Christina Superintendent Gregg’s Reaction To Carney Comes To Christina

Christina Superintendent Richard Gregg issued a statement today on the Christina School District website in response to Delaware Governor John Carney’s visit to a special Christina Board of Education meeting the other night.  I wouldn’t expect an unfavorable response to the visit but it did a great job showing the Board’s concern with Carney’s “partnership” idea.

Message from Christina Superintendent Richard L. Gregg – October 5, 2017

Dear Christina Community:
On October 3, the Christina Board of Education held a Study Session that was attended by Delaware Governor John Carney, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting, and several other state officials and legislators. The Governor addressed Board members directly to personally request that they consider entering into a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Delaware Department of Education, and the Christina School District to improve five of Christina’s schools in Wilmington: Bancroft Elementary School, Elbert-Palmer Elementary School, Pulaski Elementary School, Stubbs Elementary School, and Bayard Middle School. Governor Carney stated that together, Christina and the state need to focus on making changes that will raise the achievement levels of Wilmington students. 
The first step in this process will be for Christina to work together with the Governor’s Office and the Delaware Department of Education, with the goal of developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU, subject to Board approval, would outline the details of an agreement to be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year. Governor Carney communicated to board members that the state’s focus is on five main issues:
  1. Giving school principals more control over decision-making
  2. Empowering teachers to have more input on how resources are used
  3. Addressing student achievement rates, including how current facilities can be used and improved
  4. Creating “trauma-informed classrooms” that ensure safe, supportive schools
  5. Establishing systems that can create meaningful, sustained change
These issues could be addressed in a variety of ways, including implementing new governance models, exploring additional learning time, providing trauma-informed supports, implementing programs for infants through adults, creating a pipeline of teachers and leaders, and addressing the root causes of poverty.
Christina Board members asked the governor important questions about the proposal. Their concerns included:
  • the level of specifics being offered about the partnership
  • the state’s commitment to acting as a true partner in the venture
  • the importance of making changes in the best interests of children rather than adults
  • the level of input Christina leaders and staff would have in developing the MOU
  • how this proposal is different from past interventions by the state 
Governor Carney, Secretary Bunting, and Dorrell Green of the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement provided input on these concerns. 
Governor Carney stated, “It’s clear to me that the most important thing we should do now is focus on making changes that will raise achievement levels for city children. That’s part of my responsibility as governor, Dr. Bunting’s job as secretary of education and your jobs as school leaders and Christina board members. We’re in this together.” 
As our discussions with the state continue on this important topic, we will keep the Christina School District community informed of any opportunities that parents, students, staff, and the public will have to share input. We will also provide updates on any decisions made by the Christina Board of Education. We are committed to staying focused on being “One District” and doing what is best for our students. As Governor Carney said, “We’re in this together.” 
Sincerely,
Richard L. Gregg, Superintendent
Christina School District

21 thoughts on “Christina Superintendent Gregg’s Reaction To Carney Comes To Christina

  1. Guys: Stop the BS. You all know what needs to be done yet you have not taken any steps to actually improve the outcomes for yet another cohort at Bayard.

    The State of Delaware has already passed legislation to provide the funding the schools in City of Wilmington needs. There are two processes already in place. The IEP Process and the Interagency Consent Form.

    The choice is really simple: Can you find the money to provide the services the students need and deserve?

    As the Achievement Director of one of two Charter Schools to make AYP; named Superior and have classes scoring 80-90% proficient (8 years), the Educational Diagnostician at Howard R Young for 5 years; the ED at the Delaware Met and a substitute teacher at Bayard in 7th grade math for 2 months, I can tell you the patterns and needs are obvious. About 75% to 80% of the students that live in the High Poverty areas of the city are in need of Special Education services from the start.

    When I was handed the roster for the Delaware Met in June of 2015, Innovative School told me to expect 12% of the 145 students to be eligible for Special Education Services- based on formulas. As a career “outsider” I typed in the name of every single student into the state performance database and recorded the previous achievement results in a spread sheet.

    I found 85 of the 145 students having evidence of previous Special Education Eligibility and another 51 students having received Performance Level 1 scores for every year since 3rd grade in both reading and math.

    I very quickly created a Reader Friendly “Consent to Evaluate” cover letter and attached it to the “unfriendly state document.” During the first “family night” I approached as many of the 51 students parents as I could meet and asked them if they had ever considered having their child evaluated to figure out the reason why they were struggling in school. I showed them the DSTP/DCAS/Smarter Balanced results over time and said: “This historical performance suggests an underlying struggle in either reading or math.” I said, in a nice, non threatening way:” If you sign this, we can bring in a professional to take a through look at the way your child learns, find his/her strengths that we can use to his or her advantage and find the weakness that is preventing success.”

    Every single parent either hugged me or cried and said ” I have been begging for years to have my child tested or, no one every asked me this before.” Every parent signed and immediately I contacted a local agency that provided a certified school psychologist to evaluate every student for a Specific Learning Disability or more.

    To be cost effective we set up an assembly line in the library on the second floor. I administered some basic writing assessments, the WRAT 4 etc. and then they moved on to be administered the intelligence testing that requires a certified professional. At the end of the day, I met with the psychologist and put our heads together. The results were identical to most of the results I had charted on a spreadsheet from Gander Hill. The distribution was about the same- X number had serious emotional disturbance, x number had based ADD/ADHD and X number had a reading/math/written expression specific learning disability.

    The principal Tricia Hunter was 100% in support- if a student needed specialized instruction- she wanted them to have it. I saw the same patterns as I saw in Gander Hill. The kids were stuck between Grade 2- and 3 with glaring deficits in Numbers and Operations in Base Ten and little or no algebraic thinking. Their Tier 2 and Tier 3 words averaged third grade. It is well documented that “friendly folks” from DOE stormed in, seized all the records in a hostile takeover and shut this operation down.

    “Omg, Omg!” They said. How dare you try to make all these kids Special Ed! “Well, I said, a certified school psychologist has tested all of them. Their scores along with parent input, teacher observations, sample school work and previous documentation in Eschool supports the identification of a specific learning disability in one or more of these areas:
    Basic Reading Skills; Reading Fluency Skills; Reading Comprehension; Mathematics Calculation; Mathematics Problem Solving; etc.

    “Omg, Omg”, they said again. “You can’t do that. You can’t just get the mom to sign consent to evaluate, then hire and pay a certified school psychologist, test the student, and then determine they are special ed right away.”

    I said, “Yes I can!”

    “No, no, no they said you have to go through RTI; we are only allowed 12% of the students to be identified! I said, “Sorry ladies, about 75-80% of the students enrolled in the Delaware Met qualify for Special Education funding based on your Evaluation Summary Report- including teacher observations for the last 8 years, parent input, testing both classroom and from a trained professional.”

    “No, no, you have to do RTI for 6 months! “Delay, they were implying. “No, no, No I said, read the Memorandum to Colleagues from the Us Department of Education about how it is unlawful to delay delivering services to the kids if they have been identified after a parent requests the evaluation.

    “How did you get permission from the parents to evaluate!” implying I tricked parents into having their failing child tested. I said “I asked them nicely.”

    The DOE came back with guns blazing and literally seized my records and with lightening speed returned these students to the public schools that had failed them for 9 years. Special Ed paper work disappeared in the shelter of nightfall on King Street.

    The day after I left the Met, I accepted a position teaching 7th grade at Bayard as the Special Ed teacher. I was handed a roster with 27 names- 10 or 11 with previous eligibility. I asked to meet the teacher I was helping and Krystal Greenfield said, “you are the teacher”.

    I said, “I applied to be the Special Ed Math teacher- push in- pull out – small group based on the standard IEP’s I have reviewed the last 6 years.”

    Ms Greenfield said, “There is no other teacher- you are the regular ed teacher and the special ed teacher and you differentiate. OBTW- since you are not Highly Qualified – you will be paid reported time and you will have 5 classes a day with no other teacher support. That was special ed math at Bayard Middle School. A Certified Social Studies teacher with some additional certifications as a School Leader, a few library credits sprinkled in and I was delivering Special Education Math instruction to the lowest performing 7th grade in the state in class sizes 25-30.

    OK,”I said to myself”. I created an assessment similar to the one I administered in Gander Hill and the Met – took the Math WRAR 4 assessment, made illegal copies and added other “achievement tests” based on the continuum of the Common Core. The assessment was 10 pages and I administered it over a week. Each page tested a math skill based on the Common Core. I found out the kids that tore it up, broke their pencils and acted like fools were struggling with basic three digit addition with carry over, on page 1. They never got to integers because they had their temper trantrum. I wonder why? After all , they were in 7th grade.

    The same pattern emerged in this 145 student sampling that was evident at the Met. The students were missing the fundamentals of Numbers and Operations in Base 10- missed the key concepts of the relationship of addition to multiplication- had no concept of the relationship of fractions to decimals and were hiding these deficits with behavior infractions.

    It was the same as Gander Hill when I could say to an inmate- “buddy, it looks like you can’t subtract if there is a zero in a 3 digit number- what did you have a bad teacher in 2nd grade or were you a butt head?” The inmate would laugh and in about a week they learned how to subtract 69 from 107. They were pleased that someone finally taught them how to do it and were animated to move on with fractions and decimals. There were some funny moments when two inmates were working together-correct each other and one said “let’s do another problem! and high fived each other. On a notable day, one inmate said “Ms Ogden, I could have made more money on the street if I could have figured out percent markup.” I asked another kid how he accumulated a bandz (a thousand dollars) at a time when he could not add. He said, I separated my 1 dollar bills from 5’s and tens and bundled each one to make a thousand.
    So, John and Dorrell: Look at
    TITLE 14
    Education
    Free Public Schools
    CHAPTER 17. STATE APPROPRIATIONS

    Assume 75-85% of the kids at Bancroft, etc. qualify for funding- assume about 20% are intense- and you will be all set. If you classify a student as Intense or Complex, you can write into the chart the services for emotional/ trauma support the district will legally have to provide. When you as an ED are conducting the IEP Process, including visiting the home when parents are not responsive- it is not rocket science to figure out the home life is fragile, the family unit is shattered and this kids needs additional agencies to support him/her. Guys- we have a process for this! The ED has to get the parent involved in this process even if it means driving to the house- and finding out the child/student is homeless. It means getting all the previous records and finding out a student has been in Rockford, etc.

    We know how to do this- but the folks in charge in Dover do not want to provide this level of service for the kids in the city because they want the money to provide for the kids in the suburbs where the mom’s are advocates and the work is easier.

    Make sure the services that are in the IEP are delivered and if a student at Bayard has an IEP with pull out of push in service, make sure a qualified- “nice” culturally sensitive teacher is available to provide the service and you will make a dent. When I say, Nice, I mean a teacher that is able to make a connection with a 7th grade student that has felt bad for years because he/she is not able to meet the demands of a curriculum that is so out of touch with the reality of the classroom that they might as well be offering instruction in Arabic.

    The kids act out because they have no one that addresses that they can’t do this stuff. It is not that you have to treat the kids like they are in 2nd grade, but you have to be prepared when teaching functions, that the student is missing 2nd and 3rd grade skills. I have tested over 700 students grades 7- adult and I have found a handful that are fluent with their 2 and 3 times tables. They can’t add and subtract fractions ; reduce fractions or find common denominators if they are not fluent in some basic times tables. Once you admit and address the “holes” they will make continued steady progress along a structured continuum of mathematical thinking and reasoning

    Start here in grade 7 with all but about 10 kids.

    Understand place value.
    Use place value understanding and properties of operations to add and subtract.
    Represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division.

    Finally:
    Include the “Interagency Consent” form that exists in every IEP. All this talk about how to share information between agencies already has a process. There is a form that can be included that parents sign to allow the agencies to support one another in the support of the child.

    Hurdle: The folks in the DOE have successfully kept the number of kids in the city out of the Special Ed process and the corresponding funding by leveraging the average parent’s fear of labeling their kid “Special Ed.”

    We can take away that fear but educating the parents that we are developing an “Individual Education Plan” for your child to identify his/her strengths (page 1); collect their input (parental input) and then create individual goals.

    We can call it a Specialized Plan of Instruction with parent input to take away the label that causes angst. BUT, the identification process allows the dollars to follow the need. The legislation exists to fund the child based on whether he has basic, complex or intense needs. We don’t need new legislation- we need legislators and educators to stop talking about what we need to do and actually support the children that need the services with the formulas that currently exist.

    In the meantime- get some qualified Special Ed teachers in Bayard right now and deliver the services that you are legally required to deliver. Get some staff in there tomorrow while you are figuring this out.

    Read the IEP’s, use a spreadsheet to determine how many minutes a week a student is supposed to be pulled out or pushed in- hire Highly Qualified Special Ed teachers- not some guy from NHS that is a glorified security guard with a High School Diploma- You guys are taking advantage of parents who do not advocate for their children while sending the News Journal a story you think the public wants to hear.

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    • Thanks Jack. For some reason – Kevin’s Blog helps my writers block and gets me laughing and writing- hence the long stories with a touch of humor.

      I can tell you right now, the Senior Director of Exceptional Children and the Director of Prison Education will have a bad day when they find out Sue Ogden is retired. They both hate me and they know I have a big mouth.

      They have been fighting with me from the first day we all met.

      Now that I think back, some of this was really funny. I was the ED in Gander Hill for 5 years. I had a case load each year of about 350 students I processed paperwork, 130-150 that I spent any time with and 50 at a time that were active cases.

      Prior to my employment at Gander Hill, the previous ED falsified the documentation to show only a handful of Special Ed students at one time. If a student was too scary, first degree murder, his skin was too dark, or he was Muslim, the ED would mark that the student was never Special Ed and was not entitled to services.

      When I arrived, I did the same thing as at the Met. I typed in the name of every inmate between the ages of 16-21 into the State of Delaware Database that shows the students prior Special Education History. The ED gave me a list of about 15 students to service. I found 55 students had prior eligibility. Maureen Whelan, the Director of Prison Education was not happy with me.

      Several years into this, one student had been adopted by parents who were active in the Special Education; Parent Resource Community. (PIC)Their adopted son was facing serious charges and was in solitary confinement most of the day. Our Standard Operating Procedure Manual outlined our requirement to provide the inmate 30 minutes of Special Education Service a week regardless of what it said in his IEP.

      “Holy mother of God, there was a manual that said you only gave the student 30 minutes”- his parents said. That is illegal- and they were correct. I was sitting quietly waiting for the shit storm to hit. So the Gestapo from DOE was forced to respond to the parent complaint and come into Gander Hill to investigate.

      Most of the correctional officers were nice to me because I could get the juveniles to settled down with school work so they decided to mess with the DOE folks. It was hilarious. When they entered the door they got mad because they were wearing jewelry- then at the first slider gate they called a code and forced these ladies to stand, locked in a small cubical while they dragged a nasty stinky inmate from the psych ward- half dressed – up to solitary. They were locked in- forced to look at him and smell him… I was laughing to myself because I knew DOC did this as a personal favor to me.

      When they finally opened the gates and we were able to travel to solitary, otherwise known as the “hole” , they made sure we went right to the inmates cell. Standard procedure was to make sure the inmate was clean and dressed for school when a teacher came and we met in a clean room with a glass divider and desks.

      DOC was messing with DOE so they got the ladies as close to the cell in solitary as possible. The inmate was partially dressed, had a mattress on the floor and looked really bad and crazy. When they opened the cell door with two guards guarding each of us, the inmate smiled at me and said ” yo Ogden, you gonna bring me the other half of that book?” The DOE did not understand inmates were only allowed 50 pages at a time. They were clearly rattled.

      We all went back to my office and the waterboarding began. I showed them how the records were falsified for the last few years and my case load was 8 times what they were recording. I showed them how Maureen falsified the information she shared with the Governor’s Advisory Council so that no one would know how many inmates in Gander Hill were entitled to Special Education Services. I gave her the annual number of 145 and she reported 45. I showed them hard evidence of previous eligibility- showed them the cell and bed number and showed DOE the name of one inmate ” Coop” who was in solitary for 15 months before I arrived.

      The ED that still works for the state had marked him not eligible for services because he had committed first degree murder and she had to walk to solitary to teach him. I showed these false records to DOE- and guess what, they were not nice to me.

      BTW- the inmates in YCOP were the ones that told me what made the cut for Special Ed and they pointed out the previous ED did not like murderers or Muslim kids. They said, ” she told us she would not teach Muslims.” To mess with her since she was so mean to me, I spent my summer vacation from Gander Hill teaching a STEM camp in Abu Dhabi and I put screen savers on my computer in Gander Hill of members of the Royal Family in formal dress.

      This same Gestapo are the same women who seized my records in the Delaware Met. They really don’t like it when I accurately identify the students in the city who are at risk for academic failure and or have already committed a crime and attempt to quantify the problem.

      The numbers are scary because they require the state to spend money helping these kids early on so they don’t become “Coop” and “killing the messenger” has been their standard operating procedure since I got into the field.

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      • I just thought of another story that I want to write down while I am on a roll. This is the pattern I uncovered in the State: Lie to save money. Kill the messenger.

        My first week at Gander Hill, a dedicated teacher, Sean, came to me and said “you seem to genuinely care about the kids, I have a student that was forced to exit education by the previous ED and I think he can stay in the program and actually get a GED in my class.”

        I asked, what is his name? He said “Chambors”. I called Dorm 1 and said ” this is Ogden in Education, I need to see Chambors.”

        Several minutes later, this clean, shy kid knocked on my door. I said ” what’s up, Dobbin said you wanted to be in school but someone exited you?” He said, the lady that used to work in this office..”
        “Catherine Frazer?”, I interrupted.

        “Yes. She came over to my Dorm room on my Birthday when I turned 21 and told me to sign a piece of paper and then Dobbin said she told him I could not come back to school. ”

        I asked ” do you want to come back to school to get your GED?”

        “Yes,” he said.

        I opened up the file drawer, found his file and found the single sheet of paper “Waiver of Special Education Rights.”

        I said, : ” this one piece of paper is keeping you from getting a GED?”

        He did not know what to say. I tore up the paper- truthfully, it did it with enthusiasm and gusto and said ” welcome back to school.”

        When this kid got his GED, with the help of the kitchen staff encouraging him, we lined all his supporters up in the hall and we applauded him as a team giving him his GED. A special shout out to the DOC kitchen staff for helping him cross the finish line along with the Correctional Officers and white shirts that encouraged him. Hard to believe DOC cared more than DOE about a Special Ed student getting his GED.

        Catherine Frazer went nuts. She publically called me out on several occasions, became aggressive with me and accused me of mismanaging her files. She said I was not allowed to re-admit a student into Special Education after he insisted he wanted to be out of school. I suggested she read the code and said that what she did was illegal and in the end, the student achieved his GED and was released on the street. Neither Catherine or Maureen were very happy with me. Oh well, when I saw D. Chambors ( BTW- this is not the correct spelling of his name for privacy reasons) on King Street, he gave me a big hug.

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  2. Last year the education decision makers expended $2.6 billion to provide education opportunities to our children, yet DOE refuses to require school level reporting by program code, which they are required to do by law.

    Where is all this money being used?

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    • What do you mean school level reporting by code. Every penny that is received and every penny spent is organized into a report with the appropriations code. The report is generated monthly and I think it is called a 601 report- or something close to that. The reports that are released online on charter websites or the online checkbook do not list the code- but the codes are in the reports and you can see for every school the total received for state, local and federal and every penny you spend has to be associated with a code. For the IDEA Federal money, the appropriations often overlap so you have 18 month cycles that overlap. If you get a report through the Freedom of Information Act and request it in Excel, you can see where every penny is spent.

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      • Sue, Jack did that FOIA request last year and got the amounts and codes for every single public school in the state. I went through them by district and charter. You would be astonished how many of our districts and charters do NOT follow those appropriation codes. Some charters just thrown money in a few sections and call it a day. That is not proper accounting and makes it impossible to tell where the money is really going. This is something Jack hounds our state legislators and the auditor’s office about constantly, and I salute him for doing so! I’ve talked to legislators about this, and the excuses I’ve heard are “we don’t want to impede on local control” or “the people who input this into the system are too elderly and don’t know what they are doing”. Both are very weak answers to a systemic problem.

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        • This is something the auditor can hold the schools responsible for. When I was the achievement director at Edison 2000-2007, I wrote lots of grants. I also worked with the Federal Funding for Special Ed. Everytime I wrote a grant, E2T2- $250,000, they set up an appropriate code. I wrote multiple $25,000 grants from MBNA for silly stuff like “Teacher classroom decorations or Scholastic Books for the library that kids could take home.” Bottom line, I had lots of buckets of money- each one had an appropriation code. Everytime I spent a penny- I had to match the expense with a spending (?) code- for example- If I was buying scholastic paper backs for the library- that was a different code than if I was ordering the consumable math workbooks- and then again, another code for Math Text Books. Everything had a code and Angie in the Business Office was “no nonsense” and made sure I used the right code. I often felt like she hated me because I was always buying snacks for the kids, snacks for teacher meetings, soap for the kids from all my various grants and all the codes were different.

          Bottom line- they system is in place to distinguish whether I was buying a book on Bugs for library or a textbook so all they need to do is follow the rules. This is an audit problem- not a process.. the process is robust for filling out the triplicate form for every single purchase.

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  3. Last year $2.6 billion was expended by our education decision makers, yet our Auditor of Accounts conducts no audits on these expenditures to verify they are legal and funds are used for the purpose provided. DOE has refused to require expenditures at the SCHOOL level using program codes they are required to establish.

    When our children fail to comply with the rules, they suffer consequences, but when public officials and employees fail to implement financial oversight our legislators look the other way.

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  4. So Sue has explained, in great detail, a huge number of the machinations and failures of our ‘educational system’ for a select group of very ‘needy’ youth. AND THEY ARE NEEDY, there is no dispute. There are extensive laws and guidelines in place to try and insure that these students and youth are educated. AND YET, the laws and guidelines still aren’t enough to satisfy or insure these needy students receive what some educators, legislators, SJW’s and PC advocates believe they should get. All these guidelines and procedures cost massive amounts of money just to author, then there is the supposed oversight, then there is all the supposed staff necessary to execute the directives.

    The question remains, is all this effort, all these laws, and all these protocols, improving education for the MAJORITY of students? Are all these efforts sincerely addressing the common good that our youth need to be educated and that there are a limited amount of resources to do it? If not, what would it take, what adjustments would need to be made to correct the imbalance? And how much would it cost? An overly basic answer of; ‘We need more resources’, ignores the reality that there are finite amounts of the resources. You can only tax people so much and if the NJ, PA model is your idea of appropriate, then sadly you’re out of your mind.

    Christina [The actual blog topic] (and the other districts) have finite amounts of money to provide education. If the resources are predominantly spent on ESL, Paras, administration, special transportation, special needs, RTTT, oversight, etc., WHAT’s left for all the other regular students/parents who are simply trying to get the best education they can? What’s left is what we have today: An unacceptably low (behavioral and academic) performing monolith of an institution unable to pivot into the modern age. Burdened by the inescapable reality that for all the guidelines and protocols, regular kids aren’t getting their money’s worth. Teachers and schools should not and CANNOT solve non education issues. Teachers and schools need a back to basics mission. They need to phase kids by ability. They need to focus on the majority stake holders (students) while acknowledging the stake holders who fall outside the norm. We cannot continue to act like every special need is a ‘must have’/ ‘must fund’, while diminishing education’s primary purpose of educating the masses.

    What Gregg and the other Super’s are attempting to do is ‘turn’ the Titanic. Large, lots of momentum, resistance/ inability to change, resistance to speed up, resistance to upsetting the status quo. For Christina, the time is now to ‘put up’ or ‘get out’. Gregg is attempting to lead. Kudos to him. Now the age old phrase needs to be applied: LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY. Those not willing to follow the Super need to get out of the way. Defending a poorly functioning system is not responsible. Christina is a poorly functioning district. If Wilmington wants educational change (and they should want it) they have to step to the plate and put some skin in the game ($$ and responsibility). The time of subsidizing one group(s) of students at the expense and detriment to the majority has to end. It is dragging the ‘whole’ down rather than bringing the ‘whole’ up.

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    • Thanks all for the “shout outs”. I should feel grateful for the opportunity to work from Jan 27th until March 27th as a Special Education Math teacher at Bayard. I can’t say I was particularly successful delivering instruction in the classroom, but I was successful assessing the achievement levels of 142 7th graders at the time.

      I was never able to get all the students in the room, without earbuds and sodas at the same time. It was a lot easier to teach at Gander Hill.

      My suggestion for the Christina folks is to embrace the wisdom and pacing of the folks who wrote the Common Core Standards- and or Core Knowledge Math curriculum and study the scope and sequence of Math Instruction in Numbers and Operations in Base Ten; Algebraic Thinking etc and accurately assess where the kids are and what would be the next logical step. If the missing step is decomposing numbers, then accept that and teach the kids how numbers can be composed and decomposed with manipulatives.

      What I observed was this endless “Emperor’s New Clothes” where students were assessed, they performed in the 5th percentile but there was never any conversation about the 95% they were missing. When this instruction is delivered in a respectful way; worksheets do not have any graphics or indicators they are from Kindergarten and pre-school- the kids get a sense “they can do it” and the roadmap becomes clear. Pretending they can access 7th grade standards frustrates the teacher and the students and has not been effective.

      The “naysayers” talk about how we have to provide access to grade level standards. Yes, I hear you. You can show the students a multi-step algebra problem and equation and offer them this problem as the bar; but the math teacher needs to be highly skilled to understand math instruction has a scope and sequence where understanding is built in a sequence that is really well defined in the Common Core.

      I know the Common Core is a political hot button, but most of the people attacking the math common core may be scratching their head when I said you have to be able to decompose numbers to do anything else- what is that? If you don’t know- then don’t criticize the math standards. If you take away the grade levels and just look at them as the logical building blocks to achieve math proficiency- regardless of grade or age, they are a decent road map on what to do next.

      Core Knowledge and the State of New York have robust curriculum in the public domain. There is no reason for anyone in The Drew Office of Christina School District to waste tax payer money re-writing curriculum- it looks like a place where you can pretend to be working.

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  5. If Christina and the other districts were so concerned with funding, why do they have unknown amounts in MULTITUDES in escheat? I once knew a CFO and every time a CFO in another district would get caught for misappropriation of funds into his/her own pocket, we’d get a story from this guy saying how there are a million different ways to steal from First State Financials FSF, the states accounting systems through which schools should be running their funds, although many like charters prefer P-Cards. Then he’d put his hands up in the air and “not me” “I would never do that” “there’s not a dishonest bone in my body.” And I always wondered if that secret code for “come on losers, I dare you, find a way, find THE way, to figure out how I’ve been grifting from your system. I am too fuckin’ smart for you dumbasses.” Well, I wonder if I figured it out. Who would know all the info needed to release these funds from Escheat? Who could do it under the table without a single soul looking over his shoulder? Now, I’m not saying that the CFO I knew was guilty of such behavior, but in a time of such dire financial straights, I cannot figure out how any CFO can lose district funds to Escheat? How? How? How? And note, these are not district/school funds – although there were some of those – these are district-specific funds. How???

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      • I wish I knew. The echeat website only indicates whether the absorbed funds are under/over $50. But, add all those education funds together from all the districts and charters, and I bet it’s a hefty some. Too many over $50s. And I didn’t get a chance to go school-by-school to see who forgot about funds the school may have collected locally. For that, one of these districts needs to contract with me. I’ve done my benevolent duty for the month. I will only provide so much free professional development before I have to draw a line in the sand.

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    • Thanks Ellie. I left Edison in May of 2008 when the board hired Alina Columbus. She asked me to leave quietly and never to speak of it again and I would be paid till the end of my contract. She fired 75% of the staff that was running a superior high poverty school. Who knew- they did not value the staff that helped them break records.
      Before I left, I was obsessed with checking the balance sheets in May and looking in each appropriation category for unspent money. I would hand out “Really Goood Stuff” catalogs in the library. I would tell each teacher to fill out a wish list for classroom supplies. I would take the lists home and purchase as many items as I could with the unspent money. A new rug for Spec Ed, globes, dictionaries, timers – all the stuff that make teachers want to come to school. I did not leave a penny unspent. If it was money for contractors- I hired a consulting firm with licensed psychologists to test every kid that was identified as “at risk” during the weekly team meetings- and finally-if there was a penny left, I hired a bus with a bathroom to take kids to the beach that had never been to the beach. It was a race to use the money before it was gone. I miss those days of actually making a difference by making sure everyone got what they needed.

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      • Either way, they have money in escheat. like so many others. how our school districts or charters can loose money like that, I have no idea. But, it does frustrate me. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s my job to contact these folks and tell them they’ve got funds in escheat. Unless someone wants to pay me.

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