Manatee High School in Bradenton Florida has broken new ground with the institution of a $200 premium seating fee for graduation this year, and some parents are squawking.

The school which holds its graduation ceremony at the high school’s football stadium,is instituting the fee to help defray expenses since the school system isn’t kicking in its annual $3,400 due to budgetary restrictions.

According to principal Don Sauer, the setup at the stadium costs $13,000 and that they are only selling seats in the first 10 rows and hopes to generate $3,000 towards the costs.

The other alternative according to Sauer is to hold graduation ceremonies at the convention center-which other schools do for free, but he said that would leave out 2,500 people.

Fees have become a way of life in public schools across the nation-lab fees, ACT test fees, etc… I recall paying a small cap and gown fee when I graduated from high school, but the idea of paying for “premium seating” seems outlandish to me.

Where’s the Occupy movement when you need them?

My guess is that despite the ridiculous fee that the school will probably find 15 parents with enough ego and money to cough up the $200.

But why stop there?  Maybe the school can sell personal seat licenses or legacy seating to families who will have multiple graduates over the years to guarantee them premium seating and class envy for as long as they are willing to fork over the dough.

Or why not graduation sponsors?  Get local businesses to pay for advertising on the top of the caps and back of the gowns. This should generate enough money to not only cover the graduation ceremony fees but maybe even a reception or party afterwards.

The possibilities are endless as they go down a slippery slope.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed a bill that forces school districts to report any allegations of sexual abuse to state authorities within 24 hours but also in effect bans teachers and students from being connected via social networks.

This is what the bill says about social networks:

By January 1, 2012, every school district must develop a written policy concerning teacher-student communication and employee-student communications. Each policy must include appropriate oral and nonverbal personal communication, which may be combined with sexual harassment policies, and appropriate use of electronic media as described in the act, including social networking sites. Teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian.

Missouri is the first state to truly address the tricky situation of exactly what type of relationships teachers and students should have in an age where social networks and texting rule the day for teens.

While Facebook may be convenient for both teachers and students school systems have many options available to them to foster communication which keeps things on a more professional level as they should be.   Now homework assignments and grades can be accessed online giving students instant access to the information they need.

If teachers want t communicate with students via Facebook then I suggest they do it through a school sponsored fan page.  This would be voluntary to join and all communications would be public protecting both parties.

In general I’m not in favor of using legislation to regulate when and where social networks can be used, but because of past abuses and the potential for future abuses I think schools need to set some ground rules and remind both teachers and students of the respective roles in the schools.  Social networks tend to blur those lines and not always for the better.


Even though Barack Obama’s Twitter Town Hall consisted largely of carefully selected softball question tweets that didn’t stop users of the microblogging service from generating 169,395 tweets.

The breakdown according t TVNewser:

  • Jobs – 18,957
  • Budget – 15,000
  • Taxes – 14,777
  • Education – 8,833

Despite the preferential treatment and controlled questions Obama still managed to muff the answers according to the Associated Press who did  a quick fact check on the president’s answers.

My recommendation is that maybe next time e could have the answers appear to him in a tweet format via his teleprompter.

Bill Franks of AFT-W Local 4848 addressing a group of teachers in Wisconsin called the recent events in Wisconsin a revolution and said that he wanted to learn from the Socialists.

In other words he wants to turn Wisconsin school children into future Socialists.

Franks also referred to the Republicans as the forces of evil for eviscerating 50 years of labor peace and taking away the public workers right to collectively bargain.

For the teachers protecting their rights and their pensions is more important than making sure the state can actually meet its current and future obligations and that is irresponsible,

Tenure which has given teachers a virtual lifetime job guarantee is coming under increased scrutiny and according to this CBS News report new evaluation methods are slowly being introduced in some parts of the country to hold teachers more accountable in the classroom.

While this new method isn’t perfect it does hold the promise that poor teachers will actually be fired and not just shuffled around.

If teachers are really interested in helping students become successful they not only need to give up the notion that they should be given a virtual job guarantee for life but also drop their objections to charter schools that have proven to help those that need it the most.

For a glimpse on how bad our public education system is watch Waiting for Superman.

According to the AP the Maryland Board of Education has directed the Montgomery County school system revisit its decision to reject two charter school applications last summer.

The state board of education determined that the Montogomery County Board of Education failed to adequately explained why they turned down the applications and gave them 90 days to reconsider the decision.

Last year Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill told the Washington Post that “A charter school should offer something unique, something different than what we offer in the Montgomery public schools,” in an effort to set a bar for approval.

The rejection of the applications didn’t come as a surprise to charter school supporters as the county is the home of a large and powerful teachers union who sees the new schools as competetitors and not a complement to public education.

What the union was doing along with the BOE’s help was protecting their turf from the pospect of schools that might actually do a better job than what the county currently offers to its 120,000 plus students.

In addition to having three children who attended public schools in the county I too am a graduate of the system.  And while I am generally satisfied with the education that my children received it would have been nice to have had the option to place them in a more academically challenging environment.

The school board has promised to respond in a timely fashion but but I don’t expect that it will change the outcome.  But the fact that the state board asked for a better explanation is a positive sign and gives some hope that charter schools will actually come to the county.

Montgomery County operates 200 schools and is the largest system in the state without a charter school.  Overall there are 44 charter schools in Maryland.

They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words but in the case of rioting students in Great Britain CNN Executive Producer  Nadia Bilchik felt compelled to go behind the pictures to explain why the students were tearing up government property.

Bilchik explained that until the late 1990’s students in Great Britain didn’t pay any university tuition and over time it gradually rose to the equivalent of $4500.  With the British government facing what even Bilchik admits is an enormous deficit they are left with very little choice but to raise the fees in order to close the budget gap.

But for Bilchik that’s really not a god enough reason since people who are now in their 30’s probably never paid any tuition and leaves viewers with the impression that the increase in fees despite the deficit is unfair since so many British citizens until recently had received a free university education.

Bilchik did think it was a shame that the student protest turned violent but closed the segment by saying that”but let’s take a look at the bigger picture of what they are protesting” and that “it gets lost in the whole big scenario.”

I think the public understands that the students are upset with tuition increases but that doesn’t give them the right to riot and destroy property and CNN has no business in turning it into a justifiable act just because previous generations received a free education.

That’s the problem with the cradle to grave society that exists in much of Europe. People expect that the government will take care of them forever and ask little in return so they can work a little and vacation a lot.  Well nothing in life is truly free and Great Britain is now paying the piper for decades of government excesses and it’s going to be very painful indeed.

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