Monday, January 09, 2012

TOP STORY >> Middle school welcomes Crawford

Leader staff writer

First District Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) toured Cabot Middle School North on Wednesday with state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot).

They discussed plans to hold roundtable discussions with school districts on ways to help struggling schools in the congressional district.

Crawford said there is dissatisfaction with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is having an opposite effect of what it was supposed to do. Later this year legislators will be voting on re-authorization of the education bill.

The proposed meetings with school district administrators will be held at six to eight locations, including one in Cabot. Crawford said the discussions will allow for sharing ideas, voluntarily paring up schools that are achieving with struggling schools.

Last year Cabot Middle School North was re-designated as a Diamond School to Watch, a 19-state program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform.

As part of the Diamond School distinction, CMSN administrators were invited to Washington, visit Congress and tour the Capitol. While there, they invited Crawford to visit Cabot Middle School North.

The middle school was also honored last year with the Shannon Wright Award for the “Outstanding Middle Level Program in Arkansas.”

The award is presented to one middle school in the state each year during the Arkansas Association of Middle Level Educators Conference.

“The school is beautiful and state-of-the-art. What sticks in my mind the most is the enthusiasm of the students,” Crawford said.

The congressman said he noticed most of the children raised their hands when the teachers asked them questions.

Crawford said the classroom environments were soothing, not over-stimulating and did not let students’ attention wander.

CMSN Principal Tanya Spillane remarked that Crawford’s visit was very nice. She said the congressman appeared relaxed and comfortable while visiting the classrooms and meeting the students.

Spillane said Crawford displayed his human side when he played Nintendo Wii Tennis with the youngsters.

She said she was impressed on how Crawford listened to the students, making them view him as more approachable.

“I’m impressed with his concern with AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) status for our building. He seemed aware of the challenges we’re facing with the No Child Left Behind requirements,” Spillane said.

Superintendent Tony Thur-man said, “Congressman Craw-ford understands that there are concerns with the current accountability system and how schools are being labeled as “needing improvement” based on unreasonable criteria.

“Congressman Crawford has always been willing to listen when I've contacted him about concerns about education policy at the federal level and how it is impacting our local schools.

“We are appreciative that he took time from his busy schedule to visit with teachers and administrators and his willingness to consider options that we believe still provide the necessary accountability for every school in our state and nation,” Thurman said.

“I’m excited about the plan for roundtable discussions. It is a great honor for our building and the district,” Spillane added.

“Of all the schools in his district, (the congressman) chose us. It is an honor,” Assistant Principal Adam Koehler said.