's not going to happen at the moment. As for following Blogs and getting feeds, I just haven't done it yet but know I should probably give it a try. I usually don't have much of a problem finding things that I'm looking for on the Internet and quite often I get to meandering and find cool things by chance. I suppose the chances of finding interesting things are a bit greater if you follow a trusted or favorite source.

And as like always, I wish I was actively involved with teaching or training so I could begin to share the wealth. School audit coming up. Nope no time for my teachers. My posts for the reading of Will Richardson's Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts were a bit skeptical about how well blogging would work with a lot of the students at my school but I'd still love to have my teachers give it a go. But first I'd have to get them blogging.

No Cost to You Information for Free: 

Actually, I saw this perchance on my Google+, right on top as the page opened. I didn't peruse anything but it was just in my face. I want one!

USB stick size computer. FXI Cotton Candy Android and maybe Ubuntu Linux. Plug into any monitor or TV with a USB or HDMI and you have a WIFI enabled computer. Will run in a separate window on any PC running OS X, WIN or Linux as well. Coming soon! $200.

Or how about this one? Raspberry Pi. A $25/$35 credit card size PC board. Vendors are anxiously awaiting final specs so they can build cases. It will run GNU/Linux and a few other open Source OSes. Sorry, no Windows yet as they don't have an OS for the ARM processor.

The product is intended for education, hence the price point. There is a lot of interest in this project and developers are working on software to make this thing ready to run for education. One of their main goals is to try to get a return to learning programming in schools. Since office productivity software came of age and now with Web 2.0, the focus has moved to learning how to use apps. They are working on getting the operating systems and available software geared towards programming. Of course you can use it for anything you would normally use a lightweight computer/tablet for.

Small but capable. Here's a video of it playing 3-D game Quake.