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  • Saturday, April 29, 2006


    Orange Unified Schools DIGEST

    Mc Pherson Magnet and Running Springs Earn
    Distinguished School Honor

    Two Orange Unified School District schools, Mc Pherson Magnet and Running Springs Elementary, were among the 46 Orange County and 377 elementary schools across California honored as California Distinguished Schools last week. The honored schools must meet ridged criteria to just apply for the rigorous Distinguished Schools process that includes meeting state and federal standardized testing goals. The two Distinguished Schools and 2006 Title I Academic Achievement Award winner West Orange Elementary will be honored at the May 4th,2006 Orange Unified School Board Meeting.

    For a complete list of this year’s California Distinguished Schools: CLICK ON
    For information on eligibility requirements for the California Distinguished Schools CLICK ON: .

    Villa Park Elementary School Restoration Corporation
    Lease Amended

    In an increasingly rare 7-0 vote, the OUSD School Board voted to amend the current five year lease with the Villa Park Elementary School Restoration Corporation (VPESRC). The amendment includes new fundraising goals, deadlines, and a required Payment Performance Bond before any construction can begin. The April 20th OUSD Agenda Item again brought out community members to speak on both sides of the contentious issue as OUSD Trustees tried to play peacemakers between the two sides and encourage them to meet. With the hope of good news due in July on a multi-million dollar grant the VPESRC applied for, all other prospects for the site would require much more time to bring about. In order to avoid more delays, Trustee Lissa Smith called for the OUSD Administration to begin planning for a just-in-case-scenario that the VPESRC is not awarded the grant resulting in it not to meet its financial obligations by a December 2006 deadline in the newly adopted amendment.

    For more information on the VPERC CLICK ON: .

    Also at the April 20th OUSD meeting, three Villa Park students clearly hit home when they addressed the OUSD Trustees on Villa Park H.S. ASB selling caffeine-filled energy drinks. Local print media quickly picked up the students at-home caffeine effects self-study and their anti-energy drink crusade. This all tied in nicely with the first reading of the new OUSD Board Policy on Student Wellness later in the evening.

    Unfortunately, during her public report OUSD bureaucratic Nancy Pollock made a misguided attempt to tie the federally required Wellness Policy to the recent OUSD Administration Good to Great campaign. Pollock took the Turning the Flywheel concept of Good to Great and associated it to the 1990’s evaluation and feedback-loop model “Implement, Evaluate, Improve”. In the process of Pollock’s mix-and-match concept swapping (that appeared to prove that OUSD bureaucrats have no grasp of the Good to Great concepts as outlined in the Jim Collins book and its accompanying monograph), she apparently helped prove the community concern that OUSD Superintendent Thomas Godley’s embrace of Good to Great is more slogan than substance. Pollock went on to further cause community alarm about OUSD Administrators when she stated:

    “The exciting thing is we have done it right along with Dr. Godley’s foresight for our district, which is the ummm, ahhh, the Flywheel spinning”.

    Perhaps Pollock should get out of the way of the spinning flywheel and read the next installment of ONN’s Hedgehog Digest.

    Local print articles on Villa Park students’ energy drink campaign CLICK ON:
    Orange Net News’ Special Report on

    OUSD Assistant Superintendents Contracts to be Extended
    One of the first changes OUSD Superintendent Godley pushed for the OUSD Board change was how OUSD Superintendent’s received pay raises. Prior to the change, the OUSD Board publicly approved those pay raises with contract renewals or extensions for the Assistant Superintendents. Now, the OUSD Assistant Superintendents are on the Leadership pay scale and are given raises whenever the Leadership Step and Column pay scale is changed . At the May 4th OUSD Board meeting the Trustees are scheduled to vote to extend the current Assistant Superintendent’s contracts and expand travel reimbursements.
    For information on the last OUSD Leadership pay raise CLICK ON:

    Community Donations: Orange County Communication Foundation, $710.00 GATE Math supplies; OCDE-Mike Carona Foundation, $990 Transportation, Jordan Elementary. For a complete list of the $50,650 in donations, see page 42 of the May 4th Agenda (link below).

    Highlights of the NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING APRIL 20 , 2006
    To view Agenda CLICK ON: >

    State of the School Report: Kieran Sellers, Orange H.S.

