Archives for category: Administrators, superintendents

Ever since Governor Mike Pence was elected in 2012, he has steadily chipped away at the power of Glenda Ritz, the state commissioner of education who was also elected in 2012 but on the Democratic line. In this solid red state, Ritz got more votes than Pence.

Ritz is an experienced educator, and she has worked to improve public schools and the teaching profession, whereas the Governor and Legislature prefer to gut both of them.

Pence created an alternate education agency to take away Ritz’s authority. Now he has a plan to finally crush her office altogether.

According to the Indiana Economic Digest, citing an editorial in the Tribune-Star:

“Power wins.

“Unless some virtuous political maverick at the top levels of Indiana government appears this winter, the dynasty running Hoosier government will finally complete its two-year-long crusade to wither its last obstacle to full dominance. Gov. Mike Pence announced the check-mate move Thursday as he laid out his goals for the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

“The governor wants legislators to give the Indiana State Board of Education members the power to pick their own chairperson. Under existing Indiana law, the state superintendent of public instruction automatically serves as the board’s chairperson. In other words, the voters decide who chairs the Board of Education. In 2012, they emphatically chose Glenda Ritz, a school-teacher Democrat, as their state superintendent over Republican school-reform star Tony Bennett. The defeat galled Republicans. They never accepted the people’s choice.

“So, with every tool possible, they’ve relentlessly circumvented Ritz, usurping the authority attached to her job. Republican legislators suddenly embraced an idea tossed around for decades — making the superintendent a governor-appointed position, rather than an elected one. With the GOP holding super majorities in the state Senate and House, the only thing preventing it from following through with that tactic was its blatantly obvious political motivation.

“Pence’s proposal injects a new twist. Instead of ousting Ritz, the change drains a huge amount of her remaining power. The other 10 members of the Board of Education — all appointed by Republican governors — would select their chairperson to set the agenda for education policy in Indiana. Ritz would be reduced to just another member, because the others would certainly not choose her.

“Disappointingly, the Republican leaders of the Legislature endorsed Pence’s plan last week. House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long expressed their frustration with the embarrassing dysfunction between the governor’s board and Ritz, calling it a “sideshow” and framing Pence’s proposal as a solution. Ritz is not the problem. The problem is the power party’s refusal to tolerate a rejection of their ballyhooed education reforms by the same voters who simultaneously approved of the Republicans’ efforts in other aspects of governing.”

In an earlier post, I expressed the concern of parents in Seattle that the selection of a permanent superintendent was moving too quickly. Some parents, always suspicious that Bill Gates is trying to buy their schools, feared that he was involved in the rushed process. I regret that I cast aspersion on Dr. Larry Nyland, the interim superintendent who is under consideration for the post of permanent superintendent. I have it on excellent authority that he is an experienced educator of impeccable integrity. If the board slows down, listens to parents, and engages the public in this important decision, it will build trust and good will.

Here is a statement from Seattle parent leaders. They do not oppose Dr. Nyland. They want public engagement, which is a precondition for building trust.

Dear Seattle School Board Directors,

As strong advocates for family engagement, we are concerned about the timing and rushed nature to appoint Dr. Nyland permanently through 2017.
Our council board feels that a search for a Superintendent could provide other qualified candidates, however we also believe that providing consistent leadership and stability for staff and families also has value for our district at this time. When asked to provide support for a contract extension for Dr. Nyland as interim Superintendent, we agreed. Dr. Nyland’s commitment to stewardship and accountability of SPS resources, closing the opportunity gap, providing better customer service, and responding to parent concerns is encouraging. However, when appointing a permanent Superintendent these criteria and commitments should be fully assessed through a formal process.

SCPTSA did not realize the School Board would be voting on this action so quickly without providing time for families to engage. The specifics of the contract extension, specifically to make this a permanent appointment, and the process for hiring the Superintendent, were unknown even to us. Families have been led to believe that there would be a full and transparent search process for the appointment of a new Superintendent. Five days’ notice over a holiday weekend is simply not enough time.

The School Board should move at a more deliberate pace. This rushed action will likely perpetuate distrust of the School Board and the District. Rushed decisions continue to force parents to react instead of being able to engage effectively in their children’s education.

We ask the School Board to delay this vote to explain the decision process to parents and school communities and allow sufficient time for response. It is vital the School Board takes the proper time to confirm the right person is being hired as the permanent Superintendent of our schools.

