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Some Mt. Diablo HS teachers are not satisfied with district’s response to vote of No Confidence

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, February 3rd, 2012 at 2:30 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

After a majority of teachers at Mt. Diablo High voted No Confidence in Principal Kate McClatchy last month, the district responded by allowing teachers to express their concerns in small groups at the school.

Teacher Dan Reynolds, a teacher’s union rep for the site, said district administrators compiled these concerns into five major areas: leadership, facilities, discipline, professional development and McClatchy’s proposed plan to convert the school to an “all academy” model, which would require every student to choose one of four areas of intense study.

The academies expected to be “scaled up” are the Architecture, Construction, Manufacturing and Engineering academy; Digital Safari Multimedia and Computer science academy; International Hospitality and Tourism Academy; and Medical Bio-Technology Academy.

Teachers broke into groups Monday and listened to administrators present draft plans regarding the areas of concern, then gave feedback, Reynolds said.

“On the whole, many of us came away feeling like it was shallow and they already had a plan and they were showing us a piece of it and they weren’t relay listening,” he said. “The reason is that they take people’s suggestions and then say, ‘We will come back to you when we make a decision about what’s going to happen. Students, parents and teachers haven’t really been involved in the decision-making.”

Reynolds said McClatchy presented a plan regarding the all-academy model on Wednesday and asked teachers to vote on one of two options: convert to an all-academy school in 2012-13 or in 2013-14.

“Those were the only two choices,” Reynolds said. “It was like saying, ‘You can have any flavor of ice cream you want as long as it’s chocolate or vanilla.’”

But teachers refused to accept those narrow options and didn’t vote, he said. Some teachers will likely speak about their concerns at next Monday’s board meeting, he added.

“We are looking at next steps,” he said. “Its important for parents to be involved in our decisions as we move forward.”

I spoke to Pat Ainsworth, assistant superintendent for secondary education in the California Department of Education, about the all-academy model last week. He said academies nationwide have been proven to raise test scores and student engagement, but pointed out that schools have other options.

“The teachers that are typically in these academies throughout the state have opted into them,” he said.

Since academies require groups of students to take several courses together around a theme, they have fewer options for other courses, he said.

“That may put some pressure on the master schedule,” he said. “We do know there are schools that are using or have gone to a career-themed pathways, that may not be academies.”

An academy, he said, is a school within a school. Groups of students are assigned to specific teachers and they move through their courses in a very sequenced way from 10th through 12th grade, he said.

“A career pathway model may not be as rigid,” he said. “A school may have four or five pathways.”

In this model, students could opt to take courses in a variety of career areas, instead of just one. This would allow students to create individualized programs, Ainsworth said.

Do you agree with the school’s plan to convert to an all-academy model?

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  • Steve

    I am an educator and believe the academy model is the direction all public schools should take (if they are big enough). This model increases student engagement, gives students who don’t go to college better preparedness for the world of work. The teaching profession has become extremely stressful and great teacher may not fit into this new model as well. It will take a while to change the teaching personal to fit this new model, or to get the teaching personal to change their profession so that it fits this model. Don’t blame teachers. They are underpaid, over stressed, under appreciated, and over blamed. Teachers are people with careers who balance their interests with those of the students, school and community. People expect teachers to be like catholic nuns and brothers taking vows of poverty to be humble servants. Give them money, give them training, pay off their large student loans, and give them time to change.

  • Doctor J

    I think the Mount issue is deeper than one of dictatorial leadership vs. consensus leadership, but rather the whole McClatchy concealment and coverup of the QEIA non-compliance and approval of the Single Plan for Student Performance than does not reference a thing about a conversation to an “all academy model” rather than a debate of academic philosiphy. The vote of no-confidence was only taken after more than a year of trying to work with the principal and getting zero results. Then the response from McClatchy lacked intergirty, showed disrespect to her faculty, and was a total farce, including the subsequent involvement of Doris and Julie — sans the partipation of McClatchy’s DIRECT supervisor, Supt. Steven Lawrence.

  • anon

    @ dr j #2: couldn’t agree more. The supt continues 2 be reactive rather than proactive. Cvchs came about because of the community’s distrust and lack of response from the supt. Mt. Diablo teachers showed professionalism, dedication, and concern by sharing their opinions with mcclatchey. When they weren’t heard, they went before the board. Lawrence never listened to the staff last year at Clayton. Vly and disrespected the staff at Mt. Diablo this year by not attending last Monday’s meeting. Supt Lawrence is a terrible role model for all site adminstrators because as direct supervisor of both of these high schools, he’s Proven himself to be highly incapable. Consensus building in MDUSD is gone. Lawrence, Rolen, Bryan Richards and Eberhart are the good old boys who relish their perceived roles as dictators. BUT their secret meetings and agreements are beginning to destroy this district one mishap at a time (cvchs, transportation fiascos and its subsequent litigation, measure c $’s mismanagement, qeia and sig loss of monies, etc). What remains optimistic for MDUSD is that staff members and parents across this district are beginning to rally against this dictatorship. The good old boys were banking on stakeholders being stupid and naive-not so…

  • Tom

    The same “top-to-bottom” approach is being done at Granada High in Livermore. The Principal will implement a half-baked policy with input of a few select teachers (usually very young and without tenure) and spring it on the rest of the staff. She will ignore decades of experience–push out or freeze out those who do not step in line. All of this in her first and second year. IF this sounds like a tirade it is–but watch for the next vote of no confidence come from Granada. She has been a train-wreck from day one.

  • MDHS Teacher

    Does anyone remember when rapper Kanye West went on national TV after Hurricane Katrina and said that George Bush “doesn’t care about black people” ?

    This is the same way teachers at MDHS feel about Kate McClatchy. She does not care about teachers or students! She cares about shot calling and covering up her messes! There are people suffering out there and she has no respect for our programs or past successes. She wants to do things her way and divide the school into four very distinct areas of study. Teachers are against this, students and parents are not on board and she just doesn’t care.

    Like Katrina victims, we’ve been flagging down help from nearly flooded rooftop for too long! Where is the MDUSD/FIMA?

  • MDHS Teacher

    *FEMA, sorry.

  • Theresa Harrington

    MDHS Teacher: I spoke to Trustee Lynne Dennler about the Monday meetings yesterday, during a break in the governance workshop. She said the group she observed was very positive and that the administrators really seemed to be listening. No teachers said anything negative, she said.
    Have you or others who are dissatisfied spoken to Dennler about your concerns?

  • MDHS Teacher

    The group SHE observed. That’s why there were five different groups, so they can’t have an angry mob in one room together! People in my session weren’t so positive. At all.

  • Hell Freezing Over

    @TH #7

    It’s important to know if Mrs. Dennler stayed for the entire group session or only part. What part of the session did she attend (1st 5 min? Middle? Entire session?)? Did she check in with any of the other group sessions?

    She says she didn’t hear any negative comments from the teachers; did she hear any positive comments from them while she was there or were administrators the only voices heard in the group?

    How was the group she observed “very positive”?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dennler said she stayed for the entire time, but remained with the same group.

    Here’s what she said: “I was very impressed by the administrators and the teachers and their desire to make it work. I didn’t hear a negative word out of any teachers’ mouths and the administrators were so positive. I was hopeful that there was a real opportunity for listening.”

  • Doctor J

    Dennler’s group was stacked with supporters on purpose. What she doesn’t understand is that the process is being foisted upon the teachers and students. Its going to take a second vote of no confidence to get the attention of the Board. Because after a second vote, and no board action, then the teachers have little choice.

  • Wait a minute

    I absolutely agree with Dr J that Dennler was put into a “stacked” group of passive, probably mostly newer teachers.

    Steven Lawrence (and Sue Brothers too) were noted for their constant manipulations of meetings, working groups, interview panels, etc in both West Sac and Roseville together.

    I don’t think anyone here will argue that Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Rolen and others running the ship onto the rocks here are also very manipulative by nature.

    Another example of this pervasive manipulation was their Saturday’s “Board Governance” selection of a facilitator who ripped into Cheryl Hansen anytime she wanted to talk about the MDUSD leadership’s myriad problems and treated the other board members with kid’s gloves.

    This was probably due to the fact that at the last board retreat that facilitator Kirk Berger stressed openess, honesty, civility and strategic planning for the board. So there was no way that Berger was going to be hired again by this board majority.

    I don’t agree however that Mount should try another Vote of No Confidence. The only way to get the respect and attention they deserve is to start a teacher-trigger conversion which should be easy as they can follow the CVCHS blueprint.

  • Erica Shipp

    I just read the article about the restrooms. I have a Sr at Freedom High School in Oakley. If she ever told me that this situation occured at her High School, I would remove her imnmedietly and sue the school district and Principal for violating my daughter. Where are these parents? They need to stand up and have this School Administration treat their children with dignity. The more we allow our children to be treated like animnals, the worse is the example we set. These are our FUTURE!!!! OPEN THOSE RESTROOMS IMMEDIETLY AND GET RID OF THAT PRINCIPAL!

  • Hell Freezing Over

    Supt Lawrence, Board President Whitmarsh and Trustee Eberhart – you all have children in schools in this disrtict. If your children attended this school, how long would you let this continue?

    How long would it take; how many times would the public, district parents, teachers and students of “your” school need to complain- in public no less – before the situation is addressed and the restrooms were unlocked?

    Where is your outrage? Where is your compassion? Are you WAITING for “someone” to file an “official” complaint? How can you NOT resolve this?

    This is beyond rediculous after how many weeks since the first mention of ALL but ONE restroom locked at Mount – it’s a reflection on YOU and what you really care about in this district.

  • Theresa Harrington

    At the governance workshop, Linda Mayo said she ran to represent parents. She also said she wanted to honor the work that school staff does. But, in an instance such as this, when parents and some teachers are on the opposite side of the administration, it’s unclear who she will represent and honor.