SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘Susan Miller’ Category

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…



Raymond emerges from closed session

Updated Friday, July 24

The Sacramento Bee updates the story about the hiring of Jonathan Raymond in this morning’s paper with comments by Roy Grimes defending the board’s transparency issues and also Raymond’s salary

Reading down to the last paragraph of the article:

“He was a front-runner,” Grimes said. “He’s low-key, but no nonsense. … He intends to be very active in this community. He has committed to have his three kids attend our schools and live in the district.”


Last night, a special board meeting introduced Jonathan Raymond as SCUSD’s next superintendent. Susan Miller, who did not apply for the position, comments in the Sacramento Bee:

“I look forward to a new superintendent coming in with fresh eyes,” said Miller, who will return to her role as associate superintendent.

Miller said the next superintendent will walk into a difficult position because of limited resources and ongoing budget issues. She said she wonders what the effect of dwindling resources will be on students.

“Can we continue to provide the type of education our students deserve and parents expect?” Miller said. “That’s a challenge in these times when you’ve cut the amount of money districts have cut.”


Written by scusdobserver

July 23, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Again…with the "revenue stream"

In today’s Bee, SCUSD Interim Superintendent Susan Miller makes an interesting comment about finding leases for its currently closed facilities (and those to be closed).

“When you have tenants in there it adds to the safety and security of the environment,” Miller said. “It’s least likely to be vandalized, and financially, we want to find a revenue stream.”

The emotional and financial impact of closing a school reaches far beyond the revenue stream. Kicking kids out, finding non-existent renters in a dismal economy, repairing vandalism, all the bureaucratic twisting and turning…wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to just keep the darn schools open and demand the SCUSD board balance the books without this scorched earth policy?

Written by scusdobserver

June 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm

A stinking, rotten mess

Ah, the squirming begins yet again. Kevin Johnson’s spokesperson, Steve Maviglio will try to convince us that Rick Maya’s allusion to obstruction of justice charges are just a simple technology goof. Gerald Walpin, the Inspector General, is a rogue character and the SCUSD administration says everything is in order, nothing to see here folks…but the wallpaper is peeling and underneath lies a stinking, rotten mess.

New charges could undermine St. HOPE settlement

Sacramento City Unified School District officials said they will continue to monitor the St. HOPE Public Schools situation but noted that most of the concerns cited in Maya’s letter involve the charter schools’ relationship with St. HOPE Academy, which is a private nonprofit not under their control.

The district authorizes the charters that allow St. HOPE to run Sacramento Charter High School and PS7 Elementary School. The charter schools pay rent to the school district for two campuses.

“Our main point is looking at the fiscal solvency,” said district Interim Superintendent Susan Miller. “They’ve met their timelines, so we don’t believe that will be a problem.”

At tonight’s board meeting
presumably Deputy Superintendent Tom Barentson will present St. Hope charter school’s quarterly report and a discussion about facilities will ensue among SCUSD board members.

Written by scusdobserver

May 21, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Who is running this show?

At the risk of simply blogging as a Sacramento Bee critique, today we’d like to draw your attention to an editorial: Superintendent Search Drags On.

The piece illuminates two (particularly) noticeable points:

  • Thirteen months after Maggie Mejia announced her retirement, SCUSD is without a permanent superintendent.
  • Teachers, principals and Teamsters unions announced Thursday that they do not want a search. They want the board to appoint interim Superintendent Susan Miller as the permanent superintendent.

Why isn’t a permanent superintendent in place now? Is it a result of board incompetence that this search is not complete? Are our new representatives so green that they just can’t seem to get up-to-speed on what their responsibilities and priorities are? Or is it more likely that the District is without a superintendent because of an internal power struggle? What is the back story here?

Susan Miller, together with Tom Barentson, have force-fed their worst-case-scenario economic policies to this newly-elected board and the majority have adopted Miller’s recommendations without question.

She’s the teacher and they are the class.

And with the editorial’s revelation that the Teamsters are now involved in pushing for Miller’s permanent hiring, the question of who is actually running this show takes on a larger intrigue.

Written by scusdobserver

May 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Eight Million and Holding…

In today’s Sacramento Bee, the story focuses on the still-unresolved issue of the consent decree high school.

In the article, Interim Superintendent Susan Miller publicly acknowledges the rumor that the District is considering the idea of a partnership with Sacramento State.

“Right now we have some proposals from people as a result of the community meetings,” Miller said. “One is a partnership with Sacramento State as a demonstration (high) school.”

“Demonstration” presumably means college preparatory and would satisfy the requirements of the consent decree if all parties agree to it. Tom Barentson, District CFO, points out in the article that the Where’s My High School activists wanted more out of a high school than the consent decree lawsuit required.

In the meantime, the District is holding $8 million in bond money. The consent decree high school was supposed to be established by the fall of last year. The District claims that other needs are more pressing at the moment, specifically current budget cuts.

It’s time to resolve this issue.

Written by scusdobserver

May 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Closing Thomas Jefferson: Why?

SCUSD management is recommending that Thomas Jefferson Elementary school close next fall and that the student population (including special education students) merge with Hubert Bancroft Elementary.

During the community meeting held at Jefferson in January, the College Glen Neighborhood Association proposed a two-part plan to reconfigure both Jefferson and Bancroft into viable elementary and middle schools to better serve the community’s needs.

Why were the ideas and concerns presented at that community meeting not even mentioned in the District staff’s recent presentation to the Board?

“These don’t come lightly and we take these (school closures) very seriously.”
~ Susan Miller, SCUSD Interim Superintedent

Written by scusdobserver

April 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm