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  • Saturday, August 26, 2006

     

    SPECIAL REPORT

    eLECTION Watch 2006
    a news anaylsis series by Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    Official Candidate Statements for Local Races
    The ballot statements for the special district candidates are now posted on the Orange County Registrar of Voters website. Below our editorial staff has provided a synopsis and analysis of each statement with a rating system: (X) meaningless; (+) favorable; (-) unfavorable. In comparing the statements, it becomes obvious that Alexia Deligianni and Chris Emami have very similar statements and endorsements which give the appearance of a slate. The direct link to each of the candidate’s statement for the local special district candidates follows each synopsis.

    Orange Unified School District
    Trustee Area 1:

    Alexia Deligianni (Educator)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+)educational background (doctorate and teaching credential)
    • (+) “will work to send our tax dollars directly to the classrooms”
    • (+) “I promise that my fiscal ideas will put students first”
    • (+) “Include music and the arts at all grade levels”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (-) “ensure competitive academic programs and strong student achievement” The phrase “competitive academic programs” is a college and university buzzword used in student recruiting literature. The phrase is meaningless in K-12 education.
    • (X) “ensure a safe learning environment” This implies that the current learning environment in OUSD is somehow unusually unsafe, a claim that cannot be substantiated.

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (+) Endorsed by the Music Matters Coalition
    • (-) Included in her endorsements are two of the former recalled fringe board’s allies Phil Yarbrough and Dr. Ken Williams. (Williams gave recalled OUSD Trustee Kathy Ward an “office job” after her recall).

    Full Statement at: http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3171-2.pdf

    George Cardenas (Business Owner/Parent)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) “while some OUSD students excel, many others lag behind” The only candidate to acknowledge this fundamental truth and problem.
    • (+) “ I also propose building improvements”
    • (+) “fair compensation to attract the best in the profession”
    • (+) “ I also propose a business-education partnership”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (X) “We have too many portable classrooms” Two Measure A Bond proposals were defeated at the polls that would have addressed this problem.

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (+) Statement identifies district problems and offers some ideas.
    • (-) While refreshingly acknowledging the gap in student achievement, no specifics on ideas to address these problems. Perhaps public acknowledgement is a step.

    Full Statement at:
    http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3171-3.pdf

    Melissa Smith (Incumbent)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) “stability has been restored”

    Personal Opinions in Statement:
    There is no proof of “distinction” or of “restoring excellence”
    • (X) “I've served as a member and President with distinction”
    • (X) “I'm proud of restoring excellence to our Orange Unified schools”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (-) “Each year we have operated with a balanced budget”- California law requires a balanced budget. In the budget crisis, Smith voted to cut classroom based programs (i.e. Music and Class size reductions) to balance the budget.

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (-) “Our students are now meeting and exceeding their academic goals and test scores continue to rise” This is not entirely true. While students across the state continue to improve in test scores, in Orange County, OUSD is second only to Santa Ana Unified in state identified Underperforming Schools based on student scores.
    • (-) “I made sure that OUSD remained fiscally responsible” In four years, Smith never questioned or voted against any spending proposal by the OUSD Administration including her many votes to support the millions spent on the Focus on Results Consultant Program (a top OUSD Administrator compared the program to “marriage encounter training”).

    Full Statement at:
    http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3171-1.pdf

    Trustee Area 4
    Denise Bittel (Businesswomen)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) Small business and vast amount of educational Community Service experience
    • (+) “I will execute fiscal responsibility for our taxpayers” One of only two candidates to acknowledge the taxpayers in their statements.
    • (+) Supports a "reduction of students in our classroom”
    • (+) “Establish a Fiscal Oversight Committee” comprised of community members to "check and balance”

    Personal Opinions in Statement:
    • (+) “I believe that we are not giving our students the educational experience they need to be prepared for a global economy” Refreshingly, Bittel clearly states this is her personal belief and focuses on student education.
    Positives/Negatives
    • (+) Lists her business experience and eight substantial community volunteer positions that prepare her for being a Trustee

    Full Statement at: http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3174-3.pdf

    Kathy Moffat (current incumbent)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) “Teachers are staying in our district”
    • (+) “OUSD is no longer plagued by constant lawsuits”
    • (+) “a new School News publication provided at no cost to our district”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (-) “Our new Ninth Grade initiative brings rigor” after four years in office, pointing to a program just approved this month is a stretch, and what is this “rigor” word she keeps using and why was “rigor” missing for 4 years?
    • (-) “combined with a rigorous curriculum” The curriculum was designed by the state, years before the word “rigor” became the “cool” word to say when ever you could.

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (-) “Our schools are showing ongoing dramatic improvement in student achievement” This is not entirely true. While students across the state continue to improve in test scores, in Orange County, OUSD is second only to Santa Ana Unified in state identified Underperforming Schools based on student scores.
    • (-) Uses the new educational buzz non-word “rigor” (the only candidate to do so) does not say much for Moffat’s continued “want-to-be” image problem.

    Full Statement at: http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3174-2.pdf
    To view the real world meaning of “rigor” CLICK ON: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rigour

    Trustee Area 5

    Paul-Dean Martin (Theater Arts Educator)
    No Candidate Statement filed


    Christopher K. Emami (Youth Program Director)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) “Protect Charter Schools”
    • (+) “include Music and the Arts at All Grade Levels”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (X) “…I will work to…create competitive academic programs” The phrase “competitive academic programs” is a college and university buzzword used in student recruiting literature. The phrase is meaningless in K-12 education.
    • (X) “promote athletic programs and Healthy Students” Promoting “Healthy Students” is a meaningless statement.
    • (X) “ensure a safe learning environment” This implies that the current learning environment in OUSD is somehow unusually unsafe, a claim that cannot be substantiated.
    • (-) “I will keep our schools safe and fight to keep felons away from our children” The job of trustee is not involved in keeping “felons away from our children”

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (+) Endorsed by the Music Matters Coalition
    • (+) Includes his website
    • (-) Included in his endorsements is the former recalled fringe board’s ally Dr. Ken Williams. (Williams gave recalled OUSD Trustee Kathy Ward an “office job” after her recall).

    Full Statement at: http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3175-3.pdf

    Kimberlee Nichols (current incumbent)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) “We must continue to improve our District and improve student performance while controlling the costs of operations”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (X) “We must insure that the education we provide properly prepares our students for the 21st century.” Who is we? A trustee does nothing to insure student preparation; this is from a district slogan that is recited at the beginning of each OUSD Board meeting that has no real meaning or impact.
    • (-) “I supported...a balanced budget and living within our means” California law requires a balanced budget. In the budget crisis, Nichols voted to cut classroom based programs (i.e. Music and Class size reductions) to balance the budget.

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (X) “I have supported efforts to recruit and retain high quality teachers, staff and administrators.”
    • (-)“I support…a balanced budget and living within our means” In four years, Nichols never questioned or voted against any spending proposal by the OUSD Administration including her many votes to support the millions spent on the Focus on Results Consultant Program.

    Full Statement at: http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3175-4.pdf

    Trustee Area 7
    Larry D. Cohn (Buisness owner)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) “I am committed to bringing common sense, conservative, businesslike approach to OUSD”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (X) "With a solid financial foundation we can continue to meet the goal of quality education in clean safe classrooms with the best teachers available”. California law requires a balanced budget

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (+) Lists six substantial community volunteer positions that prepare him for being a Trustee
    • (+) Includes his website address and a telephone number to contact him

    Full Statement at: http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3177-1.pdf

    Rick Ledesma (incumbent)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) “I’ve proven to be the Board Member who asks the tough questions”
    • (+) “stands up to the educational bureaucrats”
    • (+) “ the lone voice demanding the district is held accountable to the taxpayers, parents and children of the district”
    • (+) “...with my over eight years of experience as a Board Member I have implemented and proactively affected this district by approving Charter Schools, demanding accountability, and becoming a leader by eliminating bilingual education.”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (-) “...I know how to meet the challenge of focusing every resource possible to the classroom with a limited budget.” Ledesma has supported the controversial OUSD Administrative consultant program Focus on Results Consultant Program that only “trains” a few teachers from each school. After many years and millions of dollars with no hard evidence of any benefit ( a top OUSD Administrator compared it to “marriage encounter training”), Ledesma has begun questioning the administrators on the continued dumping of funding into Focus on Results Consultant Program

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (+) “I have the leadership experience and integrity necessary” Unlike the rest of the current Board, Ledesma has questioned and often voted against Administrative requests. In addition when he is outvoted, he has provided out of the box ideas to save programs (i.e. video taped broadcasts of the Board meetings over cable TV.) he firmly supports. He often pulls items from the Consent Agenda that go against his core beliefs to discuss or vote against.
    • (+) “As Director of Financial Analysis for a large corporation”

    Full Statement at: http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3177-2.pdf

    Rancho Santiago Trustee Area #2

    John Hanna (current incumbent)

    Statement Strong Points:
    • (+) Rancho Santiago College has "one of the lowest administrative costs in the state”
    • (+) “ I have worked hard to keep politics out of our educational decisions”
    • (+) Pledged to ensure "the efficient use of your tax dollars”

    Meaningless items in Statement:
    • (X) “We succeeded in ensuring our district has a balanced budget, a healthy reserve” California law requires a balanced budget and a reserve.

    Positives/Negatives:
    • (+) “ I have fought to make classroom instruction the highest priority”
    • (+) I pledge to…ensure the efficient use of your tax dollars” acknowledged that the money he oversees are tax dollars

    Full Statement at: http://www.oc.ca.gov/election/candidate/gen2006/3054-1.pdf

    Steve Rocco (OUSD Trustee)
    No Candidate Statement filed

    Comments:
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    What grade to you give a candidate for lying?
    Candidate Christopher Emami lied in his candidate's statement by falsely claiming that he is a teacher. In fact, he is a 21 year old part time coach who lives with his parents, does not have a teaching credential, does not have a bachelor's degree, and does not have the qualifications necessary to become a teacher. Ultimately, it was necessary to file a lawsuit to get Mr. Emami to correct his false statements. The Judge who considered the case issued a Stipulated Order that Mr. Emami is not a teacher and his candidate's statement is "false and misleading." The Judge ordered that Mr. Emami's candidate's statement had to be altered to correct his false statements. On what basis can the Education Alliance continue to support Mr. Emami given his demonstrated lack of integrity, not to mention the nearly complete absence of qualifications to serve as a Trustee on our board?
     
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