Bad Behavior Brings Big Reward?

Busy day at Merts Center tomorrow. In the afternoon, there is a rally asking for Wardynski’s resignation, and in the evening, the announcement that the Board has decided to offer him an evergreen, auto-renewing contract.

I’m not even going to pretend we don’t know what the Board will do: this stinks of a done deal, way done and over done, rotten and putrid, and the soliciting of citizen input through email a huge waste of the writers’ time.

Trash it! Delete it! The Board is way too busy to read mail! For heaven’s sake, isn’t it bad enough every 2 weeks to have to sit around listening to constituents’ whining? You don’t really think we are going to be distracted by all these boring emails, do you?. Write Santa Claus instead, folks! Delete, trash, delete.

And I never thought that the BOE would demand Wardynski’s resignation tomorrow, either.But surely when you know that a change.org petition asking the Board to request his resignation has been steadily attracting signatures over the last few months, switching to an auto-renew contract for no good reason is simply a way to send a loud message to anyone who dares hope for answers from the Colonel that they aren’t coming. And tomorrow night, when they go ahead and declare it done, knowing fully well that hours before there was a second rally in two weeks to express distrust in the man, it will send another message: we have the power and you don’t.

Oh, but what about the title of the post? What bad behavior do you claim is being rewarded?

Got a few hours? Read my old posts? Read redeyesfrontpage.blogspot.com and geekpalaver.com. Or for the bad behavior of Wardynski in the past few months alone, read the change.org petition.

And then skip over to the contract the Board is voting on tomorrow night (yea, I know — just a little theatre there), and carry on to page 7, point 11. And for simplicity, we can jump to reason 5 to terminate the supe’s contract.

Dishonesty.

Now, when a US District Judge says 

“The Court strongly suspects that the district has chosen not to share many of the reasons for the choices that it made as it shaped its student assignment plan” (p.101)

“The district’s shifting story regarding M-to-M data is not an isolated incident. Over the past few months, when asked for information, the district frequently has offered incomplete answers. The construction of Jemison is a case in point. At the hearing on the Board’s motion, when the United States pointed out to the superintendent that African-American students at Butler who would be assigned to Jemison under the Board’s plan would move to a more segregated environment, the superintendent responded, “I have to do that because the Court has ordered me to do that.” (Doc. 352, p. 170). The superintendent’s answer is not
accurate. The Court has not ordered the Board to do anything with respect to Butler.” [emphasis added] (pp 96-97)

Notice first the phrases “not an isolated incident”  and “a case in point.” These suggest strongly to me that what we have here are but two examples of dishonesty, if by honest you mean to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” I think that’s what the judge expected, don’t you? I think when Wardynski chose “not to share” or gave “incomplete answers” he was not telling the whole truth. And a “shifting story” sounds to me much like one that has lots of not quite true bits to it. And when I read “not accurate” I think untrue and lies and dishonesty.

The Board apparently does not share my views. Then again, if you read the judge’s findings, they engaged in the same deceit. Ever heard of “enablers”? That’s the Huntsville Board of Education.

Oh, and then there is still the mystery of the NSA call that tipped the supe’s spies to the foreign connection and ultra tacky dagger, all that nonsense. It’s been about a month — more? — and still we do not know who is lying. Perhaps Wardynski’s cabal didn’t mean National Security Agency but No Such Agency. Easy mistake to make.

So: looks to me like we have had some behavior that should lead to terminating the supe’s contract. Instead, it’s now set to auto-renew. It’s a little like those advertising come-ons of get one month’s service free! but we still need your credit card info because if you don’t cancel the contract at exactly 11:11 on February 29 it will renew ’til the next February 29 and then the next and the next.

Ad nauseum.

P.S. This is also in the contract, still: “Evaluation Form, Format and Process. By October 15 of each year of this Contract, the Superintendent shall submit to the Board recommended evaluation criteria for his evaluation.” (p. 6, 10-B)

The more people outside Merts tomorrow, the more arrogant the Board will look when it raises Wardynski up high in the evening. 

mertz

Racism? Profiling? Prejudice? Or Incompetence? The Tale of One Student, Zoned for Butler.

If you think there is no systemic racism in the Huntsville City Schools, perhaps you could explain to me why, without even opening her record, a Mexican girl who transferred from Butler to Lee in 2010 was automatically enrolled in Lee’s remedial classes.

Oh, but you say, this happened 4 years ago, pre-Wardynski. True, but it was the same Board of Education with the exception of Culbreath. And considering the hostility of Wardynski to transfers within the system, it would surprise me to learn that transfer students are now treated with respect. Or given a chance at least.

OK, you object, this was one counselor’s decision. I met with this counselor the next year and found her, as kids had told me, to be a pleasant person who seemed to care about her students. A meeting that should have taken 15 minutes took at least 90 because she was interrupted repeatedly by kids who needed help. If the events that transpired in the letter here were of her making, they were in the context of the HCS’ culture.

The story is laid out in this letter of complaint I sent to Lee. I’ve changed the girl’s and parent’s names.

“I am contacting you on behalf of the mother of one of your freshman students, Maria Garcia. Her mother, Ana Garcia, has fairly good oral comprehension of English but still feels inhibited when she tries to speak in formal situations.

“I have known the Garcia family for six years and was instrumental in Maria’s enrollment in Holy Family School after she completed 5th grade at University Place since we were all dubious about the atmosphere at Ed White Middle School. Maria was zoned for Butler High and entered Lee under the No Child Left Behind provisions.

“My understanding from Maria and her mother is that they are concerned that nevertheless she is in fact at risk of being left behind since at Lee she was scheduled into classes that seem very basic to her, especially her math class. Maria wants to go to college. She is a bright young lady and should go to college.

“If her placement was based on her final grades at Holy Family, there are a few things that should be considered. First, Holy Family uses a traditional grade scale [A 93-100; B 84-92; C 74-83; D 65-73; F 64 and below], so an 83, which would be a mid-level B in the Huntsville City Schools, is a C at Holy Family. Secondly, at least half, perhaps three-quarters, of Holy Family’s graduates go on to Catholic High, which is a college prep school (more than 60% take at least one AP course, 100% college acceptance rate). Unfortunately, although she was accepted to Catholic High, her family could not afford the $6,900 tuition, and so instead are trying to get her the best education they can at Lee.

“Maria tells me that she has been to see you and her understanding is that she will need to wait until her sophomore year before her placements can be re-evaluated. The logic of this is hard to see: why not make the decision now, and let her start getting challenged during the second semester of her freshman year?

“May I ask you to please talk with Maria and explain what Lee has to offer her? Perhaps that would be enough, or we could arrange a conference with you, me, Maria and her mother. Should you have any questions, I can be reached at xxx-xxxx.”

Maria’s schedule was re-cast that same week.

So what do we have here? Was Maria pipe-lined into remedial classes because she was Mexican? Because she was zoned for Butler? Because she was presumed to have gone to a Butler feeder school? Or all of the above?

There’s been a lot of insulting, condescending editorializing over at al.com this week about the need for parental involvement. This girl’s parents cared about her education, although they have little themselves. They did not, however, know how to work the system.

What became of Maria? Despite never seeming to spend a moment studying, she made As and Bs at Lee, but never had much interest in her classes. By the end of her sophomore year, she had lost a lot of her sparkle and ambition.

Her parents sent her back to Mexico to live with her grandmother. They thought she would be safer there and would get a better education. She excelled, and is now in college.

Update on Excluding Redstone Arsenal Families as Stakeholders in the City Schools

If you are unaware that the HCS Board of Education has proclaimed that only citizens of the City of Huntsville are stakeholders in its schools, read this short report first:

Huntsville City Schools Bans Commenting By Military Families

or watch this:

There has been some confusion about the status of military families on Redstone Arsenal. It is really very simple.