Sincerely,

Seattle Council PTSA Board
Katherine Schomer, President
Cassandra Johnston, Vice President
Dianne Casper, Secretary
Jenny Young, Treasurer
Eden Mack, Advocacy/Legislative chair
Julie van Arcken, Central Area Director
Cecilia McCormick, Special Education Director
Annabel Quintero, South West Area Director

CC: PTA Board Leadership for all 82 PTA Local Units in Seattle

Superintendents in the Lower Hudson Valley area spoke critically of the state evaluation system for teachers and principals, called the Annual Professional Performance Review, in a meeting with the editorial board of the Journal-News. .

The evaluation system does not accurately identify teachers as effective or ineffective, and the State Education Department has been unwilling to listen to professionals in the field. The implementation has been as flawed as the implementation of Common Core. Both are tied to testing, and both derive from Race to the Top. The state received $700 million in Race to the Top funding but is likely to spend multiples of that amount to carry out its mandates. Since no part of Race to the Top was based on research, it is unlikely to produce good results. What it has produced is disruption, demoralization, outrage, and a vibrant anti-testing and anti-Common Core movement, led by parents.

Arizona had a hotly contested race for State Superintendent. The last one, John Huppenthal, was a strong supporter of Common Core who embarrassed himself by posting crude comments anonymously on blogs. When his name leaked, he was finished, beaten in the Republican primary by a little-known candidate named Diane Douglas.

In the November 4 election, Douglas ran against veteran educator David Garcia. A Democrat, Garcia received a slew of bipartisan endorsements. Douglas kept a low profile while Garcia racked up endorsements. The only issue associated with her was her opposition to Common Core.

Garcia seemed to be the only Democrat with a chance of winning. He had the experience and the credentials. But at last count, Douglas was leading 51-49, too close to call.

This blogger in Arizona wrote this:

“Douglas ran no campaign that I could see. I never saw a sign, never saw a TV ad. She rarely talked to the media, and she refused to debate Garcia. She had one issue: opposition to Common Core. The tea bagging Douglas had no endorsements whose names you’d recognize, and her own friggin’ website is absolutely empty under the section called “My Record and News.” It says to “check back” later; it still says that. Her online bio proudly celebrates her lack of professional experience:

“I did it on my own, for my own edification rather than through a college of “education” in order to add letters after my name.”

Got that? Education in quotes—not the real stuff like her learnin’. Douglas, who runs a stained glass store, did have one thing going for her: An R after her name. I’d wager a big bucket of cash that the old farts in Sun City and the wingers statewide who elected this Know Nothing couldn’t pick Douglas out of a lineup, or tell you one thing she stands for. Except she’s not a Democrat and she doesn’t like Barack Obama.

Paul Karrer, a veteran teacher in Castroville, explains why Californians should not vote for Marshall Tuck, who is a candidate for state superintendent. He represents the tiny but fabulously wealthy hedge fund managers who want to destroy public education. With backing from the powerful charter school industry, he has garnered endorsements from newspapers across the state, despite his lack of any accomplishment in education.

 

Karrer writes in The Herald of Monterrey:

 

I want to weep when noneducators use the destructive words and framing of those who would destroy public education. The Herald writes, “Tuck led Green Dot public schools in L.A., garners support from charter operators, and even tech companies along with wealthy backers who champion reform. He supports merit pay for teachers, and using student test scores as a means to evaluate teachers.”

None of those things are good!

 

He add, referring to Tuck’s experience at the Green Dot charter chain:

 

Green Dot Charter Schools: It is a student-skimming charter operation where parents or guardians who care opt their students into the school — meaning the kids are not the bottom of the bottom of the bottom. Outlier kids are booted, the teaching staff has quit en masse, and $15 million (double the normal federal investment dollars amount) had to be infused to make the venture survive. Slick charterists get public schools condemned and then Green Dot moves in to make money. Green Dot claims the scores go up (*see below). However, scores are only marginally increased (if that) and only if one massages the numbers with carefully selected framing. But they should, with all the low-performance and disabled kids who were not attending the school.

 

By the way, when a business is designated as not-for profit, grab your wallet and tighten up because intellectually you may be in for a nonconsensual act. Not-for-profit is merely an IRS filing. It means nothing morally or ethically. Many not-for-profit businesses choke their board of directors with obscene salaries, like Green Dot does.

 

Wealthy supporters: Hedge fund managers, or technocrats who although very successful in the world of finance have no clue about education. And they think a spreadsheet leads to all worldly answers and profits.

 

Bottom line: Vote for Tom Torklakson, not flashy, but a real educator.

 

 

Whenever a superintendent speaks truth to ower, their voice should be heard. What is more, they deserve to be honored. I am glad here to honor William G . Hochgesang, Superintendent, Northeast Dubois public schools and to add him to our honor roll as a champion of public education. The politicians are hurting children, hurting teachers, and decimating public education. Thank you, Superintendent Hochgesang, for speaking up with courage and clarity for our kids and our democracy.

This letter from Superintendent Hochgesang came from another Indiana superintendent, Dr. Terry Sargeant:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Over the weekend, I received this letter through the Indiana Small & Rural Schools Association. It was written by Dr. Bill Hochgesang, Superintendent of Northeast Dubois Schools, to his school board the evening he asked them to approve their new teacher contract. In a nutshell, I have not heard the circumstances currently faced by Indiana Public Schools expressed any better. This letter is beginning to go viral in Indiana and I thought you might enjoy reading it. I agree with Bill 100% and I only hope that the political pendulum in Indiana will begin to swing the other direction soon – for the sake of our kids.

Most sincerely,

Terry

Dr. Terry R. Sargent
Superintendent
Jennings County School Corporation
34 W. Main Street
North Vernon, Indiana 47265
(812) 346-4483
tsargent@jcsc.org

“All children are gifted; some just open their packages earlier than others.”

– Michael Carr

​”​ Board,

I am recommending to the board this evening that they ratify the contract as presented. This contract for the second year in a row has a zero increase . Our Classroom Teachers Association does this fully knowing that zero isn’t in reality a zero. It is a negative as our insurance rate increased by 4% in 2013 and increased 8% for the 2015 school year. In the past there was a salary schedule for teachers that had an increment in place for experience . That option was taken away two years ago by our legislature. So this is a true pay cut for the second year in a row. Along with our teachers, all employees of Northeast Dubois have taken this same cut in salary the past two years . It saddens me to have to ask for this and accept this. But that is the reality of what we are currently dealing with.

It does however give me great pleasure to work in this school system where kids truly come first. Our school corporation is a system where people honestly put students’ needs ahead of their own as evidenced by these actions. Our school corporation is innovative as shown by our technology, our atmosphere and, of course, our success . Still we are never satisfied and continuously work to improve. Our school system strives to provide students the opportunity to pursue their passions and excel in many areas! Our school system is one where there is no talk of cutting any programs or enlarging class sizes in order to save money-yet. I worry about this trend continuing. Staff has shown their dedication to students by forgoing pay in order to protect these programs and class sizes.

I only wish I lived in a state where legislators cared as much for students as we do at Northeast Dubois. In 2009, $300,000,000 was taken from the education budget and never returned. Yet we all read in the news that the state has a $2,000,000,000 surplus. One doesn’t have to be a math expert in order to see where 75% of that money came from. Take five years times $300,000,000 and it is crystal clear that $1.5 Billion has come at the cost of the schools in Indiana. Many schools have turned to referendums, just to make ends meet. In fact, after the May election one out of every three schools in Indiana has run a referendum on the voting ballot. Yet, what do we as educators get from our legislators? We get higher standards, more accountability and forced competition, competition for money that is not increasing. We are forced to compete for students, as the money follows the child . We get forced competition where students are ranked, teachers are ranked and schools are ranked. Ranking always produces winners and losers, there is always a top and always a bottom, and in education there cannot be any losers! The education of every child in this state is critical. I am a firm believer that every school in this state is giving their best effort! I wish the legislators would truly see what great things are happening in our schools and begin to support our efforts . I feel they have forgotten the essential role education has played in the success in their own lives and that an education is the most important aspect in leaving a legacy for our children. Public education as we know it is in grave danger. Our legislators need to know just how much we care about our schools and we need their support!

Northeast Dubois is surviving like every other school corporation in this state; we are surviving by a slim margin. We are surviving because of our dedicated, caring and giving people. To all Northeast Dubois employees: Thank you for truly putting kids first! I am humbled to be a part of this school corporation. And hopefully better days are ahead! Let’s keep working together for all our students!

Thank you,

William G . Hochgesang,
Superintendent, Northeast Dubois ​”

Karin Klein of the Los Angeles Times wrote a blistering editorial about the LAUSD school board’s failure (thus far) to get to the bottom of departing Superintendent John Deasy’s $1.3 billion iPad deal.

 

Did the board agree to let him go quietly and to quash the investigation? That would be wrong. Klein rightly says: The public has a right to know.

