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My Recent Comments
@ Mike: You win the point about retirement contributions. Let's agree that loyal GPS employees, like the teacher who spoke at the meeting, have been ... loyal. Giving new hires a better contract probably was not what the new board intended, but now they know what HR has been doing. We really appreciate that multiple budget scenarios have been costed out so better decisions can result. That's progress.
Be careful with references to Florida under "Jeb!" We have two high school graduates from Florida, and we can tell you about double sessions, crowded classroom unlike anything we've seen since then, and more. How did Florida get the track record you cite? When most students failed FCAT, the state changed the standards so more students would pass. Why did Florida have so many students taking AP tests? Students did not pay the AP test fee (it was a sweetheart deal with The College Board to set a national precedent). 4 weeks ago
We were appalled that when contracts were presented, the GPS superintendency included pay raises that the board had refused to approve at a prior meeting. The budget situation, had that sleazy maneuver not been thwarted, may well have been that giving an insignificant raise to selected employees causes others to be laid off. A teacher spoke to the board about the way GPS treats new hires by bringing them in at the appropriate place on the pay scale, while his loyalty has kept his own pay frozen for five years or more. He said in essence, "New hires get a better contract that I do." Assistant Superintendent Filloon acknowledged this, saying GPS does this to attract the best candidates. Don't forget those loyal employees also saw their paychecks shrink during those years while the district fiddled with retirement contributions and health insurance rigmarole. Nevertheless, there has been more transparency and discussion about budgets, priorities, and options in the past four months than ever before. This governing board is having the right conversations with the community, and what we see is that they're listening to many sides of the issues. Opponents blast members individually for their due diligence, while at the same time, condemn individual members for decisions that have not yet been made by the board.4 weeks ago
Bravo! Mike Oliver leads Zaharis students and staff to soaring heights. Their national reputation sparkles, especially their creative reading and literacy efforts. Great work, and well deserved kudos from and for Jeff Bridges. 4 weeks ago
We heard the Higley board voted to cut 11 administrative positions for next year. Budget cuts don't seem to affect the Higley Superintendent, though. On December 4, 2012, the Higley governing board approved a 5% performance bonus (about $7,350) AND a 5% salary increase (another $7,350) for Superintendent Denise Birdwell. This pay raise was the second 5% salary increase Birdwell received in 2012; she got a raise in June 2012 as well. Birdwell's base salary is only $800 less than Gilbert’s Superintendent Dave Allison, even though the Higley school district is only 1/4 the size of Gilbert Public Schools. http://westieconnect.com/archives/13471 month ago
"Questions about his behavior were raised by some in the community and school..." is putting it mildly. An assistant principal recently filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Gilbert Public Schools and Brian Yee. We posted about the situation as it developed last year, including a copy of the Notice of Claim that preceded this lawsuit. Facts paint a really ugly picture about many aspects of district management.
http://westernconnections.com/brianyee.html1 month ago
We have posted comparisons of the GPS / Brian Yee situation to the scandals at Rutgers University and Penn State, where top leaders covered up bad news and refused to hold subordinates accountable. As the GPS story now goes, it was only when the issue of Yee's contract non-renewal emerged that Superintendent Dave Allison learned that Assistant Superintendent Shane McCord simply did not follow his directive to take disciplinary action against Brian Yee last year. Shane McCord and Brian Yee both have contracts with GPS for next year while other employees have been terminated for far less serious transgressions. The environment at Brian Yee’s school was reported as toxic and intolerable by many of his subordinates; the GPS response was to get rid of “disgruntled” employees. Top leaders’ failures to act, protecting one of their own, and ignoring the adverse effects on students predictably will lead to unintended consequences.
How the Brian Yee Situation Parallels National Scandals http://westieconnect.com/archives/2407
What the “Anonymous Letters” Said About Brian Yee http://westieconnect.com/archives/2454
Performance Improvement Plan for a Junior High School Principal http://westieconnect.com/archives/2479
How Many More Shoes Will Drop on GPS in Regard to Brian Yee? http://westieconnect.com/archives/25491 month ago
We're all for win-win situations for students. One area where we disagree with you, Mike, is about high school graduates taking remedial courses in college. Three million new students enter higher education each year, and fully half take at least one catch-up course while they are enrolled—at a cost of nearly $7 billion a year for the noncredit-bearing classes. Just who is crying that new high school graduates are not ready for college? Turns out, it’s the very same folks and companies who expect to profit big off the crisis they’re decrying. New research findings suggest a significant portion of students who test into remedial classes don’t actually need them. The dirty rotten secret they don’t want you to know is those students are paying big bucks for tuition for those remedial classes. In addition, students requiring remediation are not allowed to take courses for credit until they are completely remediated, according to yet another test from the folks who make their money testing students. Of course, this inflates the cost of college beyond the means of many people. http://westieconnect.com/archives/18971 month ago
@ LiveInGilbert: Imitation, the sincerest form of flattery! Thanks, as usual!2 months ago
The governing board did not cause the 2012 override to fail, voters did that. In fact, voters did that all over the valley, and they tossed a statewide tax initiative as well. When we hear these laments today, we remember how cocksure* the GPS superintendency was about their chosen ones prevailing in the election. Some board members were listening to the wrong prevailing wisdom, and they got themselves unelected. Voters did that. Now the unelected ones (including the GPS superintendency) are full of crocodile tears, but the current composition of the GPS governing board matches the divide in the community. Voters decided that, too. GPS would have done well to abide by Dan Rather's famous words, "Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek."
Big fat asterisk: Cocksure - feeling perfect assurance sometimes on inadequate grounds; marked by overconfidence or presumptuousness. 2 months ago
@ godhelpgilbert: The school board IS a non-partisan elected body; board candidates were correct in saying so and declining to campaign on a political party platform. Board members also are correct in fulfilling their duties in a non-partisan manner. However, the people who elect their representatives at every level do so on the basis of shared interests and trust that those shared interests will inform their representative's actions. That's a big reason representatives are elected for specified terms, which also respects the power of one person, one vote. The electoral process will repeat in two years.
We have found that a good thing to do when you feel that your interests are not represented is to get involved personally. You might find that your powers of persuasion could yield some of the results you seek. There's a book called "The Art of Woo" which explains that persuasion means to win others over, not to defeat them. "Winning Others Over" (woo) is relationship-based persuasion. Relationships and trust have eroded within GPS; perhaps the new superintendent can focus on bridging the chasm that now exists. We just don't believe the chasm was created solely by political ideology on either side.2 months ago