Thursday, May 29, 2014

UPforEd is closing its doors: hopefully the next parent group will be more interested in effective teacher evaluations

UPforEd is shutting down.

I felt that the organization was not adequately interested in improving teacher evaluations. Instead, the UPforEd folks seemed to think that simply giving administrators more control over teachers would fix schools.

The problem is, the administrators have a problem with competence, too, and NOBODY seems to want to address that!

But the administrators come from the ranks of teachers, so it seems to me that we'd be accomplishing two things at once if we instituted effective, completely unbiased evaluations of teachers: we'd improve the teachers, and we'd improve the teachers who become administrators.

See all posts re UPforEd.

Today UPforEd sent out the email below.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

UPforEd has spent the last three years working tirelessly on behalf of our children--building a foundation of trust and commitment in our community. We have organized parent teams to support neighborhood schools, created and aided numerous coalitions focused on improving student outcomes and engaged hundreds of parents in a school system that desperately needs parent participation.

"Four the Kids" - our recently-launched effort to take a seat at the bargaining table - took off! We're proud to see the district leaders and board willing to negotiate a bold new contract, particularly- reforming the outdated teacher evaluation system. Our wildly-successful campaign even garnered positive national media attention and sparked debate beyond SDUSD.

We are proud of our work. We believe that parents along with our teachers and leaders will guide the transformation of San Diego Unified and know that an independent parent group, operating free from special interests and district rhetoric, is a critical component to this transformation.

But we cannot do it alone. Businesses, community members, other organizations and parents must be willing to not just support our mission by reading emails, but by standing bravely alongside us when the opposition is fierce and with real dollars and cents—putting parents on an equal playing field with other influential and well-funded organizations.

It is with much reluctance that we announce the closure of UPforEd.

What was envisioned as a unifying organization based on strengthening public schools and improving student outcomes has been used by others to pit parents against teachers, parents against schools and sometimes even parents against other parents. This tactic ensures that rather than make change, the adults will continue to argue with one another ensuring those in power maintain their stranglehold on the system. And the kids lose…again.

The rhetoric and misinformation campaign used by the unions and other special interests even spread to elected officials, district leadership, and community organizations. Instead of making informed decisions based in fact, people who once supported UPforEd, were moved into turning their back on UPforEd and parents and helped further isolate meaningful engagement.

Just three years ago, we sat at kitchen table, inspired to make change in our district by organizing parents to improve schools. This idea, fueled by idealist visions and perhaps a bit of naivety, grew into an organization that has changed the lives of hundreds of parents and helped promote innovative, transformational conversation in San Diego Unified. But it has failed to do the most important thing: put children over politics. That will take more time, more money and more parents who are fed up.

Thank you all for your support. Thank you for caring about public education and our kids.

It is our sincere hope that someday, another brave soul (or souls) will try again to spark the change, truly engage parents and transform our district.


The UPforEd Board of Directors

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Are public records becoming less public? Extensive use of a private email system set up to avoid legally required archiving of documents

San Diego isn't the only place where the public's business is done in secrecy.

"The second release, a bombshell, demonstrated the extensive use of a private email system set up to avoid legally required archiving of documents as well as the extensive coordination between Walkers campaign staff and his official, taxpayer paid, County Executive staff. Intolerance and racism were also revealed in email exchanges."

See all posts re public records.

Milwaukee Co. John Doe Documents Unsealed From Secrecy - UPDATE
Daily Kos
May 21, 2014

The lamps are probably going to be burning into the night around Scott Walker tonight.

Documents in the first John Doe Probe, covering Walkers tenure as Milwaukee County Executives, were removed from secrecy today by the Judge overseeing the original John Doe. In the first investigation, 6 of Scott Walkers associates were indicted and found guilty mostly of felonies.

The judge who oversaw a 33-month secret John Doe investigation on Wednesday granted a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel request that he order prosecutors to return to Milwaukee County thousands of public records seized during the investigation.

The ruling means the records would then be subject to the state's Open Records Law, and it would be up to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele whether they would be released to the public.

We have only seen a small portion of the documents from prior releases. One release, involving documents in a negligence case brought by the parents of a teenaged boy killed when a chunk of concrete fell from a County parking structure, revealed that Walker, his staff, and his campaign focused on keeping the story out of the press and limit Walkers exposure just before the Gubernatorial election. They succeeded in their efforts with coverage limited to the "accident" and not on Walkers diversion of building maintenance funds to pet projects.

The second release, a bombshell, demonstrated the extensive use of a private email system set up to avoid legally required archiving of documents as well as the extensive coordination between Walkers campaign staff and his official, taxpayer paid, County Executive staff. Intolerance and racism were also revealed in email exchanges.

Who knows what will be revealed when ALL of the documents are released. I can only imagine.

Since most of the communications were generated on private laptops and on a private email system running on a secret router, they were not available for Open Records Requests. Those documents will tell us what was REALLY going on in that office.

Stay tuned.


I'm going to update instead of doing a new diary because this is still on the Rec List and in public view.

Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorialized that current Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele should release all the documents.

Nettesheim has settled firmly on the side of the public's right to know. Abele has said he's on the same side: He told the Editorial Board a few weeks ago that in a letter to Nettesheim, he had essentially asked the judge, "Whatever you can release, please release," and Abele signed a County Board resolution supporting the release of the documents. Now Abele can prove his support by actually releasing the documents.

So, it looks to JS that Abele wants to release the documents based on his past statements. They're adding a little more push to ensure it happens.

Monday, May 26, 2014

UCSD doctor concealed six-figure pay from medical device company and used that company's products on his patient; despite state law, UCSD says he did nothing wrong, pays settlement

Dr. William Taylor, UCSD, implanted screws from a company that paid him a six-figure income and in which he owned hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock options

I don't believe that Dr. Taylor intentionally made this woman suffer. I think he was simply blinded by his financial interest. He couldn't believe the screws he had implanted (and heavily invested in) could be causing harm. He had hundreds of thousands of reasons not to believe it.

This does not explain, however, why Dr. Taylor kept his financial interests secret. I'll take a stab at explaining that. Perhaps he had confidence in his own ability not to be influenced by his large income from the medical device company and by the possibility that his investment in the company would pay off grandly if the screws proved to be successful in treating patients. He kept his financial dealings with the company secret because he didn't trust others to have confidence in him.

And why doesn't UCSD crack down on its doctors who violate law and university policy in this manner? Perhaps because the doctors who are tasked with enforcing the rules are getting just as much money from outside companies as Dr. Anderson is.

Dr. William Taylor got his medical degree from UCLA, whose medical school seems have particular problems with conflicts of interest.

"It took longer to uncover some critical details that Dr. William Taylor, the surgeon, had not told the retired special education teacher or the university: He owned stock options worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the company selling the spinal devices and had also collected six-figure annual fees from the same firm, the lawsuit said. Disclosure of such corporate payments is required by state law and university policy.

"A lawyer for UCSD said Taylor did nothing wrong and denied that any patients were harmed. But the university last year paid Kitrosser $1.75 million to settle the case."

UC system struggles with professors' outside earnings
Failing to report compensation from other sources leads to concerns about conflicts.
OC Register
May 25, 2014

Doctors eventually solved the mystery of why Brenda Kitrosser suffered from unrelenting pain after her back surgery at a University of California hospital in San Diego.

A UCSD surgeon had implanted experimental screws and other hardware into her back, promising this would relieve her pain. Instead the devices pressed on her nerves endlessly, according to a lawsuit she filed later.

It took longer to uncover some critical details that Dr. William Taylor, the surgeon, had not told the retired special education teacher or the university: He owned stock options worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the company selling the spinal devices and had also collected six-figure annual fees from the same firm, the lawsuit said.

Disclosure of such corporate payments is required by state law and university policy.

A lawyer for UCSD said Taylor did nothing wrong and denied that any patients were harmed. But the university last year paid Kitrosser $1.75 million to settle the case.

The controversy over Taylor’s undisclosed compensation is not an isolated case. The University of California has repeatedly failed to discipline medical professors who did not disclose payments from drugmakers and medical companies.

Last month, after UCLA paid $10 million to settle a lawsuit that centered on undisclosed corporate compensation, the non-profit group Consumer Watchdog called on state Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate how widespread the unreported payments have become...

See more HERE.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A little sunshine on the clever folks at the San Diego County Office of Education

I have a question for Doug Perkins and Rick Shea, candidates for San Diego County Office of Education District 5

Will you work to make sure that top administrators Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava of SDCOE report ALL the gifts they receive from companies doing business with SDCOE--and require them to explain who paid for their cross-county trips to be wined-and-dined by those companies?

Voice of San Diego education reporter Emily Alpert reported in 2010:

In response to questions from, the County Office wrote in an email that it believed Crosier had followed the gift rules. But despite repeated questions, it would not specifically explain why the trips could be legally left off the forms. In an email, Crosier said only that the trips were not included “due to discussion with legal counsel.”

I have personal experience with one of the companies visited by Crosier and Puplava, as recounted in the above article by Emily Alpert. The company was Life Insurance of the Southwest. I was signed up for an insurance policy with this company against my will. The name of the company was written in below, after I crossed it out. I was told the agent did not have an extra form so I would have to use the form you can see HERE. Note the scribbles. The agent also took $12,000 of my money and put it into an account where it would be locked in for years. I was fortunate enough to figure out the ruse before the lock-in date.

I expect that county officials--and union officials--get sweet deals from financial institutions in return for access to employees. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported, "Incredibly, Superintendent Randolph Ward himself bought an annuity from Puplava shortly after Ward began work in 2006."

And how about the teachers unions? Are they any better? Dan Puplava used to work for teachers unions, as he told Forbes magazine.

Who is more shameless in taking advantage of teachers, the school officials or the teachers unions? That's a hard question. I haven't figured out the answer yet.


Convicted trustees out; SDCOE trustees in

SDCOE administrators and board members have assumed positions at Sweetwater: left to right in photo: SDCOE administrator Lora Duzyk, SDCOE Superintendent Randy War, SDCOE board members Susan Hartley, Mark Anderson, Sharon Jones, Lyn Neylon, Gregg Robinson. For some reason Sweetwater board member John McCann has been replaced, although he was NOT charged or convicted of crimes as his four colleagues were.

Bizarrely, the four convicted trustees of Sweetwater Union High School District--as well as trustee John McCann and Sweetwater administrators--had their seats taken over at the most recent board meeting by the five members of the current SDCOE board and top administrators at SDCOE. SDCOE got permission from the Superior Court to implement the takeover.


Both of these candidates are insiders at SDCOE.

Before retiring, Rick Shea was Special Assistant to the County Superintendent of Schools.

Del Mar School District trustee Doug Perkins was involved in this shameful case. I attended the trial. The judge was amazed that the district thought it could play politics instead of fulfilling legal obligations. Perkins had been on the board since 2008. He supported and worked with SDCOE JPA attorney Dan Shinoff.


I'd also like candidates Alicia Munoz and Katie Dexter (District 3) to answer the question at the top of this post.


I apologize to the La Mesa/Mt Helix Patch. It did NOT censor my comments.

Patch news websites

I now believe that the reason my comments seemed to disappear from a story by Helen and Jack Ofield was that Katie Dexter supporters decided to distract attention from the La Mesa Patch story and direct attention to the Lemon Grove Patch version of the same story. In fact, Tom Clabby erased his own comment from the La Mesa Patch and posted it on the Lemon Grove Patch. He apparently preferred to have his comment appear in better company.

It makes me wonder if perhaps some of Katie Dexter's supporters are opposed to seeing, hearing or speaking about problems at SDCOE.

When I wrote my comments I had no preference for either candidate in the Katie Dexter/Alicia Munoz race for SDCOE board. I didn't think that either one of them would be able to do anything about the secrecy and financial shenanigans at SDCOE. And I still don't have any preference.

Here's what made me reverse my unfair criticism of the La Mesa Patch: I just found a link to the article in the Town Square column on the home page.


I made comments the other day on this La Mesa/Mt Helix Patch story about the race for a seat on the San Diego County Office of Education.

Then I discovered that the original La Mesa Patch story can not be found in the Patch archives and seems to have been erased from the Patch Facebook page. Google search results don't include the story.

But clearly the plan wasn't to get rid of the story itself. The exact same article has been published by the Lemon Grove Patch (without my comments, of course). Google readily produces a link to the Lemon Grove Patch article. It turns out that the La Mesa Patch story still exists; the link on my blog still works.

So I'm doing an experiment. I posted some new comments on the Lemon Grove Patch this morning, and we'll see what happens. Here are my new comments:

[Comments by] Maura Larkins May 24, 2014:

...The entire story seems to have disappeared, along with two comments I made regarding San Diego County Office of Education. This reminds me of the local Clear Channel billboards that were taken down after two days because they correctly stated that Carla Keehn is the only candidate for Judge of the Superior Court Office 20 who has not been convicted of a crime. Of course, I didn't pay $14,000 to publish my statements.

Maura Larkins May 24, 2014 at 09:27 am
CORRECTION AND APOLOGY TO THE PATCH: I believe that the La Mesa/Mt Helix Patch did NOT try to censor my comments. Instead, I think that Katie Dexter supporters worked to remove attention from the La Mesa Patch story that carried my comments and direct attention to the Lemon Grove Patch version of the same story. In fact, Tom Clabby erased his own comment from the La Mesa Patch and posted it on the Lemon Grove Patch. He apparently preferred to have his comment appear in better company. It makes me wonder if perhaps some of Katie Dexter's supporters are opposed to seeing, hearing or speaking about problems at SDCOE. When I wrote my comments I had no preference for either candidate in the Katie Dexter/Alicia Munoz race for SDCOE board. I didn't think that either one of them would be able to do anything about the secrecy and financial shenanigans at SDCOE. And I still don't have any preference.

The most common problem in public entities is not blatant corruption such as the outrageous salaries ($560,000 for the assistant City Manager) of officials in Bell, California, but the money that gets channeled behind the scenes. Millions of dollars get moved around, and the public doesn't know about the connections and motivations that are guiding the transfers. Voice of San Diego reporter Emily Alpert was investigating SDCOE when she suddenly went silent, and then got fired. SDCOE exempts Diane Crosier (the director of Risk Management; also, Dan Puplava's boss) from having to disclose the gifts she receives. Why don't we have transparency in government at SDCOE?

SDCOE Risk Management Director Diane Crosier and her close associate Dan Puplava work with AIG

SDCOE has silenced its critics.

When Scott Dauenhauer revealed that SDCOE fringe benefits manager Dan Puplava [who is still employed by SDCOE] was getting at least $355,000 in commissions from AIG while working for the taxpayers, Dauenhauer was sued by Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava.

I went down to the courthouse and read the pleadings in the case.

The SDCOE managers claimed that Dauenhauer didn't know that what he said was true. I'm not kidding. They didn't claim he said something false. They claimed that he didn't actually know that what he said was true. Since he couldn't afford to keep paying an attorney to fight the case, he settled. SDCOE has also tried very hard to silence me. SDCOE lawyers had more success with Grossmont student representative Rick Walker, who obligingly shut down his website.

My other comment was about the MiraCosta College scandal, in which SDCOE's favorite law firm got paid $1.3 million to investigate $305 of water stolen and used to water palm trees. (After investing all that taxpayer money, MiraCosta let the palm trees die. It was never about water or palm trees. It was all about power and politics.) Sounds a little bit like Bell, California, doesn't it? And if our media silences discussions about things like this, how can the taxpayers protect themselves?

[Comment by} Helen Ofield May 24, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Maura - I was hunting around for the coverage and thought it was "just me" when I couldn't find a comment I'd sent to you. I think the Clabbys had a little difficulty posting and, like them, I wouldn't know how to erase something if I tried. Really, there is no conspiracy here, just well-meaning people trying to navigate the Internet.

Maura Larkins May 24, 2014 at 04:30 pm

Hi Helen,
If you look at the line below your post you will see the words "Recommend...Reply...Delete". Just click on the word "delete". It looks like Tom Clabby found it. I got an automatic notice telling me about his new comment soon after I posted my comments. Then I got another automatic notice saying his comment was a blank.

I wonder what Katie Dexter and Alicia Munoz think of all the Dan Puplava shenanigans as well as the other SDCOE cases and the secrecy surrounding gifts to Diane Crosier. It seems that all we get from either candidate is political posturing and platitudes. Wouldn't this be a good time for one or both of them to address problems inside SDCOE?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Who Gets to Graduate?

In other words, a half-hour online intervention, done at almost no cost, had apparently cut the community-college math dropout rate by more than half.

Who Gets to Graduate?
New York Times
MAY 15, 2014

When you look at the national statistics on college graduation rates, there are two big trends that stand out right away. The first is that there are a whole lot of students who make it to college — who show up on campus and enroll in classes — but never get their degrees. More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years. If you include community-college students in the tabulation, the dropout rate is more than half, worse than any other country except Hungary.

The second trend is that whether a student graduates or not seems to depend today almost entirely on just one factor — how much money his or her parents make. To put it in blunt terms: Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t. Or to put it more statistically: About a quarter of college freshmen born into the bottom half of the income distribution will manage to collect a bachelor’s degree by age 24, while almost 90 percent of freshmen born into families in the top income quartile will go on to finish their degree.

When you read about those gaps, you might assume that they mostly have to do with ability. Rich kids do better on the SAT, so of course they do better in college. But ability turns out to be a relatively minor factor behind this divide. If you compare college students with the same standardized-test scores who come from different family backgrounds, you find that their educational outcomes reflect their parents’ income, not their test scores. Take students like Vanessa, who do moderately well on standardized tests — scoring between 1,000 and 1,200 out of 1,600 on the SAT. If those students come from families in the top-income quartile, they have a 2 in 3 chance of graduating with a four-year degree. If they come from families in the bottom quartile, they have just a 1 in 6 chance of making it to graduation...

In 1999, at the beginning of the fall semester, Laude combed through the records of every student in his freshman chemistry class and identified about 50 who possessed at least two of the “adversity indicators” common among students who failed the course in the past: low SATs, low family income, less-educated parents. He invited them all to apply to a new program, which he would later give the august-sounding name the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan, or TIP. Students in TIP were placed in their own, smaller section of Chemistry 301, taught by Laude. But rather than dumb down the curriculum for them, Laude insisted that they master exactly the same challenging material as the students in his larger section. In fact, he scheduled his two sections back to back. “I taught my 500-student chemistry class, and then I walked upstairs and I taught this 50-student chemistry class,” Laude explained. “Identical material, identical lectures, identical tests — but a 200-point difference in average SAT scores between the two sections.

Laude was hopeful that the small classes would make a difference, but he recognized that small classes alone wouldn’t overcome that 200-point SAT gap. “We weren’t naïve enough to think they were just going to show up and start getting A’s, unless we overwhelmed them with the kind of support that would make it possible for them to be successful,” he said. So he supplemented his lectures with a variety of strategies: He offered TIP students two hours each week of extra instruction; he assigned them advisers who kept in close contact with them and intervened if the students ran into trouble or fell behind; he found upperclassmen to work with the TIP students one on one, as peer mentors. And he did everything he could, both in his lectures and outside the classroom, to convey to the TIP students a new sense of identity: They weren’t subpar students who needed help; they were part of a community of high-achieving scholars.

Even Laude was surprised by how effectively TIP worked. “When I started giving them the tests, they got the same grades as the larger section,” he said. “And when the course was over, this group of students who were 200 points lower on the SAT had exactly the same grades as the students in the larger section.” The impact went beyond Chemistry 301. This cohort of students who, statistically, were on track to fail returned for their sophomore year at rates above average for the university as a whole, and three years later they had graduation rates that were also above the U.T. average.

Two years ago, Laude was promoted to his current position — senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management. His official mission now is to improve U.T.’s four-year graduation rate, which is currently languishing at around 52 percent, to 70 percent — closer to the rates at U.T.’s state-university peers in Ann Arbor, Chapel Hill and Charlottesville, Va. — and to achieve this leap by 2017. The best way to do that, Laude decided, was to take the principles and practices that he introduced 15 years earlier with TIP and bring them to the whole Austin campus.

One complicating factor for administrators at the University of Texas — and, indeed, one reason the school makes for such an interesting case study — is that U.T. has a unique admissions policy, one that is the legacy of many years of legal and legislative battles over affirmative action. After U.T.’s use of race in admissions was ruled unconstitutional by the Fifth Circuit in 1996, the Texas Legislature came up with an alternative strategy to maintain a diverse campus: the Top 10 percent law, which stipulated that students who ranked in the top tenth of their graduating classes in any high school in Texas would be automatically admitted to the campus of their choice in the U.T. system. (As U.T. Austin has grown more popular over the last decade, the criterion for automatic admission has tightened; Texas high-school seniors now have to be in the top 7 percent of their class to earn admission. Automatic admits — Vanessa Brewer among them — make up about three-quarters of each freshman class.)

At high schools in the wealthier suburbs of Dallas, the top 7 percent of students look a lot like the students anywhere who go on to attend elite colleges. They are mostly well off and mostly white, and most of them rack up high SAT scores. What sets U.T. apart from other selective colleges is that the school also admits the top 7 percent of students from high schools in Brownsville and the Third Ward of Houston, who fit a very different demographic and have, on average, much lower SAT scores.

The good news about these kids, from U.T.’s point of view, is that they are very good students regardless of their test scores. Even if their high schools weren’t as well funded or as academically demanding as schools in other parts of the state, they managed to figure out how to learn, how to study and how to overcome adversity. Laude’s experience teaching Chemistry 301 convinced him that they could succeed and even excel at the University of Texas. But when he looked at the campuswide data, it was clear that these were the students who weren’t succeeding.

“There are always going to be both affluent kids and kids who have need who come into this college,” Laude said. “And it will always be the case that the kids who have need are going to have been denied a lot of the academic preparation and opportunities for identity formation that the affluent kids have been given. The question is, can we do something for those students in their first year in college that can accelerate them and get them up to the place where they can be competitive with the affluent, advantaged students?”...

Though Laude is a chemist by training, he spends much of his time thinking like a psychologist, pondering what kind of messages or environmental cues might affect the decisions that the students in his programs make. He’s the first to admit that he is an amateur psychologist at best. But he has found an ally and a kindred spirit in a psychological researcher at U.T. named David Yeager, a 32-year-old assistant professor who is emerging as one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of education. In his research, Yeager is trying to answer the question that Laude wrestles with every day: How, precisely, do you motivate students to take the steps they need to take in order to succeed?

Before he arrived at U.T. in the winter of 2012, Yeager worked as a graduate student in the psychology department at Stanford, during an era when that department had become a hotbed of new thinking on the psychology of education. Leading researchers like Carol Dweck, Claude Steele and Hazel Markus were using experimental methods to delve into the experience of students from early childhood all the way through college. To the extent that the Stanford researchers shared a unifying vision, it was the belief that students were often blocked from living up to their potential by the presence of certain fears and anxieties and doubts about their ability. These feelings were especially virulent at moments of educational transition — like the freshman year of high school or the freshman year of college. And they seemed to be particularly debilitating among members of groups that felt themselves to be under some special threat or scrutiny: women in engineering programs, first-generation college students, African-Americans in the Ivy League.

The negative thoughts took different forms in each individual, of course, but they mostly gathered around two ideas. One set of thoughts was about belonging. Students in transition often experienced profound doubts about whether they really belonged — or could ever belong — in their new institution. The other was connected to ability. Many students believed in what Carol Dweck had named an entity theory of intelligence — that intelligence was a fixed quality that was impossible to improve through practice or study. And so when they experienced cues that might suggest that they weren’t smart or academically able — a bad grade on a test, for instance — they would often interpret those as a sign that they could never succeed. Doubts about belonging and doubts about ability often fed on each other, and together they created a sense of helplessness. That helplessness dissuaded students from taking any steps to change things. Why study if I can’t get smarter? Why go out and meet new friends if no one will want to talk to me anyway? Before long, the nagging doubts became self-fulfilling prophecies.

When Yeager arrived at Stanford in 2006, many of the researchers there had begun to move beyond trying to understand this phenomenon to trying to counteract it. In a series of experiments, they found that certain targeted messages, delivered to students in the right way at the right time, seemed to overcome the doubts about belonging and ability that were undermining the students’ academic potential.

Yeager began working with a professor of social psychology named Greg Walton, who had identified principles that seemed to govern which messages, and which methods of delivering those messages, were most persuasive to students. For instance, messages worked better if they appealed to social norms; when college students are informed that most students don’t take part in binge drinking, they’re less likely to binge-drink themselves. Messages were also more effective if they were delivered in a way that allowed the recipients a sense of autonomy. If you march all the high-school juniors into the auditorium and force them to watch a play about tolerance and inclusion, they’re less likely to take the message to heart than if they feel as if they are independently seeking it out. And positive messages are more effectively absorbed when they are experienced through what Walton called “self-persuasion”: if students watch a video or read an essay with a particular message and then write their own essay or make their own video to persuade future students, they internalize the message more deeply.

In one experiment after another, Yeager and Walton’s methods produced remarkable results. At an elite Northeastern college, Walton, along with another Stanford researcher named Geoffrey Cohen, conducted an experiment in which first-year students read brief essays by upperclassmen recalling their own experiences as freshmen. The upperclassmen conveyed in their own words a simple message about belonging: “When I got here, I thought I was the only one who felt left out. But then I found out that everyone feels that way at first, and everyone gets over it. I got over it, too.” After reading the essays, the students in the experiment then wrote their own essays and made videos for future students, echoing the same message. The whole intervention took no more than an hour. It had no apparent effect on the white students who took part in the experiment. But it had a transformative effect on the college careers of the African-American students in the study: Compared with a control group, the experiment tripled the percentage of black students who earned G.P.A.s in the top quarter of their class, and it cut in half the black-white achievement gap in G.P.A. It even had an impact on the students’ health — the black students who received the belonging message had significantly fewer doctor visits three years after the intervention.

Next, Yeager did an experiment with 600 students just entering ninth grade at three high schools in Northern California. The intervention was 25 minutes long; students sat at a terminal in the school computer lab and read scientific articles and testimonials from older students with another simple message: People change. If someone is being mean to you or excluding you, the essays explained, it was most likely a temporary thing; it wasn’t because of any permanent trait in him or you. Yeager chose ninth grade because it is well known as a particularly bad time for the onset of depression — generally, depression rates double over the transition to high school. Indeed, among the control group in Yeager’s experiment, symptoms of depression rose by 39 percent during that school year. Among the group who had received the message that people change, though, there was no significant increase in depressive symptoms. The intervention didn’t cure anyone’s depression, in other words, but it did stop the appearance of depressive symptoms during a traditionally depressive period. And it did so in just 25 minutes of treatment.

After the depression study, Yeager, Walton and two other researchers did an experiment with community-college students who were enrolled in remedial or “developmental” math classes. Education advocates have identified remedial math in community college as a particularly devastating obstacle to the college hopes of many students, especially low-income students, who disproportionately attend community college. The statistics are daunting: About two-thirds of all community-college students are placed into one or more remedial math classes, and unless they pass those classes, they can’t graduate. More than two-thirds of them don’t pass; instead, they often drop out of college altogether.

Clearly, part of the developmental-math crisis has to do with the fact that many students aren’t receiving a good-enough math education in middle or high school and are graduating from high school underprepared for college math. But Yeager and Walton and a growing number of other researchers believe that another significant part of the problem is psychological. They echo David Laude’s intuition from the early days of TIP: When you send college students the message that they’re not smart enough to be in college — and it’s hard not to get that message when you’re placed into a remedial math class as soon as you arrive on campus — those students internalize that idea about themselves.

In the experiment, 288 community-college students enrolled in developmental math were randomly assigned, at the beginning of the semester, to read one of two articles. The control group read a generic article about the brain. The treatment group read an article that laid out the scientific evidence against the entity theory of intelligence. “When people learn and practice new ways of doing algebra or statistics,” the article explained, “it can grow their brains — even if they haven’t done well in math in the past.” After reading the article, the students wrote a mentoring letter to future students explaining its key points. The whole exercise took 30 minutes, and there was no follow-up of any kind. But at the end of the semester, 20 percent of the students in the control group had dropped out of developmental math, compared with just 9 percent of the treatment group. In other words, a half-hour online intervention, done at almost no cost, had apparently cut the community-college math dropout rate by more than half. ...

Former Chula Vista Aide Seeks To Undo Plea Deal Over Dumanis Call

Judge Seals District Attorney Office Records In Chula Vista Investigation
By Amita Sharma

May 22, 2014

A San Diego judge today took possession of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis's office records concerning an investigation of Chula Vista city officials.

Judge Louis Hanoian plans to hold the records until he rules on whether to allow an aide to former Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla to try to undo his plea deal.

The aide—Jason Moore—wants the court to set aside his misdemeanor guilty plea, to contempt of court, from 2007. Moore insists he would not have entered the plea—in response to perjury charges filed by the district attorney—if he had known that Dumanis had earlier contacted his boss, then-Mayor Padilla. Padilla said Dumanis asked him to appoint her aide to a vacant Chula Vista City Council seat.

A KPBS story last month reported that Dumanis started investigating Chula Vista city officials after Padilla refused her request.

Moore's attorney Knut Johnson contends that conversation created a conflict of interest for Dumanis in the subsequent probe.

"The facts seem to be undisputed," Johnson said. "Ms. Dumanis made the phone call to the mayor. The mayor refused her request and then she investigated the entire Chula Vista government."

Dumanis's spokesman Steve Walker called the effort to set aside the misdemeanor plea, "a fishing expedition seven years after the fact."

"The defendant pleaded guilty to lying to a grand jury and was held responsible for his crime," Walker said in a written statement. "Following that plea, the Attorney General's office was made aware of issues raised in this motion and found no reason to take any action or investigate."

Patrick O'Toole, the prosecutor in the Chula Vista investigation, handed a folder of records to the court. And the judge put them under seal.

Lawyer Johnson wants to review the records.

He said he's looking for internal emails, notes and letters from the DA's office of Dumanis's conversation with Padilla. Judge Hanoian is expected to decide in mid June if Johnson should be allowed to review them.

KPBS sought the same records two months ago through a California Public Records Act request. The office mostly released material that was already publicly available.

Moore has also asked the DA's office to recuse itself from his case. The DA calls that request premature and improper.

Meanwhile, with the June 3rd primary less than two weeks away, Moore's attempt to have his plea dismissed has turned into an issue in the district attorney race.

Dumanis's campaign spokeswoman Jen Tierney said the case was "nothing more than a publicity stunt orchestrated by our opponent less than two weeks before Election Day."

"Shame on him for wasting the court's time and resources for political gain," Tierney said in a statement.

The campaign of former federal prosecutor Bob Brewer, one of two of Dumanis's opponents, responded that the judge clearly didn't think the case was a waste of time.

"Dumanis can clear everything up very easily by releasing all the documents and answering one simple question: 'Did you or did you not secretly lobby the mayor of Chula Vista to have your friend appointed to the Chula Vista City Council?'" said Brewer's communications director Alex Roth. "Instead of answering these questions and releasing these public documents, she's stonewalling and hoping to run out the clock before the June 3 election."

Democrats and other opponents of would-be Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox were regularly targeted by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in the glory days of her "Public Integrity Unit". Now we know why.

Former Chula Vista Aide Seeks To Undo Plea Deal Over Dumanis Call
May 20, 2014
By Amita Sharma

Former Chula Vista Mayor states in a sworn declaration that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis asked him in phone call to appoint her aide to a vacant City Council seat.

An aide to former Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla wants a court to set aside his misdemeanor guilty plea he said he wouldn’t have made if he’d known about a call District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis reportedly made to his boss back in 2005.

The District Attorney’s Office charged Jason Moore with five counts of felony perjury in 2006. Moore was found snooping at an event for his boss’s political opponent during work hours. Moore was accused of lying to a grand jury about when he turned in a slip at work to take the time off. Testimony by another witness before the grand jury was that Moore was not required to submit a slip, according to court papers.

Moore later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Now he wants that conviction overturned.

Moore's lawyer, Knut Johnson, said he would have advised against that guilty plea if he had known that District Attorney Dumanis had called Moore’s boss, Padilla, months earlier.

In a sworn declaration, Padilla said Dumanis asked him to appoint her aide Jesse Navarro to a vacant city council position. Padilla said he turned her down. Within weeks of the refusal, Dumanis opened investigations into Chula Vista city officials.

Johnson says the call was “a critical piece of information” because an impartial prosecutor is an essential feature of Moore’s right to a fair trial.

“Prosecution by someone with conflicting loyalties calls into question the objectivity of those charged with bringing a defendant to judgment,” Johnson wrote in court papers. “It is a fundamental premise of our society that the state wield its formidable law enforcement powers in a rigorously disinterested fashion.”

The DA's office said it could not comment on the case because it's pending litigation.

More On This Story-May 6, 2014: Dumanis Challenged To Release Records In Chula Vista Political Probe
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' decision to delay releasing the records sought by KPBS was questioned by her opponent in the DA's race and one of his supporters.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who's replacing the four corrupt Sweetwater trustees who were forced to resign? Four people who have controlled the legal shenanigans of Sweetwater for years

UPDATE: Add Gregg Robinson to the list of SDCOE trustees who are taking over the Sweetwater board. Even though he wasn't charged or convicted of a crime, Sweetwater trustee John McCannn is also pushed out. SDCOE administrators also took the place of Sweetwater administrators at the most recent board meeting.

SDCOE board members Mark Anderson, Susan Hartley, Lyn Neylong,
Gregg Robinson and Sharon Jones

All of the above except Robinson will take over the Sweetwater
Union High School District board.
(See all posts on South Bay Indictments.)
These individuals have maintained secrecy about gifts to Diane Crosier,
the director of Risk Management. Also, they have kept Crosier's pal Dan Puplava
in his position despite revelations of enormous amounts of money
he received from financial institutions connected to SDCOE.

Troubled Sweetwater school district served with temporary trustees
May 19, 2014

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Four members of the San Diego County Board of Education will serve as temporary trustees for the troubled Sweetwater Union High School District, the county Office of Education announced Monday.

The appointees will fill the seats of Sweetwater board members who were suspended or ousted after pleading guilty to various corruption charges.

The selections were made today by county school board President Susan Hartley, three days after Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes granted a request by the district to allow Hartley to fill the leadership posts.

"This decision allows the San Diego County Board of Education and the San Diego County Office of Education to provide whatever services to the district that may be necessary to ensure the smooth operation of its programs," Hartley said. "We have always been focused on supporting the district in educating students."

The appointees are Mark Anderson, who represents inland North County and rural East County; Sharon Jones, who represents most of the southeastern portion of the county; Lyn Neylon, who represents the southwestern part of the county; and Hartley herself, who represents the North County coast.

Last month, board President Jim Cartmill and Trustee Bertha Lopez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor accepting gifts charge, and then-Trustee Pearl Quinones was sentenced to three months of house arrest after her admission to a felony conspiracy count and a misdemeanor of accepting gifts above the state limit.

Former trustees Arlie Ricasa and Greg Sandoval, ex-Superintendent Jesus Gandara and a construction company executive, Henry Amigable, previously pleaded guilty in the case.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Florida Lawmaker: Common Core Will Turn ‘Every One Of Your Children’ Gay

Florida Republican Rep. Charles Van Zant, left, believes that increasing educational standards cause homosexuality. CREDIT: AP Photo/Phil Coale

See all posts re Common Core.

Florida Lawmaker: Common Core Will Turn ‘Every One Of Your Children’ Gay (VIDEO)
By Scott Keyes
Daily Kos
May 19, 2014

Common Core may not be a well-intentioned set of improved educational standards, as supporters would have you believe, but instead a trojan horse designed to turn every schoolchild in Florida, if not America, gay.

This ominous warning came at an anti-Common Core event in March courtesy of Florida State Rep. Charles Van Zant (R). Speaking at the “Operation Education Conference” in Orlando, Van Zant warned that officials implementing Common Core in Florida are “promoting as hard as they can any youth that is interested in the LGBT agenda.”

Their aim, Van Zant warned, was to “attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.” He then apologized to the crowd for having to be the bearer of bad news. “I really hate to bring you that news,” the Florida Republican said, “but you need to know.”

VAN ZANT: These people, that will now receive $220 million from the state of Florida unless this is stopped, will promote double-mindedness in state education and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can. I’m sorry to report that to you.

Watch it: [HERE]

Even for a Republican Party prone to hysteria, Common Core has sent grassroots conservatives into an accelerated tailspin. Right Wing Watch has a roundup of some of the most exaggerated reactions, including an Alabama Tea Party leader saying a vote for Common Core will damn lawmakers to hell, the American Family Association warning that children won’t “survive” Common Core, Eagle Forum saying it will promote homosexuality, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) calling it “socialism,” and WorldNetDaily saying it will turn America into Nazi Germany.

The leader of this backlash is Glenn Beck, who believes the educational standards, which have been adopted in 44 states, are “evil” and designed to “train us to be a serf state” under the rule of China and Islam.

It makes no difference who wins the East County seat on the San Diego County Office of Education board--Katie Dexter or Alicia Munoz

May 20, 2014 UPDATE: This post became deeply ironic one day after it was published.

See: Who's replacing the four corrupt Sweetwater trustees who were forced to resign? Four people who have controlled the legal shenanigans of Sweetwater for years

Four SDCOE board members are replacing the four members of the Sweetwater Union High School District board who were forced to resign due to corruption convictions. See all posts on South Bay Indictments.

Katie Dexter: The Right Choice for San Diego County School Board
by Jack & Helen Ofield
May 16, 2014

Alicia Munoz has insulted more than 25,000 residents of Lemon Grove with her recent hit piece attacking our 12-year, very effective Lemon Grove School Board member Katie Dexter. Munoz and her supporters in the American Federation of Teachers Local 1931 trashed our school district and everyone who serves it and, by extension, our city as a whole.

She scorns Dexter's work in business (Sam's Club, GMAC) and casts herself as a "professor." She works in the community college system where there is no such academic rank. Her occasional lecturing at SDSU does not make her a "professor." Thus has she also insulted the academic community with her fake title.

Because Munoz and her handlers are ignorant of Lemon Grove's stirring history and of its successful efforts to educate a highly diverse population (some 22 languages and dialects spoken in our schools), they are unaware that the Lemon Grove School District is in the vanguard of classroom technology, interdisciplinary learning and STEM curricula, art and music (we've had a music program since 1933), healthy diets for students and, not least, construction in 2013 of a beautiful, joint use library that is a runaway success story in the county library system.

Munoz' absence of judgment, sensitivity and community research, and acceptance of her union's gutter tactics make her a poor choice for County School Board. She should withdraw from the race now.

By contrast, Dexter's widely-respected grasp of school financing, ability to forge public-private partnerships to help our schools, long-time service to local, county and state education organizations, volunteer service as a mother and board member in community groups, respect for teachers and classified employees alike, and managerial skills have won her a who's who of support -- Supervisor Dianne Jacob, La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid, Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom, Brian Marshall, Superintendent of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, Kevin Ogden, Superintendent of the Julian School District, CSEA Chapter 568, Lemon Grove City Council members Howard Cook and Jerry Jones, and the list goes on to literally thousands of voters inside and outside of Lemon Grove.

...Jack is an Emeritus Professor of Film and former Filmmaker in Residence at SDSU and Fellow of the American Film Institute, and Helen is a writer and member of the San Diego County Historic Site Board and president of the Lemon Grove Historical Society...

Jack and Helen Ofield


Maura Larkins
No matter which one of these candidates wins, the SDCOE board (as well as the superintendent, Randy Ward) will continue to be a rubber stamp for Diane Crosier and her stable of lawyers.

Jack & Helen Ofield
Maura - They will have a fighter in Katie Dexter. Until we begin to place people of Katie's caliber on that board, it will be business as usual.

Maura Larkins
Hi Helen,
Public institutions in Lemon Grove exhibit higher integrity than most of the other public entities in San Diego County that I'm familiar with, but SDCOE (and SDCOE-JPA) are connected to powerful people--including the folks at AIG (the insurance company that got over $180 billion during the financial crisis).

No candidate would be able to make the slightest dent in the corruption.

Remember the MiraCosta College scandal? Remember board member Judy Stratton? No, of course you don't--because she resigned right after she spoke out about corruption.

You can't make the lawyers mad and remain on the board.

Maura Larkins

The AFT attack on a middle and working-class community reminds me of an attitude I've seen among many teachers. They prefer working in upscale areas where the kids are born on third base; the test scores make the teachers think that they themselves hit a triple! (I'd like to acknowledge the late, great Molly Ivins as the originator of the quip that I'm paraphrasing here.)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Master teachers: effective evaluations of teachers and principals

Was it SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten (above)
who convinced reporter Mario Koran that student test scores are no
longer of any interest to anyone in San Diego Unified for measuring
teacher performance? Or was it one of Voice of San Diego's donors?

Voice of San Diego education reporter Mario Koran isn't a big fan of objective measures of teacher quality. In the story below, he gives the impression that the current, failed practice of having principals do subjective teacher evaluations is just fine. Just because one school can improve without reforming this policy proves absolutely nothing. There have always been some schools that did a good job--but those schools were successful in spite of, not because of, having subjective teacher evaluations.

“The [San Diego Unified] district is focused on finding a way to replicate success like Marshall after it grew disillusioned with the school reform movement,” VOSD’s Mario Koran reports, “which focuses intensely on test scores as a way to gauge progress, and is now looking for a measurable alternative.”

Wait a minute. "Disillusioned with the school reform movement"? The whole movement? Everything? That's a rather sweeping statement. It implies that the school reform movement is limited to using "test scores as a way to gauge progress."

I would suggest that the district use the test scores intelligently, focusing intensely on the 10% of teachers who get the best improvement in student scores year after year.

It appears that VOSD doesn't want to focus on highly effective teachers any more than CTA does; they both prefer power politics for deciding which teachers are listened to.

Schools don't know who the best teachers are. The current process of principal evaluations (that often involve no classroom observations) is highly lax and political. Bad teachers with influence often get good evaluations; good teachers who don't support the agenda of the principal are often not fully acknowledged.

Schools would benefit if they had clear, unbiased information about which teachers were fully effective. For one thing, the best teachers could do training of other teachers, saving the obscene costs of hiring consultants selling the latest gimmick is monstrous.

But unbiased evaluations would interfere with school politics--and district politics. It would allow people to advance who weren't necessarily popular and politically connected--people who might change things, disturbing the smooth surface that covers up the dysfunction in our schools.

SDUSD's initial proposal to teachers April 15, 2014: district offer: A new evaluation article and process, focused on fostering meaningful professional growth and development for all certificated personnel

Here's another VOSD story:

The Case That Could Blow Up Teacher Tenure
By: Mario Koran
Voice of San Diego
April 28, 2014


District Tenure:
In reading the San Diego board meeting agenda item re: Central Office Reorganization. This is when and how the district moves and shuffles worn out people and positions to create the illusion that something is improving. However some of the names and faces have been around and moved around for years. Not much will change, except the job titles and pay grade - look a bit deeper.

As for teacher evaluations - what is in place via State Assembly Stull Bill is quite adequate. It's the follow through by administrators that fails. Specifically, if an administrator finds a teacher as "needs improvement" or "not satisfactory", that administrator is required by contract to develop a plan (with a stringent timeline) to bring the teacher up to satisfactory - and this can take up to 2 years, and few administrators actually know how or what to do. (see SDEA contract Performance Evaluations). Also, by contract, an administrator can opt for a Special Evaluation at any time - but the plan, timeline, and work involved is heavy.

Now for student/parent evaluation input. Professionals need to be evaluated by professionals. So, next time you're out for diner with the family and get a "How'd we do" card from your server, hand it to your 10 year old to fill out. And for parents - your child is not the same child in class as she/he is at home...Sorry!

Kathy S

@DDunn But that rich guy Bill Gates says.....Gates "wants the country to spend $5 billion for every teacher in every classroom in every district to be filmed in action so they can be evaluated and, maybe, improve."

The philanthropist has dedicated resources in the last few years to identifying and developing effective teaching. His foundation funded the $45 million MET project designed to determine how to best identify and promote great teaching. They enlisted the help of 3,000 teachers and many experts to determine the best way to do this.

In regards to teacher evaluations, the MET project concluded that a three-step approach is best. This includes: student test scores, classroom observations by multiple reviewers, and teacher evaluations from students.

And cameras....

As for the Gates Foundation, this idea has been brewing for quite some time. Thomas Kane, a professor of education and economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the director of the MET project, said in a 2011 interview with Education Next that there are a lot of advantages to having cameras in classrooms. He said:

One is it gives you a common piece of evidence to discuss with an instructional coach or supervisor. Second, it will prove to be economically much more viable because you’re not paying observers to drive around to various schools to do observations. If a teacher doesn’t think that their principal is giving them a fair evaluation because of some vendetta, they can have an external expert with no personal ax to grind watch and give feedback. (Thomas J. Kane, a professor at Harvard, testifies for the plaintiffs in Vergara v. California)
Maura Larkins' comment

I agree with you that administrators tend to be very neglectful when it comes to working with weak teachers. But another problem is the principal's original evaluation of a teacher. Principals are in a difficult situation: they are vastly outnumbered by the people they're evaluating. They can be bullied by teacher cliques. As a result of this, and as a result of simply being fallible human beings, many principals give good evaluations to teachers who are their friends or allies, and bad evaluations to teachers who disagree with them. It would make more sense to have evaluations done by unbiased individuals, and let the principals do the follow-up. Also, it would be easier for principals to help teachers improve if they weren't the ones who gave the bad evaluation in the first place. The teachers couldn't tell themselves that the evaluation was biased, and they'd trust the principal more.

Maura Larkins' comment: Principals are NOT chosen from among the most effective teachers. Principals don't ask for advice and support from the most effective teachers. Politics and effectiveness do not overlap a whole lot. How are principals chosen? By very subjective means, heavily influenced by politics.

Chief educator: Q&A with Cindy Marten
By U-T San Diego
May 10, 2014

...A: An evaluation process is something that should be highly relevant and meaningful to our most effective educators, as well as helpful for our educators who are struggling. I always look at evaluation as a tool and a resource. I look at what I call growth and development of our teachers. And do we have an evaluation system that allows us to give meaningful, relevant feedback on an ongoing basis. It shouldn’t be once a year or twice a year where an administrator comes in a room and sits in the back for 45 minutes. Feedback needs to be something that’s ongoing and a teacher finds it most relevant when the principal knows instruction, the principal knows what high-quality teaching and learning looks like, knows when you’re able to deliver a lesson that meets the needs of every learner in the class not just learners that are struggling or learners that are achieving at high levels. I expect my principals to be in classrooms all the time...

One other part that got a lot of attention was parents and students. I think that’s one that people are very interested in and that parents and students are a part of a system that gives meaningful feedback to our educators. Vision 20/20 (the district’s long-term plan) was adopted by the board before I even began. The mission and vision around that is to have a quality school in every neighborhood, and we’ve defined quality as more than the API score, more than a test score.

...When it comes to the formal evaluation, the principal is the one who’s the evaluator. The principal is the one who went to college, has the administrative credential, has been trained on formal evaluation processes, but we know that when teachers get to hear immediate and direct feedback from a student and from a parent, that changes and improves their practice.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Marshall Tuck is a better Democrat than Tom Torklason for this job: Tuck works well with the teachers union, and makes progress at the same time

Marshall Tuck (left) and Tom Torlakson

San Diego City Beat published the following endorsement for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. I disagree with editor David Rolland's conclusions, but he brings up some great discussion points.

Our June 3 primary-election endorsements
San Diego City Beat editorial
David Rolland, editor
May 07, 2014

...Marshall Tuck says he has the fix for California's ailing education system, and he has many people convinced.

Recently, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa endorsed him, touting the 40-year-old entrepreneur as a reformer. The two worked together on the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit credited with improving education in low-income neighborhoods.

Tuck is also the past president of Green Dot Public Schools, one of the nation's most prominent charter-school networks.

Tuck hopes to unseat incumbent Tom Torlakson, a Democrat who has the support of the powerful California Teachers Association and the Democratic Party.

Increasingly, liberals support an education-reform agenda, but during his time in office, Torlakson has been lackluster, unwilling to stand up to union intransigence. Citizens now have to choose between a status-quo candidate and someone who could push for troubling changes.

[Maura Larkins' response: It's interesting that City Beat identifies Torlakson as a Democrat, but fails to let readers know that Tuck is also a Democrat. But at least City Beat editor David Rolland admits that Torlakson has failed to stand up to union intransigence or to change the status quo. Too many Democrats like to roll over and play dead as soon as the California Teachers Association steps into the arena. Democrats should care about kids as well as teachers. Teachers should be considered, but they shouldn't continue to have the final say on what goes on in our failing schools, especially since they refuse to agree to any plan for objective, effective teacher evaluations.]

Part of improving education, Tuck argues, is weakening labor protections for educators, such as seniority-based layoffs, making teachers wait longer than two years to get tenure and tying teacher evaluations to student test scores. Not everything Tuck proposes is bad, but as a former Wall Street investment banker with funding from groups that would love to see the privatization of public schools, it's unclear how far he would go to dismantle the current system.

While the superintendent's office interprets the education code, it has less power in terms of setting policy. So some feel Tuck could bring fresh perspective without being able to do too much damage.

However, Tuck is too dangerous of a choice for us. We reluctantly endorse Tom Torlakson for superintendent.

[Maura Larkins' response: Dangerous? Changing the status quo is dangerous? That makes no sense since the current system is consigning millions of students to a lifetime of failure (that's not dangerous?) and Tuck has admitted that the Superintendent doesn't even set policy.

Many people prefer the current system because it allows for arbitrary, political decision-making.

The teachers union does not want to address the problem of rampant mediocrity among teachers--or the smaller problem of the 10% of teachers who are ineffective.

CTA wants teacher evaluations and other decisions to continue to be determined by school politics rather than objective data provided by outside observers or standardized tests.

I don't believe students tests should be used to fire teachers, but I do believe the tests should be used to determine whether a teacher should either:
1) become a master teacher; or
2) be given a part-time master teacher to guide the weaker teacher and give supplemental lessons to students.

Many moguls (like Irwin Jacobs) and their administrator pals also want to avoid objective measurements and simply turn over all the power of teacher evaluations to principals. I notice these folks haven't come up with a way to evaluate principals, which is a problem since many principals are simply failed teachers.

Mr. Rolland seems as intransigent as the teachers union.

Sadly, Mr. Rolland is typical of San Diego liberals who march in lock step with the California Teacher Association leadership. Los Angeles liberals are more independent of CTA.

City Beat uses hysterical phrases like "dismantle the current system", then admits in his next breath that the state superintendent can't change policy. He clearly believes that the teachers union deserves protection more than kids do. I can see why he'd want to avoid an extreme anti-union candidate, but Tuck is a Democrat who has worked well with the California Teachers Association. Teachers at Green Dot schools created a model for teacher evaluations that will be used by the state:]

New Teachers' Union Contract Now In Effect at Green Dot Schools


Teacher-Designed Evaluation Process and Professional Support to Serve as State Model

Los Angeles - Green Dot Public Schools announced a new contract agreement with their local teacher union, Asociación de Maestros Unidos (AMU), that provides a salary schedule step increase, a catch-up provision, and an innovative bonus program tied to teacher effectiveness. The contract, designed by teachers and ratified by vote of union members in May, officially went into effect July 1.

“In a time when the state has suffered severe cutbacks in education, we’re pleased our teachers will be better paid, better protected and better supported,” said Marco Petruzzi, Green Dot Public Schools’ President and CEO. “That is really a win for our students because it furthers our goal of having excellent instruction in every classroom.”

Under the new agreement, teachers will go through a more fair and comprehensive evaluation and development process, which will include multiple observations, ongoing feedback, and opportunities for professional growth. Test scores will be just one among multiple measures used for evaluation. Other key attributes of the agreement include a two-year pilot program for bonuses based on teacher effectiveness, and three additional professional development days for new teachers.

“We believe we’re on the right path to creating a more meaningful way of assessing teacher effectiveness,” added Dr. Cristina de Jesus, Green Dot’s Chief Academic Officer, speaking about the evaluation and development tools included the new contract. “Our goal is to become the leader in supporting teachers in their professional growth.”...

I disagree with Marshal Tuck about Vergara v. California. I think getting rid of tenure and seniority would be a disaster without instituting effective teacher evaluations. But something has to be done to release the death grip of CTA that prevents any meaningful reform at all. I also think something needs to be done to release the death grip of administrators.

What exactly will it take for California Teachers Association to agree to reforms, including effective teachers evaluations?

I don't like the Parent Trigger law, since parents don't seem to be able to improve schools when they take them over, but at least it gets the attention of officials in failing schools.

A Great Divide: The Election Fight for California’s Schools By Gary Cohn California Expose March 12, 2014 ...“There’s no question that the teachers union has a lot of influence on the state, but I think they get too much negative credit for all the problems,” Tuck tells Capital & Main during a lengthy interview at his bare-bones campaign office on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. Then, almost in mid-sentence, he appears to change his mind about teachers unions. “Right now,” he continues, “their seat at the table is too big and they have too much influence over education policy.”

Tuck has spent almost no time as a classroom instructor, while the 64-year-old Torlakson is a veteran science teacher and track coach. Torlakson, who is still a teacher on leave from Contra Costa County’s Mount Diablo Unified School District, says he usually teaches one community college course every year. He was elected as California’s 27th State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2010 after serving in the state legislature. The two men also face longshot candidate Lydia Gutierrez, who lost a bid for superintendent in the 2010 primary. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the June primary vote, a runoff election between the two frontrunners will take place in November.

Torlakson has received substantial financial support from unions and celebrates his closeness with teachers. “I’m happy to be aligned with teachers – classroom teachers know me and trust me,” he says in a telephone interview.

A significant indication of what a future Tuck administration’s relations with teachers might look like can be found in his embrace of a lawsuit that seeks to erase nearly a century of teacher job protections, including seniority rights. The lawsuit, Vergara v. California, is currently being tried in Los Angeles Superior Court and names Torlakson as a defendant.

“I’m supportive of the case,” Tuck says. “I think that the changes they’re asking for are good for kids and make sense for California schools.” He points out that he recently wrote a commentary for LA School Report backing the case. Tuck also believes in the contentious Parent Trigger law, which has opened the door for charter schools to take over public schools and is strongly supported by conservatives and school privatizers. Torlakson voted against the law in 2009 when he was a member of the state Assembly.

Surprisingly, even those who follow the politics of education have paid little attention to the Tuck-Torlakson battle, which has received scant media coverage so far. John Rogers, director of the University of California, Los Angeles’ Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, suggests that influence over education policy has shifted somewhat from the superintendent to the California State Board of Education. The board’s current president is Michael Kirst, who was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown. Kirst had served on the state board of education under Brown in his first term as governor in 1975...

Here's a bizarre endorsement from San Diego's La Prensa:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This year the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is a very competitive race between the incumbent Torlakson and Marshall Tuck...

The last thing the schools need today are more changes...

We believe that now is not the time for change, but a time for a steady hand on the wheel to help guide education and Torlakson is that person.

[Maura Larkins' comment: I wouldn't call it "guiding" if the guide is guaranteed not to change course. You don't even need a human being at the wheel if you don't want any changes. You just jury rig the steering wheel so it can't move.]

Saturday, May 03, 2014

SDUSD trustee Richard Barrera does a turnaround: he no longer wants to hold teachers accountable

SDUSD trustee Richard Barrera

Updated--see bottom of post

San Diego's liberals seem to be far more obedient to the California Teachers Association than Los Angeles liberals, and students suffer for it. Here's a bit of the history of that subject. Shame on Richard Barrera for abandoning his principles, apparently in exchange for campaign contributions and a cushy job.


I don't object to tenure. I object to the intransigence of the teachers union in the face of calls for education reform.

Getting rid of tenure will do no good at all, and would likely do harm, if teacher evaluations continue to be as worthless as they are now.


If we get rid of tenure we'll just have to worry more about the already-existing problem of principals protecting their own careers by making alliances with mediocre but popular and politically-strong teachers. I get the feeling that David Welch, mogul of Student Matters, honestly doesn't know that many principals are former teachers who switched to the front office when they realized that they don't have what it takes to make it in the classroom.

I get the feeling that Voice of San Diego's education reporter Mario Koran doesn't know this, either.


Emily Alpert Reyes

Voice of San Diego muzzled and then fired its education reporter, Emily Alpert (now Reyes), who knew what was going on in schools. The reason for this seems to be related to the politics and big bucks of VOSD's big donor trio Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer who are deeply involved in charter schools and anti-union politics.

Voice of San Diego founder Buzz Woolley

Just before she was fired, Emily Alpert was one of the few people in San Diego doing serious research on teacher layoffs based on seniority. She dared to bring up the topic of teacher evaluations. If VOSD donor trio Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer were really interested in improving education for all children they would have fallen all over themselves to keep Emily in San Diego. (Emily now works for the Los Angeles Times, but she's not writing about education.)

Irwin Jacobs, Voice of San Diego's major donor

My belief is that Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer want to improve education for just enough students so that they can run their businesses with American employees--and they want those students in charter schools. They think they can have a flourishing society while the middle and working classes sink lower and lower.

Rod Dammeyer, charter schools advocate and political donor

Note: Buzz, Irwin and Rod also tried to remake the San Diego Unified School Board with appointed members who would undermine the elected members. They seems to think we'd do better without democracy.


You might think that the teachers union could manage to do a better job of acting in the interest of all citizens than Buzz, Irwin and Rod have done.

Sadly, this does not seem to be the case.

I believe that schools can be fixed without getting rid of tenure (I have described one such plan HERE), but schools can't be fixed as long as the California Teachers Association stands in the way.

Something clearly needs to be done, but Richard Barrera doesn't seem to want to address the problem of rampant mediocrity among teachers. It's actually a bigger problem than the incompetence of about 10% teachers. I wouldn't use evaluations to fire teachers; evaluations are needed to help teachers become highly competent.

Sadly, Barrera will likely continue to toe the line for the people who control the California Teachers Association, so reform is looking unlikely. CTA doesn't want teachers to be held accountable; it wants to continue the politically-convenient system of principal evaluations.

The current system is such a joke that principals rarely even bother to observe teachers.

See all posts re teacher evaluations.

Teachers need to have a union. But why can't it be better than this one? Couldn't it be one without people like Tim O'Neill? (See comment at the end of this post.)


Teachers Call Upon San Diego School Trustee to Help Save Seniority Rules
By: Mario Koran
Voice of San Diego
May 2, 2014

In 2010, when San Diego Unified was in the throes of a budget crisis and staring down a round of layoffs, school board trustee Richard Barrera told U-T San Diego, “Pink-slipping disproportionately affects poorer schools – absolutely.”

Now, that argument is the basis of Vergara v. California, a case that could blow up deeply rooted protections for California teachers. Barrera, who is now the leader of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council, which includes the teachers union, changed his tune when he testified in the case.

Teachers see the policies that force the youngest teachers to bear the brunt of layoffs as the fairest possible, he argued. Replacing it with a system that requires administrators to make value judgments would erode trust as teachers vied for their spots, he said.

Along with attorneys from the state and the California Teachers Association, Barrera pointed to San Diego Unified as proof that a district can succeed because of the current policies – not in spite of it.

The case is the product of Students Matter, a group founded by Silicon Valley business mogul David F. Welch, a group of California students and a heavyweight cast of attorneys. They initiated the suit and claim the teacher protections violate students’ constitutional rights to equal access to quality education.

California law makes it nearly impossible to dismiss a bad teacher once he or she has received tenure, they argue, and last-hired-first-fired layoff policies disproportionately impact schools in high-poverty areas because they’re more likely to have less experienced teachers. Layoffs at these schools, then, create more turnover and worsen the experience for students.

But Barrera said that because San Diego Unified has had a good relationship with its teachers union, it’s been able to avoid mass layoffs in the first place.

In the grip of the budget crises, about 1,100 teachers were issued pink-slips in 2011, and all but 200 of those were rescinded, he said. And when 1,500 teachers were laid off in 2012, everyone was invited back.

Josh Lipshutz, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told VOSD he found this part of Barrera’s testimony bizarre. “Look, nobody wants layoffs. But layoffs are reality,” Lipshutz said.v “We’re not arguing that teachers should be laid off. But in speaking with administrators we heard over and over that everybody knows who the worst teachers are. All we’re saying is that in a layoff environment, why would you not want to include those teachers?” he said.

And avoiding layoffs in dark budget times also comes at a very real cost.

At this week’s school board meeting, trustee and fiscal wonk Scott Barnett castigated the rest of the school board for promising teachers pay raises that it couldn’t afford and selling off real estate to make up the difference.

Even though the district got money from Prop. 30, a voter-approved statewide measure meant to stave off drastic cuts to schools, San Diego Unified is facing a $100 million budget shortfall.

“Guess what? The proposed hole is bigger next year than this year because of this board’s inability to have any semblance of control,” Barnett said.

Holding Up San Diego as a Model

Barrera said that the idea that layoffs disproportionately impact poor schools doesn’t capture reality.

He said Central Elementary in City Heights, the school that Superintendent Cindy Marten once ran, is a good example of how a school can create a culture where teachers want to stick around.

Barrera said a school like Central is possible because teachers share strategies for what works in the classroom. In other words, if a district were to try to measure which teachers were better, teachers might be afraid to share what works with a competitive colleague.

“If we replace the seniority system – one which most people tend to see as fair – with one that teachers see as unfair or arbitrary, we’re going to dramatically hurt trust between teachers and their principals,” he said.

Still, schools like Jackson Elementary in City Heights, now Fay Elementary, might say the problem is a little bit more serious. During the budget crises, high-poverty schools like Fay – which had less experienced teachers – were hit hardest by last-in-first-out layoff policies.

In 2008, 24 out of its 26 teachers received layoff notices. Most of those ended up being rescinded, but in 2011, when 25 out of 27 teachers got pink slips – it was deja vu all over again.

“The reality is,” Lipshutz said, “that once the pink slips go out, the damage is already done.”

Teachers will often look for positions in more stable districts, and “it’s very discouraging to be treated as a number, to be told that you don’t have value beside your hire-date,” he said.

Barrera doesn’t disagree. “That’s all the more reason that we need to do what we can to avoid pink slips and layoffs,” he said. “Pink slips are disruptive, yes, but what’s more disruptive is laying off teachers and having huge class sizes.”

So What’s a Good Teacher?

Barrera said the major hole with the Vergara plaintiffs’ case is that they never clarified what, exactly, makes a teacher ineffective. In fact, the defense led with that point in its closing brief.

Of course, rebooting the criteria to measure teacher performance depends on whether the plaintiffs can persuade the judge that measures like test scores can be considered.

Plaintiffs leaned on Harvard researcher Thomas J. Kane, who said black and Latino students in Los Angeles Unified were more likely than their white and Asian peers to be taught by the worst teachers.

Kane reached his conclusion by looking at teacher effectiveness through a value-added formula, which measures improvements in student test scores over time.

To be sure, value-added formulas aren’t universally accepted. Critics like education historian Diane Ravitch have railed against them for years. Another said they resulted in “mathematical intimidation” from school administrators.

One problem, Barrera said, is that the scores appear objective, but fail to account for poverty, or other factors that influence learning. He said he isn’t opposed to all changes to the evaluation system, but they should begin a conversation about the real goal: quality teaching.

“From a policy level, you think we’d start with questions about what’s working and how we could do more of that, instead of trying to force these blunt instruments in through the court system,” Barrera said.

Lipshutz said poverty was a theme woven throughout the trial.

“To us, that’s a red-herring. We don’t dispute that poverty is a factor in student learning,” he said. “The question to us is whether the laws that are in place are harming students and preventing them from getting the best education they possibly could. And we showed very clearly that the answer is yes.”


Here's a comment I found intriguing (for personal reasons):

Tim O'Neill, former executive director for CTA affiliates in Chula Vista

Tim ONeill (cvtimo)

The Vergara lawsuit claims that seniority based layoffs negatively discriminate against children of color. A valid critical commentary or report would show how this claim holds water in ANY school district in San Diego County over the past several years when schools have been hit by budget cuts of 25% or more.

The fact of the matter is that there have been none. All the union-haters should consider this in their world view and perhaps question the motives of the plaintiffs in this case.

Maura Larkins comment:

Are you calling Richard Barrera a "union-hater" for saying, "“Pink-slipping disproportionately affects poorer schools – absolutely”?

I don't think the charge would fit, since he is the CEO of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Also, the ACLU sued the Los Angeles Unified School District based on the devastating impact of teacher layoffs on poorer schools. Are you calling the Los Angeles ACLU "union-haters"?

Maybe you should stop with the name-calling and try to come up with a solution to the problem.

[Maura Larkins note: I suspect this "Tim O'Neill" may be the same Tim O'Neill who worked for the California Teachers Association until 2010, and who violated the Chula Vista Educators bylaws by refusing to allow me to make an ethics complaint to the CVE Representative Council.

See a copy HERE of his letter to me in which he states that Gina Boyd herself denied my request to appear before the Rep Council to make an ethics complaint about Gina Boyd!

The Tim O'Neill who was the executive director of Chula Vista Educators worked hard to make sure that politics ruled in the district. That Tim O'Neill aided and abetted multiple violations of labor law and the teachers contract to ensure the re-election of CVE President Gina Boyd. But he himself lost his job and was apparently sent to work anonymously (until now, it appears) in the CTA offices in Mission Valley.]


Either seniority protects the best teachers, and also keeps them out of the worst cesspool schools, which are minority schools, or seniority doesn't matter, it can't go both ways.
It's time for teachers to step up and put kids first, stop using them as pawns to feed public union greed.

Tim O'Neill, former executive director for CTA affiliates in Chula Vista


"Using them to feed public union greed", huh? Please be a bit more specific in your retoric (sic).

Teaching assignments (school, grade level, subject assignments) are regulated in each school district collective bargaining agreement negotiated with the local teacher union in that district, not regulated by state law, which this lawsuit addresses.

The vast majority of these negotiated agreements places seniority as a subordinate criterion to many other factors such as subject matter credential, and most notably the opinion of the school principal. In other words, seniority, in most cases is NOT the determining factor with regard to a teacher's assignment.

It is true that some teaching assignments are more difficult than others. It may also be that vacancies occur more regularly at schools with such assignments, but for a variety of reasons. Some of the "best" teachers work at these schools; sometimes they don't. Are you suggesting that the "best" teachers be limited in their options as to where they would choose to work?

Maura Larkins response:

No, Tim, Mr. Jones is not suggesting that tenured teachers be limited as to where they work. He is simply suggesting that tenured teachers tend to use their seniority to get out of--and stay out of--schools in low income areas. In fact, I must say that I did notice during my years in Chula Vista Elementary School District that teachers with high seniority tended to snap up the job openings at schools in high-income areas.

I think that the success of children should not be subordinated to any goal at all that the teachers union might have.

It doesn't matter what the reason is that CTA has refused to allow any real progress in evaluating teachers--whatever it is, it's not a good enough reason. The fact is that the current system of principal evaluations is a joke, and it's part of the reason so many kids are failing to get decent educations.

Principal Charlie Padilla retired
in the middle of the school year

I had a principal who came in fresh to the school, not knowing that I had been given all the lowest-achieving students in my grade level because I was also given the English-learners and it seemed to make sense. I was perfectly happy with the situation.

The new principal must have looked at the students' tests before sending them in to be scored, because he wrote on my evaluation that I had low student test scores--before the results came back! My students were progressing at top speed, particularly in their critical thinking, but they were starting the year from far behind the kids in the other classes at my grade level.

In fact, when the scores came back, they showed that my students had made one, two, three or even four years progress when they were with me.

That principal was highly regarded because he was highly political. But, strangely, he eventually retired from the district in the middle of the school year. He got another job, so obviously he wasn't interesting in actually retiring. It sometimes takes a while to figure out how bad some principals are. This would be less of a problem if principals weren't in charge of evaluations.

I once heard former CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett pointing out to CTA affiliate presidents that if they didn't improve education, they would become irrelevant. CTA would be wise to come up with an evaluation plan pronto. What's your plan for teacher evaluations, Tim?

COMMENT FROM francesca

@Maura Larkins If you taught in the Chula Vista School District, then you are probably more realistic about the idea of using test scores to evaluate teachers. When children have not mastered English, their test scores don't really reflect what they have learned or know.

Maura, Do you have an objective way to measure whether teachers are doing an effective job?

Maura Larkins COMMENT:

Thanks for asking, Francesca! I think observations are the single most important source of effective evaluations, and they should be done frequently by people from outside the school district (to avoid school politics).

Dennis Schamp and Scripps Dad and I had a somewhat detailed discussion recently on what should be observed; you can see our discussion at the bottom of this April 28 VOSD story:

The Case That Could Blow Up Teacher Tenure

The two main things we discussed as needing to be observed are:
1) What is the teacher doing?
2) What are the students doing?

Non-professionals could be used to make superficial observations. It would be up to professionals to evaluate the data and follow up with their own observations.

Scripps Dad says he's been involved in a good teacher evaluation program.

Also, student test scores would only be helpful after a number of years of gathering data about a teacher's performance, and even then, research shows that these scores are reliable indicators only for the top 10% and bottom 10% of teachers. The other 80% of teachers tend to get extremely variable results.

I do not think evaluations should be used to determine employment.

Instead, I think they should be used to identify the most highly effective teachers and to help average and below-average teachers.

I believe that the most highly effective teachers should then be given responsibility as master teachers to direct the less effective teachers and to give supplemental lessons to students, and to give training to their fellow teachers. This would be cheaper and more effective than bringing in ridiculously expensive outside vendors to do training.

I would expect master teachers to be paid like doctors and lawyers.

Donald Kimball

One source of teacher evaluations could be 4th grade teachers evaluating the 3rd grade teachers. The teachers in the next grade up get to experience the students from the lower grade, and can identify the better and worse teachers. Graduating seniors in high school could also evaluate their 10th, 11th, and 12th grade teachers. By that time, the graduating seniors have a good sense of the good teachers and poor teachers. Parent classroom volunteers can also provide teacher evaluations. In fact, Facebook groups organized around their specific schools have detailed recollections of the very best and very worst teachers.

Paul M Bowers

Indeed, the next-level teacher can be very helpful when determining if the previous teacher properly prepared his/her students.

I'm not a big fan of using social media for evaluating anyone. People get into a very nasty mob mentality and people are far more likely to post negative things than positive. And do so in a public place- things get adversarial quickly and the employee has no defense.

Maura Larkins

The goal is to get an objective evaluation. How could you keep personal feelings, good or bad, out of this? People would be inclined to give good evaluations to those who support their agendas, and punish those who disagree with them. They'd be likely to give good evaluations to ineffective teachers who are their friends, and bad evaluations to good teachers who don't fit in to their social hierarchy. Humans are very social creatures. Politics needs to be left out of something this important.

Paul M Bowers

...I'd like to see employees retained, promoted or dismissed on the quality of their work...

Maura Larkins

Paul Bowers, I like your idea of promoting teachers based on the quality of their work, but I bet you wouldn't like my idea about what position they should be promoted to.

I'd like to see the most effective teachers stay in the classroom--but have responsibility for several classrooms.

Each of those classrooms would also have a regular teacher who might be a young person on the way up, or an older person with many positive skills who doesn't quite fit the master teacher category.

There would be separate salary scales for master and regular teachers. The former would be paid like doctors and lawyers, while the latter would have their salaries capped at a somewhat lower level than the current system provides. The money saved on three or four regular teacher salaries would pay for the master teacher.

Also, the master teachers would provide professional development, saving schools the obscene amounts of money currently paid to vendors peddling the latest fad.

I think a lot of political and personal misery could be avoided by simply reducing the responsibilities of ineffective teachers and giving them a master teacher rather than dismissing them. Some ineffective teachers are very sweet and kind to kids. And others are very connected to the teachers union. Either way, trying to get rid of them would likely be disastrous

UPDATE MAY 5, 2014:


You might be wondering why Tim O'Neill would lead Chula Vista Educators into aiding and abetting a string of illegal actions. Was it merely to protect CVE president Gina Boyd from the ire of the "Castle Park Family" as she was facing a union election? Perhaps not.

I just discovered a startling connection while perusing Facebook. The principal I mentioned above was Charlie Padilla. Here's a post about his middle-of-the-year retirement from CVESD. He turns out to be a personal friend of Tim O'Neill!

Charlie Padilla on the left, Tim O'Neill on the right.
Does this photo from Charlie Padilla's public Facebook
page of three couples out together for dinner on April 27,
2014 help explain why Tim O'Neill might be motivated to aid
and abet a string of illegal actions and violations of contract?

Tim O'Neill wouldn't allow the CVE board of directors to hear my complaint about him and Gina Boyd. CTA is a very top-down organization, run by administrators like Tim O'Neill--and CTA lawyers--rather than elected union officials.

Wayne Johnson

I have spoken out for years on the behind-the-scenes collusion between the teachers union and school administrators. They often spar in public, but Wayne Johnson (President of CTA from 1999-2003) instituted a policy in which CTA affiliates would play nicer with school districts in order to reach more deals behind closed doors. (Of course, Wayne was acting on the direction of the real policy-makers at CTA, the lawyers. The elected officials are just figureheads.)