Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Distinguished Educator, Judy Elliott presentation to the Buffalo School Board

Dr. July Elliott:  Photo: Mike Desmond, WBFO News 
Dr. Judy  Elliott, the distinguished educator, Commissioner John B. King, Jr., appointed to the Buffalo Schools, the School Board hired July 2012, started as a part-time consultant, the same time as Dr. Pamela C. Brown the new Superintendent of the Buffalo Schools.

She presented a report to the School Board at a meeting on Wednesday, March 26. Elliott presents quarterly reports as part of her contract with the district.

Elliott, quiet as it is kept, has been mentioned as possible superintendent of the Buffalo Schools, though she left the area to pursue her career goals, some have asked why not?

Her appointment as distinguished educator generated controversy because the Buffalo School Board had to hire her whether they agreed to her appointment or not about 18 months ago.  She works  as a consultant from her home in Tampa, Florida after spending a tumultuous period as Chief Academic Officer in the L.A. Unified School System after a new superintendent allegedly wanted his own team and  disagreed with her advocacy of a controversial homework policy in the district. 

Her contract bought out in 2011, she has been moonlighting as an educational consultant in the nation's public schools, Buffalo Schools is one of these schools she works for around the country.  When appointed it was rumored, the distinguished educator was the first step in the State Education Department move to take over the Buffalo Schools, "something prefaced by the  proposed take-over legislation discussed back in 2009.  And it may happen if there is as she noted at the School Board meeting Wednesday night, …"the number of low-performing schools has not changed."

"Judy's here to help - be a source of support for the superintendent and the board," present recommendations to them and ultimately to us at the (State Education) Department on how to move things forward in Buffalo.  The only thing I'm interested in is improved student outcomes." Commissioner King (10/7/2012)
Tiffany Lankes blogged in the School Zone blog , Buffalo News, it was the second time in three months she had seen Elliott.  This information cited here mostly comes from her blogging at the March 26, Buffalo School Board meeting  

She described her role as a new one for the state education department and said it was "meant to be a technical resource and assistance."  Lankes blogged, Elliott provided, "…an overview of her role and the system she is using to assess progress."

Elliott said  there are  two key questions in doing this work: "Are you happy with your data and  is every classroom one you would put your own flesh and blood?"

She spoke about her collaboration with Superintendnent Pamela Brown to develop the new Common Core Formative Assessments and the audit on special education by the Great City Schools, working with the Educational Partnership Organizations and walking classrooms. And she has been working with the Chiefs of Leadership in Central Office more closely this year on student support plans.

Lankes blogged, Elliott, Elliott mentioned, "Student placement is a huge issue in this district, especially students with special needs, English Language Learners and those overage and under credited ."  She said, "some areas of concern are promotion and retention, student placement, service for suspended students, attendance taking, discipline data, general use of data to improve outcomes for students."

Elliot continues, "We are working on a better system for taking and tracking attendance. "(The Buffalo Schools  introduced the student information system Infinite Campus, the summer of 2012, but personnel have complained they were offered minimal staff development to understand how it worked from the clerks to the administrators. And the system is a problem because  teachers  have to document attendance period by period though last year home room attendance introduced).

She cited as "our big picture issues…support for students with special needs and those learning to speak English."

A  "Comment from Kim" on the blogged mentioned, "we were directed to change IEPs in the building to reflect whatever services we happened  to have available.  We told the state, Barb Trunzo. Nothing ever came of it." News blogger Lankes responded, "Kim, I'd like to hear more about this can you e-mail me,  so expect a story sometime about this issue if "Kim" follows through and e-mails Lankes.

Elliott recommendations included "…improving instruction for struggling students, increasing collaboration with principals and help them to understand policies and procedures.  School Board member, Carl Paladino responded, "It seems to me we spend an awful lot of money hiring consultants to train our principals."  To this, Superintendent Brown responded, "that with all of the new mandates and standards you don't always have expertise in the schools."

Eilliott adds, "we are spending a lot of money on professional development, but need to do a better job tracking or return on investment." 

Hmmm, does it include her work and reports about the Buffalo Schools?  How is the district return on investing in a distinguished educator?  How is it helping to move the failing schools she oversees, the Priority schools from the state list?  Some have questioned in a cash strapped school district facing a $50 million budge deficit why is a distinguished educator needed at nearly $200 hourly in addition to daily  paid expenses who principally  resides out of town?  That includes Dr. Mary Guinn and Company from Evans Newton Consultant group. 

Lankes blogged, "Elliott was taking about the retention issue and the need to track kids throughout the year to make sure they are not sliding.  Right now, the number of low-performing schools has not changed.  It behooves us as a district to go  in and look at our focus schools to make sure they don't slip into priority school status."

Superintendent Brown chimed in that district still"... waiting to hear from the state on whether any of our schools can come off the priority list."  While School Board member Paladino said, "it's nice to say we're making progress, but it's hard to see it."

Elliott sees as a problem, …"disconnect between Central Office and the schools, and that's typical in large urban districts.  If we want to show improvement, we need to listen to the people at the building level."  How?  In what way is Elliott proposing this listening should be done?  Isn't there suppose to be a "one-stop shop" mechanism Superintendent Brown proposed the different Chiefs of Leadership are suppose to do through their offices in Central Office to help the leaders in the school buildings?

At large School Board member Florence Johnson chimed in saying " I am amazed at how long it takes the state to get us data."  Elliott responded , she "…thinks you have the data you need to make decisions." And Elliott continued to respond to School Board member Johnson, "the last thing you want to do is wait for someone to give you a report to take action.  The challenges with students who are overaged and under credited  are well-documented in this district." 

 If so what is Elliott doing to contribute to the discussion to remedy the situation some ask? And she added, "you're held accountable for all of the kids who show up in your building.  You can calculate that right now."  And, "theres's lots of stuff in the district's power and authority that we could be doing."

Elliott commented, " if we're suppose to be taking attendance, we need to make sure we're doing it.  Principals have Apps on their telephone to help track which teachers are taking it."

A secondary staff member making a "Comment From Guest" said something very interesting why attendance is challenging to keep up with on the  new student information system Infinite Campus:

"...students come in at any point in the period (especially in chaotic schools). It becomes unreasonable for teachers, who need to be teaching, to keep updating Infinite Campus throughout the period. Especially when they need to be in the hallway during transitions and therefore can't do it between classes." 
Attendance is an issue. I have the same class all day but have to take attendance eight times.....its time consuming.
"When you have to stop teaching to log in and take it attendance it makes it hard. You have to stop what you are doing for at least five minutes eight times a day. Total of forty minutes lost on teaching"

Interesting Elliott quoted as saying, "this is not necessarily a safe environment for people to speak their truths." Hmmm, did she mean her own truths or district staff in general?

Elliott presented for about one hour at the meeting. Her reports are on the district website .

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Buffalo school board voted on turnaround plans for MLK and Bennett

Hot off the press, the Buffalo School Board tonight Buffalo News blogger, Tiffany Lankes, commented: 
"...narrowly approved turnaround plans for Bennett High School and Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute. At the same time, the board rejected a plan to merge the former Pinnacle Charter School with Harvey Austin School."

Buffalo Public Schools scandal brewing

Buffalo Public Schools trending downward a scandal brewing behind the appointments Superintendent Pamela C. Brown made to her leadership team in October.

Buffalo News reported yesterday two of her most senior top administrators and cabinet members aren't properly certified and don't hold the professional administrative experience to have been appointed to their  positions. How is Superintendent Brown moving the district forward with what appears as a leadership team made up of charlatans many of the comments in the News report allege?

Park District school board member Carl Paladino divulged the information in a memo gone viral and appearing in the Buffalo Rising news blog on the Internet. He named   it "Collusion and Conspiracy"
and has called for a criminal investigation.

Also, an official at the State Education Department, Albany when contacted chimed in to say:
"The failure of these two administrators, and of the district, to secure the proper certification means that the district could be held liable for any decisions made by Williams or Alexander on a daily basis, according to Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn." And “A district necessarily incurs liability in such situations,” he said.

What adds to the Shenanigans is the response of the Director of Human Resources now called "Chief of Talent Management" ironically, Darren Brown, appointed to his post by former interim Superintendent Amber Dixon.

Darren Brown, in the BN article said “I should have followed up on this.” 
"He also said that while the district could face liability issues until Williams and Alexander are properly certified, both administrators work in collaboration with the superintendent and other administrators who do possess the proper certification, so district exposure should be limited."

Incredible! The Buffalo Public Schools loss credibility not only because of this shoddy leadership team, but has a "Chief of Talent Management" who doesn't know how to do his own job primarily helping the superintendent appoint "talent" to her leadership team. 

Is this why the Buffalo Public Schools are failing? Some say too many at the top and in school buildings that don't know what they are doing and skimming top $$$ from a school district with a $50 million budget deficit !

Monday, March 10, 2014

Buffalo Teachers Federation sends memo today about Phil Rumore

Teachers today received a memo from Edie LeWin a Vice President of the Buffalo Teachers Federation regarding Phil's Health. 

The e-mail sent at 1:06 surprised teachers thinking the information and status of Mr. Rumore would had been divulged last Monday when the union president admitted to the Albany Medical Center. 

Instead, the ordeal of the health status of Rumore portrayed in the local media first before the union notified the teachers one week later only after the press reported the story.

LeWin wrote, "when he arrived in Albany, it became necessary for him to seek medical assistance.  He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday evening with four (4) broken or cracked ribs and fluid in his chest cavity."

She added, he didn't  want it publicized but the media became aware of it. He is doing well expected to be back later this week.

Yet, Rumore said in the Buffalo News story today "...although he is improving, he doesn’t know when he will be discharged from the hospital or if he will be able to fly home, given the extent of his injuries. And he was not able to walk until Friday.

LeWin, a retiree, Vice President of the BTF wrote she was in regular contact with Rumore seeks and rely on his guidance in all matters encouraged the teachers to continue contacting the office  with their concerns.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mary Guinn rehired deputy superintendent

Dr. Mary E. Guinn, a former consultant with the Buffalo Schools rehired again as temporary deputy superintendent the Supetintendent Pamela Brown announced at a press conference Tuesday.

Guinn was appointed to the post last March for three months though she lacked the proper NYS certification in school administration. 

This time she has the credential NYS Education Department issued to her February 2014.

Although, Superintendent Brown criticized for appointing her she justified it 
citing Guinn's extensive professional experience as an administrator, as well as, her involvement in overseeing the reorganization of Central Office into an administrative structure led by a chief instead  of assistant superintendents.

And four assistant superintendents named  community superintendents under former Superintendent Williams are now a chief with an office and staff to work under a new one-stop-shop leadership apparatus to provide more support to the schools. 

Board member John Licata had asked the superintendent to provide the School Board feedback on the one-stop-shop at a previous meeting. 

While an  at-large School Board race is looming in the background, the nominating petition drive started in February about 11 candidates hoping to win a ballot to run for only three seats.

And whether the superintendent stays or goes will be a major impetus to the voter turn out in this election along with Dr. Barbara Nevergold both School Board member Carl Paladino has attempted to unsuccessfully remove. 

The fate of Guinn whether she stays beyond June also depends on the up coming at-large Buffalo School Board elections in May.

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
"Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo