Monday, July 11, 2011

College Football Playoff for 2010

I gave my proposal for a playoff in a previous post:
Ralph's Playoff

Let's play it out for the 2010 Season while we await the 2011 Football Season.

November 28, 2010
The NCAA Committee makes its 16 At Large Selections for the Play in Round of the 2010 NCAA College Football Playoffs:
1. Stanford
2. Ohio State
3. Arkansas
4. Michigan State
5. LSU
6. Boise State
7. Missouri
8. Oklahoma State
9.Virginia Tech
10. Alabama
11. Texas A&M
12. Utah
13. Mississippi State
14. Arizona
15. West Virginia
16. Maryland

Saturday December 4th, 2010
Play in Round. The Play in Round is on the same day as the league championship games. Play-in games are at the home field of the top seed.

Play-in round:
Champions of conferences without a playoff are automatically seeded as top 6 teams. At large selection number determines other ranks for seeding purposes. Teams from same conference don't play each other.

Pac 10 Champion versus At Large: Oregon vs. Maryland, Winner: Oregon
Big 10 Champion versus At Large: Wisconsin vs. West Virgnia, Winner: Wisconsin
Big East Champion versus At Large: UConn vs. Arizona, Winner: Arizona
Mountain West Champion versus At Large: TCU vs. Mississippi State, Winner: TCU
WAC Champion versus At Large: Nevada vs. Utah, Winner: Nevada
Sun Belt Champion versus At Large: Florida International vs. Texas A&M, Winner: Texas A&M
At Large versus At Large: Stanford vs. Alabama, Winner: Stanford
At Large versus At Large: Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech., Winner: Ohio State
At Large versus At Large: Arkansas vs. Oklahoma State, Winner: Oklahoma State
At Large versus At Large: Michigan State vs. Missouri, Winner: Michigan State
At Large versus At Large: LSU vs. Boise State: Winner: Boise State

League Championships
SEC--Auburn vs. South Carolina, Winner: Auburn
Big 12--Oklahoma vs. Nebraska, Winner: Oklahoma
ACC--Florida St. vs. Virginia Tech, Winner: Virginia Tech
Conf. USA--SMU vs. Central Florida, Winner: Central Florida
MAC--Northern Illinois vs. Miami Ohio: Miami Ohio
League Championships determine 5 of 16 Tournament participants

Saturday December 11th, 2010, 1st round of 16 team playoff.
Seedings respect traditional conference/geographic bowl alignments for New Years day bowls where possible.

Rose Bowl Bracket
1. Oregon vs. 4. Boise State, Winner: Oregon
2. Wisconsin vs. 3. Miami Ohio, Winner: Wisconsin

Orange Bowl Bracket
1. Virginia Tech vs. 4. Central Florida, Winner: Virginia Tech
2. Oklahoma State vs. 3. Arizona, Winner: Oklahoma State

Suger Bowl Bracket
1. Auburn vs. 4. Michigan St., Winner: Auburn
2. Stanford vs. 3. TCU, Winner: Stanford

Cotton Bowl Bracket
1. Oklahoma vs. 4. Nevada, Winner: Oklahoma
2. Texas A&M vs. 3. Ohio State, Winner: Ohio State

New Years Day, 2011
Rose Bowl
Oregon vs. Wisconsin, Winner: Oregon
Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State, Winner: Oklahoma State
Suger Bowl
Auburn vs. Stanford, Winner: Auburn
Cotton Bowl
Oklahoma vs. Ohio State, Winner: Ohio State

Saturday, January 15th (first Saturday more than 5 days after New Years)
Fiesta Bowl
Oregon vs. Oklahoma State, Winner: Oregon
Gator Bowl
Auburn vs. Ohio State, Winner: Auburn

Saturday, January 22nd
True National Championship Game
Oregon vs. Auburn, Winner: Auburn

Even though I think we probably got the right champion in 2010/2011 through the BCS process, I think a playoff process would have been more fun, more fair, and more profitable.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Charter School for Lake Oswego

The Lake Oswego School board is pressing forward with plans to close 3 elementary schools and expand Junior High to 6th grade. They have already done the one part of the plan that saves significant money, closing one elementary school. Closing the remaining 2 elementary schools and expanding Junior High will be more or less cost neutral but is a long held goal of Dr. Korach, the superintendent.

If the school board presses forward with closing schools and putting 6th graders in Junior High, I suggest that parent and community groups push forward with another option for families: a charter K-8 school on the Palisades campus.

The school board may take some convincing, but Oregon law specifies a process in ORS 338 that allows the sponsoring group to go around the school board if the school board is obstructionist. The City Council and the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation may also help push in the right direction since they give millions to the school district.

If two more schools are closed, a charter would be very positive for the district in helping relieve the classroom shortage, keeping kids in the district who may otherwise leave because their schools are closing, and providing another strong educational option to attract families to Lake Oswego.

Here is my thinking on a charter--

Draft Mission Statement:

Lake Oswego K-8 Charter will be:

-A small K-8 school focused on helping students achieve their potential through authentic relationships among students, teachers, and families.
-A school that offers students everything they need to be fully prepared to achieve their potential in high school.
-A school where students can safely explore their interests and values knowing a caring community supports and surrounds them

Capacity and configuration:
-Lake Oswego K-8 Charter would ultimately have 9 grades with 26-32 students in each grade for a total of 234 to 288 students.
-In the first year the school would have grades K and 1-7 adding 8th grade in the subsequent year
-If over subscribed at any grade level, a lottery would be held as required by law
-if under subscribed, 2 grades would be combined to achieve class sizes of 26-32 students
-Each grade would have one main teacher and aids or parent helpers as budget and volunteer commitments allow
-The school would have one foreign language teacher who would teach at all grade levels with a focus on 6th, 7th, and 8th so that most students would have achieved 1 or 2 years of high school foreign language
-The school would have one specialized math teacher and would offer at least two levels of math in 7th-8th grade so that all students capable of accelerated math will have completed algebra in 8th grade.
-7th and 8th grade students would work with both grade teachers, the foreign language teacher, and the math teacher to get focused subject instruction to prepare for high school
-The charter school would work so it's students could participate in district programs in music and sports where possible.

With the closing of 2 additional schools I would expect many families from Bryant, Palisades, and River Grove to choose to move to the charter. Under Oregon law, students from nearby districts could also choose the charter without needing to get approval from their districts. The other schools in the Lake Oswego district would benefit from the competition and the relief of pressure on classroom space.

I hope interested parents and others will move forward with this proposal or something else to put pressure on the school board to look out for the interests of kids and families ahead of the interests of teachers and administrators.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Why Lake Oswego Junior Highs Won't Close

With better educational and social outcomes, cost savings, and better community/school relationships, why won't the Lake Oswego junior highs close? (See my previous blog post where I make the case for closing them.) In short, the reason junior highs won't close (and exist at all), is that they are great for teachers and administrators.

Prestige and salaries tend to be higher for junior high principals than K-8 principals. The Vice Principal position is a great stepping stone position not readily available in a K-8 setting. Junior High teachers also have a bit more prestige than 7th and 8th grade teachers in elementary schools. Teachers can teach the classes they are interested in and avoid classes they aren't interested in. In a large junior high school, bad teachers can hide out for years as the active, "in the know" parents avoid them and the less "in the know" parents don't have the power to do any damage to their standing.

In a junior high setting, accountability for student outcomes is muted for teachers who only teach a student in one of 6+ classes. For teachers, the burden of communicating with parents on routine matters and dealing with behavioral and other problems are offloaded to junior high counselors. While this is a convenience for teachers, it blurs accountability even more. In an environment with 2 classes of 7th graders and 2 classes of 8th graders accountability and responsibility is concentrated and clear.

With students from multiple schools mingled into two junior high schools after 5th or 6th grade, it is harder to see differences in schools and hold the schools accountable. With 4 or 5 schools sending 8th graders to each high school, it will be very easy for the high school teachers, administrators, and involved parents to see which K-8 schools are doing a great job and which schools are doing less well. Lack of accountability and visibility into failures doesn't serve students and parents, but it does make teachers and administrators lives easier.

I hope that the pain of closing three elementary schools that are very important to their communities will cause parents and the community to think again about the choice in front of Lake Oswego schools. I hope the idea of expanding the problematic Junior Highs to younger and more vulnerable students scares the community into positive action.

I respect the work administrators and advisory groups have done to come up with alternatives to save money for the Lake Oswego school district. I think the entrenched interests of administrators and teachers have influenced the recommendations away from closing junior highs and toward closing elementary schools. I am not optimistic the best choice will be made.

Why Waluga and Lake Oswego Junior Highs Should Close

Lake Oswego school district proposes closing 3 of our elementary schools and expanding Junior High to include 6th grade. Having experienced Lake Oswego elementary and junior high schools I can attest this is the wrong direction. The elementary schools in Lake Oswego fulfill the promise of public education by educating students, creating close communities of students and parents, and adding value to the community. The Junior Highs are much less successful in the their assigned role of educating adolescents at a high level and helping them transition to High School. There is no reason to expand them and good reasons to close them.

The school district should keep all 9 elementary schools open and close the two junior high Schools. The elementary schools should be expanded to K-8. Excess capacity can be reduced by making 6 of the elementary schools single track (one class per grade). That would make room for the 7th and 8th grades at the physically smaller schools. Activities such as band, football, and cheer leading that require an assembly of greater numbers of students can be scheduled either in the early morning or late afternoon when students can be bussed to central locations. Foreign languages can be accommodated by busing students to concentrated locations, distance learning, and focusing particular schools on particular languages. Bryant/Waluga could easily accommodate a double track (two classes per grade) k-8 school and centralized activities. Uplands/Lake Oswego Junior High School could also be configured as a double track k-8 school with ample room for facilities for central activities. Lake Grove and several other schools are physically large enough to accommodate a double track K-8 program and extra activities.

Junior high is a bad concept and as executed in the Lake Oswego district has bad outcomes. Ages 12, 13, 14 are very difficult years for adolescents. It is the worst time to rip them out of a small community where they have real personal relationships and put them in a high stakes social environment where cliques and superficial popularity reign supreme. Junior high creates an ideal environment for predators who sell drugs and sexually exploit children. It also creates an ideal environment for marketers who prey on children's insecurities to sell clothes, gadgets, and other items promoted to increase social standing.

My experience as a parent and working with Lake Oswego district junior high students at a church group gives me a negative opinion of the social environment at the Junior High Schools. I would say that at Waluga junior high, students who try to join the popular crowd are personally offered drugs, are aware of drug use by fellow students, and feel peer pressure to express tolerance and interest in drugs. Students who join the popular crowd are also aware of sexual activity by fellow students, feel peer pressure to have sex, and may have been offered drugs as part of situations designed to induce them to relax their sexual boundaries. I believe that in a K through 8 schools the social pressures could be reduced in this time of insecurity and social growth. Students could feel somewhat safer making healthy choices and standing up for their individual interests because they would be among people they have known longer. At the very least, the drug trade would have 9 schools to visit and establish contacts in instead of 2. Those 9 schools would be smaller and students would have long term relationships with teachers and other students. Dealers would have much less freedom of action than they currently enjoy and more risk.

At Waluga today teachers brag that they create teams of 3 teachers who discuss student progress and coordinate lessons. In a K-8 environment, the norm for 7 and 8th grade education would be a small team of teachers coordinating lessons and intimately involved in individual students progress. Specific teachers would be accountable for student success and their success could be measured year after against peers in 8 other schools.

Riverdale school district demonstrates that academic outcomes in K-8 can be as good or better than in a Junior High. In fifth grade testing fewer Riverdale students than Lake Oswego students are proficient in Reading, Math, and Science. In 8th Grade testing the percentage of Riverdale students proficient in Reading is equal. In Math and Science the percentage in Rierdale is higher than in Lake Oswego. In the Riverdale K-8 school the percentage proficient in Reading, Math, Science rose between 5th and 8th Grade. In the Lake Oswego district, percentage proficient fell in all three areas fell between 5th and 8th grade.

I am not an expert on school finance, but I believe that closing 2 Junior highs with their counselors, vice principals, and other admininstrative staff would save more money than closing 3 elementary schools. Even after accounting for busing students for activities and specialized classes there would be savings since there would be less transport need for getting kids to Junior High.

The neighborhood schools would be an even more intimate part of the neighborhood and family's would be even more engaged and inclined to support schools that students attend for 9 years. Athletics for 7th and 8th graders could be simplified with 9 schools that can play each other in Basketball and Volleyball.

I respect the work the administrators and advisory groups have done to come up with alternatives to save money for the Lake Oswego school district. However, I believe the current recommendation is a bad choice.

Next post I'll talk about why the Junior Highs will probably expand to the detriment of adolescents and 3 neighborhoods will lose their community schools to the detriment of the neighborhoods and their property values.