I AM A WINNER? — PART 5

vablogs2.pngWith this post, we have our third winner, the winner in the News Summary Blog Category. However, before I get into that, I would like to mention several posts at other blogs. 

  • On his blog, Discriminations, John Rosenberg posted the following: Will Insults Poodles! This post contains a link to a column by George Will.

    Will points out the real target in the Democrats’ drive to end the Federal Government educational voucher program in the District of Columbia. Democrats, in their canine devotion to teachers unions, oppose empowering poor children to escape dependency on even terrible government schools. Unions and their poodles say school choice siphons money from public schools. But federal money funds the D.C. program, so killing it denies education money to the District while increasing the number of pupils the District must support. 

  • At Tertium Quids, Adam Schaeffer tells us how to reduce the high cost of public education in Arlington County in: How to Fix County Budget Problems.

    Arlington is planning to spend over $23,000 per student this year according to the Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE). That’s a 33 percent increase in constant dollars since 2000. 

    And yet the county is still talking about tax increases to cover the expected $80-$100 million shortfall the county expects next year. 

    Here’s a great alternative; fund the schools at 2000 levels and we’re left with an extra $108 million. Voila, no tax increases! 

  • At SWAC Girl, Lynn Mitchell asks a question: Does anyone expect public school establishment to get behind charter schools? 

    Charter schools … another form of school choice. But will charter schools ever get anywhere in Virginia? 

    The Virginia Education Association, the Virginia School Board Association, and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents are all against them in one way or another. 

Education is fundamental to civilization. Through the process of our education, we learn how to get along with each other and run our society. Nonetheless, we have turned our public education system wholly over to politicians. We just give politicians our money and hope for the best. That is the height of irresponsibility, and the results speak for themselves.  In his column, George Will speaks to how twisted our society is becoming as a result. 

For congressional Democrats, however, expanding dependency on government is an end in itself. They began the Obama administration by expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. It was created for children of the working poor, but the expansion made millions of middle-class children eligible — some in households earning $125,000. The aim was to swell the number of people who grow up assuming that dependency on government health care is normal. (from here

“Expanding dependency on government is an end in itself.”  Instead working towards a society populated by healthy and resourceful citizens, our leaders now strive diligently to make us ever more dependent dependents. In colonial America, government provided little. People joined together to solve their problems on their own.  Unfortunately, Americans have slowly lost much of the initiative and the organizational skills that permitted such independence. This generation of leaders apparently has no interest in fostering citizenship that does not involve dependence upon large, monopolistic and bureaucratic institutions. 

Providing our children a proper education is an old problem. So it is that Psalm 78 begins thus: 

Psalm 78 (Today’s New International Version)

A maskil of Asaph.

 1 My people, hear my teaching;
       listen to the words of my mouth.   

2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
       I will teach you lessons from the past—   

3 things we have heard and known,
       things our ancestors have told us.   

4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
       we will tell the next generation
       the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
       his power, and the wonders he has done.   

5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
       and established the law in Israel,
       which he commanded our ancestors
       to teach their children,   

6 so the next generation would know them,
       even the children yet to be born,
       and they in turn would tell their children.   

7 Then they would put their trust in God
       and would not forget his deeds
       but would keep his commands.   

8 They would not be like their ancestors—
       a stubborn and rebellious generation,
       whose hearts were not loyal to God,
       whose spirits were not faithful to him.  

The Winner in the News Summary Blog Category

The blog PWC Education Reform Blog wins in the News Summary Blog Category. This post, I AM A WINNER? — PART 2, describes the criteria.

Why the PWC Education Reform Blog?

The PWC Education Reform Blog is a parent-run blog devoted to education. It features news designed to generate interest in issues which affect the education of Prince William County children. Here is what the blog says about itself.

This blog was developed by parents concerned with what we consider an  overall decline in instruction in Prince William County Schools. Our focus is on several issues:

  • Fuzzy Math in PWC Schools
  • Language Arts
  • Special Ed
  • Parental Choice In Education

Our hope is that this blog comes to serve as a point for information for parents that circumvents the PWCS filters.

The articles on the blog are carefully researched. Moreover, the parents running the blog have taken their issues directly to the public and the School Board.  To protest the adoption of Math Investigation in our elementary schools, each of the PWC Education Reform Blog bloggers has spoken repeatedly at School Board meetings.  In fact, the issue of Math Investigations is what got PWC Education Reform Blog started. Since then the blog has broaden its horizons.  For example,  Celebrating mediocrity is a letter to a local paper that addresses Prince William County’s Standards of Learning scores.

Prince William County Schools (PWCS) has issued the Year 3 Evaluation Report (Y3R) for its elementary math program. Last year’s report was presented to the public in September of 2008, but Y3R was not available until 2010.

It appears that PWCS is striving to be average.  (continued here)

A Review of a PWC Education Reform Blog Post

Since the bloggers at the PWC Education Reform Blog wrote the local paper to draw attention to the issue, I was tempted to do a post on Three Years of TERC – Where Are the Problems?  However, ridding the schools of Math Investigation would not solve our school system’s basic problem, NO SCHOOL CHOICE!  So I chose this post, A Child’s Future Should Not Depend on The Lottery.  Here is the content of that post.

We don’t generally advocate movies here at the Education Reform Blog. We are making an exception for The Lottery.

This movie documents parents fight for their children’s future – a future which, in NY City and Washington DC, depends on whether they win the Charter School Lottery.

The trailer alone will enrage you and break your heart. Our children deserve better.

When governments give out funds for alternative educational choices, it is not uncommon to use a lottery to select recipients from amongst the many applicants. People want a choice, but our glorious leaders insist upon depriving them of one.

Virginia is now in the throes of the battle over school choice, a battle over charter schools.

Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to open more charter schools by shifting power from local school boards to the Virginia Board of Education, which would screen applications and have the authority to overrule local decisions.

Final approval on charter schools — public schools that have some autonomy from state and local regulations — currently rests with local school boards, which proponents say contributes to Virginia’s low number.

The state has three charter schools, with a fourth slated to open in Richmond this year.

McDonnell’s proposals to loosen laws on charter schools, as well as to establish virtual school programs and college partnership schools, are set to be introduced today and carried by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

Standing alongside former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, who backed the charter push, McDonnell said “the system’s broken.”  (continued here)

Somehow some way we have to fix the system. By becoming involved in their schools and informing the public, parents such as those at the PWC Education Reform Blog can, have, and should continue to play a significant role.

Other Contest Winners

See I AM A WINNER? — PART 1 for a list of winners and contest rules.

19 thoughts on “I AM A WINNER? — PART 5

  1. This is in response to school board Chairman Milton Johns letter to the editor which was published February 22:

    February 23, 2010

    P.W.C. school board Chairman Milton Johns states, ” I was surprised to
    see today’s follow-up story on the Greece, N.Y., schools audit, since
    the audit report is around a year old. There were two financial
    audits done. There was the audit by the New York Comptroller which
    found the $119 million voter-approved capital improvements plan was
    replete with poor fiscal management, waste and abuse. Then there was
    the forensic audit performed by Eldredge, Fox and Poretti which
    essentially found the same thing. Chairman Johns states, ” I also
    believe that the audit must also be viewed in the context of the
    political situation in Greece, N.Y., and the underlying motivations
    that may not be apparent to us here in Prince William County.” He is
    implying the results of the audit by the New York Comptroller and the
    forensic audit by Eldredge, Fox and Poretti are not valid, that they
    are politically motivated and without merit. He presents no evidence
    to substantiate this.

    Chairman Johns doesn’t mention the other audits which were done
    pertaining to Walts time as superintendent of GCSD.. There was a 2005
    education audit which found a culture of negativity and overall lack
    of trust. There was also a 2005 Greece BOE audit investigating
    allegations of discrimination against teachers.

    Another thing Prince William County citizens may not know is that in
    2005 eight families accused Greece school district of denying disabled
    children a “free appropriate public education based on Walt’s
    policies. As a result there was a lawsuit.

    Chairman Johns writes, “Knowing what is in the New York audit report
    and knowing Dr. Walts’ actions, I am confident that he did, in fact,
    follow all processes and procedures that were in place at the time in
    his previous school system.” The Greece group Citizens for
    Accountability and Reform in Education didn’t think so.

    It is obvious in writing his letter to the editor Chairman Johns is
    engaging in damage control. He is correct in pointing out since Walts
    has been superintendent of PWCS no impropriety has been discovered.
    However, based on Superintendent Walts performance in his last job in
    Greece, N.Y. the P.W. County citizen/taxpayer should be wary of his
    spending and policies.

    Finally, Chairman Johns mentions the strides PWCS have made. This is
    great news. Education of our children is the most important thing.
    However, there are other items which are important such as whether
    teachers are being discriminated against and special ed students are
    receiving a free and appropriate education. It is important money
    isn’t spent on a $10,000 dollar water fountain and a $100,000 Steinway
    piano.

    To date Superintendent Walts hasn’t had any of the difficulties which
    plagued him in Greece. Let’s hope it stays that way.

    Like

  2. I thought it would be more useful to provide the URls to these stories in case anybody wants to find out more information pertaining to Walts.

    Some readers may be interested in what occurred in Greece, New York when Stephen L. Walts was superintendent there I googled the subject and found the following information. In addition, there are articles pertaining to his time as superintendent of Prince William County Schools. Also, Please access http://www.voteforboard.com/comments_archive.html

    Whether it be creating a culture of negativity and lack of trust, mainstreaming special ed students to cut costs, financial waste and abuses, angering parents over Math Investigations, etc. the picture that emerges of Superintendent Walts is not a positive one.

    Schools Accused of Pushing Mainstreaming to Cut Costs
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119758950772128219.html

    Consultant said Greece Students Hurt by Culture
    http://ptagreeceny.org/gc/GCNews_files/NewsStories/051018 Consultant says Greece students hurt by culture.pdf

    Greece school board run amok
    http://rochesterturning.com/2008/02/05/greece-school-board-run-amok/

    Albany faults Walts
    http://www.mpnnow.com/towns/greece/x603856718

    Group Exposes Former School Superintendent

    Older Comments-VoteForBoard.com
    http://www.voteforboard.com/comments_archive.html

    How did Walts get his benefits?
    http://www.mpnnow.com/towns/greece/x1308515884/How-did-Walts-get-his-benefits

    Four N.Y. Teachers Sue Walts, Allege Discrimination
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/14/AR2006011400149.html

    Prince William Schools Chief had Tense Tenure in New York
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/11/AR2005121101143.html

    Secrecy and superintendent hiring
    http://www.schwoebel.net/wp005/index.php/2006/01/23/secrecy-and-superintendent-hiring/

    N.Y. Audit: School Superintendent Walts Didn’t Control Spending
    http://www2.insidenova.com/isn/news/local/article/ny_audit_schools_superintendent_walts_didnt_control_spending/52103/

    P.W. Schools Chief Faces Doubts on Leadership
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/15/AR2006071500949.html

    Controversies Threaten to Erode Trust in Schools Chief
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/11/AR2008021103033.html

    Angry Parents: Problems with math problem linger unsolved
    http://www.examiner.com/a-1425543~Angry_parents__Problems_with_math_program_linger_unsolved.html

    Superintendent due for $14,000 raise
    http://www2.insidenova.com/isn/news/local/articlesuperintendent_due_for_14000_raise5082/

    Prince William Schools superintendent presents bleak budget picture
    http://www2.insidenova.com/isn/news/local/articlecounty_schools_superintendent_proposes_eliminating_700_jobs/51660/

    I will let the reader come to his or her own conclusions.

    Like

  3. JACKIE:

    Thanks for the info. Here are the headlines I found doing a google of Walts:

    *Greece Central School District audit details waste
    *Albany faults Walts
    *Schools Accused of Pushing Mainstreaming to Cut Costs
    *NY audit: Schools Superintendent Walts didn’t control spending
    *Greece Central School District will keep paying Walts’ benefits
    *How did Walts get his benefits?
    *Pr. William Educator Accused Of Age Bias; Schools Chief Sued Four
    Teachers In Former System
    *Secrecy and superintendent hiring
    *Group Exposes Former School Superintendent
    *Consultant says Greece students hurt by culture
    *New Schools Chief Leaves Legacy of Change
    Walts Increased Spending, Programs
    *Pr. William Schools Chief Faces Doubts on Leadership
    *Controversies Threaten to Erode Trust in Schools Chief
    *Angry parents: Problems with math program linger unsolved
    *Greece School board run amok
    *Money-Hungry Schools Getting Down to Business
    *Ads on Pr. William Web Sites Fuel Debate Over New Commercial Endeavors
    *Prince William schools superintendent presents bleak budget picture
    *Superintendent due for $14,000 raise
    *Pr. William Schools Chief had Tense Tenure in New York

    Like

  4. Michael ~

    Here’s the link for all PWCS regs: http://pwcs.edu/admin/pwcs/Polindex.htm

    Nothing much there under “Selection of Superintendent” (Reg. 151) “The Superintendent shall be selected from the entire list of eligible candidates certified by the State Board and shall hold office for the term as stated by law.” Couldn’t find anything specific on the hiring process under any other regs.

    You may have to look at the VA BOE’s regs now 🙂

    Like

  5. After thoughtful consideration I’ve decided my letter to editor regarding Superintendent Walts doesn’t deserve to be published. I’m sure this immediately dawned on the editorial page editor Alex Granados. I’m learning to many things which cancel out some of the statements I make. For example, I learned school board officials did visit Greece and that the $37.5 million Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center was approved and construction had already begun BEFORE Walts had been hired as superintendent. Furthermore, as much as I would like to nail Superintendent Walts he has of date done nothing fiscally wrong. At least that is according to a 2009 audit done by McGladfry and Pullen. So there is no smoking gun. On the bright side I have learned much from some of the bloggers here who have responded. I welcome the information and comments. I just need to be much more focused and precise in criticizing Walts. I need to have my facts straight. Another thing is it is such a complex subject to tackle and how can you get the message out in 350 words or less? I will be a part of this blog from now on and if I come across any information about this subject (and others) I will post it. Finally, I am interested in the hiring process for superintendent and I’m hoping Jacki can illuminate this for me.

    Like

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