Wednesday, September 3, 2008

LCSD School Board Meeting Summary

When I liveblog an LCSD meeting, it kind of sucks my energy to do any kind of analysis. That said, here are some random outcomes/thoughts:

1) The board is learning to work together, filling in each other's gaps. (One could also read this as people covering for Rick, which is true, but only part of the story.)

2) The very, very tense discussion between parents, teachers and administrators regarding the math emergency suggests that there hasn't been a lot of communication between teachers and this particular group of parents. I hope the planned meeting at LHS regarding math is utilized to increase communication between the two groups.

3) Rick still has poor impulse control. Either that or he still genuinely believes that discussion is not needed once he figures out what he wants to do. Either one is problematic for a school board member.

4) The following comment drove me ballistic:

"8:39 PM: Alexander: This town isn't about secrets... when a board meeting happens, most people know what's going to happen."

This from the guy who developed a serious habit of adding items to the agenda after the meeting started. Granted, he's not done it quite some time, but I think the point still stands: He can't possibly have been serious.

5) The board passed everything unanimously. Come to think of it, I think they passed everything in front of him.

6) Despite Robinson's detailed explanation of all the things the LCSD is doing on the math front, Robinson came across as spinning. Hard. And I think the audience knew it. I read the audience as interpreting the declaration of emergency as happening because the district was getting bad PR.... and I can't say I disagree.

7) From teachers, parents need to reach out more to teachers. Teachers already work long hours and are willing to work with parents. Or so I've heard from teachers - and again, I can't say I disagree.

8) Wineteer's style as chair is to let people talk a lot more. Every person who commented during audience comments spoke for more than three minutes, and during the math discussion, parents were talking directly to Robinson and the board, even a few teachers.

9) I can't believe Alexander said this:

8:35 PM: Alexander: We're behind the curve; we talked four years ago about an alternative school, and "the answer was SAS". "How many more students will be thrown under the bus?" [emphasis added]

Were I a teacher, I'd be furious at this comment, coming from a board member. But what do I know?


9a) It's worth nothing, as Robinson did, that SAS applies to K-8 students, not to the high school, which is where the math scores are hurting (they are, if I remember correctly, above the state average for K-8 students). So Alexander's comment makes little sense on top of being insulting.

10) It was suggested to me last night that the above comment by Alexander was just grandstanding, caused by his facing a recall vote. I think that's really plausible - in fact, I can't remember him doing anything outrageous since CARES declared they were seeking a recall of he and Wineteer. I keep vacillating between "he's laying low and trying to survive the recall" and "when is the other shoe going to drop?"

11) 8:53 PM: Alexander, regarding the possibility of a contract for alternative education: "We'd be better off giving the money to a charter school [than put it towards an alternative education contract]; maybe they could hire another teacher with it!"

That comment practically stands on its own. I will say that it's factually wrong, as the charter school and the alternative online school do not fulfill the same function.

Conclusion: I'm sure there is more, but it's late and I'm tired.


Anonymous said...

They passed everything unanimously on a non controversial agenda. They modified the Reed School proposal, then passed it. I don't think unanimous was a bad thing yesterday. There was a LOT of discussion on the math meeting, not sure what to think of that.

Math scores in the 30's for 5+ years may actually qualify as throwing the kids under the bus. IMHO.

Dennis said...

I should clarify: I think it is a good thing they passed everything unanimously. Just because I don't think things are controversial doesn't mean that will happen. There is plenty of history of one or two board members raising a ruckus over things I would have thought were uncontroversial.

"Throwing the kids under the bus" implies a level of ill will on the part of the teachers or administration that's just not present. Robinson had a laundry list of things that had been tried or are in the process of being attempted. Besides, there's been huge turnover in math teachers.

No, the scores aren't good. But it's insulting to pretend the problem is a result of lack of effort on the part of the district. If the solution were simple, it would have been implemented by now.

Anonymous said...

"Besides, there's been huge turnover in math teachers."

There's huge turnover in teachers throughout the district, Dennis. Though I am sure that this has nothing to do with the administration at the district office. Not sure why you and LT can't see that all of these types of things point directly to the leadership of the district?????? Is a shotgun approach ("Robinson had a laundry list of things that had been tried or are in the process of being attempted") to our student's education what we want or deserve?

Dr. Robinson is supposed to be an educational genius, but this type of approach comes across as desperate. When asked why they have been so successful, a West Albany teacher replied "we are allowed to just teach. No gimmicks, new aged philosophies or anything like that. We are allowed to teach." Maybe Dr. Robinson should try staying out of the teachers' way.

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