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  • Monday, April 14, 2008


    The Rigor, Relevance and Relationships of OUSD's Consultant Culture

    Metro VIEWS
    Giving Voice to the Greater Orange Communities

    The Rigor, Relevance and Relationships of
    OUSD’s Consultant Culture

    an editorial by the Greater Orange Community Orgainization

    Like other California school districts, Orange Unified is bracing itself for massive cuts in their state provided funds, but unlike other school districts OUSD is still far from closing the door on wasteful educational tax dollar spending. The newest OUSD edu-crat to jump on the over-paid-consultant-bandwagon is Ed Kissee, Orange Unified Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. Kissee has requested in the OUSD Board of Education Agenda of April 17th to pay $6,500 to self-proclaimed educational consultant Kenneth Stichter for an “address” (speech) at the end of the year gathering of OUSD Beginning Teachers Support and Assessment (BTSA) program. Clearly Sticher at $6,500 knows better than to bore his audience by over staying his welcome, given that, the Sticher address will most likely last for not more than one hour, which makes Sticher’s daily rate $52,000 a day, $260,000 a week or over $13 million dollars a year!

    Unfortunately, Orange Unified’s expensive Consultant Culture is not content with just using educational tax dollars from OUSD taxpayers. They are now using student raised funds to pay for staff consultants. The April 17th Board of Education Agenda also reports that the Canyon High School Associated Student Body (ASB) government kicked in (“donated”) $800 of student raised money for a “Staff Development Consultant” ( "Donations" Agenda page 24). The exact consultant who is the recipient of the Canyon H.S. ASB $800 donation to the “Staff Development Consultant” is not listed in the Agenda item. We can only hope it wasn’t for the recent visit to Canyon H.S. last month by educational consultant Kathy Weigel. She works for the new darling of OUSD Administration wasteful spending, the controversial educational consultant Dr. William Daggett and his edu-business the International Center for Leadership. Weigel was paid $8,000 in OUSD educational tax dollars for two days ($4,000 a day) of presentations to the Yorba Middle School staff and the Canyon High School staff.

    What did $8,000 in educational tax dollars buy OUSD? Weigel is the Principal of Atlantic Community High School in Del Ray Beach, Florida, a school that the Daggett organization holds up as a shining example of their copyrighted mantra Rigor, Relevance and Relationships . In her presentation to the staffs at both OUSD schools, Weigel is forthcoming about her schools recent decline in Florida’s grading system from a B grade school to a C grade school. However, Weigel in her all-day monologue on her school never explained what brought on the downgrade from Florida’s State Department of Education. Weigel’s school has shown declines in four of the states six leading educational indicators: 9th grade math scores declined 4 points in three years; 10th grade math scores declined 13 points in three years; 10th grade reading scores declined 12 points in 4 years; and the new 10th grade writing test showed Weigel’s students 2 points behind the state-wide average (only 9th grade reading and 11th grade science showed improvement at her school). In comparison, Canyon High School is OUSD’s most consistent state testing top scoring school. Yorba Middle School’s 22 point increase in last year scores was the biggest improvement jump in OUSD’s secondary schools. So what type of Rigor, Relevance and Relationships could Weigel offer to these OUSD schools for $8,000 in educational tax dollars?

    Billed as an agent of how “change” in education was possible, Weigel’s message was described by one OUSD Staff member as “a non-stop self-congratulatory” monologue. When a staff member from Yorba Middle School asked Weigel to relate her experience on how to achieve “change” at the middle school level, Weigel dismissed the question with the explanation that the message wasn’t about how to change, but that change was possible. So much for $8,000 of Rigor, Relevance and Relationships.

    The message of change for Orange Unified should be to stop the waste of money on outrageous speaker fees, fly-by-night education fads (i.e. where are former OUSD Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Cohn’s two-million dollar in educational tax funds Focus on Results Smart-e-goals today?) and wasteful spending. The talent in Orange Unified, from National Certified teachers, to OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley is as good as any other district in the United States. Why does the OUSD Administration continue to pay exorbitant fees to outside self-proclaimed consultants with so many talented employees? Wouldn’t an address from the retiring Dr. Godley on his lifetime of experience as a teacher, principal, college professor and district administrator mean more to new OUSD teachers in the Beginning Teachers Support and Assessment program than an unknown “educational consultant”? Wouldn’t OUSD Trustee Board President Wes Poutsma be willing to save the district $6,500 for an hour speech by speaking about his vast lifetime of experience in education to new teachers? Or perhaps having OUSD Assistant Principal Ed Kissee address the meeting and present his vast experience in Human Resources to the newest crop of OUSD teachers, some who possibly will not be returning to OUSD because of looming budget cuts. Perhaps any of the expected hundreds of retiring teachers taking the OUSD golden handshake retirement deal would have been glad to speak to new teachers for free about a lifetime of dedication to education. And who better to talk about educational change at a high school in OUSD than OUSD Principal S.K. Johnson and administrators from Orange High School. Orange High experienced change from a state identified Underperforming School to a consistently outstanding performing school on state testing. Clearly, these examples of OUSD’s finest talent make more sense addressing OUSD teachers than the continued investment of millions of educational tax dollars, and now student raised funds, for educational consultants who come to OUSD then are never heard from again when the money runs out. The OUSD Board has time after time given pay hikes to (as they explain it) “attract and keep the best and the brightest”. It is now time to stop wasting OUSD tax dollars and start using OUSD’s “best and brightest” homegrown talent.

    I have long suspected that Ruby Payne is just a money-making thing.....I just found out the Payne and Daggett are both employed by
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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization