Friday, May 9, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

What does this say about O'Reilly and Hardball?

NEW YORK (AP) -- A journalism think tank studying "The Daily Show" doesn't believe many people get their news from Jon Stewart - because otherwise they wouldn't get the jokes.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism also said it was surprised at how much the Comedy Central late-night program resembles "The O'Reilly Factor," "Hardball" and other cable news shows in content.

The Washington-based organization asked its researchers to study a year's worth of "The Daily Show" tapes - hardly a grim assignment - after hearing the frequent claim that many young people learn about the world from Stewart instead of more traditional news sources.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

[LCSD] Budget Committee Meeting

Jennifer Moody has a very, very smoothly written story in the DH (how does she get them out so fast?) about Tuesday's budget committee meeting. Moody does a good job laying out the cuts and the reasoning behind them; the one thing I wish was in the story was any reaction from, well, anyone - board members, district officials, Kim FandiƱo, etc. The comments from Jennifer Walter and Lonnie Harris are good, each for their own reasons, but, hey, apparently I'm all about hearing from the usual folks.

Then again, when the story is up an hour or two after the meeting ends, well, there's not much of a chance to get responses from others.

I wonder what kind of editing process Moody uses when she does these same-night stories...

[LCSD] An argument in support of Jim Robinson suing his own district

I've wondered what goes through Jim Robinson's head when he's thinking about filing lawsuits against his own district (I am, of course, assuming he does think about - and he'd be a fool not to). That must be a terrible feeling, and not just because he ends up costing his down district money. It's clear that Robinson wants the district to succeed (your definition of success and/or preferred method of getting there may vary, possibly significantly), and the decision regarding whether or not he's going to take legal action can't be an easy one.

Note: My money is on lawsuit, for the record.

That said, given the latest shenanigans, and Josh's apparent inclination to try and marginalize the district superintendent while he's still under contract, I think there's a strong argument to be made in favor of Robinson filing a lawsuit for breach of contract:


Specifically, the idea that the school board can simply ignore parts of the superintendent's contract they don't like.

Remember, renegotiating the contract is one thing - clearly defining the job responsibilities of each party before anyone signs is certainly acceptable, and if the school board wants to take a more active role in hiring, they should make that clear to future employees and in future contracts.

Ignoring a signed contract that's still in effect is a bad idea.

What superintendent in their right mind would want to work in a district where the school board feels free to ignore the contract they signed?

For that matter, what other contracts the school board has approved does Josh feel like he can ignore? Maybe someone should ask him in the public comments section of the next meeting...

In any case, as I was wondering the frigid chilly streets of Corvallis with my pistachio-and-mint-chocolate gelato earlier this evening, I realized that one could argue that Robinson is practically, if not literally, obligated to sue his down district if for no other reason than to maintain the strength of the position for future superintendents.

Well? What say you, audience that only reads when I post about the LCSD? Am I on to something, or was that gelato laced with more than yummy flavors?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

[LCSD] Lebanon Express stories

Today's LE had two stories on Monday's meeting. They covered the same ground as the earlier DH stories: The passage of the PIE amendments and the board's refusal to approve the hiring of the two LHS administrators.

Larry Coonrod, the reporter on both stories, was explicit in noting the disjunct in rationales between the two decisions:

Reversing the logic they had just used in accepting a rewritten charter school contract, the Lebanon School Board rejected the school district's recommendation to hire two Lebanon High School academy principals for next year.


Kelley was visibly agitated at the board's rejection of the two principals.

“You're not building community, you're destroying it by sending the wrong message,” Kelley said. “You have two outstanding candidates before you that I cannot guarantee will be here in 30 days.”

Kelley's right. By almost all accounts, the process that governed the hiring of the two administrators was a good one. The board's refusal to approve it (remember, the board is merely there as a check on egregiously bad decisions, not to conduct the process themselves) indicates that the board members, or at least three of them, are more interested in their desired outcomes than respecting a decent process. That, of course, is not news - but the fact that it keeps happening means, as Kelley notes, that there is still damage being done to the district and its reputation.

One thing that caught my eye from the story about the passage of the PIE amendments:

Among the amendments, the boards accepted were the following:

€ Removal of the prohibition on PIE starting other private or charter schools.

