Fayette School Board is paying a premium for ‘Core’ brand

The more things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to the Fayette County School Board.

I read with interest that the school board now has a balanced budget with a surplus (some call it reserve, I call it surplus) of $11.5 million.

I think I also saw that the board, by a vote of 4-1, has approved spending $1.6 million for those Common Core math books. More about the books later.

But let me note right here that the one vote against those math books came from board member Mary Kay Bacallao. She only has 20 years of professional educational experience, and seems to be the only one voting with any degree of logic and reason.

But back to the budget.

When the board was closing four schools earlier this year, it was almost like the gang of four (again Ms. Bacallao voted to keep the schools open) was on the street with tin cups in hand asking for quarters to keep the school system alive. In fact, may I present you with the 2013 “Gold Tin Cup of the Year” Award for your votes to close the schools.

With your new budget, it’s like telling the taxpayers that the broken car you brought us has been fixed, the engine is running smooth as silk, but we had to take two tires (Tyrone and Brooks schools) off to get it going. When you drive the car, don’t mind the sparks flying about from the muffler dragging a bit. It will wear down eventually and you won’t notice a thing.

And a few more words about those hocus-pocus math books. School Board, you are paying big money for a simple brand, Common Core, that’s all. You don’t have a clue about how good these books are.

Some mid-level teachers say they are great, others in the know say they aren’t much good. We do know these books are being pushed down on Fayette County from above and that’s enough for me to say, watch out.

For the million and a half you are spending, you could hire some full-time, math Ph.D.s to rotate through the system giving the students some of the best math instruction in the nation. Or spend the money on first-class math tapes that could easily be shown to the students each day, followed up with in class instruction.

I would be happy to smuggle some $1.50 slide rules into your classrooms for a little more real support for the students. However, I might get arrested and put on bread and water in the county jail.

I would not be surprised to see the school book lobby get a county law passed soon to outlaw the slide rule, a simple tool used by learned mathematicians some years ago who came up with stuff like the A-bomb and the U.S. mission to the moon.

On the school closings, I would shut up about this matter if someone on the board can tell me you made a formal effort to get additional funding for these schools from the governor’s office or the state school superintendent.

I’m not happy since my granddaughter had one more year at Tyrone Elementary. But I will be happy to apologize if you can prove you did this. I’m not holding my breath for a reply.

James Hightower
Tyrone, Ga.

Mary Kay Bacallao
Mary Kay Bacallao's picture
Joined: 02/06/2006
Common Core money and standards

As a point of clarification: Fayette County does not receive any additional funding for participating in implementing the Common Core standards. In my line by line analysis of the math CC standards I have found them to be 1-2 years behind our former GPS standards. Many important math concepts are missing from the elementary grades such as probability, circumference and division of a fraction by a fraction. The new textbooks are deficient in these areas as well. We will be looking at these standards and supplementing the textbook resources with more challenging math concepts.

Larry.Sussberg's picture
Joined: 01/20/2013
Mary Kay Bacallao & Common Core

Mary Kay, if you wanted a political platform to speak from you should have run for a political office or asked for a higher position within the Tea Party.

Your role on the FCBOE is "governance" over the Fayette County School not to campaign on issues contrary to the school system such as Common Core which is a given and requires smooth implementation in Fayette.

Your political activism is not helpful to the job you were elected for. In fact you are working contrary to the efforts of the school system by fueling anti Common Core sentiment from some who may not be stakeholders (parents) in the school system.

There are so many ways you could have a positive impact on the curriculum that our students use by working WITH the FCBOE and the superintendent from WITHIN the system. Education is a data driven field, so build the proper data from within to make your point and make it with the proper people at State level, not a political party.

You have a lot to offer FCBOE, but you need to start working WITH your fellow board members. Please start doing the job you were elected to do.

Thank you


Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
Mary Kay needs to understand

The function of the school board is to manage policies. Educational programs and school business are the responsibilities of the Supt.

Copied from the FCBOE website:
"The Board of Education's primary functions are to develop and adopt policies by which the schools are administered, to continually evaluate the effectiveness of these policies and to make certain that they are being administered as the board intended. The administration of the educational program and school business is the responsibility of the superintendent of schools and his staff."

Her personal opinion of CC is irrelevant and you are correct.

If she wants to fight common core on the state level as an educator, she has every right to do this on her personal time and not as a representative of the FCBOE.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
Mr. Hightower

No one wanted to close the schools in Tyrone or Brooks. We had to. No one, not even Ms. Bacallao could come up with a viable solution to make the numbers work. But I am sure your granddaughter will make additional friends and do fine in her new school.

Your request for a formal request to the governors office is funny. Most schools in GA is going thru the same ordeal. Why would you think that the state would just give us more money?

Cobb County with a population of 688,000 and 106,000 students have to cut $86 million this year and another $60 million next year.

Fayette County has 106,000 residents and 20,000 students.

Do you really think the governor would just hand over more funds to Fayette, when he could give it to Cobb and garner more votes?

The state of GA adopted the common core curriculum (LAST YEAR). We are now catching up buy purchasing books to assist in this venture. Is common core good or bad? I don't know yet, but we certainly have to provide the teachers with the tools needed to teach what common core requires. We can certainly opt out of common core, but by doing so, we also opt out of the additional funding. Can we really afford this?

g8trgrl's picture
Joined: 10/31/2007
Math books

Mr. Hightower,

You must not be doing homework with your granddaughter, if you were, you would see how difficult it is without a math book. We have not had books in 8 years! That's ridiculous. I don't know if these books are perfect. I do know the teachers - who are in the front lines, want them! Kids need books. They are not "common core" math books. They may not have all the standards in them, but teachers can still supplement. As a parent of kids in school - I say "Thank you" for a math book!!

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