    Board Proclamations: Classified School Employee Week (May 22-26); School Nurse Day (May 10); California Day of the Teacher (May 10).
    Item 12B- Approval of new contract with Orange Unified Teachers Association
    Item 12C- Student Wellness Policy -2nd reading
    Item 12F- Extend Current OUSD Assistant Superintendents Contracts to June 30, 2008


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

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2006: $ 272,317.00:
    2006 Consultant Fee Tally:
    3/09/06 Bob Sadler 3 Day Workshop $ 10,000

    2006 Attorney Fee Tally:
    4/20/06 Parker & Covert: $ 50,000
    1/19/06 Parker & Covert: $200,000
    Total $250,000

    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel:
    2/9/06 Roney and 5 principals to Florida $ 10,623
    2/23/06 Rooney and 2 principals Tx/ Fl $ 4,050
    3/09/06 2 to Florida Conference $ 3,644
    Total $18,317

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2005: $ 978,300.000:
    Total 2005 Conference Administrator/Board Fees: $ 7,500.00
    2005 Attorney Fee Tally: $730,600.00
    Total Watched 2005 OUSD Consultant spending: $ 270,200.00

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006


    Metro TALK


    This week the California Department of Education named 377 California Distinguished Schools, with 46 of those schools in Orange County. Orange Unified had two schools on the list, McPherson Magnet and Running Springs Elementary schools. Tustin Unified received 5 Distinguished School Awards (Arroyo, Jeane Thorman, Ladera, Myford, and Tustin Memorial); Garden Grove Unified, Irvine Unified each had three distinguished schools and Santa Ana Unified had two.

    The California Distinguished Schools 2006 Awards Ceremony will be held May 26, 2006 at the Disneyland Hotel and Convention Center.

    For a complete list of this year’s California Distinguished Schools: CLICK ON

    For information on eligibility requirements for the California Distinguished Schools CLICK ON:

    Comedy Central TV Bites Orange County “Consultants”

    In case you missed it, Comedy Central TV ambushed some of Orange County’s leading political folks on March 30th including Chapman University Professor Fred Smoller who is also the OCPolitics.US information site webmaster. Sharon Underwood, President of the Orange County Federation of Republican Women was also part of the Orange County crowd lured onto the new Dog Bites Man series, a nuevo-“Candid Camera”-style reality TV news show.

    Lured to the Tustin Hills Racquet Club to help as invited “consultants” for a documentary on the fake morning show called American Eye, the unknowing Orange County political crowd met a surreal outrageous Spokane, Washington TV newscaster from a fake KSGY-TV. The Ted Baxter-like persona was played by Matt Wash (The Daily Show), one of the four improv-comedians who make up the series “news team”. Comedy Central promotes the show as “When the people reporting the story are more dysfunctional than the people they’re reporting about”.

    The series was originally developed for NBC and was called “American Lives”. Comedy Central (a division of MTV) picked it up last November. The series is set to premiere in June.

    Comedy Central Press Release on Signing Series:

    TV.Zap2it Information on series:,1002,271|98652|1|,00.html

    Visit the OC Politics Website at:

    Saturday, April 22, 2006



    Inspired by the lead of the OC Blog, the Greater Orange eBlog has added a Rollyo Search Engine specifically configured for the Greater Orange Communities. Now a search on a local term will not produce the millions of hits from a general search on Google or other search engines because of the customized site feature of Rollyo Search.

    The Greater Orange Rollyo Search Engine is available as a link on the Greater Orange eBlog site. For a wider search, the OC Blog also has an on site Rollyo search feature.

    Try the Greater Orange Search by Rollyo:

    The Greater Orange Search is always available on

    To expand your search regionally:
    The OC Blog:

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006


    Metro TALK

    Old Game, Gets New Name, and becomes: The New Game in Town
    The newly renovated state-of-the-art Fred Kelly Stadium will host the long-time community Dash for Dare as the newly minted Foundation Games: Jr. Track and Field Championships on Saturday April 29, 2006. The inaugural event is through the efforts of the Community Foundation of Orange and is expected to draw over 2000 student athletes in 1st- 8th grades from public, private and parochial schools throughout the Greater Orange Communities. In the spirit of full-inclusiveness, children with special needs will compete in the 50 meter “Race of the Angels”.

    Winning students will qualify for the Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation Orange County Track and Field Meet on May 7th. The Foundation Games event will be managed by the Cal Heat Track Club. Participant fees are $7.00 with scholarships available and no charge to Race for the Angels participants. Any net proceeds will be distributed to the Community Foundation of Orange charities. To make the event a successful community event, the Community Foundation of Orange will be publicly recognizing business and community sponsors of the Foundation Games.

    For more information about the games, or for sponsorship information CLICK ON: .

    Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation CLICK ON:

    For more information on the Cal Heat Track Club:

    On Sunday, April 30th, the Orange Junior Soccer Club celebrates the opening of its 40th Anniversary at Fred Kelly Stadium. Registration for the fall 2006 soccer season will take place in conjunction with a multitude of activities. All the activities are free including the 1:00 p.m. exhibition soccer game between the UCI Women’s Anteater team and the Ajax American Women’s team. Other activities starting at 11:00 a.m. include: the Santiago Canyon College soccer clinic; Elk’s Club Soccer Skills Challenge; a Referee Dunk Tank; and an arena for 4v4 pick-up games.

    For more information about the Orange Junior Soccer Club’s 40th Anniversary CLICK ON:

    The Orange Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau is seeking sponsors and exhibitors for it’s successful annual Business Expo, May 18, 2006 held at the Doubletree Hotel at the Block at Orange destination shopping mall located in the heart of Orange County’s Central Metro Area. Business Expo participants not only feature their products, but can make business and professional contacts at one of Orange County’s premier local business showcases. In addition to exhibitors, the Chamber is seeking sponsors and presenting sponsors.
    For more information on the Business Expo telephone or email Diana Gentry:
    (714) 538-3581 or email

    To view information on the OCVB website CLICK ON:

    For Information on The Doubletree Hotel Orange CLICK ON:

    For more information on The Block at Orange CLICK ON:

    KOCE Features OUSD Music Maker and Godley Apology
    KOCE TV featured a report this month on the Orange Unified School District’s elementary music budget crisis. KOCE’s Real Orange local affairs program reporter David Nazar interviewed OUSD parent and Music Matters Committee organizer Angel La Marca, OUSD parent Eric Smith, and OUSD Superintendent Thomas Godley about OUSD’s music issues. The program aired April 12 and 13th.

    In the KOCE interview Godley apologizes for his miscommunication. Godley states “I would like to first apologize that I was not as clear as I intended to be at the board meeting”.

    For a complete transcript of the KOCE OUSD report CLICK ON: .

    Metro TALK is a community service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization

    Sunday, April 16, 2006


    Orange Unified Schools DIGEST

    Ledesma Questions “Me Too” Provision for
    OUSD Pay Hike

    At the last Orange Unified School Board Meeting held on March 23rd, 2006, OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma raised concerns about the precedent the OUSD Board has established by linking the OUSD Administrators pay hikes to the negotiated hikes the classified employees receive. After the OUSD Board approved Agenda Item 12E, the negotiated 3.25% raise for the support staff’s bargaining unit, the California School Employees Association (CSEA), Agenda Item 12F was to grant the OUSD Administrators the same 3.25 % raise.

    Ledesma supported the value of giving all district employees pay increases, but reasoned that when the school district negotiates with the two employee associations, that there was a “give and take” in that process for both sides. Ledesma reasoned the current practice of just granting the district administrators the same pay hike that is tied to a negotiated pay hike of an employee bargaining unit lacks the give and take of the negotiation process. Ledesma characterized the administrative process as “Me Too”, a process which the school district receives no benefit from negotiations. Ledesma offered the suggestion that for the 3.25% pay hike, administrators be asked to produce a 3.25% savings to the district by cost reductions or revenue generation. Ledesma reasoned the district receives nothing in return by just granting a raise without any give and take, therefore, the administrators should be asked to somehow help the district.

    Trustee Wes Poutsma immediately objected to Ledesma’s concept. Poutsma contended that by asking the administrators every time they got a pay hike to produce the cost savings from their budgets to justify their raise would eventually result in the school budgets running out of money. Poutsma questioned where such a system would end and argued under such a system that administrators would ultimately take any required cost savings for a pay hike out of the classroom. Moffat joined Poutsma in voicing opposition to Ledesma’s idea. Moffat reasoned by writing and winning grant proposals and by preventing legal issues from arising that would cost the district much more in court, that district administrators more than save the district the money they receive in pay hikes. Poutsma echoed Moffat’s point that administrators save the district money at the school sites daily. As with most of Ledesma’s proposals, the Board members ignored it. Ledesma stated he hoped to bring up the issue again.