€ An increase in the percentage of state school funds that Sand Ridge receives from the district from 80 to 85 percent for grades K-8 if the school meets prescribed conditions.

What are the prescribed conditions? I would like to know; commenters at LT's place are arguing over whether or not the conditions will be met, but no one seems to really know what the conditions are. Anyone out there have a copy of the amendments they would like to pass on?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

[LCSD] One More Thing

It's been pointed out to me that not only did the Lebanon School Board's Terrible Trio approve the PIE amendments without knowing the financial consequences and then claim lack of knowledge about the budget situation as justification for a no vote for the two HS administrators, but that the board approved Dawn Baker, Hamilton Creek's new administrator, with nary a peep about the budget.

I think we can take as a given that something else is going on with the refusal to approve the two HS administrators.

It's been suggested that something is Bo Yates and the fact that he's not one of the candidates for an assistant principal job at LHS.

I have no idea if that's true or not. What sayeth the crowd? What's behind Rick, Josh and Debi's refusal to hire the two administrators?

(As a side note, I cannot help but think having three instead of four administrators is going to hurt LHS next year; there's plenty of work to go around. But for the lack of money, I'd actually prefer five over three or four - one for each academy and one to coordinate.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lebanon School Board Rips Hole in Fabric of Universe, Shrugs Shoulders and Walks Away

Word is filtering in that this was one of the worst board meetings ever. This is getting really fucking old:

Members of the Lebanon School Board decided by majority Monday that they have waited too long for a new contract for Sand Ridge Charter School but not long enough to hire assistant principals for Lebanon High School.

Board members voted 3-2 to continue the district's current contract with People Involved in Education, the private organization that runs the charter school, with a 10-item list of amendments as proposed by Vice Chairman Josh Wineteer.


Chairwoman Sherrie Sprenger and board member Chris Fisher urged the three to wait until they could read the proposal - first unveiled at the meeting - and have it vetted by the district's attorney. Both protested being asked to vote on something with potentially far-reaching consequences virtually sight unseen.

Hm. I bet Rick and Debi had seen Josh's amendments beforehand. I would not be surprised if Jay Jackson and Paul Meadowbrook had seen them, especially Jackson.

This is starting to remind me of the early Bush Administration: So focused on ramming their agenda through, so convinced of their own brilliance and rightness they fail to notice, don't care, or assume it's not really a problem that they're leaving a trail of wreckage in their path. A few years later, the damage done will start to become evident - but the people responsible will either be long gone or pretend it's not even a problem.

Oh - the hypocrisy thing. Note that one of the problems with the board's passage of the PIE amendments was the fact that no one has any idea what the financial ramifications are.

In that light, check this out:

But Alexander and Shimmin said they prefer to wait until more budget information is available before making administrative hiring decisions.

Using two rationales that are diametrically opposed to each other in the same meeting? That's disrespectful to everyone in the room - at the least, board members could act on a principle that's not some combination of "f*ck Jim Robinson" and "Go PIE!" because the latter principle is clearly on display: PIE wants more money? OK! LHS wants to hire two new administrators instead of three? Gotta wait and see if there's money available...

Speaking of the "f*ck Jim Robinson" principle:

Robinson reminded board members that, by contract, personnel decisions are his responsibility and called the lack of action "micromanagement." Wineteer countered that the board's majority vote in March to not renew Robinson's contract indicate the board wishes to guide the district itself.

Really, Josh? Really? I mean, it's not a surprise - however, you must be really clueless to come out and say it. While I support citizen experts and the value of relevant practical experience (not just formal education or training), the current board - ironically, with the possible exception of Springer - has neither.

In the reading I've done, local control has been increasingly cited as the reason the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in education; after all, it's one of the big differences between the U.S. and most other industrialized nations. The LCSD board is not doing anything to disprove that notion.

Oh, and based on that last comment by Josh, it seems like Robinson can sue the board for breach of contract. Again.

I'm tired. I'm sure there's more - LT will certainly be posting on this, and the Express story will be posted Wednesday.

Just when you get lulled into a false sense of sanity...

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