Commentary
(Feb. 5-March 27, 2006)
ANOTHER BIG PASS TO A BIG PLAYER
A LA MONTE MOSES AND SEAN ALLEN VIA JAY BENNISH
By Peyton Wolcott - March 27, 2006

Speaking of ERDI consultant and former Sweetwater Union High School District supe Ed Brand,
there were 1010 words in Chris Moran's San Diego Union-Tribune article Saturday about Gordon Siu,
the student at SUHSD's Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista who's having big problems with his
high school and district administration over the high school's goofy
"Senior Portfolio" requirement
(see Siu's statement at bottom of page).  Disappointing that none of Moran's 1010 words include either the first or the
last name of the district's new supe and Brand's successor,
Bruce Husson.  How did Husson keep his name out of
the story?   Is SUHSD running itself?  
Records show former
superintendent dined
frequently at district expense
By Gordon Siu, The Crusader
November 2005
Brand, who ended his
10-year leadership of the
district this summer to take a
job as superintendent of the
San Marcos Unified School
District,
was allowed the use
of a district-issued credit card
along with unrestricted use of
an Infiniti G-35 as part of his
contract with the school
district. Some, however,
question the enormous
expenditures of the former
superintendent at a time of
increasing budget crunches
and limited resources for
students.
Full story here:  
http://www.bvcrusader.com/issu
es/ Nov2005/
novemberpage1.pdf
GET ALONG, LITTLE DOGIES--TIME FOR ANOTHER RANDOM ROUNDUP
By Peyton Wolcott - March 27, 2006

Who's minding the store at our public schools?  How can so much be going on under so many well-paid noses?  
Maybe if our supes stayed home for a change and developed stronger internal controls--and stopped attending so
many edu-conferences where they get hornswoggled into buying bogus edu-programs that don't work--our educators
wouldn't be straying over so many lines.  From this past week:

Hayward, California PTA theft    Five people were arrested on suspicion of embezzling $56,000 in PTA
funds at
Lorin Eden Elementary School.  Former principal Mable Haskins, 58, agreed to turn herself in after learning
that
Hayward police had issued a $30,000 warrant for her arrest on three counts of grand theft by
embezzlement....Others arrested were
former PTA president Janet Castillo, 58; former PTA president Denise
Chew,
41; Chew's husband, Johnny Chew, 31, and son, Derick Thompson, 22; and Steven Airo, 31. All are Hayward
residents, and Airo is a close friend of the Chew family.
 (SOURCE--Ricci Graham/Daily Review)

DUI principal   Ricky No Northup, principal of Point Pleasant High School, was charged with
driving under the influence after his truck allegedly struck a parked car and he drove away without
stopping.  Northup, whose blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, has been
principal at PPHS for ten years.
 (SOURCE--WOWK-TV)

Maryland school secretary   Former Folly Quarter MS secretary Ethel Collette Kirk's
bond was revoked last week after Kirk failed to apper in court March 21.  Why she was due in court:  
Starting May 2003, "Kirk wrote numerous checks to herself for 'Cash' and forged the principal's
required signature on each check, school officials and police said.   Police allege Kirk concealed her
actions by
destroying canceled checks and by falsifying supporting documentation in the school records. Her
records falsely indicated that the checks had been written to vendors or, in some cases, fictional companies, police
said. The forged checks...total nearly $10,000, according to police."  
(SOURCE--Luke Broadwater/Columbia Flier)

Former Oelrichs, South Dakota school biz manager    Darcy Popescu t was sentenced Thursday
to 10 years in prison for stealing more than $90,000 from the school.   
(SOURCE--Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan)
SOMETIMES IT TAKES A MOM TO
STEP BACK AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE  
By Peyton Wolcott - March 26, 2006

Dianna Pharr of Austin-area Eanes ISD comments on her district's proposed bond
issue, coming as it does coupled with a request for
Cedar Creek Elementary
parent volunteers to bring their own lawn care equipment to do yardwork at a
"Spruce up for Spring" day.   The suggested lawn care equipment list parents are supposed to load into their cars
and lug to school includes  "Shovel, spade, pruning shears, hoe, rake; powerwasher, power blower (with extension
cord) and wheel barrow."  The parents are supposed to come spend a Sunday  "digging holes and planting new
plants, trimming existing plants, pulling up dead plants, spreading mulch, weeding."

Dianna responds:   
"So, let's see. We will provide yard maintenance (and all of the equipment needed) for the
school district and then write a check for an indoor athletic football field and some fancy sports equipment and
uniforms.   What's wrong with this picture?  How about getting the football players to do the yard maintenance
and we'll sit back and cheer?  I'll bring my own lawn chair."

Don't forget to bring your extension cords.
PUZZLING:  WHY DID THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE
POST AREA SUPE'S SALARIES THIS WEEK AFTER
IGNORING THE ISSUE FOR YEARS?
By Peyton Wolcott - March 18, 2006

Is the Houston Chronicle considering giving up its pro-public schools ideology in favor of
trying to boost circulation, using
National Sunshine Week as an excuse?  Folks in the
Houston area are still scratching their heads.  After years of giving The Big Pass to local
school superintendents, this past week the Chronicle featured several stories on area supe's pricey pay
packages, including cell phones and annuities and sick and vacation time accruals.  The question Houstonians have
been asking is:  Why didn't the Chronicle do this years ago?  

The stories were half-hearted, one example being
Katy ISD's Leonard Merrell whom reporter Sandra Bretting
compared with execs at nearby
ConocoPhillips, with Merrell allowed to mention his 12-15 hour days and the fact that
he earns less than the energy execs.
 Bretting conveniently overlooks the fact that the energy executives are held a
great deal more accountable than
Merrell will ever be at Katy ISD; for example, despite his $241,049 annual base
pay, under Merrell's tenure his school district is only ranked
"Academically Acceptable," one step above the
basement in a four-step system.   Any
ConocoPhillips CEO who turned in such lackluster performance year after year
would have been out the door long ago.   Another thorn in the side for local residents that
Bretting neglected to
mention is the fact that
Merrell has raised Katy ISD property taxes to the state's allowable max:  $2.00 per $100
valuation--and
he doesn't even live in Katy ISD but in Waller ISD, where property taxes are only $1.78.  As one
correspondent wrote, "We are all appalled by the arrogance of these superintendents, and Dr. Merrell's most of all."  
THE BIG PASS:  WHAT CRUCIAL SCHOOL NEWS
IS YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER NOT REPORTING?
By Peyton Wolcott - March 15, 2006

When Newark, New Jersey residents read reporter John Mooney's story yesterday in the
Newark Star-Ledger on the New Jersey Commission of Investigation's report, "Taxpayers
Beware:  What You Don’t Know Can Cost You--An Inquiry Into Questionable and Hidden
Compensation for Public School Administrators,"
they must have thought compared to the
rest of Jersey everything was A-OK in Newark public schools because while Mooney's report
singles out
Teaneck and Long Branch and Bergen County by name, Newark gets the big leave-
alone.   Was his report-on-the-report accurate?  No.   Here at right are the three references to Newark the Star-Ledger
didn't share with its readers.  The third's well known; if I lived in Newark I'd want to know about the first two.
 (See
lavender box below right)

PW QUERY (MAR. 15, 2006) TO NEWARK STAR-LEDGER REPORTER JOHN MOONEY, PUBLISHER GEORGE
ARWADY,
and GENERAL MANAGER MARK W. NEWHOUSE as to the reason for this omission; will publish their
response when it is received.
THE MIAMI HERALD'S BIG PASS TO IMPLICATED
ADMINISTRATORS AT MIAMI-DADE CPS
By Peyton Wolcott - March 15, 2006

Reporter Matthew I. Pinzur in today's Miami Herald similarly either spins or omits on behalf
of MDCPS brass, you decide.  

Here's the background:  In September 2003, American Senior HS
principal Louis Algaze told teacher Bennett Packman to get his drivers ed certification through MDCPS teacher
William McCoggle's
operation MOTET so he (Packman) could teach drivers ed at American.  Fine.  Except that when
Packman looked into MOTET and it quickly became apparent the credentials were phony, Packman blew the whistle.  
McCoggle's been convicted and is in jail.   There's a MDCPS board meeting tonight to decide the employment fate of
some of the teachers who received MOTET creds--and the district's investigation crawls forward.

According to Pinzur,
Miami Beach Senior High PE teacher Jose Moran's attorney Juan Gonzalez said "the
investigation should include principals and other administrators who urged the teachers to use
McCoggle's
services.  
[MDCPS supe Rudy] Crew spokesman Joseph Garcia said only one teacher had implicated a
principal--
Bennett Packman, whose allegations led to McCoggle's indictment."

The average reader reading this would think only one principal was involved.

Read it again.  Gonzalez suggests the investigation should include principals and other administrators.  Yet when
MDCPS spinmeister (and
National School Public Relations Ass'n member) Joseph Garcia states that Bennett
Packman
only implicated a principal, not only does he omit the name of Louis Algaze (the principal at American
Senior High School
who suggested to Packman that he obtain what would be phony drivers ed teaching credentials
through McCoggle's
MOTET) as he has for the two-plus years the story has developed, but also Pinzur leaves out the
other administrators' names Packman has brought to Pinzur and the rest of the press for the past two years:

o        Then
-American Senior High School ass't principal Gale Cunningham who handled curriculum while at ASHS,
now at
Miami Norland Senior HS.
o        Margarita Alemany-Moreno, former MDCPS assistant superintendent for Region 1, gone missing since
leaving MDCPS.
o       
 Jayne Greenburg, executive director-Life Skills & Special Projects for MDCPS, including the Physical Education
program which was how the MOTET drivers' ed program was administered.

And of course, there's
MDCPS supe Rudy Crew, the guy getting the really big bucks who has gotten the really big
pass on the entire MOTET mess.
PW QUERY TO MATTHEW I. PINZUR/MIAMI HERALD  (MAR. 15, 2006):   Matthew, wondering why you only reported
that
Bennett Packman "implicated a principal" when Juan Gonzalez' charge on the table from your previous
sentence (see above) was that "other administrators" should also be investigated.  From your reporting, you
apparently didn't press
Joseph Garcia for more information.   If you pressed Garcia and he volunteered more
information, why didn't you report it?   This is especially curious given that Packman dispersed information to the
local press implicating several administrators during the 2004-05 school year to which you apparently never
followed through.   
QUERY TO MIAMI HERALD EXECUTIVE EDITOR TOM FIEDLER AND MANAGING EDITOR JUDY MILLER:   Is this
official or informal Miami Herald policy to give what I call "The Big Pass" to local school districts and especially local
school administrators?   American Senior High School principal
Louis Algaze and others appear to have achieved
your protection rather than warranted your investigation.  
AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS' SECRET WAR
By Peyton Wolcott - March 12, 2006

Newspapers in America are waging a war against parents and taxpayers, and most parents and taxpayers
don't even know about it.   

Because newspapers are committed to defending their economic partners, the local school districts with whom
they have a vested interest in presenting a positive face to bankers and realtors and all other members of the
business community, they are mostly publishing only the "good news" about their local schools.  This means
parents and taxpayers are not receiving what many of us consider to be the real news, news about cronyism and
waste and fraudulent spending by school district administrators and trustees.

Most often, if a local newspaper does any real reporting, it's because a parent or a taxpayer has brought them
irrefutable proof of wrongdoing, as in the example of
Rene Amy's bringing critical information to Cleveland, Ohio
about their lead superintendent candidate--where the local reporters hadn't uncovered it on their own, where Bill
Attea's
supe search firm hadn't produced the information, and Pasadena USD'ds Percy Clark, the supe
candidate, had not been forthcoming.
 (See next story below)
As another example, last January the Dallas Morning-News' Austin-based "state education
issues" writer
Terry Stutz and I both attended the same TASA Midwinter Conference in
Austin.   Stutz confined his reporting  to Democratic former comptroller John Sharp's plans
for a business tax to solve the state's school finance problems; read
Stutz' only reference to
the
TASA edu-event for yourself:  "Mr. Sharp outlined some of the tax options in a speech to
school superintendents and administrators from across the state during their annual
mid-winter conference in Austin."
"Stilton at the Hilton"
Gee.  I went to the same event and sat through the same speech, came back
with information about
Sharp's two offensive jokes and a story with a
photograph of supes wining and dining
(see "Stilton at the Hilton" in "Hot off
the Press!"
above left), the school exec's booze paid for under questionable
circumstances which I'm still investigating via the
Texas Public Information Act.
Let's take a closer look:  Terry Stutz won the Texas Schools Public Relations Association's 2005 "Media Award"
for
"communicating the good news of public education."   Think this award goes to the reporter doing
investigative stories about fraud and corruption and theft by administrators and trustees?  Think again.

Which brings us to another issue.

The big pass
Why do our newspapers question, say,  the Bush Administration on every possible statement and expenditure,
conducting their own in-depth investigations, whereas public schools in America get what I call "The Big Pass"?   

It goes like something like this:
Okay, Mr. Administrator, you say your district needs more money because you're broke?  And cows can fly?  
Hmmmm, let's weigh this:  I've got a mortgage and two car payments and my editor and publisher have made
it clear that if I want to remain employed here I need to go easy on public ed.   Okay, sir, let me just jot this
down on my BlackBerry, your lips to tomorrow's front page.  
And tomorrow the story runs under the headline, "Crisis alert!   District officials confirm
schools desperately need more money!   Elementary students dodging flying cows!"   

Follow the money
Newspapers even in small towns represent sizeable investments, and the economic
stakes in cities are staggering.  For instance, the
Houston Chronicle's physical plant alone
is appraised at over
$20 million, while the most recent estimated annual earnings reported
for
Hearst, the Chronicle's parent corporation, were $3.7 billion.   Hold investments of this
size and you become not only cautious for what you've already got but you must also
ensure your investment increases in value.  All perfectly understandable.  But all of these
factors taken together are hobbling newspapers' reportage of their local schools.

Thank God and algore for the Internet
The Internet is finally bringing a degree of accountability to our public schools.  People with
facts are getting the truth out there and parents and taxpayers, hungry for real news, are
eager consumers.  Individuals like
Rene Amy (featured below) are pressing for answers.  
People like
Rene Amy know cows can't fly.  
The Houston Chronicle
occupies an entire city
block in DT Houston.
(SOURCE/Houston
Chronicle)
ACHTUNG!   VERBOTEN!
THE INTERVIEW A MAJOR NEWSPAPER DOESN'T WANT YOU TO READ
By Peyton Wolcott - March 12, 2006

What could possibly be threatening to a newspaper about running an interview?  Yet twice now this month almost the
identical thing has happened.  Here's how it unfolded this last time:  
A reporter from a major newspaper
somewhere in the U.S.
(a large city with Pacific, Atlantic and Great Lakes views, situated in the middle of a vast
desert next to snow-capped mountain peaks) contacted me
Thursday to set up an interview for their Sunday
coverage
of National Sunshine Week, saying, "You're going to be my lead--I'd like to use you as an example and
promote your web site."
 Wow, and thank you.  Then when I emailed my responses an hour later to his/her
questions his/her comment was "Excellent."  But the reporter hadn't vetted my name with his/her editors, so within 27
hours yours truly went from being the lead to being dropped for "space reasons."  
Space reasons, my foot.  Think
perhaps somebody finally thought to check out this website?   Virtually the same thing happened to a friend last
month.   
Yet more proof the newspapers are running scared.   By the way, the Sunshine celebration that paper ran
this morning mentioned not a single word about public schools.   The topics are the reporter's.  (See "Interview,
continued" below, blue boxes)
SHINING A LIGHT WHERE IT'S DARK:  
A SALUTE TO PUBLIC SCHOOL
PUBLIC RECORDS ACTIVIST RENE AMY
By Peyton Wolcott - March 12, 2006

NEWS FROM CALIFORNIA:   Rene Amy's been busy--and productive.

When Pasadena USD refused to release its records regarding the
makeup of its
marching band entry in the 2006 Tournament of
Roses Parade
, he filed a public records lawsuit which led to
headlines across California regarding the district's heretofore-unknown use of ringers, Amy points out that "
only
after the lawsuit was filed did PUSD officials acknowledge that more than a fourth of the members of the band
were not enrolled in the district,
but rather were select 'neighbors' who came from up to 100 miles away. The
ringers deserve recognition for their efforts in making the district look good," he says. "They thanked all these kids
from Pasadena for their performance, but
they didn't thank the kids who were ringers — the kids who covered
Pasadena Unified's butt. They cooked up this plan to make Pasadena look better. It was like Professor Harold Hill
in 'The Music Man'':  It was, 'Let's all have a band!'   
But how can you do that when you don't have a cohesive
music program in your schools?"
 (SOURCE--Bob Pool/LA Times)  
Then, shortly after filing the lawsuit, Amy discovered that PUSD supe Percy Clark had applied for the top
superintendent spot in
Cleveland, Ohio, and had in fact made it to the top of the field.  Further, despite Hazard,
Young and Attea's
$50,000 price tag for conducting the search, Cleveland had not been made aware of Percy's
history, so Rene made a few phone calls.  
"Schools finalist took overdose after affair," read the headline on
Janet Okoben's story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on March 3, which went on to state, "Percy Clark, one of five
semifinalists for the top Cleveland job, was superintendent of schools in
Lawrence Township, Ind., for 14 years.
He was suspended and then resigned in 1996 after board members discovered his
extramarital relationship with
an elementary school principal,
according to news reports. Days after resigning, Clark was taken to a hospital for
an
overdose of antidepressants, the Los Angeles Times reported. Clark, now superintendent of schools in
Pasadena, Calif., withdrew from consideration Thursday."   
Congratulations also to Rene; next Sunday is the fifth anniversary of his listserve:   http://groups.yahoo.
com/group/greatschools
  
For more on
Hazard, Young and Attea, see Bill Attea's bio here www.peytonwolcott.com/AdminEdAsAz.html      
For more on
Rene Amy:  www.peytonwolcott.com/SuccessStories.html
CHERRY CREEK SD LETS BENNISH
BACK INTO THE CLASSROOM TO MAKE MORE
MAYHEM--BUT WHERE'S SUPE MONTE MOSES?
By Peyton Wolcott - March 10, 2006

Not only has Cherry Creek's board allowed geography teacher Jay Bennish to resume his
teaching duties, but so also has
CCSD supe Monte Moses continued to completely avoid the
spotlight other than to issue a statement which includes this:  "The controversy is regrettable in
many respects, with strained relationships and upsetting emotional impact."  How like a supe to
emphasize relationships and emotions.

Jim Spencer of the Denver Post doesn't get it:   Writes Spencer today, "You've got to wonder why
the student who recorded Bennish and his parents took the recording to talk radio before the
Overland principal or the Cherry Creek superintendent."   Chain-of-command might still be
alive in the military and in corporate America, but K-12 public school principals and their supes
are possibly the least helpful class of individuals most of us have ever encountered.   Keep your
MP3 at the ready,
Sean Allen.
Cherry Creek
School District's
Monte Moses
NOT avoiding the
spotlight at AASA
February 2005
convention in San
Antonio, Texas
when accepting
AASA National
Supe of the Year
award (dangling
from blue ribbon)
CONNECTING THE DOTS:  
EDUCATION, INC.'S SMALL, SMALL WORLD
By Peyton Wolcott - March 5, 2006

The perfect media storm arising from Colorado's Cherry Creek School District supe Monte Moses' geography
teacher Jay Bennish's
"pretty much daily" leftist political rants shines the light on one small corner of Education, Inc.
.  .
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  
.  .  .  .
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
1.  Mike Moses was Texas Education Commissioner at the time of our state's un-accountability debacle,
and he is also a former  
Dallas ISD supe who earned the highest supe salary  in the U.S. ($400,000+)--and
an
Education Research & Development Institute (ERDI) consultant (see Education, Inc. link above left).
2.  Monte Moses (Mike's younger brother by 3 years) is supe of the
Cherry Creek Schools District
in suburban Denver.  He is also
last year's
American Ass'n of School Administrators (AASA)
National Superintendent of the Year
--and like his brother Mike
also an
ERDI consultant.
3.  CCPS geography teacher Jay Bennish, currently on leave from
his duties at Overland High Schoo, is "being investigated for
making biased, anti-President Bush comments in class during a
discussion of the State of the Union speech last month," reports
Tillie Fong of the Rocky Mountain News, who also reported that
"the school district did not learn about Bennish's lecture until last
Wednesday, when it received an e-mail about it from an
out-of-state person who had seen an online column on it written by
Walter Williams on www.townhall.com"
(Ibid.)--although there are
other reports that parents had previously complained to both the
district and
Overland's principal Jana Frieler but the parental
complaints had fallen on deaf ears.
 (PW status:  Investigating.)   
Bennish's "course description," presumably from last fall, instructs
students to
 "Please read the class syllabi, then sing and print
your name at the bottom of this page.  Thank you."
  Uh, sing In
the key of what?  Perhaps the
AASA Singing Superintendents
could travel to Colorado and lend a hand, sort this all out.
4.  Bennish's one-sided lib rants finally drove 16-year old student
Sean Allen
to give a tape of Bennish's Feb. 1, 2006 rant to his
father, Jeffrey Allen, who sent it to columnist Walter Williams.
5.  The MP3--the technology that has made it possible for
Bennish's so-called teaching to come under national scrutiny.  
Before the MP3, students had to use bulky--not to mention
noisy--manual tape recorders.
6.  Conservative columnist Walter Williams published information
regarding Bennish in his article, "Indoctrination of our youth" on
Feb. 22, 2006.   
NOTE:  For the complete text see bottom right
corner this page.
7.  Radio host Mike Rosen, who broke the story locally on 850KOA,
says, "caller reaction was 'overwhelmingly' against Mr. Bennish.  
'I've had more e-mail response to this than any issue in years.   
Callers have been overwhelmingly angry at Jay Bennish.' "  
(SOURCE--Valerie Richardson/The Washington Times)
8.  Sean Hannity has reported the story both on Fox News and his
daily radio program.  To his credit, Hannity encouraged listeners to
follow student Sean Allen's example and tape more teachers
similarly using their classrooms as bully pulpits.
9.  Michelle Malkin has published the entire transcript of Bennish's
Feb. 1 comments on her blog:  
www.michellemalkin.com
10.  Bill O'Reilly has also reported the story on Fox.
1. Monte Moses' former CCPS ass't supe Nola Wellman left her
job with Moses in suburban Denver to move to suburban Austin to
become
Eanes ISD's supe.  For more on Mrs. Wellman, see "The
Supe stays at the Adolphus" and "$35 Late Fee" at
www.peytonwolcott.com/hotoffthepress.html
2.  Mike Kneale, founder of ERDI.
NOTE:  Neither Wellman nor Kneale appear to be fans of the
public's use of cameras as an accountability tool; more coming
soon.  
Pro-tolerance 'no insults'
letter from Bennish to
parents and students
As your history teacher, it is necessary
to inform both of you as to the nature
and make up of my class.
Two of the
primary tenets of my class are
respect and tolerance.
The
classroom must be a safe learning
environment. As such, all students are
entitled to their own opinions and
beliefs.
Students will not be
permitted to insult or belittle others
in the class, respect is paramount,
tolerance is also extremely
important.  
Students will be treated as
adults, as long as they demonstrate
mature, responsible behavior. Since
discussions and participation are a
significant part of my class, all
students must feel comfortable
sharing their ideas.  
  
(SOURCE--CCSD, undated)
Walter Williams on Bennish
"During this class session, Mr.
Bennish peppered his 10th-grade
geography class with other
statements like:  
The U.S. has engaged in '7,000
terrorist attacks against Cuba.'
 In
his discussion of capitalism, he told
his students,
'Capitalism is at odds
with humanity, at odds with caring
and compassion and at odds with
human rights.'   
Regardless of whether you're
pro-Bush or anti-Bush, pro-American
or anti-American, I would like to know
whether there's anyone who believes
the teacher's remarks were
appropriate for any classroom setting,
much less a high school geography
class.
It's clear the students aren't being
taught geography. They're getting
socialist lies and propaganda.   
 
According to one of the parents, on
the first day of class, the teacher said
Karl Marx's 'Communist Manifesto'
would be a part of the curriculum."
 
(Emphasis added)
NOTE:  For the complete text see
bottom right corner this page.
WHY IS MONTE MOSES HIDING
BEHIND HIS SPOKESWOMAN'S SKIRTS?
By Peyton Wolcott -March 4, 2006

Cherry Creek School District's public information officer Tustin Amole
is the only district official to which ANY the press have referred in
coverage of
CCSD teacher Jay "Bush is like Hitler" Bennish's rant to his
10th grade geography class, taped by
student Sean Allen on his MP3
on Feb. 1.  Even
Fox New's Bill O'Reilly has thus far given CCSD supe
Monte Moses
a pass.  In fact, when the press comes around,
superintendent Moses is nowhere in sight

Why?  Do the
Cherry Creek schools run themselves?

Moses appeared to have been eager enough for national recognition
when he traveled to San Antonio in February 2005 to accept the
American Association of School Administrators' "National
Superintendent of the Year" award
at the AASA annual convention.  
(For more about this see photos at
www.peytonwolcott.com/Wherearetheynow.html)

Again, do the Cherry Creek schools run themselves?

Surely not.  Moses' last reported income (2005) was
$210,000--pretty
safe to say that his board considers him their go-to guy for running their
district, for making sure CCSD meets its goals.  "Excellence cannot be
left to chance. Excellence is about what happens in the present,
requiring our very best effort every moment of every day. It is a
demanding standard, and is at the heart of our vision for Cherry Creek,"
he says.
Cherry Creek SD public
information officer Tustin Amole
in front of news cameras
above--with supe Monte Moses
(below)  nowhere in sight.
SUNSHINE UPDATE
MAR. 4, 2006/PW
Called CCSD yesterday at 3 p.m. CST to
request salary amounts
Monte Moses
and
Tustin Amole; started wtih their
media department which transferred
me to their
human resources dep't
whose Sue Sweeney (exec. secy't to
HR ass't supe
Steve McGrath) said of
her boss, "He's received a written
communication to not release any
information at all."   Which leaves us
again with the question:  Is CCPS a
private corporation or is it a
governmental entity funded by taxpayers
and answerable to the
Freedom of
Information Act
and Colorado's Open
Records Act?
Also pretty safe to say that Amole doesn't make anywhere near
$210,000 a year.  (See follow up below in red box)  

Enter the curious world of
National School Public Relations
Association
members such as Amole and Terry Abbott (see
www.peytonwolcott.com/AdminEdAaAld.html) whose job is to take it on the
chin for their higher-earning bosses.   As
Texas SPRA president
Candace Ahlfinger
of  Waxahachie ISD says,  "Our job is always
going to be to put our company or our school in the most positive
light.  You would expect that of
Lockheed or Bank of America or
whatever school district.  Basically, we're a company."
 
(SOURCE--Dave Lieber/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

And we've all been thinking our forced property taxes are supporting
government schools.   But the districts want it both ways:  They want
us to have to support them with our taxes, but they want to run
themselves like private companies.

Okay, kids.  Time to get out your MP3's.
IT'S HIGH NOON IN PUBLIC EDUCATION:
DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR SUPE IS?
By Peyton Wolcott - March 3, 2006

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) is hosting its
annual edu-conference this week
(March 6-9, 2006) at the Hyatt
Regency Crystal City
in Arlington, Virginia.  There's also
CoSN/ISTE/SIIA Washington Advocacy Training and Events (March
7-8, 2006) also at the Hyatt.  And
CoSN’s 5th Annual International
Symposium
(March 8-9, 2006) at the World Bank in Washington,
D.C.
  

QUESTION:  Is your supe telling you he/she is going to a
"symposium" when in actual fact he/she is attending a "free" gala
featuring an opportunity for a
"A San Diego Bar Crawl for use at
NECC Conference"?  
 The National Education Computing
Conference
(July 5-7, 2006) claims to feature "the Largest Ed Tech
Exhibit" and is probably right--it's the granddaddy of tech
conferences.   The technical name for the gala is
"A Night of
Empowering Ed Tech Advocates: CoSN's 2nd Annual Advocacy
Reception and Silent Auction."   
For more information, go to
"What's Wrong," link above left, scroll down to bottom, below red
box..
HARD AT WORK AT THE HYATT?
Check your district's policy:  Most
supes consider their attendance at
edu-conferences workdays,
not holidays or vacation days.
Living large the
Ackerman way:  
Jardiniere in SF (top left),
Mandarin Oriental  (inset)
ACKERMAN'S $325,000+ BAILOUT = 10 TEACHERS' SALARIES
By Peyton Wolcott - February 23, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO USD'S SUPE LIVING HIGHER ON THE HOG THAN THE MAYOR San Francisco Unified's
superintendent
Arlene Ackerman has been claiming the kids come first but once again Arlene has proven that
Arlene comes first.  Why else would she be treating herself to a $325,000+ bailout--plus unused sick and vacation
time--when she leaves SFUSD in a few months?  Why not leave it on the table if she's really "for the kids"--$325,000
equals ten starting teachers' salaries.  As the San Francisco Bay Guardian points out in their editorial this week,
"Symbolism is a big part of running any institution, and when it's a public institution, the way things look really
matters.  So even if the
$84,000 that top school officials in San Francisco spent on travel and meals in 2005 is just
a small fraction of the district's budget, it looks terrible for the superintendent of a district that's closing schools for
budget reasons to be eating meals at fancy restaurants and staying in $350-a-night hotel rooms on the public
dime.  The
mayor of San Francisco doesn't do that:  When Gavin Newsom travels, he abides by the city's rules,
which limit reimbursable hotel and food expenses to about $200 a day.  
[Newsom] doesn't have a city credit card,
as Ackerman does
(in fact, as Tali Woodward reported last week, nobody in city government gets a credit card)."
 
According to Woodward's public records searches, Newsom spent "a grand total of $2,265.69 on official travel" this
past year, compared with Ackerman's
$45,000--on a single credit card (Diners Club).
NOTED:  No SF teacher pay raises in 4 years-- while their supe lives it up in high style.
Re JARDINIERE, site of Ackerman's working lunches:  "Service to die for.  Wine prices that'll kill
you.....The food is top-shelf, if not life-changing.  The service is the best I've experienced in years of
San Francisco dining....Jardiniere is strictly on the 'nobody's looking at my expense account' list
rather than the 'special occasions with loved ones' list.
 (SOURCE--Stephen Howard-Sarin/AMAZON.COM)
WHAT WAS ANN ARBOR'S BOARD THINKING?
By Peyton Wolcott - February 22, 2006

Whose bright idea was it to include superintendent George Fornero in the
board of education's formal portrait for its website at right?  This scene
paints entirely too cozy a picture.  No wonder the board hasn't been able to
get a straight answer this past year from Fornero re the new high school
construction project --now a year late and $3.3 million over budget.  
Perhaps he's been too busy posting weekly "Good News" updates on the
district website.  And
Ann Arbor Public School's director of
communications
Liz Nowland-Margolis?  As of today, her latest posted
press release on the district's website is dated 2003, re the 2001/02 AYP.   
What does she do all day?

Status?  Two days after the board finally called for an audit so they could finally get to the bottom of their district's
construction fiasco, Fornero announced his departure for greener pastures.  
Follow up:   Have today queried
Fornero, Margolis and the board, awaiting their response(s).
SAN FRANCISCO USD'S ARLENE ACKERMAN:
ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING
By Peyton Wolcott - February 11, 2006

Here we go again.  

Watching
Arlene Ackerman depart San Francisco public schools is like
watching a train wreck.   You know it's going to be big and noisy and messy
and you can't not look.   And there's not a blessed thing you can do about it
even if you're a sitting SFUSD board member because what needs to be
done you as a board member should have done years ago.

First there were the clues from Ackerman's earlier employment history:  Wouldn't you think twice about hiring a
disgrunted employee who sued her employer (University City School District in Missouri) in 1992 for $200,000 then
settled then refused her old job when it was offered back, even after having won the concessions for which she
sued?
 (Source for the $200,000 figure:  Jay Mathews of the Washington Post.)   (For more, see Ackerman's bio on my
"Administrators on the Move, Educators in the News" page, link at left.)
Then there was the July 2004 piece in a major American paper clearly listing
Ackerman as an
ERDI consultant.  (For more, see my "Education, Inc." page, link at left.)  
Far from alarms going off in the SFUSD board room, this appeared to have elicited
nary a comment--none that appeared in print, anyway.  Did the SFUSD trustees
even know?
 If not, why not?  And where was the San Francisco press?  Well, we
know where one was--
Heather Knight of the Chronicle was letting Ackerman pick
up her meal tab at a pricey eaterie
(see "The Media" page).   

PW NOTE:  I first wrote Ackerman on January 2 asking about her side consulting,
got an evasive answer a few days later on January 5 then immediately asked her
again, this time specifically about Broad
(The Broad Foundation) but Ackerman has
still--six weeks later--to respond.   
(See "Administrators on the Move" page (Aa-Ald))
Side question
about supes'
side consulting
Why aren't our boards taking
a closer look at their supe's
consulting activities?  Side
consulting by
superintendents
can be lethal for districts, a
la  Yvonne Katz at Spring
Branch ISD in Houston.  
Ackerman bails with a $375,000 "be nice" parachute--plus $45,000+  for travel, meals
And at this late date we have the SFUSD trustees asking Ackerman to leave behind the $375,000 "be nice or I'll take
my toys and leave" settlement for which she asked and to which they agreed back in November 2004.   

The SFUSD board appears to have just recently thought about looking into Ackerman's personal spending--which
this past year surpassed the $45,000 mark for travel and meals.   HELLO.  You don't hand any employee anywhere a
piece of plastic and then not check in on them from time to time.  But this is typical of most school boards in America.

One of Ackerman's more extravagant trips was connected with
The Broad Foundation awards ceremony in
Washington, D.C. (she was named as a finalist).   Ackerman "signed the tab for a $789 dinner last Sept. 18" at
Morton's; other trip costs included "hotel charges of more than $3,500, another $559 meal, $144 for airport parking,
and–you guessed it–another trip to Morton's (this one costing only $277).  It does not appear from the records that the
Broad Foundation covered any of these expenses, though it is noted that the foundation paid for Ackerman's own
room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel."  
(SOURCE--Tali Woodward/San Francisco Bay Guardian)   

And now comes the bonus round:  Ackerman's hired an attorney, claiming she's being "harassed" because the
board's looking at her spending.  
"I’m not going to be villainized on my way out,”  she said.  (SOURCE--Bonnie
Eslinger/San Francisco Examiner)

A disgruntled employee who sued her school district in 1992 would be likely to do so again.  Leopards don't change
their spots.
FURTHER EVIDENCE OF THE TOTAL INCAPACITY OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS
TO MONITOR THEMSELVES
By Peyton Wolcott - February 10, 2006

On the off chance you're tempted to buy some of the propaganda put out
lately from American Ass'n of School Administrators that our public schools
are providing "a high-quality education" or similar stuff from the National
School Boards Ass'n or NEA, etc., here's a sampling of headlines from
around the country from just
the past two days:

"Parents in Carlisle [Massachusetts] are reeling from news that the school
district's
food service director was arrested and charged earlier this week
in Dracut on charges related to sexual behavior toward children.  
Dennis
Dockham
, 43, of Dracut, was arrested in Dracut Tuesday and charged with one count of posing a child for sexual
photos
and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14."  (SOURCE--Boston Globe)

A dozen parents confronted
Longview, Texas superintendent Dana Marable [above right] at a public meeting last
night, citing
a need for stronger discipline and academics at the high school."  Regarding fights which brought police
cars to the high school, parents "were alarmed at how superintendent Dana Marable handled the notification of
parents."  
(SOURCE--Longview News-Journal)

"The principal of Hampton Bays High School [New York] made harassing, sexually charged phone
calls
to women, including teachers and a former student at a school where he used to teach, Suffolk
police said yesterday.  
Frank Vetro, 34, who rose quickly through school administration ranks to
become principal in August, was arrested Wednesday as he was leaving the campus and charged
with seven counts of second-degree aggravated harassment, police said."
 (SOURCE--Newsday)  
NOTE:  As of today Vetro is still shown on the Hampton Bays Secondary School website as assistant
principal; the district's banner states, "Building the Future, Child by Child."
ww.hbschools.us/schools/secondary.asp

Hamady High School ass't principal Kirk Cannon, 42, "was arrested for marijuana possession and
driving with a suspended license after a traffic stop in
Vienna Township [Michigan], according to the sheriff's
department."  
(SOURCE--Flint Journal)

"Police in Winston-Salem, North Carolina are investigating allegations of
sexual activity between a 17-year-old student and [teacher Susan Wiseman]
at East Forsyth High School.  According to a statement released by the Winston-
Salem/Forsyth County School System, the alleged incidents happened between
February and May of last year but weren't reported until last month."  
(SOURCE--WFMY News 2 )

"The third-largest school district in New Jersey is Paterson. It also is known as
The Money Tree. During the tenure of former Schools
Superintendent Edwin
Duroy
, more than $50 million was mismanaged. Duroy was replaced and a
criminal investigation continues. On Monday, the former facilities director, James M. Cummings Jr., pleaded guilty to
bribery. He admitted to taking nearly $50,000 in cash and services from district contractors."  
(SOURCE--NorthJersey.com)

"Fired Copper Hills High School [Utah] teacher Melinda Lee Deluca has been accused of having sex with one of
her students
when he was 16.  Deluca, 29, who taught American Sign Language, was charged Thursday in 3rd District
Court in West Jordan with two counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse."  
(SOURCE--Casper Star Tribune)
INDICTED ARIZONA SUPE KEEPS JOB
By Peyton Wolcott - February 5, 2006
COMPILED BY GORDON SIU FOR THE CRUSADER
LETTER TO THE EDITOR RE SUHSD'S SENIOR PORTFOLIOS

Why today's seniors chafe at graduation requirement
By Gordon Siu - December 29, 2005
San Diego Union-Tribune

The recent decision by the Sweetwater Union High School District
board to eliminate the senior portfolio requirement for graduation
beginning next year serves as a major victory for South County
students, but the fight is not yet over.

Supporters of the portfolio requirement mistakenly believe that it
prepares students for future careers by developing
communications skills and demonstrating student achievement.
 As
this nation continues to fall behind countries such as Japan and
Germany in math, science and other areas of learning, there are still
those in America who seek to move educational progress backward.

For the last several months, I have led a group of high school seniors
in the district to protest the portfolio requirement.  Opposition to the
requirement is not the opinion of a vocal minority of students, but is
one held by the vast majority of students in the district.

During the last school board meeting, it was reported by one area
superintendent that there was an almost even divide among schools
over the elimination of the portfolios.  This is not an issue about
teachers doing what is best for their students, but instead, it is about
the perception of high standards of education.

While it is nice to think that one assignment could demonstrate a
student's proficiency in the skills required to succeed in life, this
Pollyanna view that some have taken has led to an increased workload
for students with few, if any, benefits.

The portfolio consists of a repetition of useless paperwork –
transcripts, resumés, job and college applications, attendance records
– in addition to pointless reflections about certain pieces of work and a
student's overall "high school career."

It is important to note that although portfolios are excellent tools to
market oneself to potential employers, the high school exit portfolio
does not serve the same benefits. It is almost a joke to hear some
board members tout what seems to be the portfolio's magical ability to
instill communications and life skills in students, which apparently
make up for four years of lousy instruction.

Smoke-and-mirror tricks like the portfolio are not new in this district. Up
until a change in course by Interim Superintendent Bruce Husson last
month, students in the district have for years been footing the bill for an
annual $25,000 Hall of Fame Gala honoring successful district alumni,
which purportedly "inspires students to reach their full potentials by
honoring former students with Sweetwater success stories."

When voters approved a $187 million bond in 2000 to improve and
modernize school facilities, Sweetwater used the money to first build
new gymnasiums which the district could show off to the public. Isn't it
time that we see through the dog and pony show that has now taken
the form of senior portfolios?

For many adults, it has been a long while since they last sat in a
classroom. A lot has changed in education in the past decades. With
increasing competition to get into college, students are facing more
work and more stress than ever to edge out the competition and find a
place in the halls of higher education. The portfolio requirement only
adds to the work which students must do in the final stretch of their
high school years.

Teachers, already burdened with ever-increasing standards and
expectations, must find time to cover the requirements, mentor
students and grade portfolios.

Many of the portfolio's opponents are not burnouts and slackers, but
are honor students taking the most rigorous courses their schools
have to offer. They have jobs to earn some spending money or to
support their families. They volunteer at libraries or homeless shelters
to give back to their communities. And they participate in activities in
and out of school.

By eliminating the portfolio requirement, we are not headed down a
slippery slope of lower expectations, but are adapting to the realities of
the times. Students in today's world have more things to do and more
expected of them than those of any past generation. Should we throw
out four years of work and deny a student his diploma because he
failed to meet one person's obtuse definition of achievement?

At the beginning of this school year, a Chula Vista police officer
reminded our class that this is the year when we all become adults.
There will no longer people holding our hands and guiding us through
every step of life, but instead, we must take responsibility for ourselves.

At the time of this writing, more that 100 students have signed an
online petition – one day after it was created – asking that "student
interests be put ahead of political gain by members of the board."

Board members do not sit in classrooms seven hours a day, but we
do. We have made the conscious decision that we would be better
served by not completing the senior portfolio and exhibition. We are no
longer children, but are adults capable of making decisions for
ourselves. We have decided not to jump through hoops to make our
schools look a little better.

If the board should ignore our will – and that of about half of the
teachers in the district – then our schools will begin to look less like
places of learning, and more like prisons.

I speak on behalf of the majority of students in the Sweetwater Union
High School District when I ask that the senior portfolio requirement
remain permanently eliminated. As elected officials, the school board's
job is to serve us. Not the other way around.
By the Numbers:   Brand’s expenditures from 2000-2005
$59,000 total spent
640 meals eaten
$18,157 in auto expenses
$15 average spent on car wash
$628 spent on Jamba Juice (Dec. 2003)
$1,017 meal at Bob’s on the Bay (Dec. 2003)
$70 purchase at Neiman Marcus (Nov. 2002)

For a look at Brand’s expenditures go online:   http://bvcrusader.com/public/brand.xml
Records show former superintendent dined frequently at
district expense
By Gordon Siu, MANAGING EDITOR
The Crusader

Former Sweetwater Union High School District Superintendent Edward
Brand
spent more than $15,000 last year on his district-issued credit card
for meals and automobile expenses.  

Brand, who ended his 10-year leadership of the district this summer to
take a job as superintendent of the
San Marcos Unified School District,
was allowed the
use of a district-issued credit card along with
unrestricted use of an I
nfiniti G-35 as part of his contract with the school
district. Some, however, question the enormous expenditures of the
former superintendent at a time of increasing budget crunches and
limited resources for students.

“At a time when my bargaining unit members have been asked to make
cuts in the classroom . . . it is disturbing to see that the former
superintendent was spending funds in such a fashion,” said
Alex
Anguiano, president
of the teacher’s union.

From July 2000 to March 2005, Brand charged the district more than
$59,000 in meals and automobile expenses,
according to credit card
statements obtained by the Crusader in a public records request.  
Among some of the questionable expenditures include a $1,016.75 meal
at Bob’s on the Bay in 2003, $627.55 for Jamba Juice provided to district
administrators during a meeting in 2003, miscellaneous expenditures at
Vons, The Sports Authority, and Toys ‘R’ Us, a $69.80 purchase at
Neiman Marcus, $184.76 at Motel 6 in Chula Vista, and a $275.21 “Thank
you lunch” at
Bob’s on the Bay in 2001.

Some of the expenditures were identifiable through
cross reference with
Brand’s appointment calendar
obtained by the Crusader in a public
records request.  Most of the Brand’s lunch appointments were not listed
on his calendar or were illegibly recorded.  Brand met frequently with
former
board member Bob Griego at Love’s Wood Pit Barbeque and
board member Pearl Quiñones at El Juan Café and Keith’s Restaurant.

According to district insiders, the former superintendent also invited board
members to the
Butcher Shop Steak House after school board meetings
for meals he dubbed
“a smile and a coke.”

From July 2000 to March 2005, Brand made 22 expenditures at the
Butcher Shop Steak House, averaging $172.52 per visit.

Board of Trustees
President Jim Cartmill defended Brand’s
expenditures as necessary for any executive of a large organization.
“When you are the leader of an organization, part of your job is to build
relationships and develop ties with the community,” Cartmill said.  “From
that perspective, it is important to break bread with people.”

Cartmill said that Brand’s mealtime meetings with board members were
not numerous and were needed for the efficiency of the district.  He also
said that Brand’s “a
smile and a coke” after board meetings were not
social in nature
and were used to discuss goals and plans for the district.

[Remainder of story here:  http://www.bvcrusader.com/stories.php]
IN ADDITION TO SIU'S HAVING PUBLISHED DETAILS FROM
FORMER SUHSD SUPE ED BRAND'S DISTRICT CREDIT
CARD STATEMENTS IN THE HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER,
HERE'S ANOTHER POSSIBLE REASON WHY SUHSD EXEC'S
MIGHT NOT BE HAPPY WITH GORDON SIU:
Former assistant principal
pleads guilty in porn case
By Gordon Siu
Crusader Managing Editor
October 2005

Former Assistant Principal David E. Rylander pled guilty to the
possession of child pornography and was sentenced to three years of
probation.  Rylander was placed on administrative leave in June 2003
after being investigated by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task
Force.

Nearly 20,000 pornographic images were discovered on his hard drive
after a search warrant was served at his home in Bonita.  Those
responsible for Rylander’s arrest lauded his conviction.

“Any time you put a person who commits crimes in jail you feel good
about your job,” said Bernard Gonzalez, a public information officer with
the Chula Vista Police Department, although Rylander is currently on
probation.

Rylander was arrested last November during a district meeting and
pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of possessing and distributing
child pornography. He was released on $35,000 bail.

Rylander, 38, taught math at Bonita before serving as acting assistant
principal in 2003.  “I’m sad that someone I worked
with is in that kind of a situation,” said Interim Principal Dr. Thomas
Gray.  

If convicted of all three original counts, Rylander could have faced up to
nine years in prison. In July, Rylander pleaded guilty to two
misdemeanor counts of possession of matter depicting persons under
18 in sexual conduct, as part of a plea bargain with prosecutor Jeff Dort
that dropped the three felony counts against him.

Rylander was sentenced to one stayed year in jail. Rylander may not see
a day of jail, however, if he successfully completes his three years of
probation.  As part of the terms of his probation, Rylander must report to
his probation officer each month, obtain permission before leaving the
county, and submit to periodic polygraph examinations. He is also
prohibited from associating with minors and from being in places where
minors associate. He cannot purchase or
possess a camera, and cannot own or use a computer without
permission.  He was ordered to pay a $200 fine,
$100 in restitution, and up to $79 per month for probation costs.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing revoked Rylander’
s teaching credential after his conviction.
Rylander’s attorney, Andrew Wilensky, did not return a request for
comment.   
http://www.bvcrusader.com/issues/october05/octoberpage1.pdf
Gordon Siu's statement accompanying his senior
portfolio

My name is Gordon Siu and I am a senior at Bonita Vista High School.

I created this senior portfolio as a protest to the senior portfolio
graduation requirement in the Sweetwater Union High School District.
It meets all of the basic requirements outline in the grading rubric.
Most of the work samples have been taken out in this online version.

I decided to publish this online to create awareness this farce, which
the school board refused to eliminate for the class of 2006. My efforts
to eliminate the senior portfolio have been featured in the San Diego
Union-Tribune, as well as on Fox 6 News and Univision channel 17.
The board has eliminated the requirement for the class of 2007, but
some like trustee Jim Cartmill wishes that it be reinstated.

As for me, I will (hopefully) graduate this June and I plan to attend an
Ivy League institution in the fall. I will continue breakdancing (thanks
Binly) and pursue a career in journalism and/or government. I will
begin work on my first book (and hopefully get it published) this
summer.

My senior exhibition will be on April 6, 2006, at Bonita Vista High
School. Everyone is welcome to attend.
NOTE:  The following were my responses to the reporter's questions.
ADVICE
Keep your sense of humor!  Develop
patience!
 It's also very helpful to be very
clear about both your reason for asking to
view public records and also what you're
going to do with them.  What can make this
tricky is that most parents and grandparents
and taxpayers filing requests are familiar with
neither the
Texas Education Agency's
labyrinthine accounting rules used by
districts nor nuances of the
Texas Public
Information Act.  
For example, your district
can't be forced to answer your questions,
only to produce records.
 So if you have a
question about
"The ABC's of 1-2-3's," a
fuzzy math program your supe purchased at
an edu-convention from an outifit called the

"Basic Mathematics and Motorcycle Repair
Institute,"
you'd ask to see the district's
documents supporting that purchasing
decision.
WHY DID I GET INTO THIS
As an active volunteer at my daughter's high
school, things such as how the district was
wasting money and the practical fallout of block
scheduling became apparent.  I have continued
because I appreciate the importance of the
public's ability to access governmental
records--this ability is at the heartbeat of our
freedoms in our great republic.  Hats off to my
fellow Texans who have been actively involved in
open records searches, folks like
Randy Pugh and
Jim Maine
in Keller ISD, Pat Donahy and
Rebecca and Bill Jennings
in Llano whose work
led to what
Attorney General Greg Abbott called
Texas' first open records conviction of
then-
Llano ISD supe Jack Patton; there's Susan
Bushart's
and Dianna Pharr's ground-breaking
work in
Eanes, Nancy Gadbois and Pat Yezak who
found evidence of fraud and theft where neither
Bremond ISD's trustees nor state agencies
hadn't--plus so many more.
HOW I USE OPEN RECORDS TO GET
INFORMATION
Although my first questions had to do with
curriculum and program decisions, it quickly
became apparent that the real path was to
"Follow the money," mostly now for
superintendent expenses including the purpose
and details for restaurant and hotel bills.  
Although I'm moving into other areas also.

PITFALLS
While some Texas public school districts are
forthcoming, unfortunately
many are choosing
to dodge by hiring high-priced attorneys
such
as
Walsh Anderson and McGinnis Lochridge.  
Also, no matter how many hours you've spent
as a volunteer in your local schools and how
much money you've raised for them, often the
closer you get to information your district
doesn't want to produce the more unwelcome
become your presence and your questions.

How we take back our children's education:
one person, one question, one school at a time.
THE INTERVIEW A MAJOR NEWSPAPER DIDN'T WANT YOU TO SEE, CONT'D
.   .   .   .
Wiseman's Wake Forest U.
endorsement



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Copyright 1999-2006 Peyton Wolcott
POP QUIZ:
Does your supe
wake up each
morning,
look in the mirror,
and say, 'I'm so
grateful for this
opportunity  to be
able to serve my
students and
taxpayers this fine
beautiful day'
or
does your supe
look in the mirror
and exclaim,
'It's
GOOD
to be king!'
F o c u s i n g    o n    a c c o u n t a b i l i t y    f i r s t :   
T h i s    i s   h o w   w e    t a k e   b a c k   o u r   c h i l d r e n s '    e d u c a t i o n   
O n e    P e r s o n ,   O n e    Q u e s t i o n ,   O n e    S c h o o l    a t    a    T i m e .  
 Copyright 1999-2006 Peyton Wolcott

David v.
Goliath:

How
America's
Moms & Dads
are taking on

Education,
Inc.

PEYTON WOLCOTT

Food stamps
are a form
of voucher.

--Milton Friedman


Ask lots
of
questions.

--Dave Lieber
The Fort-Worth
Star Telegram

My
interpretation
of the media's
failure to press
for substantive
education
reform:  
The mainstream
media and
government
education
monopoly are
allies in a
common cause,
advancing the
left's agenda.

One does not
publicly criticize
one's allies.

--Tom Shuford

A century ago
we taught Greek
and Latin in
high school;
today we teach
remedial English
in college!

-- Joseph Sobran

War is an
ugly thing, but not
the ugliest of things.

The decayed and
degraded state of
moral and patriotic
feeling which thinks
that nothing is worth
war is much worse.

The person who has
nothing for which he
is willing to fight,
nothing which is
more important than
his own personal
safety, is a miserable
creature and has no
chance of being free
unless made and
kept so by the
exertions of better
men than himself.

-- John Stuart Mill
Longview ISD supe Dana Marable
(above) at TASA Midwinter
Conference (see "Hot off the press").
Police car speeds to Longview HS to
break up a fight.
Frank Vetro
Despite 16 counts of theft, one count of fraud, three counts of misspent public
monies and 20 counts of conflicts of interest, all of which he pleaded not guilty to last
December,
Santa Cruz County school superintendent Robert Canchola (Democrat)
is still at work at his job, a $56,400/year elected position.  

"Canchola was later required to post a $200,000 insurance bond by the board of
supervisors after he refused to hand over his accounting and bookkeeping
information to the county's finance department.  In an interview with the Nogales
International in December, County Manager Greg Lucero said, 'We have asked the
Bob Canchola with staff
Auditor General to come back and do a more comprehensive audit.'  Lucero added, 'Our goal is to move all of his
non-school district accounts under finance (department) so we can monitor them.' "
 (SOURCE--Gabriel R. Romero/Nogales
International.com)
  "The Arizona auditor general said Canchola misused, stole or had a conflict of interest in awarding
money to others, including his parents' Canchola Group Inc. and McDonald's franchises.   Owner Jose Canchola is a
community icon who worked his way from the fields to running a holding group that owns fast-food restaurants in
Tucson and Nogales.  The audit also charges that Robert Canchola used the money to pay wedding expenses, make
car payments, repair his Jeep and contract with his wife's consulting company.   Robert Canchola won re-election a
year ago in an unopposed race. Neither Canchola returned calls Tuesday."
(SOURCE--Daniel Scarpinato/Arizona Daily Star)
The following folks
have bought space to
exhibit their wares to
supes visiting the
American Ass'n
of School

Administrators
annual convention
(oops--
"The National
Conference on
Education")
in San Diego
Feb. 23-26. 2006
It's
high noon
in our public
schools--do
you know
where your
supe is?
Please note:  the
foregoing is a small
sampling.  Here's the
complete list:
3D/International
AAF/McQuay
Academic Innovations
Accelerated School
Administrator Program
(ASAP)
ADT Security Services, Inc.
AIG VALIC
Alexandria/COMPanion
Corp.
American Education
Corporation
American Fidelity
Assurance Co.
American School &
University Magazine
American Society for
Quality (ASQ)
Apple
ARAMARK Education
Audio Enhancement
AXA Equitable
Cambridge Educational
Services
Cardiac Science, Inc.
Carus Publishing
Casio Inc.
Catapult Learning
Century Consultants Ltd.
Chartwells School Dining
Services
Class.com
Cognos
COMALEX, Inc.
CompassLearning
Conner Sport Court
InternationalCouncil of
Educational Facility
Planners International
(CEFPI)
Curriculum Mapper
DataTeam Systems, Inc.
Disney Youth Group
Programs
District Administration
Magazine (Professional
Media Group, LLC)
Durham School Services
Edison Schools, Inc.
EDmin.com
Education Networks of
America (ENA)
Education Week's Agent
K-12 Career Site
Educational Research
Service
Educational Testing Service
Excel Math
Failure Free Reading
FieldTurf Inc
Finalsite
Follett Software
Forrest T. Jones & Co Inc.
Frog Publications
Gateway
Global Connect
Harris Graduate Connection
Heery International
Honeywell International
IDE Corp.
Interior Systems, Inc
Johnson Controls, Inc.
Knowledge Learning
Corporation
Kraus-Anderson Construction
Company
Laidlaw Education Services
Laureate Education, Inc.
Laureate Learning Systems
LeapFrog SchoolHouse
LifeTrack Services, Inc.
LightSPEED Technologies,
Inc.
Lindamood-Bell Learning
Processes
Lunar Logic
MagnetStreet
Master Lock Company
MIND Institute
Miracle Recreation Company
National Athletic Trainers'
Assoc.
National School Boards
Ass'nNational School Public
Relations Association
National Student
Clearinghouse
Navajo Jewelry & Crafts
NetTrekker D.i.
New Century Education
Corporation
Newton Learning
Nova Southeastern
University/Fischler
Graduate School
Oldcastle Precast Modular
Group
Ombudsman Educational
Services
Outdoor Aluminum, Inc.
Oxford University Press
PARS
PAS Systems International
PBK Architects, Inc.
Pearson Digital Learning
PLATO Learning Inc.
Politically Direct
PowerSchool
Preferred Educational
Software
Qualite Sports Lighting
Ramco/Susis Paper Cutters
Rediker Software, Inc.
Renaissance Learning
Ribas Associates and
Publications, Inc.
RISO, Inc.
Robson Corporation
Scantron Testing &
Assessment
School Construction News
School Improvement
Network
School Planning &
Management/Peter Li, Inc.
SchoolNet, Inc.
Scientific Learning
Corporation
Seating Concepts, LLC
Skyward, Inc.
SMART Technologies, Inc.
SnapCourt, LLC
Sodexho School Services
Software Technology, Inc.
Southern Bleacher Company
SP SnapShot (TM)
Spectra Services
Spectrum Industries, Inc.
SportsGraphics, Inc.
Stewart School Signs
Sturdisteel Company
SunGard Pentamation, Inc.
Synergistic Systems/Pitsco
Pathways
TAC - Tour Andover Controls
Tango Software
TetraData Corporation
The Cambridge Group
The College Board
The HON Company
The Pin Man
The Princeton Review
Turner Construction Company
University of Oklahoma High
School
UNL Independent Study High
School
UPSLOPE SOLUTIONS LLC.
URS
Vibra-Whirl, Ltd.
Videx, Inc.
Virtual High School
Working Together, Inc.
Yamaha Corporation of
America
Zaner-Bloser Educational
Publishers
Zarca Interactive
ZOLL Medical Corporation

AASA Nat'l
Convention
Attendee
Demographics

"From preschool to
twelfth grade, the
school super-
intendent is the
leading contact to
the board of
education, school
principals, district
and central office
staff, and the local
community. Go
straight to the top
by putting your
product in front of
school
superintendents....
Ackerman in happier if rare days in
San Francisco Unified's classrooms--
couldn't have been many such with a
$45,000+ travel/meals budget last year.
Costs & What's
Included
Booth rental cost
$1,400 per 10x10
inline booth
$1,600 per 10x10
corner or island booth
Your exhibit
investment includes…
Pipe and drape to
outline your booth
Six (6) exhibitor
registrations per 10 x
10 booth
Free company
identification sign
24-hour perimeter
security
Listings in the
Conference Program
Book*
…but does not
include…
Carpet or floor covering
(required)
Tables, chairs or other
furnishings
Electricity
Internet or phone
connections


(SOURCE--AASA)


Is Keller ISD
pandering to
its students
by bringing
in authors
such as Chris
Crutcher?
_______

The education
system abdicates its
responsibility for
transmitting our
cultural heritage and
improving the taste
and judgement of the
younger generation....

This unwillingness to
teach the poems,
plays, novels, essays,
and short stories that
have long been
recognized for the
excellence and
significance abandons
young people to be
shaped by others.

Untouched by
enduring and
inspiring literature,
the students are left
to be molded by the
commercial
popular culture.  

The popular culture
making machine
cares not a whit for
taste and judgement
but reaches
insistently
for the lowest
common denominator,
the point at which its
purveyors can
maximized their
profit....

We are
systematically
failing to introduce
the younger
generation to the
writers who might
enlarge their
imaginations,
enrich their
emotional lives,
and challenge their
settled ways of
thinking.”

--Diane Ravitch
The Language Police
Ann Arbor, Michigan's
"Team of Eight" with supe George
Fornero seated at right front
JUST IN:  ACKERMAN'S BAILOUT
STILL $375,000+, NOT THE $325,000
REPORTED IN SUNDAY'S SF CHRONICLE
By Peyton Wolcott - February 24, 2006

How did the venerable San Francisco Chronicle come to get the amount
wrong?   

SFUSD board member Eric Mar--who presumably would know--tells me the
amount Ackerman's bailing with is still $375,000
, not the $325,000 figure
reported in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle by
Phillip Matier and Andrew
Ross;
have contacted them re the source of their lower figure.  Could it have
been a typo?

According to Mar, "Ackerman's severance is $375,000.  Very important to set the
record straight!"

Here's an excerpt from the Chronicle (Sunday, February 19, 2006):  "Happy
Valentine's: The spat that had been brewing over outgoing San Francisco
schools chief
Arlene Ackerman's credit card use died this past Valentine's Day
when the school board voted to finalize Ackerman's
$325,000 exit deal--no
questions asked."

Still no response from Ackerman re her
side consulting activities such as the Eli
Broad Foundation
and TeachFirst, and she still hasn't indicated whether she
donated her
ERDI spoils to SFUSD.  It's been six weeks since we asked.
.
.
.  .  .
.  .  .  .
x
.
.
.  
.  
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Let's start off with a few
quotations, then a
question. In reference
to the president's State
of the Union: "Sounds
a lot like the things
Adolf Hitler used to
say." "Bush is
threatening the whole
planet." "[The] U.S.
wants to keep the
world divided." Then
the speaker asks,
"Who is probably the
most violent nation on
the planet?" and
shouts "The United
States!"

What's the source of
these statements?
Were they made in the
heat of a political
campaign? Was it a
yet-to-be captured
leader of al Qaeda?
Was it French Prime
Minister Dominique de
Villepin? Any "yes"
answer would miss the
true source by a mile.
All of those statements
were made by Mr. Jay
Bennish, a teacher at
Overland High School
in Aurora, Colo.

During this class
session, Mr. Bennish
peppered his
10th-grade geography
class with other
statements like: The
U.S. has engaged in
"7,000 terrorist attacks
against Cuba." In his
discussion of
capitalism, he told his
students, "Capitalism
is at odds with
humanity, at odds with
caring and
compassion and at
odds with human
rights."

Regardless of whether
you're pro-Bush or
anti-Bush,
pro-American or
anti-American, I'd like
to know whether
there's anyone who
believes that the
teacher's remarks
were appropriate for
any classroom setting,
much less a high
school geography
class. It's clear the
students aren't being
taught geography.
They're getting socialist
lies and propaganda.
According to one of the
parents, on the first day
of class, the teacher
said Karl Marx's
"Communist
Manifesto" was going
to be a part of the
curriculum.

This kind of
indoctrination is by no
means restricted to
Overland High School.
School teachers, at all
grades, often use their
classroom for
environmental,
anti-war, anti-capitalist
and anti-parent
propaganda. Some get
their students to write
letters to political
figures condemning
public policy the
teacher doesn't like. Dr.
Thomas Sowell's
"Inside American
Education" documents
numerous ways
teachers attack
parental authority.
Teachers have asked
third-graders, "How
many of you ever
wanted to beat up your
parents?" In a high
school health class,
students were asked,
"How many of you hate
your parents?"

Public education
propaganda is often a
precursor for what
youngsters might
encounter in college.
UCLA's Bruin Standard
newspaper documents
campus propaganda.
Mary Corey, UCLA
history professor,
instructed her class,
"Capitalism isn't a lie
on purpose. It's just a
lie," she continued,
"[Capitalists] are
swine. . . . They're
bastard people."
Professor Andrew
Hewitt, chairman of
UCLA's Department of
Germanic Languages,
told his class, "Bush is
a moron, a simpleton,
and an idiot." His
opinion of the rest of
us: "American
consumerism is a very
unique thing; I don't
think anyone else lusts
after money in such a
greedy fashion." Rod
Swanson, economics
professor, told his
class, "The United
States of America,
backed by facts, is the
greediest and most
selfish country in the
world." Terri Anderson,
a sociology professor,
assigned her class to
go out cross-dressed
in a public setting for
four hours. Photos or
videotape were
required as proof of
having completed the
assignment.

The Bruin Alumni
Association caused
quite a stir when it
offered to pay students
for recordings of
classroom
proselytizing. The
UCLA administration,
wishing to conceal
professorial
misconduct,
threatened legal action
against the group.
Some professors
labeled the Bruin
Alumni Association's
actions as
McCarthyism and
attacks on academic
freedom. These
professors simply want
a free hand to
proselytize students.

Brainwashing and
proselytization is by no
means unique to
UCLA. Taxpayers ought
to de-fund, and donors
should cut off
contributions to
colleges where
administrators
condone or support
academic dishonesty.
At the K-12 schools,
parents should show
up at schools, PTAs
and board of education
meetings demanding
that teachers teach
reading, writing and
arithmetic and leave
indoctrination to
parents. The most
promising tool in the
fight against teacher
proselytization is the
micro-technology
available that can
expose the academic
misconduct.
__________________
Since 1980, Dr. Williams
has served on the faculty
of George Mason
University in Fairfax, VA
as John M. Olin
Distinguished Professor
of Economics.
'Indoctrination
of our youth'
By Walter E. Williams
Feb. 22, 2006
TownHall.com
.
.
Pasadena USD "All-Star Band"
Marion Bolden,
NJ's highest-
priced supe
Rudy Crew
RANDOM ROUNDUP:   FURTHER PROOF PUBLIC
SCHOOLS ARE INCAPABLE OF MONITORING THEMSELVES
By Peyton Wolcott - March 19, 2006

From a sampling of today's news stories about educators around America:

Is it 'retirement' if you don't retire but instead go get another job?
Kenneth J. Connolly, superintendent
Lakeland Central School District - Shrub Oak (New York)
"When Kenneth J. Connolly announced last year that he was stepping down as the superintendent of the Lake
Shore School District
in mid-July, it was common knowledge that he was taking a job in a Westchester County
school district.
 He even mentioned it in the letter he sent to the Lake Shore School Board president in March.  But in
that letter, Connolly, 54, at the time, said he was 'retiring' from Lake Shore.  And t
hat distinction netted him an extra
$16,529
when it came time to cash in unused vacation and sick days, district records indicate....Connolly's word
choice caught the eye of
state auditors, who recently spent a few months reviewing the district's financial
records.
He acknowledged that auditors have questioned the use of  'retirement,' since he was not of retirement age
and did not file retirement papers with the state--but did go on to work in another district....They also questioned his
decision to start in Lakeland on July 1 - two weeks before his termination date in Lake Shore, he said....Connolly
said he decided to extend his time in Lake Shore through the middle of July so that he could return on July 11 for the
Lake Shore Golf Scholarship Tournament at the Tri-County Country Club, an event he organized for the past six
years."  Wondering if the reporter was able to keep a straight face when she wrote down this from Connolly:  ""I want
to make sure everybody understands everything I did was up front."   
(SOURCE--Mary B. Pasciak/Buffalo News)

When is teacher-student sex just plain wrong?
Debra Lafave, reading teacher
Greco Middle School - Ocala (Florida)
Pity the poor mom of the boy Debra Lafave raped.  The family's been in the international spotlight
thanks to Lafave's looks.  The boy's mom wants to spare him the additional ordeal of testifying in
court against his rapist so she's urging
Circuit Judge Hale Stancil to approve a plea deal in which
Lafave walks.  "There is no one that wanted to see
Debra Lafave serve jail time more than myself,"
wrote the boy's mother.  "Especially a teacher and a person of authority, she was supposed to
protect my son, not prey upon him."  The judge is expected to rule "at any time now."  
(SOURCE--Mabel Perez Ocala Star-Banner)   Frances L. Green, a retired correctional officer with the
Florida Department of Corrections, comments to the same paper:  "Ms. Lafave accepted a job as a teacher knowing
that sexual contact with students is immoral and illegal.  Male teachers who conduct themselves as she did find
themselves in jail with no bond, incarcerated in prison, shamed in the community, deprived of their financial
livelihood and branded for life....There are no victimless crimes.  Turning down temptation is a sign of maturity."

When is it time to step down even though you technically can still keep your job?
Barry Kohl, superintendent
Franklin/Williamson Regional Office of Education (ROE) #21 (Illinois)
Reports Jim Muir of The Southern, "Citing his own failing health and his wife's uncertain mental condition, Barry
Kohl, the embattled superintendent of the
Franklin-Williamson Regional Office of Education, announced Friday he
is officially withdrawing as a candidate from next
Tuesday's Democratic primary election.  Even though his name
will remain on the ballot because of the late date, Kohl said in a prepared statement he plans to concentrate his time
on assisting in his defense against charges
he illegally spent ROE funds and then tried to get other employees to
lie to a grand jury
....The announcement by Kohl, 59, effectively ends a once-bright political career that spans nearly
two decades.  Pending the outcome of his trial,
Kohl will remain in his role as superintendent until July 2007 when
his current four-year term expires.   The latest announcement marks the second major development this week in the
ROE saga that began more than 19 months ago when
Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a 62-count
indictment handed down against
Kohl, his wife, Janine, Mary Ann Adams and Suzanne Willmore.  Earlier this week
an agreed order was entered in
Franklin County Court that indefinitely continues the legal proceedings pending a
court-ordered mental competency hearing for
Janine Kohl.  The agreed order states that Janine Kohl will be
examined by
Carbondale clinical psychologist James Peterson to determine if she is mentally fit to stand trial.  In
signing off on the order,
Benton attorney John Drew, who is representing both Kohls, and assistant attorney
general Edward Carter,
who is prosecuting the case, both agreed 'a bona fide doubt exists as to the competence of
Janine Kohl to stand trial, to plead, or to be sentenced pursuant to state statues.' "  
 Competent or not, Barry Kohl
employed his wife at the ROE.  

Scroll down to Feb. 5 for a similar example, Arizona's Santa Cruz County school superintendent Robert Canchola
who is still at work--despite 16 counts of theft, one count of fraud, three counts of misspent public monies and 20
counts of conflicts of interest.   
The not-so-shy-about-
retiring  Kenneth Connolly
(at right with elementary teacher)
Debra Lafave
Katy ISD's Leonard
Merrell (top)
(PHOTO/
CSPAN)
Self-named
"Merrell Center" below
GORDON SIU (SWEETWATER UHSD) CONT'D
David E.
Rylander
Bruce Husson
More about Siu's Senior Portfolio
Regarding the portfolio requirement, Siu writes in his prefatory statement,
"Supporters of the portfolio requirement mistakenly believe that it prepares students
for future careers by developing communications skills and  demonstrating student
achievement.   As this nation continues to fall behind countries such as Japan and
Germany in math, science and other areas of learning, there are still those in
America who seek to move educational progress backward....
While it is nice to
think that one assignment could demonstrate a student's proficiency in the skills
required to succeed in life, this Pollyanna view that some have taken has led to
an increased workload for students with few, if any, benefits."
 

Oh, we weren't speaking of ERDI consultant Ed Brand?   We
should be.  Gordon Siu has, plenty, including publishing Brand's
district credit card statement in the high school newspaper
(excerpt at left), of which Siu is managing editor, and which may
have helped create the climate surrounding Siu's current pickle.  
Developing.  Meanwhile,
see another story Gordon authored,  
"Former assistant principal pleads guilty in porn case"
(grey
box at bottom of page).   Meanwhile, as one friend so eloquently
put it yesterday, "Go, Gordon!"

Breaking news
Gordon said by phone today from San Diego that there's a possible meeting on the
horizon with the district's new supe regarding the unfair grading, adding that he's
considering redoing his senior portfolio.   As he said, "I have to graduate."
ERDI consultant
Ed Brand
The following
excerpts are the
ones mentioning the
City of Newark
School District that
the Newark Star-
Ledger omitted from
its coverage of the
New Jersey
Commission of
Investigation's
report, "Taxpayers
Beware:  What You
Don’t Know Can Cost
You - An Inquiry Into
Questionable and
Hidden
Compensation for
Public School
Administrators"
(March 2006)

City of Newark
School District:
Superintendent
Marion Bolden,
whose base salary for
2004 – $212,000 –
made her the highest
paid superintendent
among those in New
Jersey’s three state-
operated school
districts, received
annuity payments
totaling $42,500
between 2000 and
2005.  
(Page 20)

Meanwhile,
incomplete and
disorganized records
yielded a range of
unsatisfactory
responses. For
example, the
City of
Newark School
District
– the largest
in the State –
provided the smallest,
most limited volume
of records of all the
districts that received
Commission
subpoenas.  
(Page 56)

There are only four
districts in which the
State exercises any
direct ongoing control
over salaries and
benefits for top
administrators: in
Jersey City,
Newark
and Paterson, where
the State has
assumed full control
of all operations; and
in Camden, which
currently functions
under terms of a
quasi-takeover by the
State through the
Municipal
Rehabilitation and
Recovery Act.  
(Page
57)
Rick Northup
MY BOOK






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