    Trustee John Ortega stated he was all for the pay hike, but wanted to wait for the teacher negotiations with the district to settle first. The final vote for the 3.25% retroactive raise to July 2005 was 4 yes (Moffat, Nichols, Smith, Poutsma); 2 no (Ledesma, Rocco) and Ortega abstained. Since the vote, the teacher’s and the district's negotiating teams did reach a tentative settlement retroactive to January 1st 2006 that must still be approved by both sides.

    Moffat Tries To Amend LEGCO Platform
    The second reading of the proposed OUSD Legislative Coalition Committee Platform was passed by a 5-2 split vote at the March 23rd OUSD Board Meeting. Trustee Kathy Moffat’s attempt to amend the platform only weeks away from taking the platform to Sacramento for lobbying efforts resulted in two split votes on preliminary motions before an obviously frustrated and disappointed Moffat withdrew her attempts to amend the platform. Moffat wanted to clarify that OUSD’s support for Gov. Schwarzenegger’s arts grant was in addition to supporting the preservation of Proposition 98 provisions. In addition, Moffat wanted to insure the position OUSD took with the resolutions just approved in regard to losing students to charter schools were included. The Legislative Coalition Chairman Larry Cohn (who had no objections to the Moffat amendments) assured the Board that the Legislative Coalition would share the clarifications Moffat was concerned about with officials in Sacramento they meet with on their lobbying trip.

    OUSD Student Enrollment Down:
    Unless you’re in the Program Improvement Lottery

    As part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), students at a designated Program Improvement School have the opportunity to transfer to another school. The federal law requires that parents at those schools be informed of that option. OUSD has eight program improvement schools: California; Esplanade; Fairhaven; Handy; Prospect; Sycamore; Yorba; and Portola. In the letter explaining the Open Enrollment lottery period (April 24-May 5, 2006) and procedure parents were encouraged to keep their students at their home schools. The letter states “It is our hope your child will remain at your school and thus benefit from the additional funding and program efforts to improve student achievement”. Parents wishing to apply for a transfer must submit an open enrollment for a lottery which their students are to have priority in.

    The summary of this week’s April 20th Agenda Item 13 B Information Report (page 53) in part states: “The District is experiencing significant declining enrollment for the first time in many years” .Since this year’s budget process for next year began (from the initial budget projections, to the abandoned quest to end elementary music, to reportedly the district stance in negotiations with the employee bargaining units) the district administration’s projections have been dire warnings of declining enrollment. However, a required NCLB letter informing parents of students at low performing schools they have the option of transferring their students to other schools in the district states the opposite in both English and Spanish. The letter states there may not be room for their student at other OUSD schools because of increasing enrollment. The federally mandated letter OUSD produced and distributed reads:
    “When space is available, based on your lottery number, you will be contacted and informed of registration procedures. As OUSD’s student population is increasing, there may not be space available at all grades at all schools in the district”.

    APRIL 20th OUSD Board Meeting-$50,000 More to Attorney Fees
    In the Consent Agenda (Agenda page 87) for the next OUSD Board Meeting on April 20th, OUSD Administrative Director of Pupil Services Dr. William Gee has a request for $50,000 for the district law firm of Parker and Covert to “assist the District in litigation of on-going special education matters”. A recent Gee email to an OUSD special education teacher of multiple handicapped children explaining why OUSD had no funds to help her send her students on a field trip was highlighted this month in Part 5 of the ONN Special Investigative News Series Focus on Consultants (see link below). In the featured Gee email, he suggests the teacher have parents pay (the school is a federal Title I low income school) or that the teacher hold a fund raiser because the special education money has primarily been spent on teacher training and supplies. The OUSD Board voted to spend $206,700 in Title II federal grant money for teacher training on the controversial OUSD Focus on Results consultant program. (CLICK ON: ).

    McPherson: Music Intelligence Neural Development Grant
    McPherson Magnet School has received an $18,190 program grant from the non-profit MIND (Music Intelligence Neural Development) Institute. The program combines music and math in spatial-temporal training. Agenda Item 14P (page 91) explains the theory of the program: “Based on over 30 years of brain and learning research, students trained in spatial-temporal reasoning will improve in mathematics”. It also explains “Together, ST Math + Music develop students’ innate ability to visualize and manipulate images and problems in time and space, thus enhancing math skills.”
    For more information on MIND:

    To see the MIND integration of math and music CLICK ON:

    COMMUNITY DONATIONS: K. Dagestino-$250 wiring Crescent Intermediate; Orange H.S. Band Boosters-$1163 for transportation; Running Springs PTA $111 to library; Villa Park H.S. ASB- $1098-substitutes; Serrano PTA-$241- supplies. For a complete list of donations see page 57-58 of the 4/20/06 OUSD Board Agenda.

