Thursday, July 3, 2008

Academic Coaches losing jobs -Philadelphia

HERE first

and then HERE.


Anonymous said...

Lavonne Sheffield, formerly Detroit, Chief Accountability Officer that's a quirk of fate.

I remember the day (2002):

DETROIT, Mich. - LaVonne Sheffield, Detroit Public Schools' chief academic officer, repaid the school district $5,861 in the past three weeks for personal expenditures and purchases without receipts that she billed to the district.

The reimbursements included $1,200 to the Detroit Institute of Arts Founders Society, $846 for a Skymall catalog purchase, $278 to Mario's Restaurant, and $344.60 for flowers she bought for staff.

Sheffield also paid back money for University of Michigan and Wayne State University alumni dues, and $118 for a room at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas that she canceled to move to a different casino hotel for a district-approved conference. While at that May conference, Sheffield got married to Detroit police Inspector William Hudson.

Sheffield was among top-level administrators who repaid the district after the media requested debit card bills and receipts last month. Those receipts show some of the same misspending and lax bookkeeping for which principals and school bookkeepers were disciplined over the past two years.

District policy prohibits use of school money for "purchases of personal items that benefit school or district staff and their family members."

This brings to mind another interesting although little known case involving California Dept of ED - those wittle wabbits keep on eating those cawwots:

The state Department of Education and outgoing Superintendent Delaine Eastin were slapped Wednesday with a $4.5 million judgment in a whistle-blower case in Sacramento Superior Court.

In an unusual verdict -- holding a high-ranking official personally liable -- the jury found Eastin "acted with malice" and that she should pay punitive damages, which could be millions of dollars more. . . .

Lindberg said he and others were forced to quit or were fired after they discovered the misappropriation of federal funds doled out by the department between 1995 and 2000 to community-based organizations that ran adult-education English and citizenship classes. (He's not kidding either and if you don't think its happenning in Washington just be forewarned)

Investigations later found cases of embezzlement. Education Department officials were unable to account for $11 million in taxpayer funds.

Lindberg, who worked for the department for more than 20 years, said that after he brought his findings of wrongdoing to Eastin and other department officials, they attempted to "sweep them under the carpet." They demoted him to keep him from telling others, he said.

(The amazing thing about this story was that it worked its way into school districts all over the state and affected Title 1 personnel at school sites and at the district level. So I am a bit jaded over the whole thing - we may never know the full extent of the fraud.)

Anonymous said...

Here's more about Lavonne and this article explains how they misappropriated the funds for Edison et al. Ms. Sheffield was doing more than being an incompetent administrator.

How much did reform cost Philadelphia? About $20 million per year. Currently their school budget has a deficit of $140 million. (Is there a tiny bit of larceny going on in Philadelphia? How many ways can you pillage a school district?)

As the School Reform Commission gets ready to decide how or whether to continue the nation’s largest experiment in school privatization here in Philadelphia, it will have a mountain of data, as well as recommendations from two high-level reports, from an in-house review, and from CEO Paul Vallas.

Even so, neither Vallas nor the SRC has yet clarified their criteria for determining if contracts with six private managers should continue, end, or change significantly.

“I support keeping what works and throwing out what doesn’t work,” Vallas said in a February press briefing.

Said SRC chairman James Nevels: “There are a number of factors that have to be taken into account.”

The six private managers – the for-profits Edison Schools, Inc. and Victory Schools; nonprofits Foundations, Inc., and Universal; and Penn and Temple universities – have operated schools since 2002 under terms of the state takeover of the District. These providers are also known as education management organizations, or EMOs.

So far, the studies – one from the RAND Corporation and Research for Action (RFA), the other from a state-funded panel of experts -- have cast doubt on the effectiveness of the private managers in driving student achievement beyond what the District could accomplish on its own.

The RAND/RFA study found that students in 41 privately managed schools had academic gains that were no different from those in the rest of the District. The schools that did stand out above the pack, particularly in math, were overseen by the District’s Office of Restructured Schools from 2002 to 2005. Those schools were kept under District control while getting supports including teacher coaches and extra time for planning, as well as more intensive focus on reading and math.

More specifically, the two reports raised questions as to whether the extra cost to the District of privatized school management – which has averaged about $20 million a year – can be justified, especially in light of a looming shortfall in the 2007-08 budget that has been estimated to be as high as $140 million.

Signed Didiley Dropper

Anonymous said...

The chain is endless, these guys are standing tall, congradulating each other on what a fine job they're doing running a district into the ground. (Look even a CEO can run a school district - just like riding a bicycle.)

(2007) Evans, who has a long history of encouraging options beyond traditional public school - including charter schools - pushed for the state takeover as a state representative. Yet he believes the city has a good shot at affecting the choice of a new CEO, thanks in part to who is running the state right now. "There is a Democrat in the Governor's mansion," Evans said with a bit of a chuckle. "And the last time I checked, he lived in East Falls. He is from Philadelphia, and you can talk to him."
Evans compared Vallas to John Timoney, another outsider who shook up a Philadelphia institution, and had a not-long, if memorable, tenure, and who Evans backed. Changing things in Philly is not easy, he implied, and reformers often have a limited life span.
But reforms can stick. Chaka Fattah -- who has been a strong backer of Paul Vallas -- took a moment from our interview to praise Vallas' tenure: "Philadelphia, its children, and the city as a whole have benefitted greatly from ... the significant progress of and public interest in our schools," he said. "I credit Paul Vallas and the SRC for five years of very hard, difficult work."

And, he said, "we have to work to get the focus on the future now," making it clear that he'd be involved in the conversation about the new CEO.

Anonymous said...

Lesson for taxpayers, if you want school reform its going to cost a heck of alot more than you anticipated.

Anonymous said...

The study that wasn't referenced but was critical of the Rand Study was authored by Paul E. Peterson at Harvard.

Petersen is a member of the independent review panel advising the Department of Education’s evaluation of the No Child Left Behind law. The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center reported that Peterson’s studies on school choice and vouchers were among the country’s most influential studies of education policy.

Here's a link to his study of Philadelphia and his criticism that the Rand Study did not go far enough to identify achievement in the Charter Program. Peterson and Chester Finn are the same thing practically.

School Reform in Philadelphia:
A Comparison of Student Achievement at
Privately-Managed Schools with Student
Achievement in Other District Schools
Paul E. Peterson
Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
PEPG 07-03

Anonymous said...

If charter schools fail to deliver (raise AYP) will states allow them to continue?

Does the public really want another layer of bureaucracy running school districts (state-takeover) which means hiring privately managed contractors courtesy of lawmakers?

Can the public afford to be managed by this much incompetence?