Friday, October 31, 2014

FWISD HALLOWEEN SPECIAL WITHOUT THE SWEETS

Many of you have or will be going to trick or treat......

In our case FWISD likes to trick as much as they can and blind you so that you have no idea what is going on.  We know not everything is negative but when we see and hear our administration and board members just not quite understand what's before them... it truly is scary!

Sad that when we saw this it reminded us of the one person who has completely caused the many problems in governance at FWISD.  We will leave you to think about it for a bit on who it reminds you of and if you don't get the answer right then you have missed out on the mess that has been FWISD.  

are they praying it all goes away?  Check out Jackson :)


At our last school board meeting we heard the wonderful things that our two traveled board members brought back from cultural awareness sessions learned in Minneapolis.  We completely see that it is important, we have heard many times and all the accolades that it receives but we have not seen it put into practice.  Yet again we are using taxpayer money for one or two individuals to get information and it is not trickled down in any way.  

Mr. Ramos seems to be on a celebrity tour with all of the culture topics and gaining lots of connections for when, as we have been told, will create his own consulting style of business to do trainings on it.  So it's nice to see that we are paying for his future.  Then at the board meeting we came into the issue with Washington Heights that apparently is almost $3 million over budget.  There is consternation that what was floated to the residents is not what will be given because they have to redesign it to lower cost. There was mention that it should be about equity and we agree but at whose cost or sacrifice?  It seems that this one has gotten more attention, in the paper, and other areas for one particular area.  If you watch the discussion there seems to be a big disconnect from all parts.  

Dr. Avila mentioned that "we need to do a better job of communicating."  How interesting that this is exactly what we have asked for, communication and transparency and we have yet to get it.  Most importantly we need integrity and honesty about what is happening.  A little chuckle came when he mentioned us, not directly, that there is information out there and the district needs to do a better job what we would say containing it.  Well thanks for the accolade, our vision is to get the information out to the public.

We hear comments about great presentations but that is not going to get us where we need to be.  In all more talk and less action.  Oh and there was also a mention about oversight which almost caused us to faint.  Maybe just maybe the board finally understands one of their biggest roles is oversight on what occurs in the district.  

SCAs continue to haunt our teachers who see this as more and more work and no specifics.  We shall see what Sorum conjures up at the next meeting.  In the mean time the SCAs walk like a benchmark, written like a benchmark, and quack like a benchmark!

We also have heard and are waiting for confirmation that the district is down $39 million or close to 40 million that was not accounted for.  We are not sure if this has been discussed at the board meeting but we know from the people on the ground that a committee or task force is being assembled to help out.  It will consist of administrators which will be taken off campus for this and away from the campus where they are needed to monitor instruction.  So the pretty picture painted about reserves was always a fluke.  Then Sutherland mentioned it on her blog regarding an adjustment made that was an oversight and now we don't have as many reserves in case there is a budget shortfall.  

SCARY!!!

WHICH ONE WOULD YOU LIKE TO DRESS UP AS FOR HALLOWEEN?









Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FWISD RESPONSE TO FOIA REQUEST ON LIABILITY INSURANCE

Have you ever been in a situation where the person who is talking or is trying to impress you speaks with big vocabulary words and it all sounds good....

But they have no idea what they are doing because they themselves don't know either.






So we come to FWISD and highly paid attorneys who have fed much garbage to the board, that even with a lawyer on the board, have no clue what they do.

Attached is the form released by FWISD regarding the insurance they claim is going to pay for the appeal and perhaps for the Dansby Defamation Suit.

We are not lawyers by any means but just read the sections at the end of Page 2 into Page 3 regarding what it may not cover.  Are we reading it right that the appeal and Dansby would not be covered based on the interpretation of the wording?  Also there is no mention of appeal coverage, it just says a claim made and does not cover damages.

So either the lawyers can't tell the board the truth and the board doesn't ask because they have no clue.

