Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hey, good news teachers....this school IS hiring...75 teachers wanted.....your tax dollars at work......

From John Curry, July 9, 2011
[Click images to enlarge]
....and going right into the pockets of some corporate (non-public) schoolmasters....who will plow some of it right back into campaign contributions to Governor Kasich and his buddies! Tax dollars going right into a school system that has a graduation rate that would even gross out a Cleveland Public Schools graduation rate....a school system that can brag about these credentials:
  • Has had consistently flat or declining test scores for a nine year period
  • Has graduation rates of below 35% over that entire time (consistently 20 points lower than Cleveland Schools’ scores)
  • Has attendance rates that are consistently below the state average
  • Has student achievement scores that are significantly below state averages
  • Received 36% more in per pupil funding than the state average
  • Is run by an unlicensed superintendent and unlicensed assistant superintendent who are each being paid over $100,000 per year (above statewide averages)
  • Pays teachers are paid an average salary of $34,450, well below the state average of $55,812.
  • For more info on these job openings just click on the link below!!!!!!!!! After you do that, please read what Columbus City Schools educator (and researcher), Greg Mild, has to say about this school system that will be hiring 75 teachers.
    John's what Greg Mild has to say about this school system that is hiring.....
    Mr. Governor, Shut This School District Down!
    By Greg On May 1, 2011
    Today's story is about the 21st largest school district in the state of Ohio and how district leaders are working to attain financial success while being under attack on multiple fronts. I will not reveal the names of the district or the leadership until nearer the end of the story so as to try and avoid any bias. Please read with an open mind.

    The 21st largest district in Ohio provided services to just over 9,000 students in grades K-12 in 2009-2010. Enrollment has increased 139% in the last five years, a rate slightly higher than the Olentangy Local Schools’ rate of 138%, a district frequently cited as experiencing “extreme” or “extraordinary” growth over that period. The district has not provided transportation for students for at least the last 10 years and does not have a food service program. As a result, the number of 633 overall employees is very low when compared to similarly-sized districts (e.g., Worthington City Schools has 1,412 employees).

    The district has adopted an organizational structure that has a Chief Executive Officer in addition to a Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and the School Board. The CEO often takes the lead in making significant final decisions about the program, and also represents the district in interacting with legislative issues that impact the district.

    In addition to receiving $59,978,866 in state funding in 2010, the district will receive combined Federal Funds of $13,491,027 in 2010 and, as a participating member of the Race to the Top program, $2,890,813 from 2010-2014.

    The superintendent has been working for the district since 2002, after he retired with 35 years experience as a principal. As he collected his retirement pay, he received a salary of over $112,757 last year. And the superintendent has done so over these past 9-10 years without ever having an Ohio Superintendent’s license or certificate despite the clear violation of Ohio Revised Code 3319.01 which states “No person shall be appointed to the office of superintendent of a city, or exempted village school district or a service center who does not hold a license designated for being a superintendent issued under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code.

    The assistant superintendent, an elementary and special education teacher since 1978, allowed her superintendent certificate to expire in 2007, since it also apparently wasn’t necessary to receive her $135,000 salary from the district.

    A glance down the list of administrators employed in the district will reveal the names of long-retired principals who are collecting their STRS benefits and a very nice salary from the district (the oft-criticized practice of double-dipping and targeted by Governor Kasich).

    The district reports a wide disparity between average administrator pay and teacher pay.

    • 36 administrators = $79,443
    • 456 teachers = $34,455

    The CEO for the district appears to technically work as a consultant, so his exact compensation is hidden. “Per the management agreement with the district, the consultant’s company is entitled to 4% of all revenues received except federal funding, and is also entitled to .5% interest on any outstanding balance. The management fee for the fiscal year ended 2010 was $2,392,656. As of June 30, 2010, all fees had been paid.” Therefore, we can be project the CEO’s salary as somewhere between $0 and $2,392,656.

    The CEO apparently has an entrepreneurial spirit, however, and started up a web-based learning management system through a newly-created company that would be able to serve not just his district, but as a tool he could market to school districts around the country. Not coincidentally, his district was an early adopter and last year they “contracted for the purchase of curriculum services for students. The cost of services for fiscal year ended 2010 was $9,570,623. As of June 30, 2010, $0 was outstanding and payable.”

    So that now puts our CEO’s unknown salary at somewhere between $0 and $11,964,279.

    Financial numbers aside, how is the district performing in student achievement? Not so well, actually. Below is a chart showing some of the mystery district’s numbers compare to the oft-vilified Cleveland Schools.

    And even worse, the district is in “School Improvement Year 8,” a status no other district has attained. The State of Ohio Accountability Notebook only goes up to Year 5:
    [Chart 2; status, consequences - title I funded only]
    At this point, what should the state do with this district? Or at least, what do you think the state’s plans are for the district? Some ideas from the chart would be to replace the staff, reopen the building as a charter, turn over the building to a for-profit entity, or even turn it over to the Department of Education.

    The easy answer might seem to be a state takeover as suggested in December by Kasich as a solution for the Cleveland Schools.

    “Kasich has not drafted a specific proposal but said Wednesday that he favors putting a “special master” in control of school districts like Cleveland with chronically low graduation rates and test scores. He did not set a deadline for improvements but said he wouldn’t wait four years, the length of an Ohio governor’s term. “Look, I’ve been thinking about this for 30 years,” said Kasich, who will take office in early January. “You cannot let kids sit in an environment where they are failing, where the system is failing them.”

    While that might all seem logical and understandable given the strong words our legislators have for failing schools these days, that would be a wrong guess.

    Instead, the legislature has included some different ideas to help our district in the state budget (as explained by the LSC):

    • Requires ODE to pay [the district] for serving children with disabilities regardless of whether a child enrolls . . . after the federal reporting date of December 1.
    • Exempted from student immunization requirements for admission.
    • Permits the school’s governing authority to delegate any or all of its rights, duties, and responsibilities to the [CEO].
    • Specifies that funds paid to the [CEO] by the school are not considered public funds and no public entity, including the school, has an interest in assets or property purchased with those funds.
    • Exempts the [school district] from provisions of current law allowing a school to be suspended or put on probationary status for (1) failure to meet student performance requirements in the contract, (2) fiscal mismanagement, (3) a violation of law or the contract, or (4) other good cause.
    • Specifies that, for state funding purposes, [a district] student is considered automatically re-enrolled the following school year until the student’s enrollment is formally terminated.
    • Eliminates the requirement that [the district] spend per pupil on instruction at least as much as the per pupil statewide classroom teacher amount specified under the . . . school funding model ($2,931 in FY 2009)

    So what’s this district’s secret for avoiding punishment and actually gaining support through the GOP’s budget? What model should the superintendents of other struggling districts follow?

    Donate to your legislator. A lot. No, I mean a LOT.

    As in $220,795.00 per year.

    Let’s unravel this mystery district if you haven’t already figured it out.

    William Lager is the founder of ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) online charter school, the 21st largest “district” in the state of Ohio with over 9,000 students. Because ECOT is online, there are no school buildings, no transportation costs, no lunch needs and only 633 total employees.

    A 2010 audit by the state of Ohio and auditor Mary Taylor (yes, now Lt. Governor Mary Taylor) included the following:

    In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County, Ohio, as of June 30, 2010.

    Per the management agreement with ECOT, Altair is entitled to 4% of all revenues received except federal funding. Altair is also entitled to .5% interest on any outstanding balance. The management fee for the fiscal year ended 2010 was $2,392,656. As of June 30, 2010, all fees had been paid to Altair.

    ECOT contracts with IQ Innovations, LLC for the purchase of curriculum services for ECOT students. The cost of services for fiscal year ended 2010 was $9,570,623. As of June 30, 2010, $0 was outstanding and payable. IQ Innovations, LLC and Altair Learning Management I, Inc. have the same principal owner.

    To reiterate, William Lager is the CEO of both Altair Learning Management and IQ Innovations, LLC. And auditor Mary Taylor found nothing wrong with him directing nearly $12,000,000 in taxpayer dollars straight from the Ohio Department of Education and into the accounts of private companies he owns and operates.

    And in the year 2010, William Lager, Ohio charter school operator with an undisclosed salary, managed to donate $220,795 to a variety of election campaigns, most notably:

    To clearly spell out that donor list for those superintendents wishing to follow this strategy: donate a total of $42,500 to the majority leadership in the House and an additional $30,000 to members of the committee that will be hearing the budget bill (make sure you remember to give double to the committee chair).

    $220,795 in donations to Ohio legislators in 2010. What percentage of your income do you donate to political candidates? Is ten percent too high? How about five percent? If William Lager donated a generous five percent of his 2010 income to Ohio politicians, then that would place his 2010 salary at an eye-popping $4,415,900. In January, the Westerville School district made news when it was claimed the school board “went ‘overboard’ in its negotiations” with Superintendent Dan Good in granting him a raise to $189,000. Perhaps he should have held out for more, considering his district is considerably larger than Lager’s.

    Oh, and there’s that small fact that ECOT actually has a team of administrators, albeit unlicensed, that supposedly run the organization. So what does Lager actually do? Well, despite the fact that the entire organization is taxpayer funded, we have no idea.

    So let’s try to summarize this hot mess. The 21st largest school district in the state has had flat or declining test scores for a nine year period; graduation rates of below 35% over that entire time are consistently 20 points lower than Cleveland Schools’ scores, a district that is being discussed for state takeover. Attendance rates are consistently below the state average, while student achievement scores are significantly below state averages. And instead of intervening in year 3 or 4 according to State regulations, the state allowed enrollment to increase at one of the highest rates in the state, allowing a net growth of nearly 2,600 students in the last five years. And instead of taking a financial penalty, the district received 36% more in per pupil funding than the state average. All of this while being run by an unlicensed superintendent and unlicensed assistant superintendent who are each being paid over $100,000 per year (above statewide averages) and teachers are paid an average salary of $34,450, well below the state average of %55,812. And in spite of the existence of these administrative roles, the district is actually managed and operated by CEO William Lager of Altair Learning Management, whose fee for 2010 was $2,392,656. And William Lager, the CEO who is running the district, created a new company, IQ Innovations, who then created a software solution for the district, who then paid IQ Innovations $9,570,623, also for 2010. And again, instead of intervening, instead of conducting inquiries in search of anything from ethics violations to criminal activities, our legislators, aided by $220,795 worth of elbow nudges, are instead using the budget bill to modify state laws in order to help William Lager better expand the scheme of laundering state tax dollars.

    That’s right, $12,000,000 per year in Ohio taxpayer dollars funneled directly to William Lager is apparently not enough, so the Governor and GOP-controlled House are going to make it even easier and less transparent for him.

    I’d like to recommend that you scan through this post again, now that you know that I am referring to an online community school. I think you may find some of the facts even more shocking through that lens.

    I would like to close with a reading from the Book of John (Kasich): Reforms; Page 3, Line 1

    “Budgets are about more than money. Budgets express an administration‘s priorities.”

    Never has he spoken truer words.

    Thursday, July 07, 2011's YOUR turn...just kidding!

    From John Curry, July 7, 2011
    GOP's Next Act: Amend Ohio Constitution to control lawyers
    By Greg On July 7, 2011
    I've been struggling to come up with an analogy to help non-educators understand the problem with the implementation of merit pay for teachers. The following story fell into my lap yesterday:

    Over a year ago, the Plain Dealer published what may turn out to be a prophetic story, because for their next act, Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly will be making an effort to place a Constitutional amendment on the ballot during next year’s primary, an election that should see a majority of their base turn out to select their presidential candidate. The amendment is simply the first step in the process of overhauling the practice of law in Ohio. Once the oversight of the practice of law is removed from the Constitution (by vote) and successfully entrenched in the Ohio Revised Code, Ohio’s lawmakers will implement an evaluation system for attorneys that will provide judges with the necessary oversight to remove unsuccessful attorneys from the courtroom. The rationale for this move is to expedite the judicial process in both civil and criminal courts, with the state expecting to realize a savings of up to $500 million annually.

    First, the reason for the Constitutional Amendment:

    This is quite simple. Currently, Article IV, Section 2(B)(1)(g) of the Ohio Constitution grants the Supreme Court of Ohio exclusive jurisdiction to regulate admission to the practice of law in Ohio. As a result, the Ohio General Assembly has no authority to make changes to the process of admitting individuals to practice law (to the bar) in Ohio. That authority rests solely with the Supreme Court of Ohio. In order to implement the evaluation system they desire, the legislators must first amend the Ohio Constitution to remove that one small line. And what better time to get this on the ballot than when many Republican voters will be selecting a presidential candidate and Democratic voters are staying pat with President Obama?

    Concurrently, Governor Kasich and his buddies in the statehouse will be enacting a bill to accompany the amendment that will not only spell out the process of getting admitted to the bar, it will also contain substantial changes to the process that are intended to increase attorney accountability and, as mentioned previously, save Ohio millions of dollars in expenditures that are a result of perceived inefficiencies in the current legal system.

    An exclusive excerpt from this not-yet-released legislation:

    Sec. 119.093. (A) Not later than July 1, 2013, the Supreme Court of Ohio, in consultation with judicial representatives from the Courts of Common Pleas, shall adopt a standards-based attorney evaluation policy that conforms with the framework for evaluation of attorneys developed under section 119.0931 of the Revised Code. The policy shall become operative on the date of enrollment of the policy and shall be enforced without prejudice upon all attorneys licensed to practice law in the state of Ohio.

    (B)(1) The judicial representative of the Court shall conduct an evaluation of each attorney at least once each calendar year, except as provided in divisions (C)(2) and (3) of this section. The evaluation shall be completed by the first day of May and the teacher shall receive a written report of the results of the evaluation by the twentieth day of May.

    (2) If the Court has entered into a professional practice improvement contract with the attorney pursuant to section 119.0932 of the Revised Code, the Court shall evaluate the attorney at least twice in any calendar year in which the Court may wish to declare its intention to disbar the attorney pursuant to division (B), (C)(3), (D), or (E) of that section. One evaluation shall be conducted and completed not later than the fifteenth day of June and the attorney being evaluated shall receive a written report of the results of this evaluation not later than the twenty-fifth day of June. One evaluation shall be conducted and completed between the tenth day of July and the first day of October and the attorney being evaluated shall receive a written report of the results of this evaluation not later than the twentieth day of October.

    (3) The Court may elect, by adoption of a resolution, to evaluate each attorney who received a rating of accomplished on the attorney’s most recent evaluation conducted under this section once every two calendar years. In that case, the biennial evaluation shall be completed by the first day of May of the applicable calendar year, and the attorney shall receive a written report of the results of the evaluation by the twentieth day of April of that calendar year.

    (C) Each evaluation conducted pursuant to this section shall be conducted by one or more of the following:

    (1) A judge with at least six years of experience in the practice of law who has been elected by majority vote;

    (2) A judge with at least six years of experience in the practice of law who was appointed by the Governor to fill a judicial vacancy;

    (3) An attorney designated to conduct evaluations under an agreement providing for peer review entered into by Supreme Court of Ohio and approved by a majority vote in the General Assembly.

    (D) The Court shall include in its evaluation policy procedures for using the evaluation results for decisions regarding disciplinary action, continuing legal education, and for disbarment of poorly performing attorneys. Years of experience in the practice of law shall not be the basis for a decision to disbar an attorney.

    Sec. 119.0931. (A) Not later than October 31, 2012, the Supreme Court of Ohio shall develop a standards-based state framework for the evaluation of attorneys. The framework shall establish an evaluation system that does the following:

    (1) Provides for multiple evaluation factors, including the decision of a judge or jury, which shall account for fifty per cent of each evaluation;

    (2) Is aligned with the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by The Supreme Court of Ohio;

    (3) Requires observation of the attorney being evaluated, including at least two formal observations by the evaluator of at least thirty minutes each in the courtroom;

    (4) Assigns a rating on each evaluation in accordance with division (B) of this section;

    (5) Requires each attorney to be provided with a written report of the results of the attorney’s evaluation;

    (6) Identifies measures of professional conduct and legal proficiency for specializations and practices for which the courtroom dimension prescribed does not apply;

    (7) Provides for legal education and mentoring to accelerate and continue attorney growth and provide support to poorly performing attorneys;

    (B) For purposes of the framework developed under this section, the Supreme Court of Ohio also shall do the following:

    (1) Develop specific standards and criteria that distinguish between the following levels of performance for attorneys for the purpose of assigning ratings on the evaluations conducted under section 119.093 of the Revised Code:

    (a) Accomplished;
    (b) Proficient;
    (c) Developing;
    (d) Ineffective.

    (2) For specializations and practices for which the courtroom dimension prescribed under section 119.093 does not apply, develop a list of legal examinations assessments that measure mastery of the content for the appropriate specialization, which may include the Ohio Bar Examination or the Multistate Bar Examination.

    Another section of the bill requires the lowest performing 5% of attorneys to re-take the bar. After all, we need to make sure they know their content.

    Ok, so I made that all up. Well, sort of. What you just read was the language from Ohio’s newly signed budget bill about the evaluation of teachers, modified to apply to attorneys and still just as absurd to try and implement.

    The major assumption I made about evaluating attorneys based on their court outcomes is a similar flaw made by the Republicans who have adopted the budget. Just as there are many attorneys who rarely, if ever, stand in front of a judge or jury, the budget proposes to use standardized test data that exists for only 30% of teachers. The rest will just be made up later (contradictory research be damned).

    But, since the Republicans DID choose to adopt this evaluation system for teachers, then I challenge them to adopt similar requirements for ALL professions that have an impact on the state budget. So why not start with attorneys?

    Any objections?

    Larry KehresMount Union Collge
    Division III
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