Friday December 20, 2013
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Mr. Aleshire, Most readers of the Roundup have ascertained that you have soci0-political preferences that can be described as "liberal". Again, most of us take it in stride and adjust to an author's biases or prejudices. Of late, however, you have been pushing the limit of our tolerance and I wish that you would do a bit of self-examination. Your final remarks about "political games" belittles those who disagree with your views and is too disrespectful."Know thyself " before you write things based on your viewpoints, or tag then as such.
The following topic has been whirling around in my head for more than a short time. Events of late have made the topic more pertinent. The Obama regime lately has been "outed" for making many " legislative" decisions. He and his administration have arbitrarily changed the Obamacare law by postponing implementation of sections. The Constitution gives the power to make law to Congress. Period. The job of the President and his staff is to carry out (execute) the laws faithfully. Second, the administration has now hired La LA-land stars to convince the populace that Obamacare is a good thing and the populace should sign. Third, the administration has boldly lied to we citizens about events several times, Libya being a good example, and has done so with impunity to this point in time. I add the signs and become anxious because these are signs of an authoritarian regime. They say what is politically advantageous and then lie if necessary; they attempt to sell the populace on what the administration deems appropriate; they stifle the press by limiting access; they rely on charisma to charm voters, etc. How many of us have taken a wide view of the status of events and are chilled because the tactics being used by the Administration are reminiscent of what former dictators have used?
I have only a token or two to add to this discussion. First, is it really worth all of the fuss and expense that we now devote to those who smoke a joint? Second, I saw a news report two days ago that stated that the "Mob" is already moving into Colorado in order to try to corner the MJ trade. Hmmm. Shades of Prohibition?
Tom, Boy! Your concept would take many, many changes in the laws regarding special districts (which is what school districts are) or at least the laws governing educational districts and schools in general. I will have to ponder things. Lets see, where is my pondering cushion??
Tom, The only people who have normal access to budget numbers, aside from employees, are members of the Board. Part of the responsibility of the Board involves acting as fiduciary overseers for the public that elected them. Where I worked any member of the Board could ask that any item on the Consent Agenda, which included most budget matters, could be removed and placed as an single item. Thus, sunlight was applied when the item was discussed in an open meeting of the Board. Even if that process is not used here, the Board remains the overseer of matters including the budget. Where were the members of the Board when spending decisions were made regarding selling of District property? Short- and long-term upkeep of District property?
Tom, I think that the justice system and the penal system in the U.S. is and has long been a mess. Yesterday I saw a report of a teacher sentenced to 30 years in prison for having had sex with a student. You can guess that I have strong feelings about her behavior but a sentence of 30 years? How is that relative or proportional or sensible? One more example: a person steals my car and is apprehended . The trial could cost over $100,000. The cost of keeping a person in prison has been estimated to be over $30,000 a year. The stolen auto might have cost $20,000 and what types of workable programs exist in prisons that are designed to "rehabilitate" the thief? I must confess that I do not know what the answer(s) are unless we change much of our culture, so I remain perplexed and unsatisfied.
Tom, Test resultscan not be raised year after year unless the test is changed or the scores re-normed. You are correct. My usual response is : see what happens when one mixes politics and public education ! The entire No Child Left Behind and many other state programs are based on the assumption that a" politician" understands education. Unlikely. A "politician" understands (?) that education is a topic that generates interest and possible support, so the politician will mouth and write platitudes to get votes. Most all of the programs are unsound, unfunded, unscientific, and unworkable. Could a "politician" come up with a program that really improves public education? Possibly, but first that person would have to be working with the mindset of a "public servant" and not as a "politician". How likely is that?
Tom, I will stipulate to most of what you posted. Even so, I never agree that things or people or test results are as good as they can be. Data has shown that IQ scores can be raised in areas (if not overall) by altering how things are taught and how things are measured after being taught. We can change curricula; we can better teach to stated objectives; we can better individualize learning goals for each student; when we teach we can use multiple approaches rather than just "dishing it out". Having said a few of the things that we could improve upon, most improvements do not happen automatically. Proper leadership for change is needed. PUSD has not shown such leadership at the Board level and has undermined the current Superintendent who has attempted to cause changes
that might have led to improvements. In fact, certain members of the current Board have in the past demonstrated behaviors that are contrary to leadership toward positive changes. Tom, you do ask a good question when you ask if stress on the educational system is causing serious issues. Yes. Political, economic and systemic stresses take a toll on the entire system. Teachers are near the bottom of the power diagram and in order for positive changes to take place the teachers must feel themselves to be valued, protected against unwarranted attacks, financed properly, etc. Without ethical, wise, knowledge-based leadership, much proper and positive change will not take place.
Roy, I am greatly impressed by your statements ! You crafted and presented concepts that I and many other citizens living in the PUSD think or feel but could not enunciate so clearly. If only the PUSD Board could realize how puerile and amateurish the members appear. However, it goes beyond amateurish when the Board injures parents, students ,staff and community by making poor financial and educational decisions that impact the futures of students. The next Superintendent, no matter what his or her qualifications and skills may be, will be handicapped and burdened unless this Board realizes its responsibilities and meets them with energy, ethical decision-making, knowledge and wise stewardship of public funds. To this point in time the Board has failed miserably.
I will repeat myself : At least 2 members of the Board ( members with seniority on the Board) show a record of poor leadership, poor oversight, poor decision-making, and a clash between what is personal and what is best for public education. See what the Board has given the public over the past 3 years - personnel vendettas against teachers and administrators, a debt of over 1 million dollars, keeping an inept Superintendent who played the Board and allowed or initiated the things mentioned above, and the current leadership crisis. Mr. Hitchcock, who has made some errors, came to the District and heeded what the Board asked be done. At least Mr. Hitchcock made changes and took actions aimed at shaking up a mediocre system of education for students. I repeat: for STUDENTS. The Board talks a good game but can not stand the heat in the kitchen.
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