    Highlights of the NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING APRIL 20 , 2006
    To view Agenda CLICK ON:
    State of the School Report: Emily Haase, El Modena H.S.

    Item 12A- Second Amendment/Lease Agreement Villa Park Elementary Restoration
    Item 12B- Fred Kelly Join Use Agreement
    Item 12D- OUSD Resolutions supporting bills for equalization of funds for school districts
    Item 14D- Consent Items: $65,810 to Orange Education Foundation member Mark Paone, architect The contracts are for work on Prospect and Canyon. Paone has done numerous projects for OUSD
    Item 14K- Reduction in Work (10 to 9.5) for Career Guidance Technicians
    Item 14L- Elimination of 26 Categorical (program specific) positions


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

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2006: $ 272,317.00:

    2006 Consultant Fee Tally:
    3/09/06 Bob Sadler 3 Day Workshop $ 10,000

    2006 Attorney Fee Tally:
    4/20/06 Parker & Covert: $ 50,000
    1/19/06 Parker & Covert: $200,000
    Total $250,000

    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel:
    2/9/06 Roney and 5 principals to Florida $ 10,623
    2/23/06 Rooney and 2 principals Tx/ Fl $ 4,050
    3/09/06 2 to Florida Conference $ 3,644
    Total $18,317

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2005: $ 978,300.000:
    Total 2005 Conference Administrator/Board Fees: $ 7,500.00
    2005 Attorney Fee Tally: $730,600.00
    Total Watched 2005 OUSD Consultant spending: $ 270,200.00

    The next Orange Unified School Board Meeting: APRIL 20, 2006
    Closed Session will begin at 6:30 pm, Regular Session remains at 7:30 pm
    For a complete OUSD Board Agenda CLICK ON:
    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040

    Orange Unified Schools Digest
    is an independent news service of

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006



    OUSD Administrator email reveals:
    Use of Federal Teacher Training Funds for Consultant Program
    Shortchanges OUSD Student Centered Programs

    A Principal working for a firm she recommends that then gets multiple year contracts; pirated works used in meetings copied without the owners’ permission; a top administrator 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.

    The impact on Orange Unified School District student centered programs from the OUSD Trustees voting to approve the use of $206,700 in federal Title II funds designated for “teacher training” on the Focus on Results consultant program became clear from an email sent by an OUSD administrator to an OUSD teacher regarding the shortage of funding in Special Education due to using those program funds for supplies and for teacher trainings. The California State Fiscal Crisis of 2005 caused a number of cut-backs in the OUSD budget including the music program and class size reduction programs. Part of the proposed OUSD administrative cuts was the multi-million dollar OUSD Focus on Results consultant program. That cut proved short lived however. A few months later at the June 23rd 2005 Orange Unified School Board meeting, the OUSD Trustees approved OUSD Assistant Superintendent Cohen's request to bring back OUSD’s Focus on Results consulting program using OUSD Title II Part A federal funds specifically designated for teacher training. The Title II federal grant (part of the No Child Left Behind Act) is known as the “Improving Teacher Quality State Grant Program” and the monies must be spent directly on teacher training. The OUSD Trustees approved using $206,700 of the grant to go toward Focus on Results as “teacher training”. The page 55 agenda item stated:

    “Because Focus on Results provides Orange Unified with a structure/scaffold of research based effective systemic practices upon which District and site strategies can be organized, it will be funded through the Title II grant.”

    Only OUSD Trustees Rick Ledesma and John Ortega raised concerns about the multi-million dollar OUSD consultant program, but ended joining the other OUSD Trustees in approving the controversial request. None of the OUSD Trustees questioned OUSD administrators on other possible uses for the $206,700 in federal funding.

    Five months later at the November 17th Board Meeting, Cohen would be reporting to the Trustees on OUSD’s Focus on Results (see a complete review of that report in the Part 3 link below). At that meeting, with no hard evidence or reserach to support the program, Cohen would compare the program to “marriage encounter training”. Cohen would also reveal that she had her own consultant from the program and for the first time reported that the program would spend 40% less on consultants (without decreasing her funding requests by a like amount).

    Four months later in February 2006, when an OUSD Special Education teacher of handicapped students made a request to OUSD administrative officials to help fund a field trip for her students, the impact on student programs of the $206,700 designated “teacher training” money spent on the Focus on Results consultant program became clear. The Special Education teacher had requested funding for school buses for field trips to continue having her students out in the community as part of their multi-modality and social interaction requirements, she was informed by two top OUSD administrators there was no more money in the special education budget for those services. She was informed the money (which could be used to fund a variety of budget items) was spent primarily on supplies and teacher training.

    OUSD Administrative Director of Pupil Services Dr. William Gee wrote in a 2/24/06 email to the teacher:
    “We are trying to stretch our dollars as far as they will go but our budget is exceptionally tight. We give our coordinators a basic amount of money for their programs. The money is spent on supplies and training, primary, and rarely used for field trips. As you know, field trips are surprisingly expensive”.

    In that email Gee does offer a suggestion, he advised the teacher to find out the cost of the transportation and have the parents pay (in essence having parents subsidize the money spent on supplies and teacher training they have already paid in local and federal taxes). Gee also offers the suggestion the teacher conduct a fund raiser. Gee further explained that “The cuts, unfortunately, are simply due to financial issues. These past two years, our costs for training, aides, legal defense, DIS and support increase in total dollars and as a percentage of our OUSD overall budget”.

    Some of the costs outlined in the Gee email (i.e. legal) are program specific. However for the teacher training costs, that is another matter. If the teacher training costs for the special education department had been paid for by the Title II federal money designated only for use on "teacher training", then funding in the Special Education budget would have been freed for use directly on student centered programs. Gee describes his budget as “rarely used to pay for field trips” because of the current budget shortage. In an emailed reply the teacher reminded the administrator that her school was a federally designated Title 1 School (Title I a 1965 federal education law: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged) and that special education classes at her school had up to 90% low income families. Gee answers that he would be willing to school her in the special education budget “over the summer because I believe we will need to have a significant amount of time for you to appreciate the complexity of the budget process. It is exceptionally complex and I continue to grow in my understanding each year”.

    Community leaders point out it doesn’t take a one-on-one summer school course with an OUSD administrator to see that using $206,700 in federal monies allocated for “teacher training” by the OUSD Focus on Results program has impacted OUSD student centered programs. The $206,700 the Trustees approved from Title II grant monies for OUSD Focus on Results “teacher training” could have gone directly to other programs with teacher training needs that use funds for both teacher training and classroom needs (such as this specific case in special education). Allocating teacher training funding to those types of programs would free up funds for student centered programs that are now being used for “teacher training”. Instead, the $206,700 in “teacher training” fees has gone to a program OUSD Assistant Superintendent Cohen reported to the OUSD Trustees was akin to “marriage counseling”.

    Who gets the benefit of the OUSD Focus on Results marriage counseling-like-training-program? Each OUSD school sends just six people to the Focus on Results meetings. The six people include two administrators and four teachers. Many teachers who have participated for an entire year in the program have reported that they still have no idea what the program is about. Also, many schools have played musical chairs with participants and have only one or two people who have been to all the meetings. Using the Cohen “marriage counseling” analogy, it is as if you had a different spouse in counseling every month. The newest spouse of course has no idea what went on in the previous “marriage counseling” session before.

    In the beginning before the media reports on the program, the OUSD Focus on Results program rarely started on time and the meeting leaders allowed extended lunches and often finished early. Today meetings still often finished early with no further “planned” activities. Initially the district meetings for the program would consist of the meeting leaders handing out photocopied handouts of articles from educational magazines that were read and discussed. The illegal copyright infringement appears to have stopped after Orange Net News contacted many of the authors of the works used in those meetings and reported that none of the authors contacted had given permission for their works to be used or photocopied onto paper with the Focus on Results logo.

    Since then, the OUSD’s Focus on Results has been devoted to the “instructional walk-through” (also know as “instructional walks”; “learning walks”; or “data-in-a day”).The instructional walkthrough has been around in education for about five years and is currently the rage with edu-crats into fad-education. Based on a business model called "Management by Wandering Around", that was originally developed by executives at Hewlett-Packard in the 1970’s, the model became highly popularized in a book in the early 1980’s called In Search of Excellence written by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. The team wrote that the managers of the most successful companies in the United States stayed out of their offices to be close to the business workings and customers, and the daily routines of the business. Yet after over forty years as a business model and five years as an education model, the business model and the current instructional walk-through fad has no research supporting its effectiveness.

    The original theory behind the purpose of the educational walk-through was for a district representative and a school leader to participate to improve the learning of the school leader to facilitate the learning of their staff. Educational critics of the practice in its current form contend that ill-informed district administrators adopted the structures without understanding the original purpose resulting in the program becoming something it was never intended to be. As an example, the instructional walk-through model in OUSD has highly paid district office personnel (often without a direct connection to classroom education) and “trained” teachers visiting every classroom in a designated school for 5 minutes. In essence the visitors do “bulletin board” checks as they look for “evidence” of student learning around the classroom. Later they meet with the school’s program designated Instructional Leadership Team to announce that yes indeed the visitors have seen evidence of learning in every classroom. Of course with only five minutes in each classroom (out of a six hour day) they are bound to miss something, so they produce an “I wonder list..?”. To see what one day’s work from OUSD Focus on Results six-figure bureaucrats looks like and what a multi-million dollars in local and federal educational taxes for teacher training has taught OUSD educators to do CLICK ON:

    Community leaders point out that when most of the current OUSD Trustees were elected in the Orange Unified Recall as the Citizen’s Board, they prided themselves with “out of the box” leadership solutions to a multitude of problems facing the local educational community. The expectation of those newly elected Trustees from the OUSD Administration was for solution rigor as they pushed the OUSD Administration to search beyond the easy common business as usual solutions to more innovated unique student and community centered solutions as they united a community coalition that readily wanted the promise of the Orange Renaissance to come true. Those same early community supporters now feel that promise was squandered as those same Trustees became dependent on administrators and became followers rather than leaders, became complacent in accepting easy outs from district administrators, instead of questioning and pushing for the same educational excellence in administration that is expected from school staff and students in the classroom. Long time OUSD Board watchers point out that the Trustees allowed the OUSD Administration’s creation of an OUSD Consultant Culture that the Trustees accepted, approved, acquiesced to and paid for by the new educational business doctrine that the Board’s first administrator-elected-trustee Wes Poutsma verbalized in 2005 at the September 22nd Board Meeting when he stated: “We’re a $220 million dollar business; we’re going to spend the money somewhere.”
    End of Part V
    Watch for PART 6

    To receive a copy of the email refered to in the report, email your FAX Number or address to

    The first four parts of FOCUS ON CONSULTANTS follow below. OR
    To view Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this exclusive Orange Net News report

    CLICK below






    OUSD’s “Marriage Encounter Program” Approach
    U.S. Department of Education’s Real Scientific Rigor

    A Principal working for a firm she recommends that then gets multiple year 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.

    At the same time Orange Unified School District (OUSD) administrators were comparing their Comprehensive Reform Model called Focus on Results to Marriage Encounter Training, the independent non-profit American Institutes for Research (AIR) in association with the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) was using authentic scientific criteria developed by What Works Clearinghouse (a USDE research arm) to publish a study that evaluates the quality and effectiveness of 22 widely adopted Comprehensive Reform Model programs.. The study was released two months ago in November. The study evaluated programs that had extensive research on their effectiveness. Focus on Results was not one of the models in the study.

    Since 1999 the American Institutes for Research (AIR) has operated the USDE funded Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center that has pioneered research driven consumer-friendly research reviews of education programs. For the Comprehensive School Reform Models Study, the AIR reports it conducted “extensive reviews of about 800 studies to rate the models”. Reviewing the 800 studies with scientific criteria, the AIR study rated the models in five categories of quality and effectiveness that including the ability to improve student achievement. The study framework was developed in consultation with an Advisory Group made up of leading experts and researchers that aligned the study with the No Child Left Behind requirement for scientifically based evidence.

    Of the 22 reform program models examined none received the study’s highest possible rating. However, two received the second highest “moderately strong” Category 1 rating (showing “evidence of positive effects on student achievement”): Direct Instruction’s Full Immersion Model (based in Eugene, OR) and Success For All (Baltimore. Md.) Five models met Category 1 “moderate” standards (noticeable evidence of positive outcomes); eight met a “limited” standard (some evidence of positive outcomes, but more research is needed); and seven received a “zero” rating indicating meaningful studies attesting to their success were unreliable or unavailable. None of the programs received a “negative” rating which would mean that no research was available to review (like with Focus on Results) or strong evidence demonstrated negative effects.

    The most significant information in the report for Orange Unified (aside from modeling authentic scientific research rigor for OUSD Administrators and OUSD Trustees) was the relatively low costs for the most successful programs, including those with the highest effectiveness according to authentic scientific criteria developed by USDE researchers. The two highest rated programs cost significantly less per year than OUSD’s yearly investments in Focus on Results (which has no rigorous scientific based criteria).OUSD has paid as much as $250,000 a year for Focus on Results in elementary schools, plus another $250,000 a year for secondary schools. According to the AIR report, the Direct Instruction K-8 program (operating since 1968) costs $74,000 annually compared to the $250,000 a year price tag for the OUSD K-6 schools alone with Focus on Results. In addition, Direct Instruction’s program had high effectiveness in both literacy and math in K-8 programs. In OUSD, Focus on Results only focus is “literacy”. Success for All (operating since 1987 in over 1400 schools) was the other top rated program. Success for All had scientifically proven results with its program that focused on three areas: literacy, math and social studies. The yearly cost for this scientifically proven program (with a three area focus) is only $88,580.

    In November, about the same time AIR’s comprehensive scientifically rigorous study was released, OUSD Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Cohen gave her long awaited report to the OUSD Trustees on the effectiveness of the $2 million dollar OUSD Reform Model program Focus on Results. Having no realistic data or scientific rigor to support the program, Cohen instead compared the $2 million taxpayer supported Focus on Results program to “marriage encounter training” prompting surprise and outrage across the greater Orange communities. At the same meeting, OUSD Trustees Kathy Moffat, Kim Nichols, and Wes Poutsma continued to defend the value and cost of the $2 million dollar program despite the obvious lack of comprehensive scientific rigor, or related data in the Cohen Report.

    In her many appearances before the OUSD Trustees supporting OUSD’s $2 million investment in Focus on Results, Cohen has recounted that the program in OUSD originated when some OUSD principals were introduced to the program by their involvement in the Los Angeles Times’ Reading by Nine initiative and brought it to her attention (Focus on Results is no longer listed as a participant in the Reading by Nine program CLICK ON In Cohen’s accounts, she has never mentioned that one of those OUSD principals at the time was also a Senior Consultant for the Focus on Results program. That principal’s school, Prospect Elementary is still listed on the Focus on Results website as a “Case Study” for the Reading by Nine program (CLICK ON: ). Since 2003, Prospect’s state test scores have declined (last year it posted OUSD’s biggest state score drop) and it is now designated by the State of California as one of OUSD’s many Underperforming Schools.

    A major factor in wasting huge amounts of educational tax dollars on unproven programs is the fact that district administrators across the county do not research the data available for school reform programs, and school boards routinely act as rubberstamps for district bureaucratic requests. In 1998, Sam Stringfield (the principal research scientist at John Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of School and considered a top researcher in educational reform models) provided guidance in his widely circulated papers to help school administrators select an improvement program. Stringfield’s much renowned writings give guidance on how to analyze a reform program using three basic questions: 1) Does the program meet specific researched objectives? ; 2) How strong is the research backing the program?; 3) Are the financial and human costs beyond the resources of your district?

    It appears none of this widely known best practice model for choosing a comprehensive reform program was used by the OUSD Administration in choosing Focus on Results. Years after this important work was published, the OUSD administrators, admittedly on just the advice of a few district principals (one who worked for the firm), committed themselves to an unproven program (at the time of OUSD’s initial investment, Focus on Results had only been around for two years) with no research rigor in a way contrary to leading research on the best practices available for choosing reform programs. When community pressure forced the OUSD Administration to justify the spiraling expense, the OUSD Administration has tried to manipulate data to prove their investment was worth it. Unfortunately with no research to back them, the rationale with the most “rigor” was for them to compare a $ 2 million dollar educational taxpayer investment (while proven programs like class size reduction and music programs were slashed) to “marriage encounter training”.

    This month AIR is scheduled to release its report on secondary reform programs.

    To view Part 1, 2 and 3 of this exclusive Orange Net News report CLICK below
    PART 1
    PART 2
    PART 3

    Research Links (Click On the link provided):
    The AIR/ CSRQC Elementary CSR Model Report
    Information about the American Institutes for Research (AIR)
    Information on USDE What Works Clearing House
    Information on Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center
    Information about Reading By Nine
    Prospect Case Study by Focus on Results
    Information on Comprehensive School Reform Quality Reports
    AIR Press Release on CSR Report
    Sam Stringfield CSR Guidance (1998)
    The latest USDE Research on another OUSD Program in use- SAXON MATH



    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:

    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. //



    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”.


    PART 1 Focus on Consultants

    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.

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