In the wake of financial scandals in the Gem State’s education world including the multi-million broadband fiasco, citizens have a right to be leery about cozy relationships between government entities and their business partners.
Take, for example, the recent charter school petition Caldwell School District received from Pathways in Education (PIE). From a public records request, that petition stated that PIE would pay California-based Pathways Management Group (PMG), operated by charter entrepreneur Mr. John Hall, to the tune of $127 per student per month for “charter management.”
With desired enrollment of 300 students and a flexible year-round schedule, that creates a significant contract of $450k for PMG per year. It is unclear what services would be provided for this fee as many of the services listed such as paying utility bills and purchasing electronics appear to be redundant activities the Caldwell district office already performs.Continue reading →
The major development of 2015, of course, related to the contentious tiered licensure and career ladder legislation designed to increase teacher pay while simultaneously deleting certain teacher protections in compromise for the pay bump.
While the tiered licensure plan fell through due to the nearly lockstep opposition of stakeholders, many of its components were instead simply shifted to the career ladder bill that ultimately passed. As predicted, many measures seen potentially retaliatory to teachers such as the continued emphasis in utilizing the Danielson Model for teachers of all types (including Special Education, English Language Learners, Academy/At-Risk Teachers, etc) and Value Added Measures (VAM) are cemented under the law in determining a teacher’s rating.
There is some irony in the precarious position the Gem State has found itself in. Despite setting a goal in 2010 for 60% of Idaho’s young people under age 34 to attend postsecondary education, the Idaho legislature then decided the way to encourage young people to attend college is to significantly inflate the tuition costs for those would-be students in the subsequent years that followed.
This objective was coupled with a comedic “Go-On” and “Don’t Fail Idaho” campaign courtesy of Idaho’s Albertson Foundation designed to prod would-be students into higher education despite the increasing costs to attend tethered together with lackluster job prospects in the Gem State to find employment.Continue reading →
Bluum hosted a Civil Rights Summit in Boise today in which they brought in two guest civil rights attourneys from Washington DC, Lauren Baum and Renita Thukral, to provide information regarding civil rights law and procedures for Idaho public schools; specifically, Idaho’s charter schools compliance with minority student enrollment and compliance with civil rights law.
The forum was attended by a variety of charter stakeholders including charter school principals, board members, and teachers. The speakers presented information civil rights eduction law information specific to Communidad Y Justicia’s Office for Civil Rights complaint which alleges charter schools in Idaho engage in discriminatory practices against minority students in including ethnicity, Limited English Proficiency (LEP), Free/Reduced Lunch (FRL), and Special Education students. Continue reading →
“Poor management, poor decisions, and poor system functionality compounded themselves and prevented the goals for a statewide instructional management system from being realized,” said Director Rakesh Mohan of the Office of Performance Evaluations. “The net result is that the project has sunk costs of about $61 million, and the Department of Education and the Legislature are left with few options to consider when deciding the future of the program.”
Such was the scathing report issued by Rakesh Mohan, Director of Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluations, to the legislature today on the current state of dysfunction regarding Schoolnet, Idaho’s Instructional Management System. Continue reading →
Albertson blindly ignored the advice of the federal government warning against giving money to the ill-thought-out project up when the US Dept. Of Ed refused to issue Idaho a grant for a longitudinal data tracking system citing a myriad of problems with Idaho’s proposal.
Not only did a narrative of a taxpayer checkbook out of control quickly become apparent with the project bloating even the wildest projections of cost to develop (upwards of 42 million and counting), but an additional narrative of total dysfunction also emerged.
I was cautious as many districts either continued or implemented new four day school weeks, put bandaids on crumbling infrastructure, and particularly struggled in those minority of districts that have steadfastly opposed levies despite dwindling statewide funds.
I was present for the Nampa School Board meeting this past Tuesday, and presented along with a few other speakers to the board against signing a contract with TFA.
Sadly, the Trustees voted unanimously to proceed hiring Teach for America recruits starting next school year.
Some interesting items of note came out during the meeting; for example, former Luna Idaho Deputy Superintendent Roger Quarles, now working for the Albertson Foundation, has been working with Teach for America by meeting privately with districts around the state, including Nampa, to help TFA make their pitch.
In addition, it appears that the Albertson Foundation, at least for Nampa, is covering the entirety of the first year head-hunter fee to TFA. Next year the district will be responsible for $1,500 per TFA recruit in their second year, and the price of first year TFA will be negotiated.
A small victory: the district is only signing a one year contract with TFA instead of the traditional two year document. After a year, they will have to make another vote to proceed with their relationship with TFA.
Idaho could benefit from examining the successful models of several States and hiring a professional grant writer and some technical experts who could better inform the development of a better-conceived application to fund the work that the State so desperately needs.
The response, penned by TFA’s “special education specialist” Dhathri Chunduru, offers a detailed view of how the organization supports TFAers hired as special education instructors in Georgia. In her reply, Ms. Chunduru outlines the types of supports TFA provides to these new special education “teachers.”
To TFA’s credit, it appears that they offer some training critical to any would-be special educator. However, she seems to have missed the larger point. TFAers receive this training on the job. Yes, students and parents, your TFA “highly qualified teacher” has training wheels. Continue reading →