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  • Thursday, October 26, 2006


    Metro VIEWS

    “Gains not significant enough.”

    With the Rocco Censure and the Censored September 14th Orange Unified School Board Meeting now seemingly behind us, perhaps now we can turn back to the real issues in Orange Unified. OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley in a sobering video report to OUSD at the September 28th OUSD Board Meeting stated that the OUSD gains on the standardized test scores are “not significant enough”. Godley pointed to a persistent six year 45% gap in achievement between the OUSD White and Asian student populations and the OUSD Hispanic student population. In addition he highlighted another 6 year 45% achievement gap that has existed between OUSD’s Special Education student population and the non-special education student population. For years, (and during the current election cycle) current OUSD Board Members and OUSD Administrators have repeated the mantra that OUSD Scores are going up (even as recently as September 1st, 2006, the day after last the standardize testing scores for last school year were released CLICK ON: ).

    OUSD Administrators have pointed to these not significant gains for years and used them for justification of the massive educational tax dollars spent on the OUSD Administrative pet consultant program Focus on Results. All the while the same OUSD Administrators all but ignored the federally mandated No Child Left Behind goal of closing the achievement gaps in those student subgroups that Godley reported have not changed in six years.

    At the same time we, the Greater Orange Communities Organization, have pointed out time and time again that OUSD has not produced any more significant testing gains than school district’s across California that did not spend the millions on OUSD Administrations’ Focus on Results pet consultant program.

    The current OUSD Trustees have rubber stamped the controversial consultant program time after time, even while clearly not understanding what it does. OUSD Administrator Cheryl Cohen (at the time Assistant Superintendent) in trying to describe to the OUSD Trustees just what Focus on Results does, compared the program to “marriage encounter training”. In the same meeting, OUSD Trustee Wes Poutsma before voting to approve hundreds of thousands of dollars for Focus on Results spending said any program that teaches reading is going to get his vote.

    Unfortunately, Focus on Results has nothing to do with reading,that is unless you count the pirated educational works that were photocopied without permission of the authors or educational journals for the monthly five to six participants from each school to read then “discuss”. In the same video as Godley’s candid report and his calling for a need to increase scores “at a greater rate”, Cohen called the controversial consultant program (in a classic Cohen morph) “a highly qualified sustained professional development program that exposes current administrators and teachers to current research and best practices”. Cohen failed to mention that “exposure” provided is to merely read a recent educational article at the expensive monthly meetings. For a good part of the OUSD Focus on Results program those articles were pirated works from educational magazines copied without permission of the author or publication. The copyrighted works were photocopied and the Focus on Results logo was placed on them (CLICK ON: ).
    Clearly, for the millions spent on the program, it would have been far less expensive to have purchased an actual subscription to the “best practices” journals for all district’s teachers to read ( be "exposed” to) month after month instead of the pirated one article to give to a few teachers from each school.

    It was Cohen who also morphed the controversial program into the educational-fad Structured Walk-Though. The “walk-through” is one of the latest educational fads (with no educational research supporting it) and has been criticized for being nothing more than an expensive “bulletin board” check as groups of high paid administrators walk into classrooms for a few minutes and look at student’s posted work and what is written on the chalkboard. To see the result of what a day’s work of high priced administrators produces in an OUSD Focus on Results “walk-thought” at a school that Cohen herself identified as a model Focus on Results school: CLICK ON .

    Long time Focus on Results supporter, OUSD Trustee Kathy Moffat even made her support of the wasteful Focus on Results program a part of her campaign effort to get re-elected. Though not mentioning the program by name (perhaps because of all the bad press it gets), Moffat had a description of the program and her support of it listed as part of her election campaign website OUSD Issues Statement by Kathy Moffat. Since the Godley announcement, that page has been taken down (CLICK ON: ). At a recent Orange Unified Education Association teachers’ union meeting, OUSD Trustees Melissa Smith and Kim Nichols(both up for re-election) attended the meeting for a Question and Answer session. The questions quickly turned to the teachers' concerns about OUSD’s Focus on Results as Nichols gave the standard OUSD Administrators line explaining Focus on Results. Then, a memo to the school staff from the Principal of Yorba Middle School (Cohen’s example of a model Focus on Results school) was read aloud to the visiting Board Members. The memo to the staff was a report what the Focus on Results Team from Yorba Middle School had come up with as a recommendation after a full day at a Focus on Results meeting at the OUSD District Office (with the schools three teachers on the team leaving their classes with substitutes). The 10/12/06 memo stated (grammar mistakes original to the memo):

    As you know, many of our kids have unique needs and it is imperative that we begin to identify and the address these needs. Our Focus on Results team had a discussion about DI [Differential Instruction] at our last Focus on Results training and we decided to start with the following:

    1. Teachers will learn every student’s name and make it common practice to address every student by name on a regular basis.

    After being read the passage, a wide-eyed Trustee Nichols asked “Is that it?” For the first time Nichols asked the same question that community leaders and teachers from all over the Greater Orange Communities have been asking for years about Focus on Results.

    Clearly as Orange Unified’s number of state identified Underperforming Schools grows, the OUSD Administration can no longer hide the growing testing crisis at Orange Unified. As this crisis grew for years:

    • OUSD spent millions on a program recommended by an OUSD Principal who also worked as a senior consultant for Focus on Results
    • OUSD’s Focus on Results used pirated educational journalistic works
    • OUSD Administrator Cheryl Cohen explained the program as akin to “marriage encounter training”
    • OUSD Trustee Wes Poutsma voted for the program under the impression it was a reading program
    • OUSD Trustees during the California Budget Crisis increased class size, cut music programs and now continues to increase the OUSD Administration before reinstating cut classroom programs.

    Meanwhile, as Dr. Godley warns OUSD testing gains are “not significant enough” and achievement gaps in federally mandated No Child Left Behind subgroups have been lagging for six years by a consistent 45% each, OUSD Focus on Results teams meet all day and decide teachers need to learn student’s names while six figure administrator teams with help from “trained” teachers use the latest “educational fad-cation” to walk into classrooms and check bulletin boards to spend millions of local educational tax dollars.

    But then as OUSD Trustee Wes Poutsma said when he voted for Focus on Results on September 22, 2005:

    “We’re a $220 million dollar business; we’re going to spend the money somewhere.”

    Metro VIEWS is open to community members and organizations to voice their opinions on important local community issues in the Greater Orange Communities.

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