Thursday, March 22, 2018

Am I the only one who gets Ted Olson and John Bolton mixed up?

Ted Olson recently declined to join Donald Trump's legal team.

From Wikipedia:

[Theodore] Olson was also the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel when then President Ronald Reagan ordered the Administrator of the EPA to withhold the documents on the ground that they contained "enforcement sensitive information." This led to an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee that later produced a report suggesting Olson had given false and misleading testimony before a House subcommittee during the investigation.

John Bolton

National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will be succeeded by John Bolton.

McMaster Is Out, an Even Bigger North Korea Hawk Is In
Yuri Friedman
The Atlantic
March 22, 2018
On Thursday, Donald Trump replaced a man who built the case for war with North Korea as a last resort with a man who just made the case for war with North Korea as more of a first resort. Trump announced that National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will be succeeded by John Bolton, the George W. Bush-era United Nations ambassador who has advocated for U.S. military action to prevent Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khamenei, and most recently Kim Jong Un from amassing weapons of mass destruction...

From Wikipedia on March 22, 2018:

John Robert Bolton (born November 20, 1948) is an American lawyer and diplomat who has served in several Republican administrations...Bolton is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), senior advisor for Freedom Capital Investment Management, a Fox News Channel commentator... Bolton is also involved with...the National Rifle Association [NRA]...Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA)...

Monday, February 19, 2018

New York gun enthusiast destroys his AR-15 rifle on camera in wake of Florida shooting

New York gun enthusiast destroys his AR-15 rifle on camera in wake of Florida shooting

Scott-Dani Pappalardo purchased his AR-15 rifle over 30 years ago.

An avid target shooter and longtime supporter of gun ownership rights, he even has the Second Amendment tattooed on his arm.

But after 17 people lost their lives in a Florida high school, gunned down by an AR-15 rifle allegedly wielded by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, Pappalardo decided he’d had enough...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Should this exchange student continue her nightmare, or abandon her dream and go home?

Story below is by Danielle Grijalva (left), director of CFES (Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students), an organization that works to protect exchange students who are at risk far away from home.

I was recently contacted by a mother from China.  Her 16-year-old daughter is on a cultural exchange and experiencing great difficulties as a foreign exchange student.

At this time, the mother would like for her daughter to simply be placed with a suitable host family.  Thus far, the first two families haven't worked out.

The first host family wasn't prepared to host.The exchange student wasn't allowed a key to the home.  The house rule was that she was not allowed to be in the home alone.  Recently, the exchange student waited six hours outside for one of her host parents to arrive.  As per the email from the natural mother to CSFES:  
"The families did not give her key. She had to be on the streets up to 6 hours, because she was not allowed to stay in the house if no one of the family was at home

There was also an incident with her second host family wherein the exchange student hurt her arm while at school.  As per the email sent by the natural mother to CSFES, "She had an accident in the school, fell on her arm, and according to the school manager, she needed immediate care and go to the hospital. The accident occurred at one o´clock. She was in hospital at 7.30, because the responsible person from the English organisation did not care. I cant tell you the name right now, because we are scared, that they assault my daughter even more. This is a known problem, that these organizations are only after profit."

There was great reluctance on behalf of the second host family to take her to be seen by a medical professional.  Frankly, they couldn't be bothered.

The second host family is very distant according to the exchange student's mother.  Repeatedly she as expressed her concerns to the sending agency in China, but they do little to help despite the many emails sent to the agency.  

The exchange student is trying hard to remain strong.  She wants to complete her program year which is scheduled to end in May.  However, the student's placement agency has threatened to send her home early if she continues to complain.  The agency has already stated that they will not try to find another host family to host this exchange student.

An area representative has been assigned to the foreign exchange student, but she, too, is equally distant.  She does not want to be bothered with trying to secure another host family.  The student has been threatened to be sent home early if she continues to complain.

Grijalva added, "We always ask the student placement agencies who is the impartial student advocate assigned to the student in situations such as these?  It is important youth serving organizations do not allow for the same individuals to continue making the same mistakes that impact the well-being and safety of teens."  But Grijalva went on to explain that this is a very unregulated, unmonitored industry that operates without oversight.  

It may be a long four months for this student to endure should she decide to stay until in May.  She is worn.  Her second host family lives quite a distance from the nearest high school which requires a 90 minute commute each way to school.  She deserves to complete her cultural exchange, which has been her dream.  Her parents spent the equivalent of $14,000 for their daughter to study abroad as a foreign exchange student.  

"The natural parents feel helpless" according to Danielle Grijalva, Director of CSFES.  "CSFES has made several recommendations to help resolve the situation, but ultimately I reminded the mother that she will need to determine when her daughter has had enough; it may be time to send for her daughter."  

In an email to the mother from Grijalva, "I am unsure whether your daughter plans to stay until May.  Whatever the case may be, please, from my heart, be reminded that you are the parent.  If there are too many struggles that your daughter has to endure, then, in my opinion, it may be time for her to return home.  I have seen too many cases where exchange students return after months of mental abuse, and for some, they are never the same.  I am not a doctor, of course, and not providing medical advice, but I have been contacted by natural parents across the globe over the past 13 years who have shared the depression their son or daughter has fallen into. Therefore, if you decide that your daughter should return home early, I am hopeful that your daughter will understand it is in her best interest.  Believe me, in the end having to endure months of mental abuse... well, it honestly isn't worth it."

Grijalva says that she wishes more parents would ask pertinent questions prior to sending their son or daughter thousands of miles from home to live with complete strangers.  She recommends natural parents be allowed to correspond with the host family their child will be living with.  Grijalva said, "Sadly, many of these student placement agencies accept more students than there are host families available.  These kids end up anywhere with anyone."  A full, fingerprint, criminal background check is still not required of host families.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for an exchange student to be hosted by a family member with a criminal background."

Grijalva explains, "It is all too common for parents to rely on the glossy brochures showing pictures of smiling teens that are presented to them at time of signing up their son or daughter to study abroad on a cultural exchange."  She suggests that natural parents take their time in selecting a student placement agency that will be responsible for the well-being of their child while studying abroad.  

Visit the website of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Student and refer to Tips for Parents that appears on the website.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

How do you educate a teacher so brainless/racist that she assigns students to give 3 good reasons for slavery?

How do you educate a teacher so brainless/racist that she assigns students to give 3 good reasons for slavery? How do you educate a principal so brainless/racist that he defends the action by saying the assignment was intended to spark debate? Debate about what? About how good it felt for the slave owners? How much wealth the slaves produced? No, Mr. Van Dellen, an inservice about cultural insensitivity isn't going to fix this problem.

The problem is the inability of a huge proportion of teachers and administrators to think critically. 

Teachers need education. Too many of them come to the classroom with a credential but little ability or inclination to use their powers of reason. 

Many, if not most, teachers have no idea how to teach kids to use their brains to separate truth and falsehood.

Step number one is to evaluate teachers' abilities effectively. Then the top 15% of teachers should be used to teach the average teachers how to think analytically.

School Homework Asks Kids To Give 3 ‘Good’ Reasons For Slavery
Taryn Finley
Huffington Post

A private Christian school in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is under fire after asking fourth-graders to lay out three “good” reasons for slavery as part of a homework assignment.

On Monday, the students at Our Redeemer Lutheran School were handed a social studies worksheet that told them to “give 3 ‘good’ reasons for slavery and 3 bad reasons.”...

Principal Jim Van Dellen sent a letter to parents with an apology and said that the teacher didn’t properly describe the task to students,according to the station.

[So, Mr. Van Dellen, why don't you explain the "proper" way to describe the task?]

The assignment was intended to spark debate in the class, he told Fox 6, adding that it has been pulled from the curriculum.

Brown-Berry shared an update on Facebook stating that she met with the principal and that he agreed to mandate “cultural diversity/cultural competency inservice [training for faculty] to prevent this from happening again.”...

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Louisiana teacher removed from school board meeting in handcuffs, booked into jail

Our schools belong to the public, as do our police forces. Police should not help school officials intimidate members of the public in open meetings. In this case, if a teacher deserved to be arrested for engaging in a question-and-answer session during public comment, then the school board members who also took part in the question-and-answer session should have been arrested. But why would anybody want to arrest either a citizen or a public official for discussing a matter of public interest?

It appears that the superintendent has some problems, and the board needs to take charge.

Story 1:
A Vermilion Parish middle school teacher was removed from a special school board meeting on Monday night in handcuffs, according to a report.

Update: Deyshia Hargrave was booked into the Abbeville City Jail after the incident on counts of remaining after being forbidden and resisting an officer, even though the school board decided not to press charges, KATC reported. She has since bonded out of jail...

Story 2:
"I have never seen a man removed from this room."
Louisiana teacher who criticized superintendent raise later handcuffed
Jan 9, 2018

...Her removal did not go unnoticed by one woman at the meeting. "What happened here tonight. The way that females are treated in Vermilion Parish. I have never seen a man removed from this room. Never. I have never seen a man removed from this room."...

Story 3:

Teacher removed from school board meeting in handcuffs
A Louisiana teacher was violently arrested at a public school board meeting Monday night after she questioned her superintendent for giving himself a raise when teachers and administrators were made to go without.

Rene Rost Middle School English teacher Deyshia Hargrave was asked to leave the meeting because she was asking questions instead of making declarative statements during a public-comment portion of the Vermilion Parish school board meeting, according to KATC TV-3.

But once a city marshal got her out into a hallway, he started roughing her up as he slapped on the silver bracelet...

When she was called on to speak a second time, board president Anthony Fontana ruled her out of order and called in the marshal, the outlet reported.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

School officials and their attorneys make sure nothing ever changes: San Ysidro spent almost half a million on Manuel Paul

The shenanigans never stop. It's ridiculous to keep pursuing Manuel Paul without cleaning up the corruption that exists currently. Paul was just playing the game; he just wasn't as good at it as most school officials, attorneys, etc. who get wealthy off of schools. The truly greedy players stay in power while the public is distracted by small-time crooks like Paul.

Even so, the money spent on lawyers regarding Manuel Paul is negligible compared to the $3 million MiraCosta College spent on a case involving $305 in stolen water for palm trees. In the end, MiraCosta let the palm trees die. Obviously, many, if not most, schools are run for the benefit of individuals, not the public.

San Ysidro School District Has Spent $480K Trying to Recover $291K From Ex-Superintendent
Ashly McGlone
Voice of San Diego
October 16, 2017

San Ysidro School District is still trying to recover more than $291,000 from disgraced former superintendent Manuel Paul, and has racked up far more than that in legal bills trying to make it happen.
The district has paid Long Beach law firm Leal-Trejo $480,000 as part of the lawsuit against Paul, filed in February 2015, according to figures provided to Voice of San Diego in response to a Public Records Act request...
“I will consult with the Board of Education to find the best remedy for this case,” Deputy Superintendent Arturo Sanchez-Macias wrote in an email. Sanchez-Macias, who is currently serving as interim superintendent, declined to comment further on the fees...

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Five Dysfunctions of CVESD; Erika Taylor removed as principal at Greg Rogers

I've seen bad principals and I've seen bad teachers but one thing I've rarely seen is effective problem-solving at CVESD.--Maura Larkins

CVESD can't talk to reporters or parents about why it removed Erika Taylor as principal. That's a fact. They might spread rumors, but they can't talk on the record.

So I have a suggestion for Greg Rogers parents.

The deeper problems is that CVESD has a history of covering-up events in schools. Like just about every school district in the country (and in the world), CVESD is a dysfunctional organization. 

So I wish Greg Rogers parents would campaign against school secrecy instead of demanding action in a case where they know nothing about what's going on.

I'd advise parents not to be completely swayed by a few high-profile projects of any principal. What really matters is how the school is being run. Don't be totally enthralled by bread and circuses.

It's possible the school has been run badly by Erika Taylor.

On the other hand, it's possible she's a fine principal and this is another case of teachers manipulating the school district in an exercise of political power. I have seen that happen in CVESD schools.

I'd bet good money (of course, the definition of "good" is determined by my income) that there is a long history of angry staff meetings at this school. I once taught at a school where the staff meetings consisted of teachers screaming at the principal for a significant part of two-hour meetings that involved endless complaints from teachers. Yes, I mean screaming, as in speaking in an extremely loud, shrill voice.

I bet there have been big problems but the parents have been kept in the dark. I think parents should be part of the solution of the problems, not treated like outsiders at the school.

CVESD is really bad at effectively solving problems.


(The PTA is too political and it's under the control of the district. So start your own organization. There are too many secrets that should not be secrets. You should know how decisions are made about your kids. You should know what's happening at your kids' school )

I urge you to join with middle school parents. They know all kinds of things about your school. And you need to start learning about the schools your kids will attend in the future.

It would be ideal if some  teachers would come to your meetings and explain their expectations and their policies. You can learn a lot from teachers. But the teachers should also listen to your concerns. Some teachers are willing to do so.

