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MDUSD special education Community Advisory Committee to hear report on infant services tonight

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 at 6:33 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school district’s Community Advisory Committee for special education will hear a presentation on infant services tonight.

Here’s the agenda:

DATE: February 5, 2013
TIME: 7:00 – 9:15 p.m.
PLACE: Dent Center – Board Room

1. Call to Order 7:00

2. Introductions (7:02 – 7:05)
Please notify the audience during introductions if you are recording the meeting
Please let us know if this is your first time attending a CAC meeting

3. Adoption of Minutes – December 4, 2012 (7:05 – 7:10)

4. Presentation – “Mt. Diablo Infant Services” – Shamahl Nolan (7:10 – 7:40)

5. Chairperson’s Report – Lorrie Davis (7:40 – 7:50)

6. Old Business (7:50 – 8:20)

6.1 Interim Assistant Superintendent’s Report – Dr. Kerri Mills

6.2 Board of Education Report – Lynne Dennler and Barbara Oaks

6.3 Board of Education Comments – Dorothy Weisenberger, Denise Lambert

6.4 Budget Advisory Committee Report – Tricia Tamura-Li

6.5 Equity Advisory Team – Dorothy Weisenberger


7. New Business (8:30– 9:00)

7.1 QIAT – Christian Patz

7.2 Autism Task Force – Vi Ibarra

7.3 DELAC Committee – Denise Lambert

7.4 Advisory Commission on Special Education – Morena Grimaldi

7.5 Parent Liaison – Hilary Shen

7.6 Sub-Committee Updates – Next report in March
Parent & Community Education Committee – Julie Nibblett
Membership & Publicity Committee – Vi Ibarra
Legislative Committee – Denise Lambert
Blog Committee – Autumn Green

8. Public Comment (9:00 – 9:10)
Public comment is an opportunity to share concerns and comments with the CAC. In the interest of time, speakers are limited to three (3) minutes each with a total of fifteen (15) minutes for all speakers. Please respect student and personnel privacy. CAC members and district staff might not be able to respond to individual concerns in this forum, but will take your contact information and follow-up with you.

9. Information Items/Announcements/Adjournment (9:10 – 9:15)


Do you think the committee should inquire about the status of the draft FCMAT special education report, which the district received in July, but has not yet publicly released?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

48 Responses to “MDUSD special education Community Advisory Committee to hear report on infant services tonight”

  1. vindex Says:

    infant services? Please educate us.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There was a very interesting presentation about the district’s program for infants and preschoolers who are hearing-impaired. I shot video of it, which is at

  3. vindex Says:

    great. thank you

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    You’re welcome. Also, here is the special education feeder pattern document that Carolyn Patton reviewed with the CAC:

    Here is a video clip of the beginning of her report:

  5. Doctor J Says:

    Steven Lawrence’s failed leadership once again — failing the students learning for the sixth year in a row. Where is the leadership in getting the ELL turned around ? We spent all that money on a consultant, a “new leader”, a “new plan”, and no progress.

  6. g Says:

    One only needs to take the advances in scores at the three SIG schools and consider them neutral–the same as 2010-11, to see just how far down the rest of this district has slipped under Lawrence. The only other elementary non-SIG school, (and that school’s principal who quit in protest) that might have helped him to look good with their enormous score increases–he closed.

    What this proves is that he puts dollars and paychecks ahead of education, and simply got lucky when the SIG dollars worked–despite his flailing leadership.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Not neutral — the massive gains at the 3 SIG schools gave the district a 6 pt API gain — without the 3 SIG schools massive gains, the district would have lots about 20 API points. And remember the SIG school gains were only because the Feds and State audit caught the district cheating by non-performance and cut off the money until it did its Corrective Action Plan to acutally implement significant “increased instructional time” a requirement of SIG and proved by many studies to increase student performance and learning.

  8. Wendy Lack Says:

    Never fear, parents and taxpayers. The county is participating in a regional $14.9 million job training program to remediate students who graduate without knowing how to read, write and count. All in the name of economic development.

    Might we instead address the root cause — chronic failure of K-12 schools? Nah.

    Here’s a link to my blog post:

  9. g Says:

    Wendy; New money-new name? That surely does look like ROP to me.

  10. Giorgio C. Says:

    I taught ROP Biotech at a WCCUSD high school. I observed the following:
    Some students who were taught biology in the 10th grade by a series of substitute teachers or lesser qualified science teachers never learned the fundamentals of biology. In their senior year, they were enrolled in my Biotech class. It should be noted I also taught Biology and Physical Science.

    What I observed was tantamount to a sick joke. These students who were deprived of their right to be taught biology by a qualified instructor did not understand the underlying concepts relevant to the technologies used in the biotech class.

