Saturday, January 25, 2014

I'm baaaccckkk! Too much going on to ignore. The city schools have just too much going on! There is enough to write a book. How about the title "I Had My Fingers Crossed When I Told That Lie!" Get ready for the real story again. Unfiltered, transparent, and reliable. Let the games begin!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There's a Sucker Born........

Ahhhh back from a cruise and reading the stacked up papers (yes, I’m an old person who still likes the feel of newspaper in my hand!) Anyway it’s hard to decide which is the dumber story, the City and its fantom school closing, or Pittsylvania County and supervisors and their crossed fingers behind their back.

If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny. But I gotta admit the City story is much juicier! So let me get this straight , a superintendent makes up a fake story about closing a school to force council to give them more money. The weirdest part was that the council fell for it!

Lets dissect this conspiracy first. The superintendent, with the school board, conspired to announce that they were going to close Gibson. Why Gibson? Well that school has the heaviest minority population, is headed by a popular principal, is one of the last schools named after a black leader, and is located in a high minority neighborhood. Result, maximum pressure and disruption to the city council. Everyone saw this one coming…..except city council. They never realized they were set up. Some councilmen even ran on a platform of NOT giving the extra money to the schools. So much for their word…

So in the midst of this passion play they suddenly come up with a plan to LEND the schools the money they say they need. As every accountant in a grave starts rotating they develop a plan to lend the money to the schools and they pay in back over 5 years. Hmmm, so next year they will still be short the $2.1 million AND $500,000 for the first payment. Now what economics class was this taught in? Besides being financially ridiculous, it puts the schools in an even worse position next year.

Why has this crisis come about? Because despite numerous warnings and data provided to them years ago the school board has refused to address the issue of declining enrollment. DPS has been losing students at a steady rate since 2000 yet no plans were ever made to address this issue. Despite these warnings the board turned a blind eye to the issue. Instead they created a bloated central office, a flash in the pan high school, and wasted money on frivolous projects. A impeccable inside source has identified some major money debacles perpetrated by this administration. Those will be identified in later blogs.

Now let’s recap what happened. A manufactured crisis, creative posturing to bring pressure, and a swoop in for the financial kill. Have to give it to them, it worked. But next year the same problem will still be there. What’s next holding the GW eagle hostage? They better hurry, only ten months left to manufacture a crisis. And city council get ready to have your leg jerked….again.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Votes Are In!!

Thanks to many who contributed to the annual "What Should Be Cut" contest! The entries were well thought out, imaginative, somewhat cruel, and downright funny. Whatever, here they are in no particular order except the first two which had the most votes.
1. Cut Superintendents Salary. By far the number one entry. One person wrote, "She needs to pay back all the years she did nothing for us....." A little cruel but these are the feelings.
2. Close Schools. Most writers realized that this was inevitable based on the population of the district however the schools were the real surprise. Glenwood and Woodrow got the most votes. Gibson and Langston received a few votes. The real surprise was 10 votes to close Galileo! as one reader put it, "A private school fraud perpetraded at the expense of all the others." Also a few votes for Forest Hills. Surprisingly not one vote for W. Townes Lea.
3. Scale Back Preschool Several readers mentioned that this program appeared to have no measureable success.
4. Fire Anyone with an Assistant in their title.
5. Stop middle school athletics programs.
6. Drop Asst Superintendent for Human resources back to a Director position and reduce that department.
7. Higher deductable for insurance.
8. Eliminate all curriculum director positions.
9. Eliminate afterschool programs.
10. Eliminate Gifted/Security position.
11. Reduce Assts. at GWHS by one position.
12. Drop Governors School
13. Close GED program and move to DCC.
14. Eliminate year round schooling.
15. Move central office to a closed school.
The remainder were person specific and were rather cruel so I chose not to print them. My daughter thought thry were funny but I felt it was a little much.
So the tribe has spoken. Come forward and extinquish their torches. Come school board, grow a pair.
Keep the letters coming to

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Budget Time Fantasies

As the new budget is getting ready for discussion the school board is preparing their fantasy proposal and their “draconian” budget cuts. It is an indication that spring is on the way as the ground around city hall will not be covered with snow but tons and tons of BS.
As is their usual procedure the board and administrators will moan and groan about “the children” when in reality they are trying to protect their sacred programs. One such program is the pre-school which they claim is the answer to all their problems. In reality it is a glorified babysitting program that produces no sustainable results. The school board cannot point to one single peer review based analysis of the preschool program that would show that it works. Children in this program may gain a little in the beginning but by grade four they have lost all benefits of the program. But the administration not only clings to this failure program but actually invested quite heavily in it with the construction of a new, and might I say, ugly addition to Johnson School.
DPS has a little over 6,000 students and is dropping at the rate of roughly 100 students a year with no end in sight. Yet the budget continues to rise and decreases in personnel do not match the drop in enrollment. In addition buildings are being kept open that are underutilized and need to be mothballed. Reducing overhead and personnel is the only way DPS will reach a balanced budget.
Unless the board takes a serious look at these issues there is no chance of cutting what needs to be cut. They need to wake up, look at the figures, and realize some drastic reductions are needed.
Attention potential school board candidates! Here is your platform. It will ring clear with the beleaguered citizens of Danville. Reduce, cut, and better use the money they have.
Now for our third annual “What to Cut” forum. Send in your suggestions for cuts to by February 15. The best will be printed and discussed. As always no one will be identified since we are all aware of the revenge nature of DPS. If the school board can’t do their job I guess it’s up to the citizens and employees of DPS to do it for them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