 

In the separation agreement, the board said it “does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts.”
Why is the board voicing anything about its belief system while a second investigation is ongoing? There have been rumors that Deasy wanted this investigation to go away as part of his agreement; Deasy vehemently denies that. Although the inspector general is an independent office within the district, the board still has authority over the office’s budget, and there shouldn’t be anything that could be perceived as pressure on the investigation to go one way or another. The appropriate response from the board? Radio silence until the investigation is complete and reviewed by the district attorney’s office, as state law requires.

 

The problem is that, although the investigation might well find that nothing criminal happened, what if it finds some ethical issues? The board has promised to take no action against Deasy on that, which makes sense; probably the worst it would have done to him was ask him to leave, so the issue is moot. It could still take action against any employees remaining, but it’s unclear who those would be. Aquino’s already gone.

 

Unless the board decides to make both reports public, the rest of us will never know whether there was a problem with the way this was handled, or whether Deasy and Aquino were utterly exonerated. Both would be equally important to know. United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl, during a meeting with the Times’ editorial board Thursday, was already talking about Deasy’s “bid-rigging,” without so much as a qualifier, as though Caputo-Pearl had some kind of criminal divining rod. Reminded that we’re a long way from knowing whether there was anything wrong with those or any other emails, much less something criminally wrong, he corrected himself, adding a couple of “allegeds” to his words. There would always be a cloud over Deasy’s head, always these conversations in which he is “convicted” by words on an utter lack of evidence, unless an investigation is made public that clears him.

 

Or the opposite. Before the project was slowed, diversified and then suspended, the public almost spent half a billion dollars on iPads that were about to be made obsolete by new models, with software that hadn’t yet been completed. If there were ethical breaches, the public has a right to the truth in every detail.

 

The board’s appropriate response to an ongoing investigation should have been to say nothing except, “We look forward to a complete and unstinting investigation that we promise to make public.” Deasy’s departure shouldn’t alter the district’s commitment to the public in any way.

 

 

 

 

Michael Janofsky reports in LA School Report that John Deasy may step down as early as tomorrow as Los Angeles Superintendent of Schools. Read here for the details. 

Wow! Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles called the police to remove a school Board member from a school in her district.

Bernadette Nutall was escorted out of a middle school by three police officers. I guess Mike Miles forgot that he works for the board.

“Nutall said she showed up at the South Dallas school around 6:30 a.m. for an emergency staff meeting after Miles replaced the campus’ leadership team and 10 teachers on Friday. Nutall said that when Miles entered the building, he told her she couldn’t be at the school or at the staff meeting and asked her to leave.

“Nutall said she refused and left Miles to talk to staff, greet them and meet with teachers other floors of the campus. When she returned to the main entrance and asked Miles about his changes at Dade, he had three officers remove Nutall from school, she said.

“I have never ever experienced anything like this in my life. I cannot believe he did it,” Nutall said Monday. “I felt like how teachers and principals feel when Miles walks into a building.”

“She added: “This is a clear example of the consistent bullying tactics that we continue to hear about Miles exhibiting to staff. I have experienced it firsthand myself the abusive behavior of power…..”

Miles visited Dade last week and ordered massive changes at the academically low-performing campus. The principal is gone, as are two assistant principals. Ten teachers have been replaced with instructional coaches from other DISD campuses.

Nutall said the main reason for her visit Monday was to encourage staff. “It is a crisis there,” she said….

“Nutall said teachers are scared, worried about their jobs and concerned about how the sudden staffing changes will affect children. Nutall said she was escorted out of the building right after she questioned Miles and deputy superintendent Ann Smisko on the changes at Dade.

“Dade, which is rated “improvement required” by the state, has had four principals in 18 months. Miles hired Alecia Cobb to run Dade last year. He removed her during the summer and replaced her with Michael Jones, an assistant principal at Skyline High School. And on Friday, Miles brought in Hogg Elementary School principal Margarita Garcia…..”

Bob Braun, veteran education reporter, says that Barringer High School is in chaos, due to poor planning by the district leadership, i.e., Cami Anderson.

 

The school, intended to hold 600 students, has been divided into two schools, each with 700 students.

 

The principal of one school was fired by Anderson, and the principal of the other quit before school started.

 

He writes:

 

“Barringer High School in Newark was in chaos today after scores of students and parents marched out of the North Ward school–the oldest high school in Newark–to protest teacherless classrooms, foodless lunch hours, and class sizes reaching into the sixties….Wilhelmina Holder, a parent leader who is head of the Secondary School Coalition, said Barringer has been in a state of “chaos” since school opened Sept. 4. Many students sent there under Anderson’s “One Newark” plan either have no schedules at all or temporary schedules that are changed every few days.”

 

 

 

 

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