    I did my best to introduce them to the biotechnology profession, but I had to wonder why the system didn’t do more to ensure that these students were taught the fundamentals of science. Anyone can DO biotechnology. The gift and responsibility is teaching them to understand it. That is where the money should be invested.

    I would like to think that the Biotech class possibly undid some of the harm that resulted from their 10th grade experience, that they got something positive out of it, even if not until their senior year.

  11. Anon Says:

    Wendy, I have been trying to address this problem for years. I just don’t get it. We have been doing this for over 50 years. The reading issues is so easy to fix and would not cost a lot but the districts across the country don’t care.

  12. Anon Says:

    Th, is there a story in the works that concord police had to talk a 9 year old off the roof at sun terrace on Wednesday. Apparently she was going to jump. This is extremely disturbing
    9 year olds just don’t do this kind of stuff. It should be noted that sun terrace has a program on site for behavior control. They do a horrible job. Who was watching this girl? How did she get on the roof? How are the other students being supported?

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: I had not heard about this, but I’ll try to find out about it. At the CAC meeting, Carolyn Patton briefly mentioned that the National PTA is endorsing the Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013:
    Here is video of her comments:
    Patton said the legislation recommends one counselor for every 250 students in public schools. She commented, “As you know, because of budget cuts, Mt. Diablo currently has zero counselors.”
    However, she noted that the district does have some behavior programs and psychologists. But, with all the IEPs and evaluations psychologists do, how much time do they actually have to devote to student counseling?
    Lorrie Davis said she had passed some information about this legislation onto the CAC blog committee, but it hadn’t been posted yet.
    Patton said that if the legislation passed, the district may need to consider hiring additional counselors.
    As I previously pointed out, the district’s disproportionality plan is heavy on behavior interventions, but not as strong in mental health interventions as the Pittsburg plan. Perhaps the district should consider devoting more resources to dealing with the root causes of the behavior problems.
    You’re right. A 9-year-old doesn’t climb on a roof for no reason. If what you say is true, that child needs help.
    Does Sun Terrace have a “functioning” Coordinated CARE team yet? The district plans to fully implement its disproportionality plan by next fall, but pilot some elements starting this month. ALL schools need functioning Coordinated CARE teams NOW to effectively assess student needs AND get students the help they need NOW.

  14. Anon Says:

    TH, Here is the short story that was on the Patch.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon and Wendy: The superintendent has reported that the district is working with the Community College District to try to address the remediation issue. Also, the players you mention are involved in two events later this month looking at how well local schools prepare students for college and careers Feb. 27 and Feb. 27. I plan to do a separate blog post about that.

    Giorgio: I attended an Education Writers Assoc. seminar on STEM yesterday and a researcher from John Hopkins University said that in contrast to popular belief, there is no shortage of math and science teachers entering the field. The problem, he said, is retention. I immediately thought of you. He said ONE-FIFTH of middle school math and science teachers LEAVE after ONE YEAR because they don’t get the support they need from their districts or the training they need in pedadogy to be effective in the classroom. Failure of districts to provide this support was a bigger reason for their decisions to leave than low salaries or discipline issues, the researcher said.

    Presenters at the conference also noted that this country is desperately trying to interest more students in STEM fields and that the best way to do that is to have highly qualified teachers who can get kids excited about math and science through hands-on learning. But, if math and science teachers are leaving in droves, many students — including those at El Dorado MS — are left in the hands of subs who don’t have no mastery over the subjects they are teaching.

    The conference also stressed the importance of elevating the knowledge of elementary teachers in math and science. When elementary teachers don’t have deep understanding of these subjects, how can they be expected to excite their students about them?

    I also spoke to a Carnegie Foundation rep who said California’s rationale for deciding to move away from requiring 8th grade algebra because some students “arent’ ready” is a copout. What it really shows, she said, is that California doesn’t have enough high quality math teachers in middle school to give students the foundation they need in sixth and seventh-grade to be able to comprehend algebra in 8th grade.

    Many high school students don’t know how to divide or do fractions, said a math professor at John Hopkins University. He was skeptical of the Common Core’s lofty goals for critical thinking, saying students FIRST need to know the basics.

    During a discussion about the need for more AP classes in low-income, ethnically diverse areas, one journalist said a USA Today report showed that some students in those classes fail because they haven’t been adequately prepared. He said those students would have had a better chance for success if they had been given more basic courses, instead of being thrown into an AP class for which they had no foundation.

    Similarly, I have heard that Mt. Diablo HS is offering an alternative to AP Environmental Science for students who prefer more hands-on learning. The AP curriculum is so rigorous and fast-paced that teachers may not feel they have time to devote to fun projects.

    This point was also made in the documentary “Race to Nowhere.” An Acalanes HS AP science teacher said he had a tough time getting through the entire course by the end of the year. Since Acalanes is one of the highest-performing districts in the county, this says a lot. Many of those students likely have private tutors. Many students in MDUSD and WCCUSD don’t have the advantages that Acalanes students have. So, for them to succeed in AP courses, they may need extra supports.

    As I have previously pointed out, MDUSD’s disproportionality plan does not provide as much academic support as Pittsburg’s. MDUSD may need to think out of the box a little more to reach its diverse population.

    At the conference, we watched a rap video by math teacher Jake Scott, who was Marylands’s NAACP teacher of the Year:

    I witnessed a teacher at Rio Vista using rap to teach his students multiplication. And I know of some Northgate students who got extra credit in calculus by doing their own music video about calculus concepts. But are these practices being shared districtwide?

    The district does have Techbridge, Project Lead the Way and other academies and Career Pathway programs. Also, both MDUSD and WCCUSD were recently named to be part of a “Linked Learning” pilot program: (MDUSD is part of the Diablo Delta Corridor Project). But, there is no money associated with this, so it remains to be seen how this will help MDUSD ramp up its programs.

    But math and science are not the only areas where MDUSD students may need help. I have heard that many sophomores needed extra time to complete the English portion of the CAHSEE this year. Could this be related to the fact that the district eliminated class size reduction in ninth-grade English?

    I have spoken to several English teachers who say it is much more difficult to grade writing assignments for a class of 32 students than a class of 20. Is MDUSD giving its freshmen the foundation they need in writing to succeed on the CAHSEE?

  16. Wendy Lack Says:

    @TH #15:

    Thanks for the info, though I must say the bureaucratese and acronyms on this blog often lose me.

    Suffice it to say, I consider California’s public schools a FUBAR of the first order. Layers of federal, state and local bureaucracy guarantee that resources are wasted and organizations are inefficient, change-averse, ineffective. MDUSD is a good example of this systemic failure.

    School choice gives parents options to choose better quality schools. School choice gives parents options to choose schools specialized in areas best suited for their individual children. And schools that must compete for students improve — or close their doors. Thus I believe that, on the macro-level, the school choice movement holds the simplest, most expedient answer to improving schools.


    The “how” of effective teaching is well-known. Of course kids need the fundamentals — and remediation after-the-fact is sheer folly. That’s why funding of remediation programs is like having a house built on a defective foundation and trying to “fix it” with a coat of paint. You can’t get there from here.

    Sadly our schools are stuck in a politicized, bureaucratic morass that precludes straightforward, common-sense solutions. The result is that those who can afford better schools “buy up” to private tutors, private schools, home-schooling. And those who cannot afford these options get screwed.

    Ant that’s just not right — from a moral perspective. All families, regardless of socio-economic status, deserve quality education for their kids. And our society desperately needs quality workers to fill the jobs of tomorrow.

    That’s why I’m a proponent of the choice movement, to ensure all parents have access to quality education. And quality education is what’s needed to develop our economy and improve quality-of-life for all.

    Better Schools = Better Futures

  17. Michael Langley Says:

    Theresa, STEM is the latest “fixit” implemented without addressing the basic problem. There are many reasons why Math and Science teachers leave the profession, and lack of pedagogy training is a major one. This can be traced back to the lack of respect teaching is given as a skilled profession. To make the pathway to teaching easier, our legislature created internship for those who have subject matter knowledge, but lack training in teaching. I remember listening to an Assembly Subcommittee on Education many years ago as a member asked why a scientist who had worked in the private sector for years had to spend a year in student teaching. The concept was; if someone was a chemist, why waste their time learning how to teach chemistry. It echoes the underlying belief teaching is something anyone can do. Since it is perceived as an easy job, many believe teachers are people who can’t succeed in their field of expertise, so they settle for teaching as a profession.
    Good teachers need to be able to use methods outside their own comfort zone of learning. A person who excels in Math may be able to solve problems intuitively. They automatically “get it” when an equation is presented. However, when they are faced with a class of thirty seven students, and only five of them learn math intuitively, they must find a way to reach the other thirty two without losing the five. Add in any language disconnects, with a heavy dose of some students unable to fathom relevance, and you have the recipe for failure. I once asked a teacher why a particular unmotivated student should care about succeeding in her PCM II class and the reply was to get ready for PCM III. This made sense to the teacher and is a common belief for educators and parents. The subject is to get one ready to take the next level. But what if the student was planning to become a novelist, or a news reporter? How does PCM III work as a motivator in that case?
    This concept goes beyond Math and Science. It applies to any curriculum. Teachers need more than their own field of expertise, they need skills to teach and adjust to each and every group of students in their charge. Yet, in an effort to give every student the same education, we have looked at lockstep standards and assessments as an answer. Teaching is a skill that continues to be learned over time. To recruit and retain the best teachers, we first need administrators who are themselves quality teachers who can identify, mentor and collaborate with their staffs. For the bureaucracy of running a school system, hire bureaucrats. To educate students, hire educators.
    Basic skills must be taught at the appropriate time and manner to coincide with a child’s brain development. All children develop at different rates and excel in different ways. This is just another challenge for educators that resists the one size fits all demands of many education gurus. If a young person has been in school for all of their elementary years and still cannot read nor do basic addition, look at how we expected them to learn, not assume they had all teachers who were substandard.
    The questions we should be asking are: “How do we really accomplish creating a system in which we give every child a pathway to learn to the best of their abilities?” and “Are we prepared to dedicate the time and resources to create this system in a manner that transforms throughout, rather than a glitzy façade to meets meaningless short term benchmarks?”