School Board Elections/Pre-school Debacle

As the end of the year approaches it becomes more imperative that individuals considering running for the school board begin the groundwork of collecting petitions and talking up their candidacy. This year is an important one since city council members are also up for election. From sources it appears that several interesting potential candidates are considering both boards. A widely respected businessman with critical views of the school board is considering a run. His intent is to get the board back on the “right track”. Specifically he wants a careful audit of all school board expenditures. He already has uncovered some questionable uses of funds. He has stated he will not be “a board yes man” but intends to ask questions that many people want to know the answers to but that school board members have been negligent in asking. This person is just one in a growing list of people who want to see real change and fiscal responsibility in regards to the city schools.
A common theme among all new candidates is the fact that the district needs to consolidate operations and close some underused facilities. There is simply no reason for some facilities to continue to operate with such low numbers. It is time the school district got off its high calorie diet and trimmed a little fat.
The district unwisely already has committed funds to an ill conceived pre-school program at Johnson. At one time pre-school programs were thought to give disadvantaged children a “leg up” on the learning process. Head Start was based on a few pilot programs, such as the Perry Preschool program, that were believed to be effective. Advocates asserted that a national preschool program for disadvantaged children would yield the same positive results. However, the 2010 Head Start Impact Study, a scientifically rigorous evaluation of multiple Head Start sites throughout the nation, found that the program is clearly ineffective. The program has had little to no positive effects for children granted access to Head Start. More recently, the General Accounting Office reported that there is simply no evidence that Head Start provides lasting benefits. Essentially, children end up back where they started. Those findings are consistent with 40 years of research on early intervention that shows that short-term benefits are possible but lasting gains are elusive.
So why is DPS investing so heavily in this program that has statistical evidence that it does not work? That’s a question for the new candidates to ask. And also ask why $600,000 has been thrown away while other students at Johnson are still learning in 20 plus year old trailers..........

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Ahhh back from hiatus. What has been happening while I was out of the country? Lets see. Same old thing? Hope not! Let’s look at the highlights:
Langston Focus School (is it still a focus school? Focus on what?) gains accreditation. Sounds good doesn’t it? But let’s look into it a little deeper. Danville hired a company to help them get accredited. So who did they hire? Pearson Educational Measurement. Now who designs and writes the SOL tests? Surprise! Pearson Educational Measurements. Despite the fact they were the high bidder Pearson was awarded a $139 million contract by the Commonwealth of Virginia to produce the SOL tests even though they were $35 million more than Harcourt Assessment. Well discussions of the wisdom of the DOE are for another day. The point here is simple, the same company that is helping Langston pass the SOL’s is the same company that is testing them. Conflict of interest? Perhaps but let’s look a little further.
Part of the Langston “plan” was that the state gives a little leeway to “special schools”. A part of that is that they do not have to meet the same requirements as other schools. So the fact that Langston is “accredited” takes on a new meaning. Let’s look at what accreditation means for Langston. Here are the “accredited” scores: English-59, Math-48,History-31, Science-39. Compare that to GWHS “accredited” scores: English-90, Math-82, History-75, Science-76.
So as you can see accredited rates don’t really mean much in Virginia’s watered down standards. How about NCLB (No Child Left Behind)? Ooops, they failed in every category. Another interesting statistic: Of the five teachers in the district provisionally licensed all five are at Langston! Way to go!
Again the cause of this problem is poor leadership from the top. The emperor has no clothes. THAT my friends, is the naked truth.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Odds and Ends

I have been negligent keeping up with the blog but things have been happening so fast. First, getting to the results of the worst ideas by DPS or the biggest waste of money, here they are in order of the most votes:
1) By far the most votes went to Chalk Talk. If there ever was a complete waste of money and time this is it. One person wrote “… watching a train wreck…” to describe the show. One described it as the Diane Locker Comedy Hour. How can you ask so many questions and then proceed to answer them also? Most one sided show on TV. Seriously, it is a ridiculous waste of money.
2) Langston School. Once a proud part of the DPS system it is now a holding pen for the alternative school disaster. The campus needs to be shut down to save money or until they find a reasonable use for the campus.
3) Surprise, surprise, The Galileo School came in Number 3. As one person stated “It is the golden child at the expense of everything else. The worst part is that it isn’t very good either…..”
4) The quality and experience of administrators. Many felt that principals around the city are the bottom of the barrel. Some noted the tendency to only hire people retiring from somewhere else. Waste of time and effort.
The rest of the votes were scattered among different issues, some very personal. But the votes show that many employees are very unhappy about the way things are being run. Please note school board: Your time is coming. A lot of interesting names surfacing about people who may run. More on that later.

Without a doubt the “mysterious raise” was the talk of the town. The explanation given defies all logic. The facts are simple. Anyone who has ever been on a board knows that you discuss the terms of a contract with a candidate prior to any vote. Therefore the superintendents knew she was getting a raise—first lie. Two weeks later she announces she knows nothing about it---second lie. Board vice chair tries to cover and just muddies the water. Teachers get no raise but super does? Credibility is at an all time low. Fail-superintendent. Kudos to Adam Tomer for calling the board’s hand. Hope he remembers it next year at budget time.