Lorain City Schools- the meeting- ODE and Conclusions

January 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm 6 comments

PART ONE-https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/lorain-city-schools-the-meeting-they-said/
PART TWOhttps://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/lorain-city-schools-the-meeting-they-said-part-two/

PART THREE-http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/lorain-city-schools-the-meeting-they-said-professional-development/

PART FOURhttps://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/lorain-city-schools-the-meeting-they-said-the-ode-the-district-plan/

NOTE: I thought I would be able to finish this up today but the length of the post and the fact that people are less likely to read lengthy posts means part 6 will be the conclusions 🙂

Ohio Department of Education.
As I looked at the “grant parameters” of the Professional Development I was a little concerned. As regular readers know I have been involved with non- profits and grant applications for more years than I care to remember .The parameters of grants I have had experience with are usually pretty tight and require an accountability.

The parameters of the Professional Development definition with their retreats by Lorain City Schools met those parameters.

But the taxpayer and admittedly surface dweller ( me) was a little concerned that it may be the granting authority etc that needed to be looked at . To that end I sent the following email to the ODE to determine how “programs/ events/ meeting etc were tracked or if indeed they were and by whom.

TO THE ODE
I have been researching through a public records request and meeting with Lorain City Schools some expenditures by Lorain City Schools . Please understand I do not find anything illegal or even unethical in their usage of the funds but all monies that I have questioned as to the usage come under the Professional Development headings and federal monies Title 1 Sub A School Improvement and Title 11A Professional Development. Lorain City Schools are not alone in the spending of grant monies in this regard, this is being done statewide.

I have read the very loose parameters of the NCLB’s Professional Development Definition and I have a concern, which I am sure is shared by other taxpayers. Perhaps you can answer me – when “professionals- e.g.. administrators etc. attend these retreats and meetings and have highly paid motivational speakers come to “motivate” – how is the success of those retreats and motivational speakers tracked? What constitutes a successful “Professional Development” outcome? What is the litmus test for worthiness of these meetings and retreats etc.?
My concern is we the taxpayer are enabling these grants with our taxes and personally I would think there needs to be a tightening up on the parameters set in your grant funding . However I would like your perspective on this . I will be using any correspondence in a series of articles fyi. Thank you Loraine Ritchey


Therein lies the journey- I spoke to various people at the ODE and as of writing I have not heard back from Mr. Galloway the Communication Director.
However it seems from various conversations that the “district” determines whether the meeting/ speaker / event is succesful there is not one iota of formal tracking as to success as it equates to the trickle down of “the Professional Development” of teachers and indeed to the students.

This sent me on a further journey as a taxpayer as to the funding sources of Title 1 and Title 11 grants under the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the No Child Left Behind Act
Remember readers this is OUR tax money being spent –

From what I can tell if the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -2009 which there was and is an awful of money being “stimulated” – 275 Billion – and a lot of that going to education.
http://www.recovery.gov

and under the No Child Left Behind Act -2002
revision in 2006 from Margaret Spellings, the then US Secretary of Education – “Improving Teacher Quality State Grants – Non-Regulatory Guidance”

“Thanks to your tireless efforts, we are increasing educational excellence. The goal of leaving no child behind will soon become a reality.”


Well we are 8 years on from the enacting of NCLB – how has that worked for us here in Lorain Ohio?????? You tell me !

http://www.ode.state.oh.us/reportcardfiles/2009-2010/DIST/044263.pdf

As to the confirmation possibly to my question as to who tracks the success?

Except for explicit statutory requirements, State and local recipients are free to implement Title II, Part A activities based on their own reasonable interpretations of the law.

That means ,if I am reading correctly, the district determines the “success” of their “events/meeting/ programs/and speakers. All across the USA people are deciding how to spend the educational dollars and how they relate to “professional development” and seemingly they are also the ones deciding whether their decisions constituted good decision-making.

I am drawing some conclusions that the USA is in big trouble almost equal to the amount of money we are throwing at programs and grants and it all starts with the tip of the iceberg at the local level.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/07/us-falls-in-world-education-rankings_n_793185.html

To be continued
…………………………………………..

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Entry filed under: Brit take, commentary, education, opinion. Tags: .

Lorain City Schools- the meeting- they said… The ODE- The district plan Lorain City Schools- a Surface Dweller’s Conclusion

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Grammy  |  January 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    You are correct, there really are no watchdogs anymore. Years ago, grant sponsors sent out auditors to check on how you were spending the money. When No Child Left Behind went into effect, those visits vanished. If you grant money to a group for improving their system, it is unbelievable that no one is checking up. It’s like the fox guarding the hen house.

    When a had administrator is bringing in people they have worked for or have on retainer to help coach them through being the head administrator, that leaves lots of room for speculation. If you are drawing a salary like out current superintendent, you’d guess that they didn’t need to have a coach watch how they were doing, you’d think they already knew what to do. At least that’s what they must have convinced a Board of Education (or is that Bored of Education).

    If we go back and look at the last say 8 years since NCLB has been in effect and compare the districts scores on the state mandated tests, I think everyone would be surprised. If I’m not mistaken our scores have dropped steadily in relation to the “professional development” we have been doing. Makes you wonder . . . If I hold an event and spend the money, is there any question in anyone’s mind that I will deem it a success? Give me a break.

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 10, 2011 at 12:08 am

    You would be correct the scores have dropped and more thoughts in my “conclusion” tomorrow ……………..

  • 3. Bill Sturgill  |  January 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Grammy,
    you are correct in some of your assumptions. I think there could be a lot more involvement by people in there childrens education. You will find out from these articles from Loraine that although legal some of these grants are stretched in their imagination as to what original intent really was.
    My biggest disapointment thru the first year is that more time wasn’t spent on what we can do to improve education in the city of Lorain. Everything comes back to money. It’s a shame but it is true.
    I think our test scores mirrors the ecconomics of the city in general. I think that is a sad comment on parenthood, but it is my belief. Even with that said it does not exempt us as teachers and community members to do the best with what we have for our children.
    Grammy board members are invited to events and are not informed on the cost of such events like the speaker Ron Clark. I myself found him very inspirational, and thought it was maybe the highlight of the year. I felt you should walk away with a good message. Hope springs eternal and its okay to try new things to engage children and expand horizions. This was put on for the teachers. Is it costly ” yes”, but i don’t think anyone actually travels around the country for nothing.
    I think if anything like a speaker comes in again, some of the public should come and experience it… I havn’t figured out how you measure professional development yet.. It might depend on what you walk away with what the message really was and how you can use that to impact a childs education…Bill

  • 4. thatwoman  |  January 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Hi Bill thanks for checking in – I am sure Mr. Clark was terrific – but how did his speech equate to little Johnnie being able to “read” ….. sorry I KNOW leaving a room with a good message was a positive experience- BUT all I see ( the surface dweller cynic that I am) is a sugar high gives you a boost for a couple of hours and then the crashing back down to reality and the reality is that I can’t see any of the feel good programs and their costs equating to our young people on the whole suceeding….

    Things have to change , thinking has to change , because the days of two parent families, and “Happy Days” are long gone in this LCS “school” community.
    I believe the schools in this country have to get back to the business of education and leave the “social services” to social service agencies- that may sound harsh but “schools” cannot take the place of parents , that is not their job- the job of a school is to school- however maybe there is a “partnership opportunity” in a different way than is now the case –

    I know in more cases than not in this town the only “social guidance or positive interaction for a great deal of children comes from the time they spend at school- I know as people we want to give comfort and care to children it is human nature – I do too- but somehow we have get back to the business of teaching…..I don’t have the answers but then again I am not being paid to have the answers, as a taxpayer I am paying others for their expertise and paying them well……. I can just tell you what I see as a citizen and taxpayer asking to give more money ……….

    Maybe some of those funds could be used to find a set up a partnering situation that works ( because I can’t see the present situation working at all well nationwide, especially in larger urban school districts – there is a dumbing down in America like it or not .

    I went through LCS system in the late 80″s early 90″s where little Johnnie was my son- he was having difficulty reading- he was put into the reading programs at both Irving and Lakeview and then back at Irving from the 1st Grade- I decided to have him tested on my own ( he was getting B’s) from this particular reading program- he was in grade 5.5 when I had him tested he was reading at a GRADE ONE point 27 level , comprehension Grade 2.8 vocabulary 4.9 – that is when I realized that this particular reading program ( the one of the moment) in order to continue to get funded had to show a success so my son was being passed through…….. He went to Mrs. Sobiesky ( privately) through the 8th grade – he caught up thankfully and it was one of the reasons he was taken out of the public school system in the 7th grade ….. the rot was setting in back then and by the “report cards” has continued on that path through the ensuing decades. So I have had hands on with these “programs of the moment”

    Actually I find your statement of maybe Ron Clark’s speech as possibly being the highlight of the year somewhat sad……I am not being critical of your statement just looking at it a different way – but thanks for checking in here and as I said differing points of view are welcome after all so goes the LCS system so goes the city and vice versa…….

  • 5. Bill Sturgill  |  January 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Loraine,
    I have watched and understood your writings for so long I know that they are not directed at me. I depend on your honesty because of the logic and i think you are main stream America. I now just wake up every morning and hope I make good decisions and not let anyone down, and doing a little research doesn’t hurt either. A lot of our solutions are obvious, its the failure of most to do that. I still think you’re the best. Its when you quit writing that i will be concerned. I still think no child left behind may be the worst thing ever done to education. Testing isn’t teaching……

  • 6. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks Bill- I try and like most of main stream I am burned out , lethargic, and wallowing in apathy for the most part.

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