  18. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ ML #17:

    Yes. Good questions.

  19. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    Mike @ 17

    “If a young person has been in school for all of their elementary years and still cannot read nor do basic addition, look at how we expected them to learn, not assume they had all teachers who were substandard.”

    And I would ask – why are these persons being promoted up to yet a more difficult level of learning before “they get it”?

  20. Giorgio C. Says:

    Thanks, Theresa. “Lack of support” needs to be quantifiable and documented and somehow tied to incompetence, willful neglect of duty, poor performance, deviation from protocol, or any other charge resulting in additional training, disciplinary action, or termination of those administrators who allowed this condition known as “lack of support” to exist.

    (In my best drill instructor’s voice)To support a teacher is part of someone’s job description, so we must clearly define what “support” is. “Lack of support” should be a deviation from a Principal-approved SOP, in violation of state and-or Federal regulations. If you didn’t follow the SOP, you are cited. We need to get away from using the nebulous, soft language that allows the perps of such actions to continuously escape the teeth of accountability.

    I expect to see a document that reads “Teacher A had support as evidenced by….” complete with attestation forms. Unlike Wendy, I am not advocating free choice of schools. I am advocating a real Quality Improvement and Assessment program that parallels the same Federally required program clinical laboratory scientists are expected to adhere to.

    I have more support for testing a serum sample at my highly regulated laboratory than I did for teaching a child. The regs I am bound to are the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) found here.

    All procedures are approved by the Director before they are used. That was not the case when I was teaching. Training and competency assessment is thorough. “Incidents” or “occurrences” are clearly documented. We can be inspected as the result of a complaint to an accrediting body, such as Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS). When’s the last time an auditor walked into a teacher’s classroom and requested to see what procedure was being followed at that given moment as the result of a complaint? And teachers should be able to blow the whistle, too. I want them to do this as often as necessary.

    We are inspected biennially. Citations range in degree of severity from “standard level”, “Condition level” (condition for licensure) and “Immediate Jeopardy”. We have an uninterrupted paper trail for every specimen that has been tested, throughout the pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical process.

    How about the same for our children? Aren’t they worth it? Or do we wait until they are very sick, and then you can send me their blood or tissue sample and then they will receive maximum attention like they have never received before.

    Sometimes it sucks being under such tight regulatory scrutiny, but at the end of the day, it works. Do I sound a bit nutty? After witnessing 3 years of atrocities during my teaching stint, I probably am, but I am doing my part to become part of the quality improvement process with our school district.

    I apologize for the rant on your blog, Theresa, but I am sick and tired of hearing about “lack of support” as if it is something that must be accepted or tolerated. No, it must not. It is time for “lack of support” to become a citable offense. Our kids are worth it.

  21. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ GC #20:

    Without meaningful incentives, such as those offered by a competitive environment, the precision you seek is not possible.

    When there’s no serious consequence of failure, there’s no incentive to change. The status quo continues, but at higher cost, as increasing amounts of resources are poured into a failed system.

    By changing the fundamental rules of the game, choice can cut through the “nebulous, soft language” to create genuine incentives for doing business differently.

    In essence, it’s change or die. Currently schools lack that kind of absolute clarity and accountability.

    Choice is the only proven way they can improve.

  22. Jim Says:

    @17 ML — Mike, you are absolutely correct that many people underestimate what it takes to be a teacher. When done well, it is a demanding profession that can be like performing onstage five days a week, from 8 until 3. I am pretty sure that I could not be successful in that profession.

    The question so many of have is whether our current teacher preparation and bureaucratized credentialization process is contributing much to helping new teachers become GOOD teachers. In my observations, gained while working with educators across the country, I have found that teachers are often some of the least-prepared, most haphazardly recruited, poorly managed, and inadequately evaluated workers in the country. The typical school district pays so little attention to the entire talent process, it is no wonder that there is so much dissatisfaction WITH — and WITHIN — the teaching profession.