Any lawyers out there that can help us out?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58nQYNsVgwwSTh2S29TaUF2U2pKSzFEOVZUNHZONldyRklJ/view?usp=sharing

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dr. Ann Sutherland, District 6, has filed TEA Complaint over SCAs




Welcomed news that Dr. Sutherland has filed a complaint with TEA regarding the legality of the SCAs.  While some may think this is something to do about nothing, let's just say that this goes to the hardcore of the classroom.  Allowing teachers and administrators on campus to do what is best for students.  District mandated tests are not allowed but twice a year, the law is clear.  Just because you break them down does not mean that they are any different.  Look at the format they are written in, test style and they are meant to prepare for the STAAR test.

Teachers have been taught to assess what they teach and they can assess after they teach a unit or however their curriculum is setup.

Thank you Dr. Sutherland for continuing the fight and we are behind you.  Keep us updated on the outcome.

We ask the rest of the board to speak up.  Mr. Ramos, where is the transparency you speak of? What is says to us is that you don't care about the entire FWISD staff but just your own recognition and use of the district for a personal agenda. Well known what your aspirations are and it's sad that you would use our children to advance your agenda.
 The rest of the board well we know they have no clue what is going on so we will leave it.

http://www.sutherlandforschools.org/Blog.html?entry=complaint-filed-with-tea

Friday, October 10, 2014

LEGAL OPINION ON SCAs (UPDATED)

REBUTTAL TO LEGAL OPINION

Refuting Rhonda Crass’ Legal Opinion

I think this is bad law and full of specious arguments. Crass hangs herself in her own opinion.  She says:

“When courts construe statutes, their primary goal is to discern the intent of the legislature "from the plain meaning of the words .hosen." State v. Shumake, 199 S.W.3d 279, 284 (Tex. 2006) (addressing statutory concstruction). Statutes and rules are interpreted as a whole rather than their isolated provisions.”

I totally agree with this statement. Legislative intent is the key to interpreting any statute and in this case, HB5 was intended to reduce the number of tests students had to take. (All tests)

Crass then goes on to quote the author of the bill:

“Representative Mike Villarreal, who authored the amendment to HB 5 that included Section 39.0263, issued a press release after the amendment was adopted explaining that the amendment “allows schools to continue to prepare students for tests but prevents the excessive use of practice tests that is all too common in Texas schools today.” (Italics provided)
  
Her interpretation of the word “prepare” is questionable:

“. . . the legislature intended the word “prepare” to address the practice of simulating the administration of the STAAR test that is often accomplished by simulating the time constraints and testing situations that often consumes a great amount what would otherwise be instruction time.”

I haven’t read the bill but I question whether it gives this definition to the word. I doubt prepare means only this simulation of test situations. I think the intent was indeed to (again, from the Crass opinion):

“The SCAs administered by the District as well as any type of evaluation instrument used by a classroom teacher could arguably “prepare students for a corresponding state-administered assessment instrument”, it is not likely that a challenge would be successful. Because the SCAs are short in nature, are for the purpose of measuring what mastery of the TEKS has taken place and what remediation is needed to ensure the mastery of the TEKS rather than to simulate testing conditions which provide a one time snapshot of a student’s mastery of the material presented, the overly broad argument that SCAs are benchmark assessments does not appear to be a valid reason for discontinuing SCAs at the District.”

I would argue that the SCAs are exactly what she describes above (in italics), and a challenge to an independent entity should be successful.



***************

The District sought an opinion on the SCAs to justify their right to require them.  As always they refer to the technical aspect of anything done because it justifies in their mind that they are doing the right thing for kids.  Instead of working with teachers or seeking advice from those that are working with children, they allow a legal opinion to proceed with what amounts to nothing in regards to improving instruction.

So we took a trip out to the field and looked at the SCAs and gathered input from administrators.   We came across a copy of the SCAs and could not believe how weak they are and look put together at the last minute.  I would ask the Board members to ask Sorum for a review of them and to specify what they are supposed to measure.  We were told that the SCAs are just something to give and that the district is not truly focused on them.  Sorum says they are not to be used for accountability.  Some tests took longer than a class period and then no time to meet to discuss results or time to plan.

