SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘Leo Bennett-Cauchon’ Category

Take no prisoners, er…teachers

By Leo Bennett-Cauchon

Let’s pledge that children come first at Sac City Unified.
Let’s promise to put a child’s best interest at the heart of every decision we make.
Let’s stand up together.
What would happen?

Dear Board Members:

For your consideration tonight and this coming school year I would like to offer an alternative vision from my home town. I have many nieces and nephews in San Diego so I continue to follow education where I began public school teaching. This was during the Alan Bersin era of top down change.

This era is featured by Diane Ravitch in her recent book which I hope you are pondering. Here are some excerpts from an interview with her on SDUSD’s experience with the pilot project of the change model that SCUSD is adopting in many ways, even if it is dressed in a gentler style.

Why San Diego? What is it about the battles here that proved important for you in illustrating a larger point about school reform?
San Diego was a very important district in the current reform narrative because it was the first big district to apply the top-down approach. The leadership knew exactly what teachers should be doing, and they required compliance. Its “take-no-prisoners” approach was subsequently copied by Joel Klein in New York City and Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C.

Conflict is a sign of failed leadership in education. When one is running a prison system, it is important to have a tough, top-down style, because you can’t take chances. But in education, the leadership must rely on the teachers to do the daily work. If the leadership does not win their willing, even enthusiastic, support, then the reforms will stall. Teachers are educated adults; they have experience with students. They don’t like to be treated like children. They need to feel respected.

There are plenty of problems in San Diego but I do think that the board majority there (which also operates with a policy governance model) can provide examples that are worth your consideration.

Below is an excerpt from the March annual State of the District speech by the board president. I urge you to consider placing the vision of community-driven change ahead of chief-driven change:

“The competing vision for reform comes from what I would characterize as the community model. This vision sees change as fundamentally coming from those closest to kids – teachers, parents, principals, support staff at the school such as paraeducators, counselors, librarians and office staff, community volunteers and even students themselves. The community model puts its faith in strong relationships built between people within a school community, striving for what University of Chicago professors Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider term ‘Trust in Schools.’ ” (SDUSD President)

They’re Not Listening Still…

At Thursday night’s board meeting, a group of citizens presented a budget plan that was ambitious in its scope and outlined very accurately (with what public records were available) how the school board could save schools and jobs in the fall.

Leo Bennett-Cauchon summed up the presentation with the following words, and they bear repeating here:

Budgets are a plan for the future. They have to be realistic but they must not be pessimistic.

To quote Franklin Roosevelt, this is the time for “unconquerable gladness”. This is the time for an agenda of optimism. This is a time for a vision of small walkable schools which are the vibrant community centers of our neighborhoods.

Schools as they are meant to be, with children learning and playing. Schools alive with the many ideas and services that the community brought forth at the recent engagement meetings. Schools that are creatively expanding their missions into a sustainable future.

Our budget can support such a vision. It can keep all of our staff. Yes it needs balancing but remember that in every challenge there is opportunity. Seize your opportunity to come together and provide clear and direct instructions to management. Hold the budget community forums that were promised to us and we will show you the savings that our storm tossed management – God bless them all – has missed. Savings in overvalued supplies and consultants, not priceless classified and certificated staff.

Direct management to bring back at least three budget options on April 16th. One can be a staff recommendation but the other two should incorporate many of the community and Board ideas that have been shared during this turbulent journey.

Have an authentic dialog with parents and teachers. We all want to serve and support our children. They are our future and they deserve a budget worthy of their limitless potential.

Change this budget to positive the right way.

Be the change we need.

Yes You Can. Yes We Can!

Written by scusdobserver

April 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Private Citizens Will Balance the Budget Tonight

At tonight’s board meeting, a group of citizens will make a presentation that will knock your socks off.

Thanks to the diligent research of Mr. Leo Bennett-Cauchon, the presenters will shine a light on a budget process that focuses on concrete solutions, complete with charts and graphs.

They will tell us that all of our schools can remain open and that teachers and administrators can be brought back to work. Mr. Cauchon and other citizens have excavated the wasteland of bureaucratic numbers and found pay dirt.

Tonight, this new board will be given a rare opportunity to embrace the democratic process, listen to constituents and capitalize on the information presented to them.

Grimes, Houseman, Bell, Rodriguez, Arroyo, Kennedy and Terry can unite as a board to provide clear, direct instructions to management to come back on the April 16th budget deadline with different and positive options. This board can confirm for us their commitment to policy governance.

This is their chance.

Written by scusdobserver

April 2, 2009 at 3:06 pm

SCUSD Election 2008

Candidates and their biographies
(hyperlinked where available)…

Area 3 (edited 10/18/08)
David Chance
Vicki Simpson
Donald Terry

Area 4
Darlene Anderson
Gustavo Arroyo
Theresa Moung Hinh Saechao

Area 5
Leo Bennett-Cauchon
Toni Colley-Perry
Diana Rodriguez

Area 7
Patrick Kennedy