    Hoping for more respect or more money for teachers — or, heaven forbid, more of the mediocre “professional development” that is so commonplace — is NOT the answer. Teachers are the lynchpins of any school, and there are many interesting innovations around cultivating teacher talent, particularly among the charter school management organizations. But I do not see many of these innovations being tried in public school districts. Why? Well, as Wendy L. suggested, they are too often ossified monopolies that are accountable to no one. District administrators (and unions!) have no reason to take the difficult (but ultimately rewarding) steps that true innovation often requires. It’s a shame, really — for the students, and taxpayers, of course, but even for all of the dedicated teachers who find themselves trapped in such a sad, dysfunctional system.

  23. Michael Langley Says:

    @22 Jim. I would maintain that unions have been the driving force for much of the innovation in education. Highly qualified peer mentor programs were piloted by AFT years ago. MDEA worked hard to develop a program to support and identify struggling first year teachers before they achieved permanency. Mike Noce, former MDEA President, tried for years to interest the MDUSD in setting up a Magnet School staffed by the best teachers who would mentor other educators rotating through the school for two or three years before returning to their previous schools with added skill. No interest in partnership came from the district. When one speaks of teachers competing for monetary prizes, one misunderstands the profession. Great teachers want students, all students, to succeed. We share ideas and encourage others to make their own any ideas or techniques that work for us. Not everybody in a union is progressive, but to paint the entire organization as tainted, just doesn’t compute. Some reforms we have resisted. Usually because they were not founded in good research or were attempted haphazardly.

  24. Giorgio C. Says:

    The choice concept in my opinion is flawed because it suggests the status quo is acceptable, but that your “choice” is better. I am coming at it from a compliance approach that says the status quo is not acceptable, that it must be corrected immediately for all those sitting in a classroom today. Sure, it is good to have these other options, but that doesn’t mean that our public schools should be held to a lower standard.

    Regarding teachers unions, the authority they have been given sometimes exceeds their qualifications. They are not administrators, yet they attempt to influence how one manages a school. The teachers union should only be concerned with compensation and safety related work conditions.

    The WCCUSD Superintendent, in response to my request that all district teachers should be required to make better use of internet technology for purpose of helping parents monitor their child’s progress, replied that this is a “terms of employment” matter that needs to be bargained.

    Seriously? How about “Hey teacher, do you want to keep your job? Then learn how to do the following?” And the district should provide the time and training. I was stunned by his reply.

  25. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ GC $24:

    Your WCCUSD anecdote illustrates one of the many problems with current government-run schools: cowed administrators who care more about labor relations than responding to parents’ needs. Here’s a thought-provoking article that relates to your anecdote and is also relevant to the Brentwood school scandal:

    I appreciate the good intentions behind desires to reform the system from the inside. However I see no evidence that doing so is possible. Such efforts play at the edges and have been ineffective after decades of trying them. Patience has run out.

    Competition is a game-changer. And it works wherever it is tried. That’s all I’m saying.

  26. Giorgio C. Says:

    I just read the first line of the article you cited and will say that each school department should have an exempt-status (non-union) supervisor who is also the department chair. It makes more sense because the supervisor would also be a content expert. They would teach 50 to 80% of the time, and perform evaluations of teachers the remainder of the time. Where I can currently work, we have one lab director. Our lab is divided into units based on specialty, each with its own respective content expert and supervisor.

    The school supervisors would also be responsible for ensuring that each teacher has the necessary materials to do their job. Such supervisor positions would provide promotional opportunities for those teachers seeking such. To expect the principal or assistant principal to perform meaningful assessments in not realistic. Assessments should be ongoing, including spot-check monitoring of records, attendance, etc.

    Currently, teachers are not receiving much supervision. Supervision is a positive thing because a good supervisor helps you succeed. It is a win-win because good employees help the Supervisor succeed. I am guessing the teachers unions would have a problem with this, but legally it should be easy to implement, so why not?

  27. Wendy Lack Says:

    @ GC #26:

    What common sense tells us should be “easy to implement” — isn’t. (See:

    Our schools are weighed down by over-regulation, tradition, turf wars and politics. I call it the School Tar Pits. Principled leadership and enlightened organizational practices are the exception rather than the rule.

    Without meaningful incentives to change, most school organizations remain mired in inertia. Teachers don’t receive the supervision or support they need to succeed. Talented teachers and administrators flock to well-led schools (including private schools). Kids are cheated via social promotion.

    When nothing changes, nothing changes.