In looking at the first grade test, come on, if the children don't know how to read and it's an oral test, how would they know what to bubble or know how to bubble.  Bubbling a test is not just something you throw at children.  If teachers have to bubble for students they need time to do it and for sure it won't take just one day.  These are things that administration does not take into consideration because it's easy for them to give a command and everyone is supposed to jump.

Back to the legal opinion, basically because no legal challenge has occurred, the district will make the pitch that they are legal.  The opinion states that it is a gray area and does fall under district mandated assessments.  The length of time may be an issue because the district can say it takes only the class period but they are not going to tell you if that actually occurred because they are not monitoring.  Remember that the district only says what will fall under legal not what is actually happening in the classrooms.

The fifth grade reading test had 3 questions, yes 3 questions that were supposed to measure student learning.  Tell us the research on that one Sorum!!

See for yourselves

LEGAL OPINION

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58nQYNsVgwwZ04yaHVfLTdsTWotWWM2VmNtcUtmR0NOaGFF/view?usp=sharing

SCAs
5th GRADE READING

 1st grade



 2nd Grade Writing



Thursday, October 9, 2014

QUICK UPDATES ON ONGOING ISSUES

This posting comes in light of what we saw in the STAR regarding the construction of Washington Heights and the proposed cost increase from the original bond proposal.

http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/10/07/6182614/despite-rising-costs-school-district.html

The biggest part that caught our eye is the use of the word "transparency" from North Side member Mr. Ramos.  As you read the article a bright shining light from above seems to indicate that perhaps constituents will be finally getting information on what goes on at the district level when it comes to decisions.


Then we reality hits us in the face as we reflect on it.  It's funny how now because they know that they messed up, they are using the, "we are giving what we promised" excuse to justify the higher cost of the school.  No one is against building a school that the voters approved but yet again we have incompetent people not budgeting correctly or projecting cost increases.  It seems that everything comes out after the fact and then they stick it to us by saying this is what you approved and so "we have to do what you said" for this time.  So the initial thought is a 40,000 sq ft. size school and now that they posted a 59,000 sq ft facility on the website, it must go.  Tell me how you missed that?  How do you not read the bond?  How dod you not follow it?  The bond committee has told you enough times that you are not following it.  Typical of the district to give us the finger!

FWISD TO THE TAXPAYERS

So Mr. Ramos since you opened the discussion on transparency, we expect it from now on.  Be open about what occurs that is not attorney-client issues, so that means everything else should be public knowledge.  This goes for the rest of the board, don't just sit there and think we are not watching and not expecting all of you to explain yourselves.  You are elected to serve, don't forget that!

This bring us to another issue that we have had and that is upper management raises.  We are waiting for confirmation but we got news that Sorum has possibly increased the income of Arispe, Creel and Sheffield.  We are asking for transparency on this matter because our teachers can't get laptops on time, furniture and the basics but yet they bask in money that our children need.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

CITIZENS TAKING ACTION!

Readers,

This is just the beginning of the uprising against the malice that the board and the administration bring to our declining district.  The actions they take are damaging any progress they speak and dream of because of the ineptness of their choices.  We will not stay quiet any longer until someone listens and takes action.

Below are two citizens who are moving forward with what we have posted on breach of trust and basic fundamentals of law breaking.

One other item that we focused on was the alleged "insurance" that is covering the unlawful appeal, well it's not true.  There is no insurance for appeals and the board does no get it.  Either they lied or they are completely nieve.  Therefore we must ask that they unveil the costs of the appeal and everything else that they are being sued for.

Below links to a few samples of Citizens in Action:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58nQYNsVgwwRFRGRjZPdHM2NFVSUm51c0RISklMWG1mOFhv/view?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58nQYNsVgwweXFvZHJzRnFZVWw2UHAtd2NlZFg3SUx6VE1N/view?usp=sharing