Maybe you could call your group the "Parent Teacher Problem Solution Society." I'd suggest The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Pat Lencioni as a guiding document.

Parents, students fight to get principal reinstated

Posted: Oct 11, 2017 By Abbie Alford, ReporterCBS Channel 8
.....“By removing Ms. Taylor, you failed the children,” said Erika Taylor’s mother, Anne Taylor.
The board did not respond to the public comments...

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Superintendent Julio Fonseca resigns from San Ysidro School District amid sexual harrassment and retaliation claims

The Julio Fonseca case is the tip of an iceberg. Unlike most scandals in schools, you're allowed to read about this one in the newspaper. The truly important stories are kept out of the newspaper.

Voters are usually allowed to find out something that is going on in a school district only when a single individual has a problem, such as John Collins in Poway. But sometimes you don't even find out much even when it appears that a single individual had a problem. For example, when Superintendent Dennis Doyle suddenly cleared out of his office in National School District, the reason was never revealed. The board claimed that it didn't even know that he had emptied his office and disappeared! I'm guessing there were more people than just Mr. Doyle who were compromised by unknown events at that time.

News outlets are very protective of the system of secrecy and silence that veils deeper problems in schools, or rather, that veils the actions of powerful people at higher levels of the education establishment. Voters are left ignorant of how school districts really work.

The Julio Fonseca case got full coverage because it only involves one expendable individual.

But bigger guys than Julio are still comfortably ensconced in bigger offices, such as San Diego County Office of Education, causing much bigger problems.

Why is La Prensa telling this story when it keeps other education stories under wraps?  La Prensa seems to have a very personal connection to this story. The employee fired by Julio has become COO of La Prensa.

San Ysidro Schools Superintendent Resigns Amid Harrassment Claim
September 2, 2017
By Eduardo Rueda – Investigative Reporter
La Prensa 

San Ysidro School District Superintendent Julio Fonseca resigned abruptly on Friday night after a four-hour closed-door Board meeting...
“The Board, by a vote of five to zero, accepted the resignation of the Superintendent effective immediately, in exchange for 18 months of compensation and release of all claims,” reported Board President Rosaleah Pallasigue. “Dr. Fonseca’s departure is based on a personal situation,” Pallasigue added. [Maura Larkins' comment: yeah, right.]
Fonseca is currently facing a civil lawsuit filed against him by San Diegans for Open Government alleging he unlawfully approved a $114,000 settlement payout in May 2016 to a former employee that had raised concerns about Fonseca’s relationship with a female district employee.
The terminated employee, Jose Enrique Gonzalez, claimed Fonseca confided in him in December 2015 that he was about to hire a woman he was dating. The following week, the District hired Alexis Rodriguez to be the director of the District’s before- and after-school programs.
Days later, Gonzalez raised the issue of the relationship with other District staff, and within weeks, he was terminated from his position at the District.
Although Gonzalez never filed a tort claim or a lawsuit against the District, the Board quickly approved a settlement agreement with him on April 15, 2016, granting him one year’s salary plus benefits.
After his termination, Gonzalez became the COO of La Prensa San Diego...

This story notwithstanding, voters don't really know what goes on behind closed doors at school districts.

The most important thing to districts is to present a calm, happy face to the world. They have a strict code of silence. The thing they hate most is publicity.  Employees are ordered not to talk to the media. It's not unlike police departments.

Rick Werlin, Asst. Supt. of Chula Vists ESD refused to investigate what happened at Castle Park Elementary in 2001 because it would have revealed criminal behavior by himself and others. He demanded that I be silent. He said I "needed to forget the past." He then demanded that I come back to work. I refused because I feared more harassment and intimidation since guilty parties were desperate to cover up wrongdoing.

About year later I filed suit and the board fired me at the next board meeting for refusing to come to work. Why didn't they fire me during the previous year when I wasn't coming to work? Obviously, they preferred not to fire me. But someone apparently advised them that it was the best response to my lawsuit.

Firing me was obviously illegal retaliation for filing suit.

The Union-Tribune and Voice of San Diego and La Prensa knew all about this case but they kept quiet. That's how much power school districts have.

News outlets prefer stories about teachers or administrators who are newsworthy but whose stories won't rock the system. When the wrongdoing goes higher, they usually keep quiet.

I believe Emily Alpert was fired from VOSD because she was investigating SDCOE. VOSD claimed that it let reporters write about whatever they wanted, but that ceased to be true at some point--and the change was not revealed to readers.

The UT and La Prensa fell all over themselves to report about the five teachers who were transferred out of Castle Park Elementary in 2004.

The teachers at the school had gone completely rogue, in large part thanks to the administration and school board that spent large amounts of tax dollars covering up illegal actions by teachers and administrators.

Naturally, the rogue teachers believed themselves to be in complete control of the school.

But the UT and La Prensa, even though they knew about the problems caused by these teachers, pretended that the Castle Park Five were innocent victims of administrators. In fact, the administrators were dupes and dopes who were led by the nose by power-hungry teachers. The instinct to cover up problems led the district to commit and cover up crimes.

This information is on my website.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Letting kids sleep in could save U.S. $9 billion a year, study finds

Letting kids sleep in could save U.S. $9 billion a year, study finds

Shelby Lin Erdman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Starting school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. could not only save the U.S. $9 billion every year, it might also lead to improved educational achievement and fewer traffic accidents among tired teenagers.

Those are a couple of conclusions from an extensive Rand Corporation study on delaying school start times.
The research suggests that a later school start time could result in economic increases in a relatively short period of time after the change with an $83 billion fiscal impact after a decade.

“The significant economic benefits from simply delaying school start times to 8.30 a.m. would be felt in a matter of years, making this a win-win, both in terms of benefiting the public health of adolescents and doing so in a cost-effective manner,” study co-author Wendy Troxel said in a press release.
The argument against making a change in school start times,for example, includes a loss in money and increased costs of transportation changes, like rescheduling bus routes.

Researchers also said that they used a conservative approach and did not include other problems from too little sleep among children, including  higher suicide rates, increased obesity and mental health issues, concluding that “the reported economic benefits from delaying school start times could be even higher across many U.S. states.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also supports staring school later
“Not getting enough sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks including being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs, as well as poor academic performance, “ according to the CDC.
And one of the reasons children don’t get enough sleep is early school start times, CDC officials said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said that most teenagers start school too early and also recommends middle and high school students start school at 8:30 a.m. or later.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Scripps Research Institute ranked first in the world, while nearby UC San Diego was 14th

Scripps Research Institute Tops World in Science Quality, Says Ranking
The Scripps Research Institute ranked first in the world in research quality and commercialization of new products, while nearby UC San Diego was 14th, according to the journal Nature.

The publication’s Nature Index connects scholarly papers from research institutions with the patents that cite them..

Monday, August 07, 2017

Poway Superintendent Collins charged with 5 felonies

Ex-Poway Superintendent Is Facing Five Felony Charges
John Collins is facing five felony charges for allegedly misusing public money, vacation, sick and leave time while superintendent of the Poway Unified School District, according to a complaint filed by the San Diego County district attorney’s office on Friday...

Collins enjoyed a close relationship with the teacher’s union during his tenure as superintendent, which was credited for helping to avoid a strike and layoffs during difficult economic times.

The district was thrust into the national spotlight in 2012 when news emerged about a costly $1 billion capital appreciation bond deal struck on Collins’ watch in 2011, and Collins faced criticism locally during his last year on the job for, among other things, edits made to a consultant report and so-called “me-too” clauses in Collins’ contract that allowed him to benefit from teacher and manager pay negotiations...

[Comments by me and Chris Brewster--and Charles Sellars:]

So Poway school board member Charles Sellers says the board offered to work out an "amicable solution" for his departure from the district and the repayment of the funds that he misappropriated. What responsible public entity endeavors to work out an amicable solution with someone who has misappropriated over $300k? This suggests to me a serious lack of judgment on the part of the school board, which is probably already evident in that they kept this individual employed for so long.

@Chris Brewster Litigation is very costly and time-consuming. All civil cases should be settled. When they're not settled, it means one or both parties is being unreasonable (unless there is a genuine uncertainty about the law applicable to the case). Clearly, in this case, Collins is being unreasonable, and he wants to do as much harm as he can to the school district.

Ms. Larkins: I agree that litigation can costly and time-consuming. I do not agree that all civil cases should be settled. Some, for example, are initiated to intimidate or for other inappropriate reasons. A good example is the civil case against Taylor Swift, which was recently tossed by a federal judge, but only after she contested it in court. Had she settled, she would have implied some degree of personal responsibility, which the judge found lacking. Settling to avoid court costs is a tactic that avoids costs, but can add insult to injury.
The suggestion of my post however is that the members of the school board who presided over the district during this individual's tenure were seriously negligent in allowing someone who has now been charged with felonies to engage in the alleged activities. Trying to mediate with someone you believe has stolen public funds is a fool's errand and even if successful, allows the person to retain some of the purloined public funds. One might suggest that something is better than nothing, but there is principle involved. For example, do you negotiate with someone who has robbed your bank and settle for half of the funds they stole?

@Chris Brewster
I would like to amend my comment to say,
"All civil cases should be settled or dropped (unless there is genuine uncertainty about the applicable law)."

Of course, dropping a case is a sort of settlement. In fact, frivolous lawsuits are sometimes settled in favor of the defendant when the plaintiff comes to his senses. Taylor Swift's case could have been settled in her favor, with the plaintiff apologizing to her and perhaps paying her legal fees.

The idea of settling for half the funds stolen might make sense if the money has already been spent and the defendant has no other resources. You can't get blood from a stone, but you can waste a lot of time and energy trying. But remember that it is also possible to settle for ALL the money and then some. Surely you'd approve of that????

I do not believe in the principle of draining a school district of money and people-hours and peace just out of revenge. The first duty of a school district is to the public, not the desire for revenge.

@Chris Brewster Also, it is ridiculous for you to pretend that Sellars has responsibility for keeping Collins employed so long. Sellars opposed Collins from the start. Sellars was elected in November 2014. In April 2015, VOSD reported on Sellars:
"John [Collins] and Candy [Smiley, president of Poway teachers] cut up the pie,” said school board member Charlie Sellers, who was elected in November. “The previous board simply rubber-stamped their action and this board is actually questioning their actions and they don’t like it.”

Ms. Larkins: Could you kindly point out where in my remarks I suggested that Mr. Sellars has responsibility for keeping Mr. Collins employed for so long? I'm unable to find any such implication. As for your other point, I agree that the first duty of a school district is to the public, not the desire for revenge. The school board clearly made some terrible decisions here. The question is, once they determined this gentleman fleeced them, would the best option not be to turn the case over to the DA and ask that as part of the prosecution, the defendant be required to pay the school district back? Achieving an out of court settlement for half (of what they think he stole for example) is not, in my view, in the best interest of the school district or justice. It is Mr. Sellars who is quoted as believing the some mediated settlement would have been desirable. It is with that sentiment that I disagree for the reasons noted.

@Chris Brewster
If you tell me that you didn't intend to blame Sellars for keeping Collins employed, I believe you.

But let me explain how a logical reader would read your statements (although your final clause might not have accurately reflected what you wanted to say).

To start with, you mentioned Sellars by name, saying, "...Charles Sellers says the board offered to work out an "amicable solution" for his departure from the district and the repayment of the funds that he misappropriated."

You thus pointed out Charles Sellars as the one board member who took public responsibility for the effort to settle with Collins. We can assume that a majority of the board supported this effort, but we don't know who the other individuals were.

You then made clear that this effort by Charles Sellars and these other unknown individuals  demonstrated a lack of judgment: "What responsible public entity endeavors to work out an amicable solution with someone who has misappropriated over $300k? This suggests to me a serious lack of judgment..."

You then added another accusation against Sellars and the unknown individuals, "This suggests to me a serious lack of judgment, which is probably already evident in that they kept this individual employed for so long."

"They" obviously refers to Sellars and the unknown individuals.

I believe you if you didn't mean to implicate Sellars in keeping Collins employed so long. If you didn't mean to implicate him, I'd be interested to know that.

@Chris Brewster
Regarding your point that settlement is bad because the DA might want to get a judgment for ALL damages, I agree with your sentiment that the money should be paid back in full if Collins has the ability to pay.

But the man seems to be broke. In other words, he is judgment-proof.

You can't get blood from a stone. If he had turned over what he still had at the time of the settlement offer in return for the district waiving the rest of his debt, the students would be ahead.

I doubt Collins will ever pay a cent to Poway Unified.

Ms. Larkins: I know nothing about Mr. Sellars other than what I have read here (i.e. his quote). I think the action he supported was unwise and inappropriate. I think that if a public entity becomes aware that a person in their employ has acted unlawfully, they should turn the information over to the proper authorities. Full stop. I think this is a continuation of bad decisions by the board, Whether Mr. Sellars was involved in some or all of them is not something I am in a position to dissect. 

@Chris Brewster
Chris, you have every right to believe that the settlement offer was "unwise and inappropriate."
But you are wrong to deny that the new board with Mr. Sellars and Kimberly Beatty did an investigation and turned their results over to the proper authorities.
That's exactly what they did.
They also are suing Collins to get the money back. Are you saying that they shouldn't be suing Collins to get the money back?
We are talking about two separate things here: the criminal case and the civil suit.

And I must disagree with your insistence that "the board" continued the same kind of decision-making after Mr. Sellars and Kimberly Beatty were elected. There was a significant change. For some reason, perhaps a political reason, you don't want to give Sellars and Beatty credit for any change.

@Maura Larkins @Chris Brewster Ms. Larkins, thank you for your support it is much appreciated.  Mr. Brewster, what I meant by "amicable" was "mutually agreed".  While I cannot divulge the content of these negotiations, rest assured that our goal as a Board was always to minimize any damage caused to the District.  Sometimes that involves not throwing good money after bad.  While we strongly believe that Dr. Collins owes PUSD all these monies, if not more, there is no guarantee that a court will agree with us.  Even if it does, there is no guarantee that we will ever collect in full from Dr. Collins.  We simply attempted a settlement that would have yielded the most dollars in the least time.  However, Dr. Collins was simply not amenable to negotiation, much less compromise.  Perhaps if he had shown remorse for his actions, paid back what he could, resigned instead of having to be fired, settled instead of forcing us to sue him, he might not be facing jail and the loss of his pension, even though you (and many others) feel that is what he deserves.  I can't speak for the authorities.  We simply followed the law and turned over our findings.  The decisions to  criminally prosecute and strip him of his credentials were made by others.  I'm just saying that had he agreed to do what was best for Poway Unified, he may also have been doing what was best for himself.  While he had numerous opportunities to do just that, he always chose not to and only he can say why. Perhaps he will, in court. - - Charles Sellers, PUSD Trustee.

Mr. Sellars: Thanks for taking the time to reply. Much appreciated. My view is that if a public entity, such as yours, has reason to believe that crimes have been committed, that information should be turned over to the proper prosecutorial authorities and they should handle the case. If that was done expeditiously, it is not apparent to me from the stories I have read. 
@Chris Brewster When we fired Dr. Collins for cause in July of 2016, we immediately turned over the results of our forensic audit to both the District Attorney and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, as required by law.  I can only assume that appeals with the CTC and negotiations with the DA are what took up the past year.  As they say, the wheels of justice turn slowly.

Mr. Sellars: Thank you for enlightening me and anyone else reading this thread. If the board expeditiously turned over the audit to the authorities noted, I clearly think that was the right thing to do.

Boston charter school leaders' big earnings should help reset expectations in education.

The Pay Leaders Deserve
By Frederick M. Hess
U.S. News and World Report
Aug. 7, 2017

Last week, The Boston Globe ran a front-page story on the pay of Boston's 16 charter-school leaders. Headlined "Charter School Leaders Making Big Money," it reported that most of the charter leaders earned total compensation of $150,000 to $200,000 in 2016, with three topping $200,000.

The Globe pointedly noted that Boston's superintendent, Tommy Chang, earned $272,000 last year for leading a 55,000 student district—while most of these charter schools enroll something closer to 500 or 600.

What to make of these data? One could obviously conclude that Boston's charter leaders are wildly overpaid...

But perhaps something else is going on.

It may be that terrific school leaders are underpaid...

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Japan Might Be What Equality in Education Looks Like

"...[I]n Japan only about 9 percent of the variation in student performance is explained by students’ socioeconomic backgrounds. The [world] average is 14 percent, and in the United States, it’s 17 percent."
 Japan Might Be What Equality in Education Looks Like
The country’s government makes sure areas with low income levels and property values get good teachers too.

KAWAMATA, Japan—In many countries, the United States included, students’ economic backgrounds often determine the quality of the education they receive. Richer students tend to go to schools funded by high property taxes, with top-notch facilities and staff that help them succeed. In districts where poorer students live, students often get shoddy facilities, out-of-date textbooks, and fewer guidance counselors. 

Not in Japan...“In Japan, you may have poor areas, but you don’t have poor schools”...

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fallbrook Union High School District, Chula Vista Elementary School District and National School District were rated the worst in bond transparency

School Construction Bonds Need More Oversight, Taxpayers Association Says
Debbie L. Sklar
July 28, 2017

Fewer independent oversight committees at school districts in the county are maintaining high transparency standards in their construction bond programs than last year, the San Diego Taxpayers Education Foundation reported Friday...
The Fallbrook Union High School District, Chula Vista Elementary School District and National School District were rated the worst. The National School District was criticized in the report for having no information online about its 2016 bond measure... Read more HERE

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fallbrook Union Elementary SD still wants to keep secrets, even after Appellate Court says pay Elaine Allyn $1.05 million

Court Sides With District Employee Who Balked at Order to Purge Emails
A fired school district IT director who objected to orders to wipe out the email archive system was rightfully awarded over $1 million by a jury in 2015, an appellate court decided this month.
Elaine Allyn accused the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District of wrongful termination in 2012, and a jury unanimously awarded her $1.05 million for lost income and $148,000 in damages in 2015...

The district’s legal fees fighting Allyn’s claims have cost more than $800,000 to date....

...[A] statement provided by Fallbrook’s assistant superintendent Bill Billingsley said the school board is deciding next steps with legal counsel.

The statement, provided on behalf of Fallbrook’s superintendent Candace Singh, said in part: “The District is clearly disappointed in the appellate court’s decision and is reviewing its options to challenge it further. Although the jury found in the plaintiff’s favor, the leadership of FUESD steadfastly maintains that Mrs. Allyn was not a whistleblower, and that her own misconduct justified her termination from the District.”...

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Second-grade teacher's unique homework policy goes viral

Second-grade teacher's unique homework policy goes viral


...[T]here’s at least one stressful thing second-graders at Godley Elementary School in Texas won’t have to worry about this year: homework.

Brandy Young teaches 2nd grade at Godley Elementary School in Godley, Texas.
Brandy Young, a second-grade teacher at the school, passed out a letter to every parent at a “Meet the Teacher Night” ahead of the start of the school year to explain her new homework policy -- or should we say, no-homework policy.

A pleased parent posted a photo of the letter on her Facebook page, and it went viral with more than 59,000 shares...

“There will be no formally assigned homework this year,” Brandy Young explained in the letter. “Rather, I ask you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

The teacher said homework just wasn’t working for her classroom anymore. So, she decided to make meaningful change.

“[Students] work hard all day. When they go home they have other things they need to learn there,” Young told CBS News. “I’m trying to develop their whole person; it’s not beneficial to go home and do pencil and paper work.”...


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Teacher of the Year urges Gompers’ community to be accountable

I loved teaching primary grades because I could teach kids basic skills instead of teaching over students' heads, forcing them to go through the motions, pretending they understand what they're doing. But even in primary grades teachers face pressure to teach at the level of the students' age rather than their actual level. And most or all of this pressure usually comes from other teachers.

Teacher of the Year urges Gompers’ community to be accountable
More than 25 teachers and students have come forward to talk about allegations of grade inflation and unrealistic academic expectations detailed by inewsource last week in an investigation of Gompers Preparatory Academy. The school is a sixth-through-12th grade charter in southeastern San Diego that promises “students can succeed at the university of their choice.”

Maria Miller, a resident of nearby Encanto, was named Teacher of the Year during one of her three years at the school. She’s currently an 8th-grade teacher at Lewis Middle School.

Miller was impressed with the order and procedures where once stood chaos, gangs and drugs. She was excited as a first-year teacher, but said she immediately noticed a problem when her advanced placement (AP) history students couldn’t read at a sixth-grade level.

She has concluded there is a glaring disconnect between the school’s leadership and the surrounding Chollas View community, as well as a need for partnerships with the elementary schools that feed into Gompers.

... [T]ranscript of inewsource’s conversation with Miller...

When I actually started to develop my lessons, and have my classroom and do what it is that I wanted to do … I started to run into some resistance in terms of how I had been trained for an AP class and what the expectation of an AP class was.
Students I knew were reading at a sixth-grade level were taking an AP class...

I had a lot of resistance in terms of how fast and the amount of work that I was giving the students. And then the students themselves. I recall a student running out of my room because they couldn’t write a summary. ‘I don’t know what you’re asking me to do.’ This was 11th grade...