    Those with power call the shots and nothing is “easy to implement” without their buy-in. On top of it all, opportunists abound because making a buck off of mismanaged, under-led schools is easy pickings (e.g., mishandling of school bonds).

    My apologies for the hard, cold realism — it’s just a reflection of the stories I read about and hear from administrators, teachers and parents in California schools. As Lily Tomlin famously said, “No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.”

    When it comes to CA public schools, nothing is as easy to accomplish as it should be.

  28. Giorgio C. Says:

    I like your cold realism. Keep it coming.

    No obstacle is too big for me. That includes unions. My union just tried to eject me, but the state just reinstated me. And I have a pretty good understanding of government and oversight. If all goes according to plan, I’ll have something on the next state-wide ballot for the purpose of California public schools quality improvement. And you can continue to pursue your avenue of choice.

    Let’s see who can make change first. Ready….set….go!

  29. Jim Says:

    Giorgio C, it sounds as if you would like to see a stricter andmore comprehensive regulatory regimen for education to make sure that everyone in the school (administrators, teachers, etc.) does exactly what they are supposed to do, as in the lab example that you cite. I can imagine, if such regulation were applied intelligently and consistently, by motivated individuals who always had the best interests of the students at heart, that it might work. But what are the indicators that such generous civic-mindedness and energy would suddenly take hold among the current members of our regulatory elite? Would you propose more thorough inspections of schools and observations of educators? Tighter regulation of the curriculum, or behavior in the classroom? A stricter credentialization process for everyone?

    We’ve tried for at least 30 years to force more accountability into schools, with ever more granular micro-management from the feds, from the state, and from district offices. How has that worked, would you say? Why would your system of even MORE top-down forced accountability work any better? What is to keep the situation that Mike Langley described above (teachers try to make constructive suggestions about teacher mentoring and development, and the district just ignores them) from happening over and over? Nothing. Mike’s example illustrates EXACTLY what I was talking about. The fact is that for a public school monopoly, the kids (and their ADA dollar$) mostly keep coming through the door no matter what happens. In fact, years of failure often bring in MORE money. As most of us know from our own professional lives, constructive change is often very difficult to implement, taking persistence, energy, flexibility, optimism, and lots of hard work.

    If the end-user students and families have no other choices, where is the accountability and commitment going to come from? Will the benevolent regulators make everything ok through their pronouncements and punishments? Sorry, but that seems hopelessly idealistic and contradictory to what has resulted from almost every example of government micromanagement in education that I can think of.

  30. Giorgio C. Says:

    Where I work now, we got our butts kicked by the Feds during an inspection. It was not a pleasant time. There are standards on the books that simply were not being followed. So we got it together pronto.

    At the end of the day, the standards are really nothing more than a set of best practices, tools that help us accomplish our objective. We learned from it. Yes, until these things are in place, the thought of being inspected is very uncomfortable.

    Today, we can proudly display the products of our efforts. We are PROUD! And my supervisor is proud of us and we are proud of him. Our accrediting body also understands that it plays an education role, not just enforcement. The surveyors (inspectors) want to see us succeed. They are great people. All I’m saying is that I think schools could adopt some additional legally required best practices for purpose of quality control and improvement.

    And regarding the implementation of a supervisor, it is an additional layer of support. It is not a bad thing. Here is a column from another teacher in San Leandro who is calling for more supervision.

    I’m trying to enlist the author’s support now that I have challenged Wendy to a race:>)

  31. Giorgio C. Says:

    The Williams Lawsuit-settlement was evidence that California’s education system is grossly flawed with respect to quality control and assessment. How were these deficiencies allowed to occur in the first place? That one lawsuit should have resulted much more dramatic change than simply providing a complaint procedure. If we see an increase in airliner crashes, is the solution simply the creation and implementation of a new complaint procedure?

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jim and Mike: Speaking of district employees making suggestions and being ignored by district administrators and board members — CSEA rep. Annie Nolen told me she found an excellent online training program about mandated reporting of suspected child abuse that she urged the district to look into for all employees. But, to her knowledge, no one has bothered to do that.
    Yet, on a Bay Area News Group survey of districts regarding mandated reporting training, MDUSD responded that it DOES train all of its mandated reporters. When asked who these employees were, the district responded “All certificated employees.” That is a WRONG answer.
    ALL employees WHO COME IN CONTACT WITH CHILDREN are mandated reporters. So, why is MDUSD only training teachers about their mandated reporting responsibilities?
    In Brentwood, it was the instructional aides who WITNESSED abuse of a child by a teacher, yet initially failed to report it to authorities.
    If MDUSD district administrators were responsive to Nolen, then MDUSD’s special ed assistants would know their mandated reporting responsibilities and hopefully would report abuse to authorities if they ever faced a similar situation.
    Mandated reporters also include all other classified employees who interact with children, including custodians, office staff and bus drivers. ALL of them should be receiving mandated reporter training annually.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s what the CAC blog says about the new proposed mental health law, which could help provide additional counseling to MDUSD students:

    “Recent tragedies across the nation have highlighted the need – more than ever – for improved access to mental health services. Despite research showing the importance of school-based mental health services, nearly 70 percent of adolescents living with mental illness do not receive treatment. The American School Counselor Association recommends one school counselor for every 250 students, yet the national average during the 2010-2011 school year was one counselor for every 471 students.Please urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the Mental Health in Schools Act, legislation which has been introduced in the last several Congresses, and would establish a grant program to school districts to expand access to mental health services by providing vital assistance to utilize innovative community partnerships in training school staff, volunteers, families, and other members of the community to recognize the signs of child and adolescent behavioral health problems and refer them for appropriate services.”

  34. Doctor J Says:

    @TH Here is a question for Steven Lawrence, Greg Rolen, Deb Cooksey and EVERY Board Member: AB 1434 says: “(d) School districts that do not train their employees specified in subdivision (a) in the duties of mandated reporters under the child abuse reporting laws shall report to the State Department of Education the reasons why this training is not provided.” Lets see the report ! But don’t forget about the missing FCMAT report. Perhaps you just ask for a list of names and dates when who was trained in 2012.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    Here is the list of mandated reporters, which includes all “classified employees” of a a school district. Who reported the school bus driver that slammed on the brakes injuring the children ?

  36. Jim Says:

    What I gather from the posts by Michael Langley, Giorgio C, Theresa and others is that there are many good ideas for improving traditional public schools, and within those schools, many well-intentioned people who would like to see positive changes. But it doesn’t happen. In so many, many areas it just doesn’t happen. Why? Because there are no consequences for the decision-makers. There is no accountability. Most families have no choice but to send their children into this incorrigible system. We can wish it were different. We can hope for change. But when people do not have a choice, there is no accountability.

  37. Giorgio C. Says:

    For accountability, I am wondering why school DISTRICTS, not just schools, are not subjected to an accreditation process. The state will shut down a schools, but not a district? The district office should be threatened with reconstitution just as a school is. Instead, districts are subject to performance audits that seem to have no consequences, especially if the board is cozy with the district staff.

    Read about the consequences faced by the following district in Kansas City.

    How come I don’t see this in California? You want accountability? Let’s put “district accreditation” on the next ballot.

    Accountability also happens when you hire a Superintendent who means business. How about someone like Mr. Rudy Crew. This guys fires first, takes names later. He’s mean. When I was in the WCCUSD intern program 15 years ago, we attended a teacher pep rally of sorts, and the guest speaker was Rudy Crew. He was announced like some legendary Superintendent guru rockstar. Now, I think the very folks who praised him then would grab the next train out of town if they heard he was returning.

  38. Giorgio C. Says:

    First, I want to say that I do support choice and charter schools.

    In fact, I was appalled when our district (and the CCBOE) denied the charter for one of our schools, Manzanita Charter school. What I didn’t agree with is that some of the findings against the charter school were the very same deficiencies I observed on the part of the school district itself. What a bunch of hypocrites. I could have thrown the same book at our Superintendent and school board. It also seemed as if the charter school was set up to fail, that it received little support from the WCCUSD in terms of a quality control and assessment program for helping them keep on task with some of the compliance issues. The district seemed to be in “Gotcha mode”, not “Let us help you” mode.

    This charter school was not even listed on the WCCUSD webpage, yet the same Superintendent’s name is on the SARC document for this school. Speaking of SARC documents, the WCCUSD was out-of-compliance with the Ed code because they couldn’t complete these documents, yet the charter school that they shut down had completed them. The charter school was more transparent than the parent district. Utterly amazing. Our board President stated to the charter administrator “You got in over your head, didn’t you.” Heck, I think the WCCUSD district staff are in over their heads, too.

    The following comment on the Oregon blog is consistent with the “choice” that is being advocated.
    “Why not give at least poor and middle class kids a voucher so they can learn math, science, and engineering on a private ship that is seaworthy & has a merit-based crew?”

    The following math-science charter school caught my attention

  39. Giorgio C. Says:

    Since this column is about students with disabilities, I thought I would share the following reply that I received from the WCCUSD Special Ed Director when I inquired about the low numbers for this population of student in Hercules, Pinole, and Richmond, the scores being for the 2012 and 2011 years respectively

    Hercules: 401, 466
    Mt. Diablo: 531, 543
    Albany: 679, 644
    El Cerrito: 460, 455
    Richmond: 391, 415
    John Swett: 536, 495
    Campolindo: 722, 715
    Piedmont: 768, 769
    Redwood (Larkspur): 677, 668
    Pinole: 428, 400

    Director’s response:
    “All our high schools have programs to serve students with learning disabilities through the collaborative model…special education teachers team teach with general education teachers and tutorial periods are provided by the special education. For the non-diploma track learning disabled students, we offer an Applied Academics Academy to provide academics along with career readiness.

