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  • Wednesday, November 30, 2005

     

    OUSD's FOCUS ON CONSULTANTS Part 3

    A Principal working for a firm she recommends that then gets multiple contracts; pirated works copied without the owners’ permission; top administrators comparing the program to “marriage encounter training”; 40% of the consultant contracts cut back with no reciprocal program cuts: Welcome to the Focus on Results program in the Orange Unified School District. The Focus on Results educational consultant program in OUSD has cost taxpayers over two million dollars in educational tax funds over the last four years that include years with budget cuts of popular programs. Orange Net News is producing this yearlong exclusive news analysis series that examines the OUSD program; the financial implications; and the worth of the program to the taxpayers that paid for the controversial consultant program.

    PART III- The Cohen Report
    The long anticipated OUSD administrative report on the controversial $2 million dollar Focus on Results consultant program by OUSD Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Cohen was received by the OUSD Trustees at their November 17th, 2005 Board meeting. Despite questionable statistics, clear misinformation, and a stunning revelation by Cohen that for three years OUSD administrators cut back the programs payment fees to the consultants by 40% (without cutting the actual yearly budget requests for funding by the same amount), the report was quickly embraced by the Board’s Liberal Block led by OUSD Villa Park Democrat Kathy Moffat and her voting block allies Kim Nichols, and Wes Poutsma. Only fiscal conservative OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma questioned the findings. Greater Orange Community Organization (GoCo) released a statement calling the Cohen Report “misguided and misinformed misinformation”. The group also labeled the Cohen Report’s off-the-wall analogy of the Focus on Results program to “marriage encounter training” as “more new age bureaucratic babble that ranks right up there with the county Sanitation District’s Dharma consultant program”. The watchdog group also called for an investigation into why the OUSD Board was misled on the yearly budget requests that specifically approved spending funds on a “consulting contract” and why, even while the district was in multi-year fiscal crisis with the consultant fees being cut back 40%, the program dollars were not also cut 40%.

    Moffat: Ignore That Typo

    Orange Net New (ONN) had reported that the November 17th Agenda item on Focus on Results for the first time would try and link that program to a landmark California court ruling called the Williams Act. The GoCo criticized the OUSD Administrations attempt to link Focus on Results in the November 17 agenda item to a binding legal decision as an example of “another morph” of a program that has no purpose and continues to morph into “the flavor of the month”. As the November 17th meeting began, Board President Kathy Moffat announced that the Focus on Results Agenda Item had a “typo”. Moffat said: “The words William Case Settlement in the first paragraph should not be included, that was a typographical error”. After striking those words from the item, Moffat offered no other explanation on how such a major “typo” on such an important report escaped the review of OUSD Trustees and Administrators before the agenda was published, but after the story in ONN’s Orange Unified Schools Digest was ecast.

    Moffat Misinformation

    Moffat continued her opening remarks by reporting she was invited by Assemblyman Joe Cotto to an Orange County Urban Schools Conference held on November 9th (Cotto is a San Francisco Bay area Democrat that sits on the Assembly Education Committee [8 Democrats; 3 Republicans] chaired by star Assembly liberal Los Angeles Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg). Moffat stated that at the conference she and OUSD Assistant Superintendent Rachel Morga presented information on OUSD’s involvement in the Step Up to Writing program Moffat stated other school districts reported on their success with other programs “included Focus on Results”. However, Moffat did not mention which school district presented Focus on Results as a success story (only OUSD and Santa Ana Unified have Focus on Results in Orange County). Orange Net News contacted Coto’s office and spoke with Mike Welch the staffer in charge of the conference who confirmed that the Focus on Results program was not officially presented by any school district at the conference. Welch added if the program was mentioned in passing, he had no record of who mentioned it, but it was certainly not “officially presented” as a conference success story.

    “Marriage Encounter” of the Educational Kind

    Despite the current research driven state of education, Cohen began her report by stating she continues to struggle trying to explain to those concerned how Focus on Results succeeds. Cohen then tried to explain away her lack of data by trying to compare the Focus on Results program by using the analogy of Focus on Results being akin to “Marriage Encounter Training”. Cohen projected a Marriage Encounter Training slide onto the Boardroom projection screen with her ideas of the similarities between the two listed. Cohen’s surreal Dr. Phil “marriages encounter training” moment led her to reason “How do you measure the success of marriage encounter training” and therefore her logic…How do you measure the success of Focus on Results?

    Cohen’s Data: Unscientific, Incomplete, Out of Context Innuendo

    Next Cohen introduced four areas of her reports alleged “measurement”; Data; Literature; Observations; and Employee Input. The only “data” in the Cohen Report is the same unscientific data available on the Focus on Results website. Simply put, the theory is any increase in achievement scores in any district that pays for Focus on Results is totally the product of Focus on Results. No research required controlled variable and none of the multitude of other district programs that impact scores is acknowledged. The illogical belief is- if you have Focus on Results, then it must be responsible. This is how the Cohen Report uses OUSD’s API scores (of course only the improving scores). Cohen reasoned in her report that any increase in OUSD scores, since buying the program, was entirely due to the Focus on Results program. Cohen offered absolutely no connection between those scores and Focus on Results. Cohen totally ignored the dozens of other highly effective research proven programs in place all across the district. Cohen gave 100% credit of all OUSD API increases to OUSD purchasing the services of this one program. As unprofessional, unrealistic and unbelievable as this assertion was, the statement was embraced by the OUSD Board Liberals as “proof” that the Focus on Results “works”. However, the converse to this “one magic program” theory was never discussed: Is Focus on Results then also responsible for the drop in API scores at the many OUSD schools that had drops (including Focus on Results intense schools Portola and Prospect) and for the growing amount of underperforming schools (now at 19) in OUSD?

    In addition to the fact the API data lacks any connection to Focus on Results, Cohen’s Report lacks any scientific based “control group” to prove any of Cohen’s assertions. The Cohen Report also failed to reveal that most districts throughout California have been steadily increasing API scores since the inception of standardized testing for a whole list of well publicized reasons that include: increased testing awareness; to basically just teaching to the standards; or the many research driven programs like the OUSD program that also had a report presented on November 17th, CSUF’s TASEL M program or Step Up to Writing.

    Cohen also failed to report that OUSD’s steady progress, after investing millions in Focus on Results, is not statistically different than the average California school district’s progress that did not invest the millions of educational tax dollars in the controversial consultant program. OUSD is only unique in the fact that it invested an extra $2 million for the same results most of the state achieved without the expense. When this year’s API scores were released, California State Superintendent of Public Education Jack O’Connell released this statement confirming that since 2001, statewide California schools have steadily achieved:

    State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today released results of the 2005 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program that show California's public school students are making widespread gains in nearly every subject and grade level tested.

    Forty percent of students statewide scored at the proficient or advanced level in English-language arts, an increase of 5 percent over last year, while 38 percent of students scored at the proficient or advanced level in mathematics, an increase of 4 percent over last year. Since 2001, California students have improved by 9 percent in English-language arts and 6 percent in mathematics.

    “With five years of data, we can now see a clear trend of student gains in nearly every subject and every grade," O'Connell said. "This impressive gain in student achievement can be traced back to the implementation of our comprehensive standards-based educational system. Since California adopted rigorous standards…our schools have made steady improvement."


    For full text CLICK ON: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr05/yr05rel86.asp

    The Cohen Report data also misleads and manipulates the facts by reporting the OUSD District API score as higher than the average for Orange County and California API scores. The report fails to point out that the reason why the total OUSD District API score is higher than the statewide average California API score is that the statewide scores originally started off much lower than OUSD’s API (the same applies to Orange County as a whole, whose county-wide figures include Santa Ana Unified). Comparing the raw current OUSD, Orange County and California API scores does not show where the scores started years ago, the percentages of increases each had, reasons why those increases took place, or the students measured. The Cohen Report leaves out the fact that OUSD increases are in line with the increases all California districts have made, as reported by the State Superintendent, since 2001. It is as if Cohen said “Look, my gas tank has more gas than yours”. The Cohen Report makes completely misleading comparisons.

    Another case of blaring misinformation in the Cohen Report is how it completely misleads by implying that no other improvement programs exist in OUSD (there are dozens), and therefore there is no other explanation for any of OUSD’s schools API score increases except Focus on Results. As misleading as giving Focus on Results 100% credit for any schools API increases is, it is important to note what important facts about the OUSD testing data the Cohen Report leaves out. The Cohen Report made no mention of the following facts: since Focus on Results, the number of failing OUSD schools has risen to a record 19 schools (second only to Santa Ana Unified in Orange County); OUSD math scores have dropped; that OUSD failed to make its all of its district API targets this year; or that OUSD Focus on Results “poster school”, Prospect Elementary had a record 19 point drop in API scores failing to meet any of its growth targets. The Greater Orange Community Organization (GoCo) asked:

    “If, as the Cohen Report declares, that the Focus on Results program is responsible for all API growth that OUSD (just like almost every other California school district) is having, then shouldn’t Focus on Results also be responsible for the glaring API problems OUSD has too? Will the OUSD Administration next come to the Board with a new $2 million dollar program to fix 19 failing schools?

    Lack of Literature Support

    If the problematic data wasn’t bad enough, the GoCo describes the Cohen Report’s presentation of supporting research as “the most unprofessional misinformation presented in the OUSD Boardroom meeting since the Orange Recall”. In this section, Cohen projected dozen’s of names of leading educational researchers onto the Boardroom projection screen and rapidly read off of the names of “leading researchers” and areas they have researched, thus implying by association that these researchers have researched, approved, or are involved with Focus on Results. Nothing presented in this section directly was applicable to Focus on Results except by opinion and innuendo by Cohen reading a list of researchers’ names. Cohen then took snippets of some researchers’ writings out of context and again implied, through association, that Focus on Results was a researched program of those dozens of researchers. Later it was apparent that Cohen’s innuendos obviously mislead some of the Trustees to believe those researchers approved Focus on Results, which in fact is not what Cohen stated.

    Employee Input: Out of Context and Unknown

    Again using the big screen, Cohen projected in “infomercial” style anonymous positive comments about Focus on Results from “employees” and read each. The quotes were not identified as to who made them (subordinate administrators or teachers) or how or where they were solicited. All the quotes were positive, thus implying 100% positive “feedback”. GoCo characterized this section of the report as “unscientific second hand evidence that will be thrown out in the court of public opinion”.

    Yorba Staff Rejects Focus on Results as Impacting Their School
    The Cohen Report used Yorba Middle School as an example of Focus on Results working. Cohen noted the schools 25 point jump in API last year as proof that Focus on Results is working at that school. The Greater Orange Community Group (GoCo) asked a group of Yorba teachers to conduct a survey of their colleagues about Focus on Results at Yorba. The group of survey teachers surveyed 30 of the 33 regular Yorba staff teachers before school and during lunch over a two day period following the Cohen Report.

    Of the 30 teachers surveyed, only a total of five (16%) stated that had any idea what Focus on Results was. Of those five teachers who stated that they knew what Focus on Results was, only two stated that they use anything having to do with Focus on Results in the classroom. One of the two teachers who answered Yes that she uses Focus on Results (she has attended the program meetings for 3 years) replied:

    “I asked my class today to write down an explanation why so many of them where failing math. That’s Focus on Results right?”

    Three teachers who have gone to Focus on Results meetings as Yorba representatives have remarked they still do not know what the program is about. Two of those teachers represented Yorba for a full year at the meetings, another one is representing Yorba this year. The facts of the GoCo Yorba Teacher Survey are that 82% of the teachers at Yorba have no idea about Focus on Results, and 93% of the Yorba teachers surveyed are not using anything to do with Focus on Results in the classroom. After the questions, teachers explained to their colleagues that Cheryl Cohen was attributing their schools 25 point jump in API scores last year to the Focus on Results program. The survey teachers wrote:

    “When told about Cohen giving Focus on Results credit we were universally met by laughter and disbelief. Some teachers however then got frightened for answering our survey because they had not yet reached tenure status.”

    When asked what they thought did contributed to the success of Yorba, a long list of teaching strategies and other researched based programs were mentioned, none having anything directly or indirectly to do with Focus on Results. In addition, as a California Underperforming School, Yorba must have a Trustee approved School Improvement Plan. While many programs are mentioned, Focus on Results is not. The survey teachers wrote:

    “When visiting teachers come to Yorba to observe our programs, it is our Read 180, Tassel M, or our ESL programs, they visit. No one ever mentions Focus on Results except when the district administrators visit classrooms to do bulletin board checks.”

    Other misrepresentations of Cohen’s Report about Yorba include the required Instructional Leadership Team “ILT”. Envisioned by Focus on Results as a separate committee with no other duties, Yorba Principal Frank Huerta just changed the name of the Department Chair Committee to the ILT Committee. While in name it is an ILT Committee it still functions as the Department Chair Committee. Furthermore, almost a third of the way through the year and Yorba still has not produced the Focus on Results required “SmartE” goals for this current school year. At the November Yorba “ILT” meeting the review of the very expensive Focus on Result’s “Instructional Walk Through” conducted at Yorba consisted of Principal Huerta just handing out the 16 point 1 page paper (the result of 1 day’s work of 12 teachers and administrators walking in each classroom for five minutes and checking bulletin boards) and read the 10 Positive Feedbacks (Ex #9- Daily agenda in most classes.) and 6 (needs improvement) I Wonder…? (Ex #3 Why is there no student work in some classrooms?) then went on to other school business. (See the link below to view the entire one page 16 point document). The 1 page report was not shared school-wide.

    The Yorba Teachers also wrote that Cohen’s visits to Yorba over the past few years have consisted of “sitting on chair for two hours during the yearly 8th grade promotion ceremony” and that “no one from the district office has asked our staff for input on what our staff owes our rise in scores to. Dr. Godley just visited Yorba last week and he didn’t ask any of us. Dr. French certainly would have”. In addition, the contention by Cohen that the Yorba Principal is “an instructional leader” was met with harsh criticism from the Yorba Staff. The staff teachers write in their opinion of Cohen’s comments about their principal:

    “[the] principal has no real teaching experience. He was promoted as an administrator at our school before he even finished his administrative credential. Many of our teachers feel his confrontational style has splintered the school and alienated both certificated and classified staff. His lack of any original school-wide initiatives has led him to tamper and interfered with successful longstanding programs like our parent conferences, to the point of destroying them. Our untenured staff members are afraid to give their opinions because he is known to dislike any criticism. Far from being seen as any kind of leader, teachers at Yorba feel our school achieves and functions despite him, which is a testament to our highly qualified staff. We only can imagine how much better we would be with a real “instructional leader”.

    Apparently, if Assistant Superintendent Cohen was interested in understanding what is working in OUSD to raise scores she would have done her homework and met with the Yorba teachers before misleading the OUSD Trustees about how Yorba achieved their 25 point API increase.

    Liberal Trio Cheers Cohen; Conservative Ledesma Questions Cohen
    Cohen’s Report apparently did hit its mark with the OUSD Liberal Block of Moffat, Nichols and Poutsma. The three who are all very close to Cohen personally, all praised Cohen, the report and the program. Trustee Wes Poutsma (who as a former OUSD Assistant Superintendent you would expect him to understand the lack of data in the Cohen Report) pointed to the Cohen Reports misinterpretation of API scores and declared that was proof enough for him that the program is working. Poutsma then again showed he has no remote concept of how to speak publicly stated that no community member has complained to him “that children were learning to read and write”. The Greater Orange Community Organization characterized Poutsma’s continued ill-thought-gaffs “self inflicted insult and injury”.

    However, as the OUSD Trustees’ Liberal Block praised the Cohen Report, and the other Trustees remained silent, it was fiscal conservative Rick Ledesma who questioned Cohen on the ongoing costs of Focus on Results. Ledesma, looking for middle ground, reasoned if the program was working why not cut back to those schools that only needed it. Nichols quickly sprang to Cohen’s aid stating that why should some schools get it and others not. Nichols comments totally ignores the present reality that Underperforming Schools, Title I schools and other school designations give some in-need schools added funding while those schools that do not fall in those categories receive none.

    Where is the 40%?
    During her exchange with Ledesma, Cohen revealed that for about three years the Consulting Contract payment has actually been cut back by 40%. After the meeting, community members question if the 40% cutback is true, why weren’t Cohen’s requests for the Focus on Results programs not cut back by 40%? Her agenda budget requests items for Focus on Results the past three years were not cut back, and they list the request for the total cost as Focus on Results Consultants. If the payment to the consultants has been cut by 40% for the last three years, then where is that money going to? Was Cohen truthful in her budget requests? Was the OUSD Board tricked when they approved a Consultant Contract and not all the money was going to a consultant? Where is the accounting? Could that 40 % savings have been applied to save class size reduction or the music program? Was the fundraising by the Orange Education Foundation needed? Perhaps instead of Focusing on Consultants, OUSD Trustees should Focus on Administrators. //

    Tuesday, November 29, 2005

     

    ONE DAY'S WORK: Yorba Middle School OUSD's FOCUS ON RESULTS "Instructional Walkthrough"

    As part of the $2 million Focus on Results program in Orange Unified, teams of high paid six- figure administrators and teachers from other schools who leave their classrooms to substitutes (which the district pays for) visit every classroom in a chosen school for about five minutes. In this “Instructional Walkthrough” the team has been “trained” to check bulletin boards for student work and look for other “evidence” that instruction is happening in their brief five minute visit. Below is the final product of this full day of “labor” at taxpayers’ expense from the six figure bureaucrats and teachers who are not in their own classrooms. The list below is the complete piece of work from 12 people visiting Yorba Middle School on Wednesday October 12th. These results were then copied and given to about 8 people at a Yorba Department Chairs meeting (now called the Instructional Leadership Team), and read out loud by the Principal with no discussion. The “work” was never passed out to the rest of the school's teachers for any discussion. Below is the entire one day’s work product (Note: the typo in the last one “without and explanation” is original to the work):

    Positive Feedback

    1. Student writing evidence in almost all classes.
    2. Graphic organizers evident in vast majority of classrooms.
    3. Cornell Note-taking in Science and Algebra
    4. Half the classes had summary writing.
    5. In every class students were aware of the purpose of the lesson.
    6. 100% engagement of the students and teachers
    7. Structure of lessons

    Obvious purpose
    Critical Thinking

    8. Evidence of summaries in all classrooms.
    9. Daily agenda in most classes.
    10. Evidence of some type of note-taking in all classes.

    I Wonder…?

    1. How consistently is the language program being used?
    2. Are graphic organizers being used more than witnessed?
    3. Why was there no student work in some classrooms?
    4. When will students take ownership of Cornell notes?
    5. Are rubrics being used?
    6. Why were standards posted just as numbers, without and explanation?

    Thursday, November 24, 2005

     

    Orange Unified's Focus on Consultants PART 1

    Below is the first part in a year-long series about Orange Unified's multi-million dollar Focus on Results program. Originally ecast two months ago, the second part is also being archived here below in anticipation of Part III being released next week.


    A special news analysis series on Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    Orange Unified’s Focus on Consultants
    PART I: Unfocused with Few Results- A Record 19 OUSD Schools Fail Goals

    The Focus on Results educational consultant program in OUSD has cost taxpayers over two million dollars in educational tax funds over the last four years. All the while, the local community has continued to demanded hard data to back the expensive controversial program. This September 21st Focus on Results meeting marks the fourth year of Focus on Results in OUSD elementary schools, and the third year in OUSD secondary schools. Orange Net News will ecast this yearlong exclusive news analysis series that will examine the OUSD commitment, the financial implications, as well as the worth of the program to the greater Orange Communities that paid for the controversial consultant program.

    PART 1
    Even as the Orange Unified School Board this year was cutting back research proven academic programs (class size reduction and elementary music programs), slashing staff positions (classified and teaching), and playing a waiting game for news of a final budget commitment from Sacramento lawmakers, a top OUSD administrator reportedly told OUSD secondary principals that OUSD’s canceling of the controversial consultant training program called Focus on Results would happen “over my dead body”. True to that sentiment, and despite the deep cut backs on student centered programs and the fact that the OUSD Administration had shown in preliminary public budget projections that the Focus on Results program was cut as a contributing administrative budget cut, the controversial program is back this year after the OUSD Board approved an administrative request to switch the program to OUSD federal funds.

    During the OUSD Board’s budget meetings this year, over flow crowds showed up to support saving programs designated to be cut. The OUSD Administration showed that it was doing its part by cutting administrative spending including the controversial Focus on Results program. This “cut” would prove to be just a shell game as the OUSD Administration apparently had planned to shift the program’s cost to federal funds that OUSD receives. After using the program as a budget cut, this summer Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Cohen proposed the OUSD Trustees reinstate the program using OUSD federal training funds.

    At that June Board meeting, the OUSD Trustees approved Assistant Superintendent Cohen’s proposal to shift funding of Focus on Results to OUSD federal funds. During the meeting Trustee Rick Ledesma and Trustee John Ortega began raising concerns and questioning Cohen for data supporting the OUSD Administration commitment to Focus on Results. Like in the past, Cohen continued to stonewall the hard data requests. However this time with two OUSD Trustees pressing her, Cohen stated with this year’s soon to be released state test scores the OUSD Administration would have enough data to provide the long sought after hard data that Focus on Results has been worth OUSD’s investment.

    As of this month, those scores Cohen hoped would support the unprecedented consultant funding are now available for all to see. The millions invested in Focus on Results by Orange Unified, have resulted in no more than the modest average incremental gains in California’s standardized testing (at or below county average when excluding the impact that far below average scores Santa Ana Unified has on the county statistics). Those modest OUSD gains are similar to what other district’s have posted throughout the state without the controversial and expensive Focus on Results program.

    In addition, OUSD’s disappointing No Child Left Behind required Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) individual school score results appear to support the continued questioning of OUSD’s spending scarce educational dollars on consultants to get the same modest gains other district’s statewide achieved without spending scarce educational resources on expensive consultants.

    After two years of Focus on Results in the 2002 school year, ten Orange Unified schools failed to make their AYP goals in California’s No Child Left Behind testing regime. In the 2003 school year, OUSD Administrators again went before the OUSD Trustees and asked for hundreds of thousands more in educational tax dollars for expanding Focus on Results, claiming that it was too early to report any “hard data” on the success of the program. However, Cohen reported to the OUSD Trustees that the “soft data” (verbal feedback) was that the program was working. In the middle of financial crisis, the OUSD Trustees approved Cohen’s request. After another year of Focus on Results and the expansion of the program into secondary schools, eleven schools failed to make all their AYP goals.

    This summer, as Cohn requested continuing Focus on Results, she told questioning OUSD Trustees that with the release of this year’s state test data she would have enough information give them hard data on OUSD’s investment with Focus on Results. Now the state test data is in. As a district OUSD, like most California and most Orange County districts, continued the long expected small incremental upward progress in testing scores (this upward trend has occurred since the beginning of standards based testing in California), but the high stakes individual AYP scores this year are the worst ever for OUSD. This year’s AYP scores have resulted in 19 OUSD schools not making their mandated testing goals. That is a 73% increase over the number of OUSD schools failing to meet all their goals from last year.

    While those numbers are disturbing enough, this year’s AYP scores are even more dismal for the OUSD Administration. This year four schools actually showed drops in their state scores: Canyon Hills TRM; Lampson Elementary; Portola Middle School; and Prospect Elementary. The most disturbing figures for OUSD’s Focus on Results supporters are the negative score drops of Portola M.S. and Prospect Elementary. In August 2004 during the budget crisis, at the request of Cohen, the OUSD Trustees approved an additional $25,000 in local educational tax funds (beyond that year’s initial OUSD commitment of over $400,000 for Focus on Results) for a personal Focus on Results coach for Portola Principal Debra Thompson to “Provide the principal with additional coaching and technical support” from the Focus on Results consultants. Despite the additional $25,000 coach, Portola again failed to meet state goals for the fifth time and for the first time had a drop in scores (-5 points).

    While supplying Portola with a personal Focus on Results coach cost OUSD taxpayers $25,000 (and got them a five point drop in scores), over at Prospect Elementary OUSD seemed to be getting a bargain. Prospect Principal Kathy Bruce also had worked as a Senior Consultant for Focus on Results and had played a role in bringing the consulting firm to OUSD. Bruce appeared in front of the OUSD Board praising the Focus on Results program as seemingly the only program responsible for her schools rising scores. At that meeting, Bruce failed to reveal her affiliation with the Focus on Results firm. After ONN reported her ties with the firm, OUSD investigated. Bruce’s name was soon removed from the Focus on Results website that had listed her affiliation as a Senior Consultant while employed with OUSD. Bruce’s school Prospect Elementary is still used on the Focus on Results website to promote the private for-profit firm. The school is listed on the web site as one of six “Schools That Make a Difference” and the schools scores up to 2003 are listed. Since 2003, Prospect has failed to make its goals and is now a California Underperforming School. This year, the Prospect “difference” was the largest regular school drop of AYP scores in OUSD history, with the Prospect AYP dropping -17 points.

    While Cohen and Prospect’s Bruce at past OUSD Trustee meetings have given Focus on Results credit for the always increasing district scores (as does the firm’s website), since community leaders have called for hard data, and as schools fall short of goals, the OUSD “spin” on Focus on Results has changed over the years to other reasoning for spending millions. As test scores weakened and as the district statistician predicted increasing NCLB requirements becoming further out of reach especially for the district’s “student subgroups”, the OUSD Administrative reasons for the purpose of Focus on Results began to change. The first major spin shift was the program allowed educators to meet to share ideas. That spin was quickly debunked when the Orange Community Group (the leading Focus on Results community critic) pointed out that for years before Focus on Results OUSD held district wide workshops and meetings for all district staff (Focus only “trains” four teachers from each school) that allowed “sharing” without spending millions. In addition, the recent concept of Late Start Days (students arrive later to school) allows all of a schools staff to meet and more often than the once a month Focus meetings. Late Start Days only require a bi-monthly schedule change, leaving scarce funds available for student programs.

    Another recent spin coming from OUSD administrators to justify the millions of tax dollars on Focus on Results is that the program has given the participants a “common language”. While having created a “common language” is debatable considering the turnover of fully “trained” participants over the years, the Orange Community Group again points to the fact that only 4 teachers from each school are “trained” which does not come close to any “universal” district-wide “common language”. Critics point out that trying to replace or supplement the common educational language now employed by all teaching professionals, universities, researchers, and governmental institutions is not practical for 4 teachers from each school (40 total secondary) to impose on a district-wide staff of thousands. Critics also point out that the language of Focus on Results is program specific buzz-word jargon that has no practical classroom application.

    In Orange County, only Santa Ana Unified has more schools failing to meet their goals on the most recently released state scores than OUSD (this year 45 of the 55 Santa Ana Unified schools did not meet all goals). Santa Ana Unified also has spent plenty of resources on the Focus on Results program. It is not surprising OUSD statisticians like to compare OUSD scores to Orange County-wide scores. Those county-wide scores include Santa Ana Unified, the county’s most populous, poorest, and lowest scoring district, which artificially impacts county scores downward (and comparative scores upward). If you remove Santa Ana Unified’s scores out of the county average, it reveals that OUSD test scores are at or below the rest of the county average despite OUSD’s consultant spending.

    From the beginning, it was supporters of the Focus on Results program in OUSD that billed the program as a center piece of improving scores in OUSD. Community critics called that claim disingenuous considering the vast amount of research proven programs used by OUSD for school improvement. Yet supporters continued that mantra. As reports in the community sparked continued questioning of the program, the OUSD Administration seemed to become more determined to keep the controversial program at all costs. In the age of “educational research” (and a budget crisis) the OUSD administration was doing everything but researching one of its biggest general fund tax dollar programs. At one point district administrators called all district principals and vice principals to a Trustee meeting to give infomercial-like testimonials (without hard data) to how the program has transformed their schools (without giving numerous other educationally sound programs due credit). The assembled administrators heaped praise upon praise on the OUSD Trustees, and ended by giving the now teary eyed and choked up Trustees a standing ovation. As yearly AYP scores pointed to other important learning gaps and downward trends among student sub-groups, OUSD administrators stayed the course on their devotion to Focus on Results which does nothing to address those early warning sub-group gaps that could now lead to OUSD having a district with almost half its schools state designated as Underperforming Schools.

    This year, some district schools did have large leaps in AYP growth. Yorba Middle School, a center of staff opposition to Focus on Results, adherence to Focus on Results is limited to sending 4 staff members to the mandatory once a month meetings and a slogan on the daily bulletin. Ask any teacher on campus to point to how the school achieved a 25 point jump in AYP scores and even those 4 teachers who attended Focus on Results trainings will likely not point toward that program as a contributing factor. Outside the mandatory district meetings, Focus on Results is non-existent at Yorba. Yet the school, through hard work on student centered research proven programs, saw their scores jump 25 points.

    This year’s state testing shows districts across California and Orange County continued to incrementally improve scores as they have for the past five years. Clearly, the millions of dollars OUSD has invested in Focus on Results has not produced any results above and beyond the normal incremental scores in evidence across the state. The Focus on Results investment appears however to have helped deplete important educational tax dollars that were not available to help save sound educational programs of music and class size reductions.

    In addition, the blind “over my dead body” approach has resulted in the OUSD Administration failing to address the now long identified OUSD student subgroup populations that still continue to struggle with state testing. These are the same student subgroups that have been struggling on the achievement tests since before OUSD’s commitment to the Focus on Results consultants. To further complicate matters, with OUSD’s federal training monies dedicated this year to Focus on Results, it appears more general fund monies (that support all programs) will be used to address training for the critical “student subgroup” problems now reaching critical mass for testing results.

    Now, with a Category 5 AYP disaster clearly upon them, like the FEMA bureaucracy, the OUSD bureaucracy must play catch-up to save the “sub groups” of the lowest and poorest prepared students. Apparently, like other well warned elected governmental officials elsewhere, the OUSD Trustees may just watch helplessly as the test score dam breaks and a flood of district schools become labeled Underperforming as the long predicted storm of underperforming subgroups swamps district scores while the OUSD Administrator bureaucrats continue to Focus on Consultants.

     

    Orange Unified's Focus on Consultants PART 2

    Below is the second part in a year-long series about Orange Unified's multi-million dollar Focus on Results program. Originally ecast one month ago, the first part is also being archived here in anticipation of Part III being released next week.

    A special news analysis series on Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Orange Unified’s Focus on Consultants
    PART II: Copyrighted Material Used without Owners Permission

    The Focus on Results educational consultant program in OUSD has cost taxpayers over two million dollars in educational tax funds over the last four years. All the while, the local community has continued to demand hard data to back the expensive controversial program. Orange Net News will ecast this yearlong exclusive news analysis eries that will examine the OUSD commitment, the financial implications, as well as the worth of the program to the greater Orange Communities that paid for the controversial consultant program.

    Focus on Copyrights
    What does over $2 million in educational tax funds buy you from the controversial Focus on Results consultant firm? Apparently pirated copyrighted articles that are illegally photocopied then distributed to Orange Unified School District participants who have attended the monthly Focus on Results workshop style meetings over the last four years. Orange Net News (ONN) contacted authors and a major educational magazine publishing firm that had their articles in recent Focus on Results packets. All of them who responded to the inquire confirmed that they did not give permission to the Focus on Results firm, or to OUSD, to copy, use, or distribute their copyrighted educational articles. No one who responded to the ONN inquires reported that Focus on Results or OUSD had permission to use any of the pirated materials.

    Focus on Results has been distributing educational articles for four years in Orange Unified. Orange Net News began this investigation by contacting writers or publishers that had articles distributed in the last two OUSD Focus on Results meetings. The pirated articles are part of the packets that were distributed to OUSD participants. Meeting participants break into “jigsaw” groups and each group reads a part of the article. After reading their part, they meet with others (who read different parts of the article) to summarize and discuss what each group has read. Neither of the two authors who responded to ONN had given permission for Focus on Results or OUSD to use their work. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), the publishers of Educational Leadership magazine, also confirmed that neither Focus on Results nor OUSD had permission to use the four ASCD copyrighted articles that were photocopied (some with the Focus on Results logo on every page) and distributed in recent OUSD Focus on Results packets.

    Author Suzette Lovely wrote the article Making The Leap To Shared Leadership that was included in a packet distributed at a recent OUSD Focus on Results meeting. Lovely told ONN that she retains the rights to that article (which is an excerpt of a book she just published) and that she did not give Focus on Results permission to use it. Carol W. Tomlinson, author of another recent OUSD Focus on Results packet article, Reach Them to Teach Them, also reported she had not given permission for her work to be used. A spokesperson for the legal permissions department of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) also confirmed that they had not given permission for Focus on Results or OUSD to use any of the four pirated articles from ASCD that were recently distributed in OUSD packets. The spokesperson confirmed that ASCD has a process for granting permission with strict guidelines for how its copyrighted works may be used. The ASCD was going to follow-up on the infringement directly with Focus on Results. It was not immediately clear if in fact it was the OUSD Print Shop that was photocopying the pirated materials used at the OUSD Focus on Results workshops, which could implicate OUSD in the copyright infringements.

    The fact Focus on Results inserted their corporate logo on every page of many of the articles they pirated was particularly shocking to those contacted. While the packets do cite the article and authors, as well as the publication they were taken from, only some of the articles include the fact that the article is copyrighted material, and none state that Focus on Results has reproduced the articles with permission. Regardless of the citations, all of the material is copyrighted, and the citations do not allow the for profit firm to photocopy and distribute them.

    The Ghosts of Articles Past
    Some of the authors that had articles photocopied and distributed by Focus on Results where difficult to track down because they have left positions they held when they wrote the articles. That leads to another disturbing fact about some of the articles being distributed and discussed: some articles are very dated. At the first Focus on Results meeting of this school year, September 21, 2005, the article Closing the Gap, Done in a Decade, by Kati Haycock, Craig Jerald and Sandra Huang was from the Spring 2001 of Thinking K-16, an online information service from the Educational Trust.


    Closing the Gap, Done in a Decade was written a year before the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in January 2002 and published in the Spring of 2001. The data cited in the article is mostly from the 1990’s and with some data in the article going back as far as 1975. Even without taking into account the enormous change in education since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, using an article with data and ideas from over ten years ago is not part of currently acceptable educational research standards.

    One of that article’s authors, Kati Haycock, was one of a handful nationally known educratic elite who pushed to include the controversial “sub-group” testing designations into the No Child Left Behind Act that so many schools, including the Underperforming Schools in Orange, are struggling to improve. Haycock had her educational beginnings with a radical University of Berkley group of educators, and at one time held the position of Director of the Outreach and Student Affirmative Action programs for the University of California system. Her radical theories dismiss the idea that external circumstances hurt student learning. Those external circumstances include: English as a Second language; learning disabilities; parenting (or lack of); culture; poverty; or inferior schools. Instead, her theory is that it is society and educators’ belief in the “myth” that those external circumstances impact student learning that leads to those students not learning. Years later, this “myth theory” of learning has been largely debunked by the first few years of standardized testing that has shown schools with large populations fitting the “myth” scenarios are being designated as Underperforming Schools, while “non-myth” majority schools are achieving. Testing has also proven that the external circumstances dismissed by the myth theory do impact student learning. Yet, just last month, this 10 year old radical theory is still being presented as fact to OUSD participants who represent OUSD “High Priority” schools that are struggling to deal with the exact “subgroup” problems that are dismissed as myth by Haycock.

    Sadly, the Orange Unified Trustees appear to have no clue about the program they endorsed by a rubber stamped approval. At the September 22nd Orange School Board Meeting, OUSD Trustee Wes Poutsma responded to community criticism by declaring that Focus on Results was “working” as a program that “teaches kids to read”. OUSD Board President Kathy Moffat thought his comments were “excellent”.

    While cutting music programs and increasing class sizes, Orange Unified taxpayers have paid over $2 million dollars in educational tax funds for: pirated articles; decades old data; radical “myth” theory; a district principal who concurrently held a Senior Consultant position with the firm; expensive administrators doing classroom bulletin board checks; and potential district copyright infringement issues. But then, as Trustee Wes Poutsma stated on September 22, 2005 about the $2 million dollars in educational tax funds spent on Focus on Results-. “We’re a $220 million dollar business; we’re going to spend the money somewhere”.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

     

    Warmest Wishes for a


    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

     

    TWISTED BADGE UPDATE

    Orange Net News ecasts local interest Twisted Badge stories as a public service. To get the full inside story, back issues or other Twisted Badge information Click On: www.twistedbadge.com .


    What The Hell Is Going On?
    By Cameron Jackson

    It's funny how things work in "the OC" …especially when you're political consultant and Machiavellian mastermind Michael Schroeder. He gets to pull the levers of power in the Sheriff's department and the D.A.'s office. To give you an example of this power, let's hypothesize about conversations he may have had with the Sheriff and the D.A. regarding their ongoing problems:

    Schroeder: Mike (Carona), I want you to get rid of Don (Haidl) and George (Jaramillo). They are making you look bad, and when you look bad, I look bad.

    Carona: No problem Mike, will do.

    Schroeder: Tony (Rackauckas), I want to you prosecute George (Jaramillo) as a favor for me and Mike. Also, dig something up on Joe (Cavallo) so we can prosecute him too. Cavallo is making you and my wife look bad, and if you and my wife look bad, I look bad.

    Rackauckas: No problem Mike, will do.

    THE PLAYERS
    Now that you have the gist, let me formally introduce the players in this story of political power. In the one corner you have Cavallo who been has been or is currently connected with Sheriff Mike Carona, Former Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo, and Former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl. In the other corner you have D.A. Tony Rackauckas, Sheriff Mike Carona (he's a switch-hitter), political consultant/attorney Michael Schroeder, and his wife, D.A. spokeswoman Susan Kang-Schroeder, who all hate Cavallo.

    Mike Schroeder, the king maker, has a problem. He placed red-neck Carona in a position of power several years ago and Carona has done everything possible to screw it up. Additionally, Schroeder placed D.A. Rackauckas in power around the same time and that hasn't gone so well either. Enter attorney Joseph Cavallo, who defends Don Haidl's underage porn producing kid Greg and causes many headaches for the D.A.'s office. During the trial he clashes with and angers Michael Schroeder's wife, Susan Kang-Schroeder. This will turn out to be a bad idea. The trial also ends Don Haidl's career with the OC Sheriff's Department. One down, two to go. After the Haidl trial Carona's troubles continue with CHG Technologies, Charles Gabbard and possible bribery charges related to former Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo. Something needed to happen with Jaramillo and conveniently an indictment is filed against him and just like that, another OCSD problem is wiped out. Two down, one to go.

    THE PLOT THICKENS
    The plot thickens. Cavallo and Carona have been friends for the past 20 years, but apparently a rift has occurred, most probably because Cavallo keeps defending the sons of his former assistants and the former assistant sheriffs themselves. The magnitude of the rift was revealed when Cavallo filed a $5 million dollar claim against Sheriff Mike Carona for harassment. When I spoke with Cavallo he stated the claim was filed to expose Carona and his co-conspirators for who they really are. One can only imagine what kind of inside information Cavallo has on Carona after 20 years of friendship. This information most probably was being saved for the Jaramillo trial. We got a taste of what's coming when Erica Hill claimed to have engaged in sexual acts with the very much married Carona. Not good when you're up for re-election.

    But now we have an indictment against Cavallo on charges that he paid kickbacks to bail bond agents.Three down, you're all out.

    Time for the political analysis no one else is giving you. First and foremost we must look at this from a political power perspective. Michael Schroeder's power as a king maker is on the line with both Carona and Rackauckas. If they fail, he fails. Seeing this power in jeopardy has caused Schroeder to, in essence, clear the decks in an attempt to wipe the slate clean. First, Haidl, then Jaramillo, and now Cavallo. This part is critical to the entire current affair. If you can discredit all of the people who have intimate, detailed, and potentially career ending information about the Sheriff, then any negative or salacious information they have about the Sheriff will be discredited. It will place doubt in the voter's minds about the validity of their message.

    If Schroeder can scare Cavallo with this indictment, Cavallo may be less inclined to reveal certain incendiary information he most probably has against Carona during the Jaramillo trial. This would most certainly help Rackauckas as well. When I read the indictment against Jaramillo, I was not impressed. I am hard pressed to believe that Jaramillo took bribes in the form of checks made out to "George Jaramillo" from CHG Technologies and deposited them into his bank account so blatantly. He is either incredibly stupid or they were not bribes. A win for Cavallo on this particular case would be a PR nightmare for both Rackauckas and Carona. They would be the ones discredited, not Cavallo and Jaramillo.

    THE BUSH DOCTRINE OF WAR
    Michael Schroeder has induced the Bush Doctrine of war…the pre-emptive strike; and he has done so brilliantly. He has succeeded thus far in discrediting all those players who could and/or would have done further damage to his precious Sheriff and District Attorney. And as an added prize, Mike and Susan were able to take down their most hated adversary, Joseph Cavallo.

    The facts surrounding the past and current dark dealings of both Rackauckas and Carona should never be ignored. We cannot let someone like Michael Schroeder lead "we the people" into believing that Haidl, Jaramillo and Cavallo are the enemy. If he is successful, our true enemies may still be in power for four more years.

    END OF PART FIFTEEN
    On Tuesday, November 15, 2005, Deputy Attorney General Gary Schons filed a declaration in his pending criminal case against OCSD Captain Christine Murray in which he states that Michael Schroeder and Christine Murray have engaged in a cover-up regarding her gathering of political contributions from sworn OCSD personnel. Captain Murray, who reportedly introduced OCSD Lt. Bill Hunt to several local Republicans as Mike Carona's chosen successor, is on paid leave pending the resolution of the charges against her. Stay tuned to www.twistedbadge.com as we shine a bright light on politics and malfeasance in law enforcement. For more on the "Schroeder Factor" please visit
    http://www.billhuntforsheriff.com/emails/111705/story_111605.html and
    http://www.billhuntforsheriff.com/emails/111705/story_111505.html
    .

    Cameron Jackson is a former police officer and the host of the "OC Variety Hour" on KUCI FM 98.9. Please visit his very informative blog at: www.ocvarietyhour.blogspot.com

    If your friends and associates would like to get the inside story, please ask them to sign up at www.twistedbadge.com NOTE - If you wish to send a story and/or documents to TB, our mailing address is PO Box 1021, Lake Forest, CA. 92609. Our 24 hour toll free hotline is (888) 623-4426. We answer all mail and return all calls.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

     

    Bilodeau on Blog's Top Ten

    Keeping Orange County connected to the Blogsphere, OC Blog features a report on OC pollster Adam Probolsky (Proboksky Research) last post on FLASH REPORT yesterday with a list of 10 OC Power Brokers. Included in the list is Orange's own-Denis Bilodeau. While Bilodeau lost his Orange City Council bid, his OCTA and "water" connections make him and other H2O Board alums far beyond "wet behind the ears".

    OC BLOG: LINK
    FLASH REPORT: LINK

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

     

    Orange's Grindle vs. OC's Rackauckas


    OC Weekly's Nick Schou never pulls punches and this week's OC Weekly Schou writes about one of Orange's most famous locals Shirley Grindle.

    "If Rackauckas is like Al Capone, then Grindle is Eliot Ness, says Mark Petracca, head of the political science department at UC Irvine."
    -OC Weekly A Fox in the Henhouse 11/18/05

    In case being seen with an OC Weekly is bad news at your work place, just click on the link provided below.


    OC Weekly:A Fox in the Henhouse: LINK

    Friday, November 18, 2005

     

    HOT Community Members Help Troops



    Kristen Maddox of HOT


    GIVING THANKS THIS THANKSGIVING
    Regardless of your position on the Iraqi War, you must admire local efforts to support the fighting men and women in the United States Armed Forces. Kristen Maddox of Santa Ana saw a need to send America's "brave men and women things from home". To do that she started the non-profit Helping Our Troops Inc.(HOT). Service pesonnel mail or email personal requests to HOT and they purchase whatever they want and ship the idems directly to the service persons address overseas, "just like an extended family". HOT delivers to U.S. service personnel all over the world including Iraq, Afganistan and Kosovo.

    HOT has received a lot of help from the Greater Orange Communities. The Villa Park Rotary, and the Villa Park Ralphs Market have supported HOT. The Serrano Water District, and Fran Kreisburg of Villa Park, as well as customers of Rockwell's Resturant have all received special thanks from HOT for their generous support. In addition, students from El Modena High School's Interact Club have volunteered countless hours to HOT.

    As an official 501 (c) 3 Non-profit, donations to HOT are tax deductable and can be mailed or done online (see link below. Families and friends of military personnel serving overseas are encouraged to give the troops HOT's email or mailing address and tell them to send their requests and maiing address.

    Helping Our Troops WEBSITE: LINK
    HOT REQUESTS and Donation Information: LINK
    HOT ONLINE DONATIONS or Mailing Address:: LINK

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

     

    METRO TALK

    A news service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization

    GREAT AMERICAN SMOKE-OUT
    November 17th is the annual American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. This year, Kaiser Permanente, and Evite.com have joined the Cancer Society to help encourage you, or someone you know to quit smoking. On Evite.com you can send a free e-card invitation to a loved one to encourage them for this one day to quit smoking. To send a free e-card just follow the link provided below. Links to the American Cancer Society page with resources for quitting are also provide below.

    Quit Smoking E-Card CLICK HERE: LINK
    Quit Smoking Resource Links CLICK HERE:LINK

    ORANGE JUMPS ONLINE
    Four new Orange-based web information services have made a splash in the Orange County Blogosphere this month. As previously announced, Orange based OC Politics is a new one stop political information website with links to major political entities (CLICK ON:OC POLITICS ). Joining OC Politics is the Foothills Sentry which now archives itself on line (CLICK ON www.foothillssentry.com). Also previously announced earlier this month is the Greater Orange Community Organization’s information and archival blog for its communication arm, the Orange Communication System, the Greater Orange eBlog (see link below). Joining the City of Orange entries into the Orange County Blogosphere is Orange Politicos, dedicated to conservative Orange City politics (CLICK ON:Orange Politicos ).

    The Orange Communication System /OCS/ is currently in the middle of a paid online campaign to raise awareness of its blog. The ad campaign features Greater Orange eBlog ad pop-ups (see below) on related sites and will last until the end of the month. In addition, as part of its ecast capability, /OCS/ has added ecasting the Greater Orange eBlog to targeted audiences about featured articles. The Greater Orange eBlog compliments a growing electronic information system that already included ecasts, email and faxing capabilities. Additional electronic capabilities and capacity improvements are under development for the leading local independent citizen’s news and information system in Orange County.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

     

    Orange Politicos...The fun and games begin!

    Frank Johnson and Richard Bendencoff have began a new conservative Blog dedicated to Orange Politics. Recent posts include links and comments on immigration and immigrants, OUSD Trustee Lisa Smith and the Irvine Company vote.

    The Blogs written purpose:

    "The watching of politicos and the fun and games they play, of course...any good rumors. Oh yeah, and actually watching the votes and see who is true to their word and their beliefs.... NO RINOS ALLOWED!!"

    To View CLICK ON Orange Politicos: LINK

    Monday, November 14, 2005

     

    Orange Unified Schools Digest

    NEWEST MORPH of OUSD BUERAUCRATIC BOONDOGGLE
    What’s the difference between the Orange Unified Board members and the Orange County Sanitation Board of Directors? When the Sanitation Board members became aware of wasteful consultant spending they first dumped the consultant, then after an audit, the Sanitation District’s General Manager Blake Anderson. In OUSD, the Trustees keep dumping educational tax dollars into the controversial Focus on Results consultant program as the OUSD Administrators keep “morphing” the yet-to-be-proven Focus on Results program into a “flavor-of-the-month” in their efforts to continue the controversial program. The latest in a long line of administrative morphing is the November 17th OUSD Board Agenda Item 13 B. The title of Agenda Item 13 B is: Status Report: Focus on Results Training. While you might expect this to be the long awaited report on how Focus on Results has impacted any of the many areas that OUSD Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Cohen has tried to “morph” it into, this newest “morph” would be funny if it wasn’t so unusually bizarre.

    The agenda “Description” of Agenda Item 13 B for the first time in 4 years tries to tie the controversial consulting program to a new court mandated settlement on California schools known as the Williams Settlement. It states:

    “Staff will present an updated status report outlining the impact that the Focus on Results training program is having on the Orange Unified School District Williams Case Settlement”

    The Williams Case Settlement resulted from a class action suit against all the state educational institutions in 2000. The lawsuit alleged students attended substandard schools that the lacked basic educational necessities: classrooms in good repair; adequate instructional materials; and trained teachers (To see the California Department of Education explanation CLICK ON: http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/ce/wc/noticeenglish.asp ). The five areas of concern in the lawsuit that are addressed in the settlement include A) students not having their own textbook in every course; B) Classes with a lack of a permanent teacher, or schools with more than 20% of teachers with out full credentials or with unqualified English Learner students without a “qualified” teacher; C) Inadequate, unhealthful classrooms and facilities including: cold or hot classrooms; outside noise impacted classrooms; clean, stocked and functioning restrooms; presence of vermin, mildew or rotting organic material D) lack of research materials to satisfy courses without paying a fee or having a waiver (i.e. school library or internet access) E) overcrowded schools; bused excessive distances; not enough seats; square footage of room average is less than 25 sq feet per student. How are any of those areas tied to Focus on Results? Good question.

    The Greater Orange Community Organization (GoCo), a vocal critic of the almost $ 2 million educational dollars spent by OUSD on Focus on Results, issued an email over the weekend about Agenda Item 13 B. The email statement stated that if the district connects Focus on Results to the Williams Settlement, GoCo will continue to expose Focus on Results and also focus on the Williams Settlement in OUSD. The GoCo email stated in part:

    “After the media story reported that Focus on Results had pirated materials from educational researchers, educational publishers and authors; after first selling the program as a way to raise student scores; after then using the program to send high paid administrators into classrooms for five minutes at a time for “bulletin board checks”; after spending an additional $25,000 for a “personal” Focus on Results coach for the Portola Principal, then seeing that schools state scores drop over 40 points; after calling the “Focus on Results” program the “systemic process for working”; after Trustee Wes Poutsma called it a “reading program”; Now, in a desperate bid to continue to spend millions of federal dollars earmarked for teacher training on a failed program, the OUSD Administration is trying to again change the failed Focus on Results program by tying it an imposed legal court settlement to further waste taxpayers money. For the Orange Unified School Board to allow this new “bait and switch” morph is anti-education, anti-taxpayer and anti-student. The community will be forced to “Focus on the Williams Settlement” provisions if the OUSD Administration chooses to tie Focus on Results to the legally binding Williams Settlement.”

    The Orange Net News series on the Focus on Results program, that last issue exposed the pirating of materials, will continue with upcoming installments.

    ANOTHER ORANGE RECALL REFORM GONE
    Since the September 22nd Orange School Board Meeting the Orange School Board dropped one of two opportunities for the public to address the Orange School Board during Regular Session on any issue not on the agenda. After the Orange Recall, adding the second opportunity to address the OUSD Board at the beginning of the meeting was added to the agenda by the New Citizens Majority as one of the Recall Communication Reforms. The long controversial meetings under the recalled Board often ended after eleven at night, forcing those who wished to address the Trustees to wait until the end of the meeting.

    Instead of simply moving the Communications to the Board agenda item to the front of the agenda, the newly elected Board left the original Communications to the Board at the end and added another section to the beginning. Thus the public had the opportunity not only to address the OUSD Board once, but twice. While most comments to the Board continue to come at the beginning of the meeting, occasionally a comment on what has transpired during the meeting has been made at the end of agenda Communications of the Board. That policy has been the policy since the Recall under the last two OUSD Superintendents, Barbara Van Otterloo and Robert French. In an emailed response to an inquiry from Orange Net News, current OUSD Superintendent (and Secretary to the Board) Dr. Godley confirmed the dropping of the Recall Communications Reform from the Board agenda. Godley wrote:

    “Communications from members of the community are welcomed and encouraged. Currently, there are two opportunities for community members to address the Board during a Board Meeting: the first is relevant to individual agenda items (see notice at the beginning of the agenda), and the second is relevant to items not on the agenda (see item 11. of the agenda). It is believed that these two opportunities to address the Board are sufficient to encourage open communications to the members of the Board during the open meetings. I hope this addresses your concern.”

    Thomas A. Godley
    Superintendent of Schools and Secretary to the Board


    The fact that the last opportunity to address the Board had been dropped came to light at the last meeting when members of the audience wanted to address the Board about information presented in the meeting, but the second Communications to Board had been dropped.

    Earlier in the year, over the objections of OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma, the Orange School Board voted to approve the recommendation of the Superintendent (and Secretary to the Board) to end another Recall Communications Reform, the televised broadcast of OUSD Board meetings as a budget savings move. The broadcasts were another reform instituted as part of the reform agenda by the newly elected Citizens Majority, and their proposed cut did not go over well with the community. The funding for the Board broadcasts was eventually reinstated.

    COMMUNITY DONATIONS
    Mr. and Mrs. Regis Fauquet donated an Epson Scanner to Olive Elementary School. An anonymous donor gave $6,300 towards a Villa Park High School scoreboard.
    For a complete list of community donations see page 14-15 of the November 17 OUSD Board Agenda.

    Highlights of the NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING Thursday November 17
    NOTE: The Closed Session will begin at 7:00 pm, Regular Session remains at 7:30 pm
    This is a Tuesday Meeting.
    This meeting will be the last meeting with Kathy Moffat as the President. The rotation of officers has Kim Nichols scheduled as the next President beginning December 8th, 2005.
    Action Item 12 A- Second Reading :Formation of a special tax district (Community Facilities District) to collect an $8 million dollar bond to build a school in East Orange.
    Action Item 12 B- Second reading on Board Policy Changes from last meeting
    Action Item 12 C- Board Policy Changes 9000 series- First Reading

    The next Orange Unified School Board Meeting: Thursday Nov. 17 , 2005.

    Closed Session will begin at 7:00 pm, Regular Session remains at 7:30 pm

    For a complete OUSD Board Agenda CLICK ON:

    http://www.orangeusd.k12.ca.us/board/pdf/agenda_111705.pdf

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040



    Orange Unified Schools Digest is an independent news service of

    /O/N/N/ Orange Net News

     

    No Consultant Left Behind

    “We’re a $220 million dollar business; we’re going to spend the money somewhere”
    -OUSD Trustee Wes Poutsma 9/22/05

    Orange Unified Schools Digest’s:
    EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2005

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2005: $ 978,300.000:

    2005 Additional Administrator/Board Member Conference Fees:
    2/10/05 Las Vegas Special Education Conference: $ 7,500.00
    Total 2005 Additional Conference Fees: $ 7,500.00

    2005 Attorney Fee Tally:
    7/14/05 Revocation Law Firm $ 75,000.00
    7/14/05 Parker & Covert $ 300,000.00
    6/23/05 Immigration Lawyer $ 600.00
    6/09/05 Parker & Covert $ 20,000.00
    5/12/05 Revocation Law Firm $ 60,000.00
    3/10/05 Revocation Law Firm $ 50,000.00
    2/10/05 Parker & Covert $ 225,000.00
    Total 2005 Attorney Fees $ 730,600.00

    NCLB-No Consultant Left Behind:
    10/25/05 Dennis Parker 6 Day Consultant $ 15,000.00
    7/14/05 OHS Communication Consultant $ 20,000.00
    6/23/05 Focus on Results Consultant $ 206,700.00
    Business Services position consultant $ 12,500.00
    5//24/05 Focus on Results substitutes $ 4,000.00
    4/13/05 Focus on Results substitutes $ 4,000.00
    3/16/05 Focus on Results substitutes $ 4,000.00
    2/15/05 Focus on Results substitutes $ 4,000.00
    1/19/05 Focus on Results substitutes $ 4,000.00
    Total Watched 2005 OUSD Consultant spending: $ 270,200.00

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

     

    SHADES OF ORANGE


    The Shades of Orange Photo Collection debuted online November 10th, 2005. The collection is a representation of Orange area communities in the Orange Library's local history photography collection. The website features the Cypress Street Barrio. The Barrio was a dynamic neighborhood for almost a century, and former and current residents helped preserve the neighborhood's history by bringing family albums and personal photograph collections to the library for duplication and incorporation into the collection.

    From the Cypress Street Barrio's four-block area, sixty-eight men served in the United States Army, Navy, Air Corps, Marines and Coast Guard during World War II, all of Mexican descent. Thirty served during the Korean War, and seven in the Vietnam War. The website exihibit offers photos of the Barrio's veterans as well as a list of all sixty-eight veterans from the Cypress Street Barrio.


    The above portrait photograph of Julian Gonzales in military uniform, Orange, California, 1944 is from the website collection. CLICK ON the following link:
    Cypress Street Barrio Veterans

    To see The Honor Roll of Cypress Street Barrio Veterans CLICK ON the following link:
    Cypress Street Honor Roll

     

    KUDOS

    The OC Blog posted the entirety of the OC Register's editorial on the Orange County Sanitation District's internal audit of the New Age Consultant flap. The editorial praised City of Orange OCSD representative Councilwoman Carolyn Cavecche for her motion to make the audit public.

    OC Blog POST WED 11/09/05
    (FOR ALL OC BLOG postings Click on: LINK)

    The OC Register ran an excellent editorial yesterday on the results of an auditor's report on the Orange County Sanitation District (which the OCSD initially tried to keep from the public):

    Money Down The Sewer

    Based on an audit performed by a private consulting firm on behalf of the Orange County Sanitation District, it's clear that the sanitation district's board of directors was correct in accepting General Manager Blake Anderson's resignation in response to Mr. Anderson's expenditures on behalf of a New Age consulting guru.

    Mr. Anderson resigned last month, receiving a severance package of six months of salary.

    Mr. Anderson had argued that he was only trying to improve management techniques at the district when he hired Dharma Consulting, and he disputed claims that he was imposing a religious view on the district by dealing with a firm led by a self-described yoga priest.

    The potential religious angle raised concerns of board members and local politicians, especially after the Register reported in July about the contract. But that, ultimately, is a management policy issue. The audit conducted by Newport Beach-based Moreland & Associates deals with finances.

    The auditors came to six conclusions, all critical of Mr. Anderson and the sanitation distric. Here are summaries of what the audit, obtained through a California Public Records Act request, showed:

    "The General Manager exceeded his delegated spending authority by spending a total of $192,175 on Dharma consulting between February of 2002 and May of 2004. The applicable purchasing resolutions limit the General Manager's spending authority to $100,000 in the aggregate on any single vendor contract. ...

    "The General Manager exceeded his authority to enter into a sole source contract ... .

    "The General Manager failed to file a sole source justification with the Purchasing Department as required ... . Thus, in violation of Finance Department Policy, the Dharma services were purchased without any explanation of the services being purchased ... .

    "The General Manager improperly utilized the 'Payment Request Voucher' process ... . As a consequence, the Purchasing Department was not notified of the payments, and no report of the pay- ments was filed with the Board ... ."

    The auditors also found that Mr. Anderson failed to follow procedures for issuing a purchase order, and that the district "exceeded the Board-approved amount of $135,000 by $17,581.41 ... ."

    The district conducted two audits, the Moreland audit referred to here and a separate personnel audit of Mr. Anderson's management abilities. At first the district would not release either one, despite a motion by board member Carolyn Cavecche (backed by members Mike Duvall and Harry Sidhu), but released the financial audit after our request.

    Most of the personnel audit has been withheld because it deals with personnel issues, which are protected under the records act.

    At least the public knows that the board was right to treat this matter seriously and to allow Mr. Anderson to resign, although it is unfortunate the board found it necessary to sebnd him off with six months' salary in severance pay.

    The board needs to pay more careful attention to spending, and other boards should follow suit.

    Kudos to Cavecche, Duvall and Sidhu for favoring immediate public disclosure of the audit.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

     

    METRO VIEWS

    Metro Views ______________:GoCo:
    A news service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization
    November 09, 2005
    OC Blog Posts Todd Spitzer KFI Comments on Special Election

    The OC Blog has a November 9th post with an audio link to Assemblyman Todd Spitzer’s post Special Election comments on Bill Handel’s KFI program.

    LINK to OC BLOG post for Spitzer Interview Audio: http://www.ocblog.net/ocblog/2005/11/reform_terminat.html

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

     

    METRO TALK- Orange Veterans Day

    i/)))cg
    Metro Talk ______________:GoCo:
    A news service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization
    VETERANS DAY Friday November 11, 2005
    While the City of Orange’s 4th Annual Veterans Memorial Service does not have the national prestige of the official California Memorial Observance in Alameda, the local event sponsored by local American Legion Post 132 has quickly gained stature as well as being a local favorite for one of the nation’s most revered holiday’s. This year, a special photographic presentation of over 100 historical photos expands the local observance with a special Civic Center showing.

    The City of Orange will hold the 4th Annual Veterans Day Celebration Friday, November 11, 2005 at Depot Park starting at 2:00 p.m. honoring past Orange Veterans and current military. Last year’s observance included local decorated World War II Veterans Capt. A. Murphy and Sgt. Walter Ehlers. The program this year will again feature live entertainment, inspirational words, and refreshments. In addition, Michael and Gayle Merino will be recognized for donating their time, energy and services for the installation of a Veterans Memorial Flag Pole at the Depot Park Orange Veteran Memorial site.

    On November 10th in the Weimer Room of the Orange Civic Center, a special photo exhibit, “Shades of Orange/Cypress Street Barrio” will be held on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Photos of the Cypress Street barrio’s military service veterans who served America during World War II and other wars is one highlight of the exhibit. More than 65 veterans came from the four-block area that was the Cypress Street barrio, which is located just west of Glassell Street and north of Chapman Avenue in Old Towne Orange. The exhibition is a collaborative effort of several organizations that worked together to gather the photos and stage the exhibit included Orange Public Library, the Orange Barrio Historical Society, Old Towne Preservation Association, Chapman University, EDAW, Inc., and The Enlarger. In addition, Special support for the veterans’ photos was provided by Joanne Coontz, former Orange Mayor and Councilmember. The special showing will feature over 100 of the 400 photographs in the collection. A special website will go online November 10th (See below).

    Veterans Day is a holiday with by far the most interesting history of any of the national holidays. The observance began with the end of World War I, (referred to simply as The Great War since no one could imagine any war being greater), with the implementation of an armistice, a temporary cessation of hostilities until the final peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles, was signed in 1919. After four years of conflict, the signing between the Allies and Germany took place in the Forest of Compiegne at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November(the eleventh month), 1918. President Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in 1919. The original concept for the celebration was for the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M., with the day also marked by parades and public meetings.

    On the second anniversary of the armistice in 1920, U.S. allies France and the United Kingdom held ceremonies honoring their unknown dead from the war. In the U.S, at the suggestion of church groups, President Wilson named the Sunday nearest Armistice Day Sunday, on which should be held services in the interest of international peace. In 1921, Congress passed legislation approving the establishment of a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and November 11 is chosen for the date of the ceremony. In 1938, Congress passes legislation making November 11 a legal Federal holiday, Armistice Day (the U.S. has no ‘real’ national holidays because the states retain the right to designate their own holidays, but almost always follow the Federal lead in designation of holidays.).

    On June 1, 1954 President Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day. The name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans. In 1968, new legislation changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. Protests made it apparent; however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. States across the nation began to move the observance back to November 11th (California moved it back in 1975). In response to the widespread moves back to November 11th, Congress returned the observance to its traditional date for federal workers and the District of Columbia in 1978.

    Orange’s November 11th Veterans Day Memorial is sponsored by American Legion Post 132. Post 132 was organized in 1919 and met for almost a decade in Orange City Hall’s basement until the current Legion Hall was dedicated June 3, 1928. Other community members, businesses and organizations have the opportunity to share sponsorship as a community partner of this event and other City of Orange community events through Special Events Sponsorship Program. Contributors are recognized through a variety of ways including some in the City of Orange’s Progress Magazine. Sponsors at various levels include community organizations like the Community Foundation of Orange, businesses like Quan’s Rock’ in Sushi, and individuals like William Steiner and Villa Park City Council Members Patricia Bortle and Bob Bell (for a complete list CLICK ON: http://www.cityoforange.org/depts/commserv/special_events/sponsorship_opportunities.asp). For an online sponsorship brochure CLICK ON: http://www.cityoforange.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=3691.

    For further information on Friday’s event or Community Sponsorships call the Special Event Hotline at (714) 744-7278 or email Pamela Passow at ppassow@cityoforange.org
    For more information about the “Shades of Orange/Cypress Street Barrio” photo exhibit or website, please contact Library Administration at (714) 288-2471 or see the website below. The photo show will be on display at the Weimer Room of the Orange Civic Center, during business hours through Dec. 23 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. located at 300 E. Chapman Ave, Orange.

    VETERAN DAY LINKS
    Shades of Orange: Cypress Street Barrio LINK: http://www.cityoforange.org/localhistory/CypressStreetBarrio/Library of Congress Veterans History Project LINK: http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/
    American Legion Letters From the Front LINK: http://www.legion.org/?content=pr_letters2america&id=1
    American Legion Veteran’s Day E-Cards (electronic greeting cards for Veterans)
    LINK: http://www.e-cards.com/catalog/cat-selection.pl?group=AmLegion&db=AmLegion&cat=Veterans%20Day
    First Veterans Day Proclamation from Pres. Eisenhower LINK: http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.htm#proclamation
    Pres. Bush 2005 Proclamation LINK: http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/proc2005.htm
    Veterans Day History LINK: http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.htmVeterans Day Historic Poster LINK: http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/gallery.htm
    Arlington National Cemetery Historical Burial Information LINK:
    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/historical_information/index.htm
    MAP to Orange Depot Park LINK:
    http://maps.yahoo.com/maps_result?ed=vd8_Uup_0TpmWPQUJlXShf9z0yCXnAXHEA96Ktdb_C0PAQ--&csz=Orange%2C+CA&country=us&new=1&name=&qty=
    To make PUBLIC COMMENTS on this Metro Talk or other Orange Communication System /OCS/ ecast
    CLICK ON: http://greaterorange.blogspot.com/

    Please allow 1 week for activities to be listed in Metro Talk.

    Metro Talk is a news service of the
    : Greater Orange Communities Organization:
    :GoCo:
    GreaterOrangeCO@gmail.com
    Orange Communication System /OCS/
    Producers of
    Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Metro Talk
    eLECTION 2005

    Ecast on the Internet Community Group i/)))cg

    For more information on the current issues of defending media freedom in the electronic world visit:
    The ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION
    www.eff.org

    Monday, November 07, 2005

     

    HIGH NOON for SANTIAGO HILLS?

    The following press release went out from the Orange Hills Task Force about the Tuesday November 8th Orange City Council Meeting:

    Grassroots Citizens Group Challenges Politicians and the Powerful

    Orange, November 7, 2005-Community activists and a growing number of
    supporters will find out if efforts to thwart a six-mile-long development in
    East Orange have been successful when the Orange city council votes on the
    proposal Tuesday night.

    The development, proposed by Orange County's largest landowner, the Irvine
    Company, is slated to add nearly 4,000 tract houses to a rural area now home
    to wildlife, native plants and historic oaks. Citizens opposed to the plan
    claim the area does not have the infrastructure - roads, schools, police,
    fire - to support such a large-scale development. Citing traffic gridlock,
    overcrowded schools and deficits, local residents have fought Irvine company
    development plans since 1989.

    The Orange City council was slated to vote on the project in September,
    following what was thought to be an hour or two of public comment. Scores
    of citizens attended the meeting to state their opposition to the project,
    causing the Council to hold over the vote to accommodate those who wanted to
    speak.

    Concerned citizens, working as the Orange Hills Task Force, have since
    tapped into widespread opposition to the development. Using such grassroots
    tactics as neighbor talking to neighbor and information tables set up
    outside local supermarkets, the Task Force was able to collect over 3,000
    signatures asking the Orange City Council to reject the project. A
    volunteer telephone campaign rallied even more voters in the affected area
    to voice their concerns and encourage a "no" vote by the council.

    A force of several hundred anti-sprawl Orange residents attended each of two
    October Council meetings. The development decision was postponed again.

    The vote is now expected to take place at Tuesday night's council meeting.
    The Orange Hills Task Force is promising another large turnout of citizens
    seeking a "No" vote on the Irvine Company development.

    When: Tuesday, November 8, 2005, 7 p.m.

    Where: Orange City Hall, address

    Contact: John Ufkes Orange Hills Task Force

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

     

    COMMUNITY UPDATE

    A community news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/


    East Orange Project Continues

    The Orange City Council will continue its review of the proposed Santiago Hills II and East Orange communities at its next meeting. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 8 at 7 p.m. in the Orange City Council Chambers, 300 E. Chapman Ave., Orange.

    FOR THE CITY COUNCIL AGENDA CLICK ON:
    http://www.cityoforange.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=3886

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK ON:
    http://www.cityoforange.org/depts/commdev/planning/advanced/default.asp

    Friday, November 04, 2005

     

    GREAT PARK BOONDOGGLE BLOG

    OC BLOG has been posting on the OC Register's breaking story about the Great Park's Board of Directors and Staff 10 day trip to Europe and New York to visit other "Great Park's" built by design finalists for the OC park project.

    The OC Register's Noberto Santana's daily blog is a must read for all Orange County Taxpayers....Yes that means YOU!

    Former Councilman and Orange Mayoral Candidate Mike Alvarez, Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle are all on the on the Great Park Advisory Council. (See link below for a Complete member list of local officals on the Advisory Council).

    OC Register Great Park Blog: LINK

    Great Park Board of Directors: LINK

    Great Park Advisory Council: LINK

    Photo's from Great Park Community Forums
    These guys sure drink a lot...is it FRENCH WINE?: LINK

    $401 Million dollars in "Assessments" (TAXES): LINK
    After reading the Boondoggle Blog if feel like you haven't given your fair share, you can DONATE more money to the Great Park...
    GREAT PARK DONATION: LINK

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

     

    Orange Councilman Connects 22 Fwy

    Orange Councilman Steve Ambriz reading about closures involved in the 22 Freeway last week in the newspaper, took the initiative to have the OCTA link included on the Orange City Website so city employees, elected officials, and residents could easily keep up with major changes along the import city route. To view related links, Click on below:

    ORANGE CITY LINK

    OCTA 22 Freeway Update LINK

     

    Arnold Steinberg Interview

    Arnold (or as his conservative friend FlashReport.org founder Jon Fleischman calls him "Arnie")Steinberg has an exclusive interview on FlashReport on the current polls for the November Special Election. Steinberg was te pollster who was paid $28,000 in Educational Tax funds by the OUSD Board of Education to tell them to lower the second OUSD Bond Measure A to under $200 million to have abetter chance at passing it a second time.

    LINK

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

     

    GOeB on OC BLOG

    The following was posted on the OC Blog Site:
    The OC Blogosphere Expands
    The Orange Communications System -- which publishes a raft of e-news missives covering the Orange Unified School District, Orange city government and greater Orange issues -- has expanded from purely e-mail media into the blogosphere.

    The Greater Orange eBlog is a welcome addition to the OC Blogosphere, which experienced a sudden contraction recently with the demise of Orange-County Courant and CA-48. Whether or not you agree with OCS's positions and biases, they perform a valuable function by keeping much closer track of OUSD foolishness than the local MSM -- such as their regular No Consultant Left Behind feautre that keeps a running tabulation of the district's expenditures on consutlants.

    Another new addition I found via the Greater Orange eBlog is OC Politics. It's not a true blog (at least not yet), but a collection fo links to various precincts of Orange County politicaldom. It advertises its purpose as providing "comprehensive, un- biased, and accurate inform- ation about Orange County issues, elected officials, candi- dates, and gov't agencies. It is not affiliated with the County of Orange, or any other govern- ment agency...If you see something we need to fix or add, please let us know."

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

    Greater Orange News Podcast subscibe or listen to reports CLICK HERE: