SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Category

Corporate restructuring

The news that Superintendent Jonathan Raymond is seeking permission from trustees to hire a chief accountability officer for SCUSD does not allay very real fears that Raymond is accelerating a push to develop a corporate education culture in Sacramento.

Consider these job titles: Chief Talent Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Portfolio Officer…all with annual salary ranges between $125,000-175,000. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a strong proponent of privatization, devised this idea of “administrative restructuring.”

These executives (most who have never taught in a classroom or been a principal) make the rounds throughout the countries’ school systems while changing job titles and descriptions. It’s a smorgasboard of CEO’s. Raymond was a chief accountability officer before he was hired in Sacramento.

The ultimate goal is to run the school system like a corporation –SCUSD teachers will have continued pressure to “teach the test” and improve API scores — data will be relentlessly tracked and tied to performance by the chief accountability officer.

This reform leads to what education historian Diane Ravitch calls a huge mistake:

Teachers — not just union leaders — are unhappy, frustrated, and demoralized. So are parents, because they don’t like the high-stakes testing regime either. They don’t like that their children are losing time for the arts, science, history, geography, physical education, foreign languages, and everything that is not tested. They may not be well-informed, yet they know that their children are missing out on a good education.

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The Sup uses the word "blueprint"

Editor’s Note: Blueprint is the buzzword for the re-issue of No Child Left Behind.
Here is the most recent letter from Jonathan Raymond to pink-slipped employees:

March 22, 2010
Dear Colleague:
At Thursday night’s Board meeting, I was thrilled to announce that we plan to send letters out on Monday that will rescind approximately 170 of the layoff notices that were sent out last week.  We hope, in the coming weeks, to rescind even more.  These rescissions mark a step in the right direction but make no mistake – we still have a long way to go.  I understand that this process can be confusing at times and that it can be laden with tremendous anxiety and upset, and my staff and I are available to answer any questions you might have about the status of the process.
The unfortunate truth is that there is no way to avoid some layoffs to balance our fiscal house.  The exact number that will be needed is undetermined at this time, but I can tell you that I am doing everything in my power to have as few people as possible be impacted.
It is crucial that, even while we face the types of extraordinary challenges that we do today, we never stop searching for ways to innovate and improve our children’s education.  It is with this notion in mind that we introduced our “Priority Schools” Initiative earlier this week.  By focusing on bringing the best staffs and most resources to these six underperforming schools, we will be able to create a blueprint for the success of the other schools in our district.  Change at these sites will not come easy.  In fact, it will require us all to take a long, hard look at the way we go about educating our children at these sites and in general.  It will also require us to identify where our strengths are and have the courage to acknowledge our weaknesses.  Cleary, the status quo has not been working for our children and while I am not interested in making change for the sake of change, we MUST be willing take a step back and examine even the most fundamental aspects of how we operate.
As we look at new ideas, innovative approaches and creative strategies, it is important that we leave no stone unturned and no opportunity unexplored.  That is the basis of the Teach for America proposal.  This is obviously a topic that has inspired a lot feedback from many around our district and the full-house at Thursday’s Board meeting is a testament to that.  I truly appreciate and embrace an intelligent and mature dialogue about this – and every – issue.  We won’t all agree on every idea that may lead to improving the quality of our children’s education, but we should be able to agree that we need to work together to solve our problems.
As this process unfolds, I will continue to seek out feedback from all of you regarding where we are, how we got here and, most importantly, where we can go from here.  You have a continuing commitment from me to be open and transparent in this process and I ask that you join me in working collaboratively – not antagonistically – to help us all achieve our ultimate goal: the best education for our children that we can possibly provide.
Sincerely,

Jonathan P. Raymond
Superintendent

Written by scusdobserver

March 21, 2010 at 10:02 pm

No child left behind races to the top?

Last week’s release of the AYP Progress report for SCUSD shows that many of the schools in our district are failing to adequately educate Sacramento children according to No Child Left Behind standards.

SCUSD schools in year 1 of program improvement status jumped from 3 in 2008-09 to 15 to 2009-10.

The statistics are troubling
. Many of our local high schools are at risk of entering PI status next year.

In last week’s Sacramento Bee, Superintendent Raymond describes the vicious cycle of program improvement:

“It’s like the Hotel California, you check in but you never check out.”

What constitutes failure? STAR test results? Isn’t it clearly obvious that NCLB has most educators focused on “teaching the test”?

The one-size-fits-all approach to the law doesn’t reflect or support the incredibly varied needs and strengths of the schools …

Enter President Obama’s Race to the Top, part of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

In order to receive federal money, California must tie teacher performance to test results and legislators will soon meet in a special session to consider Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Race To the Top” plan which would allow merit pay and more charter schools.

Consequently, the teachers’ unions feel squeezed by former allies, including the president, seeing more of the same, tired rhetoric around test scores as opposed to real, educational reform.

And, by the way, is anyone asking the local teachers about reform? Is there any other profession in this country where salary is used as a punitive measure? Do we pay legislators on how many laws they pass?

It’s long overdue to start listening to educators, teachers and parents.

It’s hard to fathom that Education Secretary Arne Duncan (who has never taught in a classroom) has a better idea of reform for our district than say, Susan Miller.

Will you take Arnold Schwarzenneger’s advice on how to enrich your kid’s high school experience? Wouldn’t your principal be just a bit more knowledgeable?

Let’s ask Kevin Johnson to come into your child’s elementary school class and give the teacher some pointers on how to race to the top…

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Review of Options…

Thursday night’s school board meeting promises a very full agenda:

  • SAIT progress reports for Father Keith B. Kenny Charter, Alice Birney and Pacific Elementary Schools
  • A recommendation on the VIMS Charter Petition
  • A budget update
  • Criteria for layoffs
  • Criteria for school consolidation/closure…

…among many other items. Public comment is scheduled for around 7:15 p.m.

Highlights from the last meeting (February 19th, 2009).

Student and Family Support Services Report
Board members reinforced their commitments to increased engagement with the families of students. The concept that empowering staff tasked with this job is more important than the efficiencies of the Learning Support Unit model was shared.

Public Comment
A heart rendering story was shared by a teacher concerning a middle school student’s ensnarement into the prostitution of children. Extra comment time was extended to the teacher and an immediate referral to Student and Family Services was made.

Policy Governance Framework returned to committee
The proposal was for the president role to rotate and for this person to be the only official spokesperson for the Board. Concerns were expressed concerning how this would affect trustee areas.

Midyear cuts revised down to $9.5 M from $15 M
$2 million cut, $4 million borrowed from other funds.
3.5 million remaining cuts most likely to come from categorical funds.

Budget deficit revised down to $15.7 M (includes $8.3 M of one-time 08-09 funds.)
Potential Options: $1 M savings from central office, $2 M savings/income from closing/renting 4 schools, $2 M savings from no or bond contribution to deferred maintenance.

Staff lay offs
Two exhibits with a range of 200 to 500 direct certificated services (teachers) were presented. It was also stated that all administrative services would be laid off to provide “maximum flexibility”.

St HOPE financial agreement Quarterly Report
A one-page annual budget summary of the current fiscal year was presented to the Board as an update on the current financial status of ST HOPE Public Schools. A 39 page audit of the previous fiscal year (completed 12/08) was attached. There was minimal Board discussion.

School facilities closing/community engagement
Staff presented a case study of a neighborhood school using their study matrix and criteria tools. The Board directed staff to revise their study approach to use capacity utilization as the ranking approach rather than enrollment numbers.

Local Educational Agency Plan for 08-09
The comprehensive plan which outlines how district programs and resources will coordinate to meet the principles and objectives of No Child Left Behind was adopted with minimal discussion.

Written by scusdobserver

March 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Schools reclassify students, pass test under federal law

In today’s Bee:

Will C. Wood Middle School faced a vexing situation when last year’s test results came out in August. Most students had met the mark set by No Child Left Behind. But African American students’ math scores fell far short of it, bringing the school into failing status in the eyes of the federal law.

Written by scusdobserver

April 27, 2008 at 9:41 am