    Hercules High has four teachers to serve the Learning Disabled – two Resource Teachers and two Special Day Class teachers. For the severely handicapped, programs vary by site, such as Hercules has the visually impaired program, medically fragile program and students who require assistive technology , El Cerrito High has an autism program and the hearing impaired program, Richmond High and Kennedy each have a severely handicapped class, Pinole Valley has a class for emotionally disturbed and DeAnza has four classes for the severely handicapped.

    Since we are a single-district SELPA and we do not utilize any of the Contra Costa County programs, we provide all our own services. High Schools like Campolinda, John Swett, Albany, Piedmont and Redwood are in multi-district SELPAs and may not serve the moderate-to severe population. Those students may be in county programs or served at other sites within the SELPA. Moreover, the special education populations changes from year to year.”

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the latest story on the Brentwood school district’s failure to comply with mandated reporter requirements after a student was kicked by a teacher:

    Giorgio: The WCCUSD special ed. director appears to be making valid points. MDUSD also has its own SELPA and also provides for special education students with a variety of needs. It’s true that many smaller districts contract for special ed services through the county. So, it would appear that those students are not counted in the district’s test scores, but are instead included in the county’s scores, which vary:

  41. g Says:

    It is time for this board to take control. None of them owe their position to Steven Lawrence or Greg Rolen. It has been 10 months since district requests for SpEd review from FCMAT, and over 5 months since those reports were presented.

    The board should stop allowing “corrections and edits” to delay and mask (cover up) the original findings.

    If the findings were wrong–show US the original and point out the errors. If FCMAT studies are so consistently unreliable and inaccurate, do NOT use them again. Simple.

    Treat their studies much like you would (should) treat a Grand Jury finding–state the finding, then state the error. If they are correct, state the plans for corrective actions. But please, do it in public from now on!

    Seems pretty simple to me.

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I agree. Interestingly, Board President Cheryl Hansen told me she had been under the impression that the FCMAT special ed report was going to be presented at the last CAC meeting. She did not know why it was taking so long to be released, but said she would ask the superintendent about it. I also continue to believe the third party analysis can and should be released, since it was provided to FCMAT with no stipulation that it be kept confidential. It was only after I asked for a copy of it that Greg Rolen insisted it was protected by attorney-client privilege. Hopefully, the board will discuss this during its Feb. 23 retreat, if not before.

    With the FCMAT Transportation Review, the district put the cart before the horse by implementing recommendations BEFORE the report was even released. This time around, district staff should present the report to the board, THEN ask trustees if they want to follow the recommendations or not.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    Aren’t all versions of the FCMAT reports subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act since both FCMAT and MDUSD are covered under the PRA ? I am fine with FCMAT correcting errors but NOT fine with FCMAT being part of a coverup.

  44. g Says:

    Do you ever wonder if there actually was a ‘third party’ analysis? I have long suspected Rolen fudged it to suit his own purpose. If that were the case, any sort of disclosure would have to name the third party, and they might not like it if their name was used without them actually giving such an analysis (or getting paid for it).

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Rolen described the third party analysis in his after-the-fact letter asking FCMAT not to release it. That letter said it was prepared by Matt Juhl-Darlington. Obviously, the board has the authority to read that analysis. If trustees, like Gillaspie, believe there is nothing that appears to be confidential in the report, they should insist that it be released to the public.

  46. g Says:

    Ah, Matt. Guaranteed that even if he didn’t actually put in his 2cents worth, he was well compensated for the use of his name under separate cover.

    I believe he once advocated on behalf of special kids best interests, but then ‘someone’ seems to have convinced him there was a lot more money to be made by advocating for the district. All he had to do was hire the right associate and begin to call himself an expert in ALL areas of school management.

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thanks to the board, the district has posted the agenda for the next Superintendent’s Feeder Pattern Meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mt. Diablo Elementary:

    This would be a great opportunity for interested parents to ask the superintendent directly why it is taking him so long to release the FCMAT special education report and why he believes the third party analysis should not be released to the public.

    Also, the next DELAC meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Willow Creek Center:

    Apparently, it wasn’t as difficult as district officials thought it would be to post these meeting agendas online so everyone can see them.

  48. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#47 Too bad there is no public comment — just questions from “parents”. I still think a PRA request “to FCMAT” for all the emails about the report would be enlightening.

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