1, One bit of misinformation posted on al.com is that RSA families vote in Huntsville City elections so they have not been excluded from commenting at BOE meetings.

RSA families live on a Federal military installation. They DO NOT VOTE in Huntsville City, City of Madison, or Madison County elections. When they call for emergency services, the MPs respond, not the HSV City police. And so on.

2. There is an address for Arsenal mail which includes the word “Huntsville.” This does not mean that Redstone Arsenal is in the City of Huntsville. This is odd, but not meaningful. Consider: Monrovia Elementary is a county school. Its address has the word “Huntsville.” Monrovia is not in the city limits of Huntsville.

Here are the city limits:

http://www.huntsvilleal.gov/gis/gis_maps/pdfs/city_limits.pdf

I have been astounded at how little commentary there has been on this latest debacle.

Huntsville, AL is a military town, remember?

Thousands of Huntsvillians have made billions off the military.

But when it comes to those who make the sacrifices — the ones people love to be the first to praise on Memorial Day as preserving our freedoms — the soldiers and their families, there is simply no interest in these parents being deprived of the freedom to comment to the Board of Education that dictates the policies of the schools their children attend. Shame on you.

Changing the definition of stakeholders in the City Schoools to Huntsville citizens means these 450 or so families no longer have a Board member, although technically I guess they never did, since they do not vote in City elections. 

And the Board rep of the schools their children attend? Culbreath (“The HCS: Good Enough for Your Kids — But Not for Mine”). Likelihood of a property developer giving an underdone damn for families with a median income of $32,000? Won’t bother to answer.

Why did  COLONEL Wardynski sat by quietly and let this happen?

People, we do not live in a military dictatorship yet. You can (surprise!) criticize a Colonel and still be a good American, a Patriot even, although whether you can do so without impunity given his FBI and CIA  and hotline to the NSA — well, you decide what you feel safe in saying,

He doesn’t scare me.

 

Huntsville City Schools Bans Commenting By Military Families

This just in: At tonight’s Huntsville City Schools’ Board Meeting, the Board voted to limit comments during the Citizens’ Comments section at the end of its meeting to residents of the City of Huntsville.

Adjacent to the City of Huntsville is a huge military base, Redstone Arsenal.

Redstone kids go to Huntsville City Schools.

But Redstone families do not live in the City of Huntsville. Thus, now that “only Huntsville residents” can speak at BOE meetings, military families can no longer bring concerns about their children to the Supe Colonel Wardynski’s and BOE’s notice during the “Citizens’ Comments” at the system’s bimonthly meetings.

Let see W and the five fools squirm out of this one.

Rules are rules, you know.

He Spies, etc. Pt. 5. Why is Deterrence Not an Option?

I wish that I had access to a sampling of HCS middle and senior high school students to ask two questions: What happens to students who are expelled? Does it matter how old they are?

For most of my life I have believed that being expelled was the same as dropping out, but with more drama. At least the outcome was the same: prospect of not getting a decent job unless the school-leaver got a GED. Family fireworks. Nothing worse, though.

I’m thinking now I was wrong. Consider this statement from the article alerting us to the HCS surveillance program, or whatever you want to call this latest outrage:

“The students were expelled and placed in alternative school and boot camp programs.”

If expelled means kicked out of school, how can a superintendent place an expelled student in an alternative school or boot camp?

What is the procedure? Pages A14 to A19 of the 2014-2015 HCS Student/Parent Handbook outline the procedure for expulsion, but there is no mention of alternative schools or boot camps. So how do students land in boot camps?

And more importantly, why are students not told that being expelled doesn’t mean they are through with school?

Why are they not told in graphic detail what they can expect their lives to be like if they land in Wardynski’s “boot camp” which I assume is the Pinnacle School’s Elk River Wilderness camp (the “teepees”) but can’t say for sure, since nowhere on the HCS website or in the handbook is there a single mention of an alternative school or boot camp.

This is what Wardynski said way back when he and the Board shut the Seldon Center and got in bed with Pinnacle:

“Those who do not comport themselves according to the regulations and rules of Pinnacle Schools will find themselves living in a teepee. And they won’t be coming back until they can behave. And if they can’t behave, they won’t be coming back to our schools.”

The contract included this:

“. . . HCS may refer students who are being removed from the program to Pinnacle School’s Elk River Treatment Program for intensive therapeutic treatment, upon such terms as may be agreed to by TPS and HCS and at the sole discretion of the Superintendent.” [emphasis added] — Pinnacle and Huntsville City Schools Contract

The prospect of being sent to the sticks far from friends and family with no phone, no internet, no privacy, and no freedom, for an indeterminate stretch could be a good deterrent to those contemplating an expulsion worthy offense. But not wanting to go through such a program would serve as a deterrent only if would-be offenders had a clue what awaited them on the other side of expulsion.

Why don’t they know? Why does the HCS keep this secret to surprise kids with after they have done wrong? 

I find it sinister and sociopathic to operate thusly.

Wardynski has his fantasies of calls from the NSA alerting him to Yemenis plotting to cut off teachers’ heads.

I’ll offer a fantasy of my own.

Imagine you have had enough of high school but you are only 15. You long for your 16th birthday when you will be able to drop out. You turn 16, go to get your license, and discover that the school leaving age has been bumped up to 17 (did you know this, Reader? Meanwhile, the UK has extended voting privileges to 16-year-olds). Despair follows. You cannot take another year of standardizing testing — why bother with all that when you could be preparing and taking the GED, a test that if you perform well will mean something to you, and not the suits? But you also have heard of truant officers and you don’t want to land at the juvenile detention center. So what are your options?

Maybe, you think, if you can’t leave voluntarily, you can get them to throw you out. So you devise a full-proof scheme. You buy a stiletto at the flea market, print out a picture of your principal, pin it to your wall by jabbing the stiletto through the eye, and take out your phone. You post it with the caption, after today I will never have to look Mr. Principal in the eye ever again, on your FB wall and a bunch of your friends’, toss the stiletto in the glove compartment, and off you go, happily thinking this is the last time you will be making this trip.

You are cheerful when confronted by all the assistant principals, etc. and show no remorse because all is going according to plan.

You are expelled the next day,

And then you are informed you will be spending as long as it takes to break you or until your 17th birthday in a teepee. Now it’s W who is flying high.

And there is nothing at all you can do.

No one ever told you that expelled doesn’t mean you are free of the school system’s authority. You didn’t factor in that if you aren’t 17 you have to be educated somewhere, and Mom and Dad don’t have the resources to send you to a private school, even if one would take you, and they have been threatened with arrest and jail if they don’t sign you over, and are too shocked to figure out a workable plan — if there is such a thing.

You would never have done the stupid little charade to get kicked out if you had known that kicked out really meant losing all your freedom.

Nobody is going to believe you that all you wanted was to be free and get on with your life.

You are screwed, in other words, facing weeks, months, years (do they have to release you at 17?) in a private prison with no legal representation, wondering why no one warned you.

Too bad.

 

 

It Gets Worse. The Pinnacle Schools’ Teaching Techniques — and Torture.

From the website of the private corporation that is being paid 1.5 million of tax monies this year alone to educate at-risk students:

“The academic programs of The Pinnacle Schools are designed to support students therapeutically by providing a safe learning environment in which their self-esteem is positively impacted by success in school.”

From al.com, Nov. 2, 2012:

“Police on Wednesday arrested a security guard for Pinnacle Schools, the Huntsville school district’s alternative school, in connection with the alleged beating of at least one Huntsville student at the school last month.

“Julian Lorenzo Boykin, 31, of Huntsville is charged with torture and willful abuse of a child, according to Harry Hobbs, a Huntsville Police Department spokesman. . . .

“Will he receive more charges?” Hobbs said. “My best answer would be (that) he might be charged with some more misdemeanor level charges if the evidence supports the allegations.”

Julian Boykin Pictured: Julian Lorenzo Boykin (Madison County jail)

Pinnacle Schools stands behind him. Innocent until proven guilty — fine. But you know what? Huntsville police spent 21 days investigating before pressing charges. I was starting to give up hope that this would not just disappear into the ether. I’m glad to see that this hasn’t happened.

In her report, Crystal Bonvillian quotes another boy whose allegations aren’t the subject of the current arrest but of the others possible as investigations occur:

“Boykin is accused of pulling several students out of class on Oct. 10 for talking.The boys were allegedly locked in a room with Boykin, who students know as “Mr. B,” and another security guard and forced to assume the plank exercise position.

“‘Mr. B teamed us all up and made us do planks on the ground, if one student fell the other team mate got punched in there (sic) sides and we were being hit so hard it was knocking the air out of us,’ one 13-year-old boy wrote in an account provided to The Times by his mother, Nacole Seldon.”

Note the offense for which the kids were punished: talking. Note how they were (allegedly) punished: by being forced to do exercises. Note the sadism: the boys were put into teams, and if the one doing the exercise fell, the other kid got punched.

These are 13-year-olds. What’s the most one of them likely weighs? Average weight for a 13-year-old boy is 102 pounds.

Take a look at Boykin. Weighs a bit more than 102 pounds —  likely more than 204.

What kind of lesson is being taught when you (allegedly) team kids up, force them to do exercises in the planking position (already outlawed as dangerous in a number of states), and then, when the one exercising falls — falls, mind you — you punch the other team mate black and blue.

I know Superintendent Wardynski doesn’t know squat about pedagogy — that is, teaching techniques — but would this be tolerated at any military boot camp?

Of course not. It teaches nothing but helplessness. It teaches that those who are bigger and stronger can behave as sadistically as they please to those at their mercy.

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Now, what I want to know is, if this is going on among the day kids at Pinnacle, what in hell is happening out at Elk River? Well, Supe? Board? You are responsible for this despicable situation. You should be ashamed.

Cancel the contract with Pinnacle. I’d say if these charges stick, it should lose its license, but I can’t find anything to suggest the day school is licensed. I’d say it should lose its accreditation — but it isn’t accredited. Great choice, W and Board

Let’s return before closing to the Pinnacle Schools website, where we discover that:

“The staff at The Pinnacle Schools has been carefully screened and selected for their leadership skills, maturity and compassion.”

Compassion? Compassion? Compassion?

The Lees are hopeless. So let’s invite comments from some of these other compassionate professionals.

Wayne Wilson, Ed.D, Licensed Psychologist.  Dr. Wilson: please explain to me how the “beat the team member when his partner falls down” approach to discipline for talking in class contributes to a safe learning environment and academic success.

Albert L. Sprinkle, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.  Dr. Sprinkle: Is the “beat the team member when his partner falls down” approach to discipline one you encourage at Decatur General West? Did Boykin train with your night staff over there? Listened to any concerns of your patients (yes, patients: or so they are regarded when it is time to file for insurance) regarding their after-hours’ experiences? How about your private patients? Do you suggest the the “beat the team member when his partner falls down” technique to their parents? Great way to build healthy sibling relationships.

Kimberly Cox, RN, BSN, Director.  Nurse Cox: I notice you are proud of your training “to facilitate others in interpreting the Bible for themselves.” Is the “beat the team member when his partner falls down” approach to discipline based on biblical principles?

You didn’t know what was going on? Sorry. That won’t cut it. Why didn’t you know?

Wardynski, McCaulley, Blair, Robinson, Birney: Enough is enough. Resign or start taking responsibility for your actions.

Good luck, new Board member Mike Culbreath. You’ll need it. I wouldn’t want to be associated with this crew. Don’t drop to their level of incompetence and indifference. Please — please — be a voice for integrity, decency, responsibility, and, yes, compassion.

 

More Consultancy Fees for the Shredder. Separate and Unequal. A 3-Minute Tour.

Update, October 29:

Well, what a coincidence. I posted this on Friday, and today, Monday, there was some news on Butler’s “News” page and some more content on its homepage. Two of the events are for Tuesday, the 30th and one for the 31st. Not much notice then, but better than none.

Money for the Shredder.

With all the news about the beatings at the Pinnacle Schools and the propaganda regarding the digital initiative, you may have missed this article in the Huntsville Times by Challen Stephens: “Alabama leads nation in desegregation cases; Huntsville looks to shed 42-year-old order.” Stephens notes that Huntsville City Schools “remain under judicial order to erase signs of a dual system based on race,” but have “now decided that ending the order should be a top priority and has made that a performance goal for new Superintendent Casey Wardynski.”

Will the Board achieve this goal by obeying the law, doing the right thing, and eliminating the numerous disparities between predominantly white and predominantly black schools?

Not exactly. No, their strategy instead is — surprise — to hire a consultant: “Wardynski this summer brought in Maree Sneed, a Maryland educator turned Washington lawyer and desegregation specialist.” As of October 12, 2012, “Huntsville has paid Sneed for two days of work, $2,448 for July 31 and $2,076.75 for Sept. 14.”

Might as well have sent that $5524.75 through the shredder because Huntsville is nowhere near achieving even a separate and equal school system.

The 3-Minute Tour.

I can show you this in 3 minutes. Open a new tab and go to the HCS site. Now open 2 more tabs, one for Butler High, and one for Grissom. Some consultant (I’m willing to bet) got paid well over the summer to standardize the schools’ websites. Only they aren’t. Compare the Butler and Grissom home pages you just opened. Sure looks to me like a lot more is happening at one school than at the other.

Go a little deeper. Let’s try Guidance. Butler’s page is blank. Grissom’s says it is still under construction, but directs you to link tabs at top of that page, all of which lead to pages full of information and additional links.

Try Latest News. There are 6 subject links at Grissom. At Butler, there is no news [on 10/26; 3 items on 10/29].

How about School Publications? Grissom: 3 links. Butler: 0.

And so on.

How Can This Be Blamed on Students or Parents?

This is my favorite aspect of our short little tour. I simply can’t imagine how Wardynski, his enablers, or even the most rabid comment posters can blame this very public, very obvious display of inequality on the Butler student body or their parents. The students aren’t responsible for the website, and neither are the parents. I don’t know who is, but I can tell you that it doesn’t take a $2500 a day consultant to see that there’s a problem here.

If Consultant Sneed has any professional integrity, she’ll tell the Colonel to save his money because she can’t convince the Justice Department that Huntsville deserves unitary status.

She can’t because it doesn’t.

Dear Board:

Really guys, just how stupid do you think the US Department of Justice is?

“I don’t want us just to get unitary status, I want us to deserve it,” said McCaulley. I’ll clue you in, Ms. McC — you aren’t getting it any time soon.

McCaulley thinks that “the new digital initiative, awarding laptops to each student, helped standardize the curriculum between schools in different parts of Huntsville,” and that this will make a difference.

Malarky. The curriculum has always been standardized because the same textbooks have been adapted for all schools in the system. Geez, lady, think about it.

David Blair believes it is “way past time” to be getting out from under the deseg order: “It’s the right thing for the kids, right thing for the community and the right thing for the city.” Way past time — agreed. But the order isn’t going away just ’cause you are tired of having it hanging over your head, man.

Here’s a suggestion: instead of talking about digital initiatives, spend a few minutes online visiting the websites of the schools in the system. You might see what is obvious to the rest of us.

And while you are at it, type “Pinnacle” in the search box of the HCS main site.Why, oh why, is there nothing about the system’s alternative school on the system’s site?

One might conclude that the Supe, the Board, and the whole of Merts aren’t proud of their association with this train wreck.