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  • Friday, May 13, 2011


    3 OUSD High Schools make Newsweek's best schools list

    3 OUSD High Schools make Newsweek magazine’s
    “America’s Best High Schools List”

    Three Orange Unified High Schools have made the Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Best High Schools” list for 2010: Canyon High School, El Modena High School and Villa Park High School. Only 6% of American high schools make the list of 1,623 schools from all 50 states. Newsweek uses a formula that counts the total number of students at each school who prepare for and take any of three college level tests- Advance Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE)- and divided that number by the number of seniors at that school graduating that year.

    Canyon High School has made the list every year since 2006. This year they were ranked number 853. Past year’s ranks are: 2009-# 605; 2008-# 537; 2007-# 750; 2006-# 952.

    El Modena High School has made the list four times. This year the school was ranked number 1269. Past year’s ranks are: 2008-# 915; 2007-# 1075; 2006-#1145.

    Villa Park High School has made the list three times. This year the school ranked number 593. In 2009 the school ranked 433 and in 2006 the school ranked 590.

    To see the complete list CLICK ON: 2010 Newsweek List

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011


    OUSD to approve $350,000 in legal fees

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Independent insight into OUSD

    What budget crisis?
    OUSD Legal Services to be discussed as
    Board Consent Agenda asks for $ 350,000 in Legal Fees

    One of the most famous Orange Recall bumper stickers seen on hundreds of cars all over Greater Orange from the nasty June 2001 Orange Recall Election was the white and black two lined zinger:

    OUSD=Lawyers, Lawsuits,and Litigation.
    Bad for Students. Bad for Taxpayers. Bad for Orange.

    The Greater Orange Community was lashing out against an unchecked OUSD Board that was using hundreds of thousands of educational tax dollars to pay for politically inspired lawsuits. Orange County Education Alliance attorney Mark Bucher was on their payroll, and the soon-to-be-recalled Board’s Los Angeles attorney was even giving the recalled Trustees political contributions. After the Orange Recall Election was won and the Citizens Board took over, the old political insider law firm was booted and Parker & Covert were re-instated as the OUSD law firm. They have been here ever since as over the years, the Trustees have weighed getting an in-house attorney vs. a hired firm. Next came the attempted Santiago Charter Revocation on the heels of a major sex-scandal and the law firm of Miller, Brown and Dannis- dubbed the Revocation Law Firm- was taken to task by the community for that legal fiasco. It was Trustee Rick Ledesma who led the charge against that firm as Trustee Kathy Moffat served a hellacious year as Board President trying to maintain order under a community revolt against the Revocation Attempt of Orange County’s first charter school. Ledesma symbolically voted No to payments for the Revocation Law Firm year after year as he dutifully pulled the firms payments from the OUSD Consent Agenda every time they appeared and he achieved a reputation as a fiscal watchdog. For years Ledesma was the lone vote, until one day during his first term as Board President, quite by accident, one of his pulled Miller, Brown and Dannis votes resulted in a tie vote. That tie (which appeared to surprise even Ledesma) meant that Miller, Brown, and Dannis were not getting the money- and since then, they have disappeared from the OUSD Agenda. Born in the Orange Recall, Orange Net News has always published the OUSD Agenda approved legal expenses for the calendar year (OUSD works on a fiscal school calendar) for the community to see. Over the years, the community, and sometimes the Trustees have taken notice.

    On the May 12, 2011 Board Agenda, the OUSD Trustees will discuss “legal services” under Information Item 13 D. During the same meeting on the Consent Agenda, $350,000 is being asked for approval for three law firms “on going Special Education matters”- Parker & Covert- $100,000 (Agenda pg 33); Atkinson, Andelson, Loya- $150,00 (Agenda pg 29); Harbottle Law Group – 100,000 ( Agenda pg 31).

    It was just one year ago that the OUSD Board approved on May 5, 2010 $300,000 to Parker & Covert for general legal payments through June 2011, plus authorized an additional $55,000 to the firm for “Special Education Services”. The same meeting they authorized Dannis, Woliver & Kelly $30,000 for “Special Education services”.

    At the April 21, 2011 OUSD Board meeting, Trustee Dianne Singer pulled an $85,000 legal contract to Parker & Covert from the Consent Agenda (Item 14 D) for discussion . In the discussion caused by Singer pulling the item, it was learned that the fees were for a pending law suit and work on surplus property issues from a special fund. Trustee Singer pointed out that jobs have been cut, and salaries have been cut and it is the Board’s responsibility to know where each dollar is spent. Implied in Singer’s move is the fact that in these times of fiscal belt-tightening, when voters may be asked to approve extending tax-hikes for schools, these discussions should be had, especially in a community that has had a history with wasted educational tax dollars, and has the information on the educational dollars being spent on attorney fees. Administrators, teachers and support staff, yes even the school board have taken pay cuts. Have the attorneys cut fees?

    The OUSD Trustees voted to approve the $85,000 in attorney fees 6-1, with Singer the lone vote against it. Perhaps after the vote, Board President Ledesma, knew how Singer felt.

    Revisit the Orange Recall CLICK ON: ORANGE RECALL

    The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: the April 21st Meeting

    The April 21 OUSD Board meeting will be remembered as the meeting that had, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. With an audience full of employees and high school civics students, lessons in American democracy can’t get much better than an Orange Unified School Board meeting on a night like April 21st. In the Good Category, the OUSD Board announced their choice for a new Superintendent- Deputy Assistant Superintendent Michael Christensen. That announcement caused and outburst of applause in the Board Room as President Rick Ledesma made the Board’s choice known. The choice of Christensen, the 2010 Greater Orange Person of the Year and often just referred to as just Mike during the OUSD Board meetings, was met with universal approval from the community. The watchdog Greater Orange Community Organization praised the OUSD Board’s choice as “a grand slam of good wisdom, good faith and good business”. Christensen takes over the Superintendent’s position from the popular Dr. Dreier on her retirement in August.

    Then a Bad situation became quickly apparent after the Superintendent announcement as Ledesma next announced that staff had pulled all of Consent Item 14 I from the Agenda. Trustee Moffat asked if it was to be voted on, and Ledesma responded no, because the agenda had yet to be approved. Trustee Dianne Singer then announced that she had information that with-in the item there was a conflict of interest, and that the district must never allow any thing that even looks like a conflict of interest to appear. Later in the meeting the Trustees alluded to the $224,217 contract to the Anaheim firm of Willdan Homeland Solution for Readiness and Emergency Management noting that the regular bid comparisons and other checks the Trustees usual get were missing with that item.

    Later in the meeting, Trustee Diane Singer caused quite a stir by pulling two Consent Items for discussion (the first item reviewed above) as Singer sought to have the OUSD Board slow down on the approval of the $85,000 in legal fees until a clearer budget picture emerged from Sacramento lawmakers. Singer added that OUSD Attorney Spencer Covert was amenable to waiting. After being out voted on that item- things then got Ugly.

    Singer also pulled from the Consent Agenda 14 R the item to pay Trustee John Ortega his stipend for missing the March 10, meeting. Again Singer noted that as Trustees it is their duty to show up to get paid. Moffat then injected that the Ed Code allows for the Board to vote to pay a stipend due to “hardships”, but that when it comes to Ortega, the Board never knows what the hardships are and stated it was the Board’s duty to make a judgment call with no explanation. Moffat went on to state that Ortega had frequent absents. Ortega responded by taking exception to Moffat’s comments responding that it was evident that they were brought about by a dislike for him. He defended his absences in 2009 because of training at the FBI National Academy and accused Moffat of grandstanding. Ortega took further exception to being talked about “Like I am out of the room. I’m an adult. Treat me with respect”. When Moffat asked for permission to respond to Ortega, Ledesma denied her permission. Moffat invoked Roberts Rules for a response which Ledesma retorted “As President, I’m the rule here”. Ledesma took the vote. The vote was 4 yes for the item to pay Ortega (Ledesma, Deligianni, Surridge, Wayland) and two No votes (Moffat, Singer).

    Inside the May 12 Agenda

    Data Returns

    A special Work Study Session on the controversial Data Director tool will take place from 4:30-5:30 for the OUSD Board members. The hour long Data Director Training is sure to focus on the data that the system puts out, not on how the data gets in, which is where the controversy lies.

    Sources report that OUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dr. Gunn Marie Hansen got an earful of those problems when she recently paid a visit to the Orange Unified Education Association’s Representative Council. The time consuming process to input the Data (which the OUSD Data Gurus reportedly have an insatiable appetite for) is only overshadowed by the unrealistic “stop-what-your-doing” timetables and one input machine per campus to feed the Data Director its needed diet of constant testing results. Those results must be presented in a perfect pre-digested way-which just happens not to happen often, causing the long input process to easily double in time. Put plainly, the bang for the buck (unless you are part computer) is so far from the mark that this bit of technology turns the purpose of technology on its head as it tries to make teachers dataticians and data miners. There is a reason the U.S. Census is only done every ten years.

    Other Items:
    12 A- Approval of Superintendent’s contract: While his new pay rate is public information- the Agenda item’s Fiscal Impact lists: “As per the terms and conditions of the contract”
    12 B- Naming of Facilities- With a policy of no schools named for community members, the push to honor local civil rights hero Lorenzo Ramirez will end up with the El Modena High School Library Media Center named for him and an unprecedented OUSD annual day of celebration- March 2nd , to honor the day in 1945 the landmark case was filed. If OUSD pulls off making March 2nd a true community-wide day of honor, the memory of Ramirez will truly be honored more than a school name ever could.
    12 C- Budget Update- not just an Update-but now a guessing game…who will take Christensen’s place at the podium for future Updates?
    12 D- The OUSD Legislative Coalition wants OUSD support for a bill to allow the emergency administration of the anti-seizure drug Diastat at schools.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2011: $435,0002011 Attorney Fee tally
    4/21/11 Parker & Covert $ 85,000
    5/12/11 Harbottle Law Group $100,000
    5/12/11 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya $150,000
    5/12/11 Parker & Covert $100,000
    TOTAL $435,000

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2010: $ 395,000
    2010 Attorney Fee Tally:
    5/27/10 Dannis, Woliver & Kelley $ 30,000
    5/27/10 Parker & Covert $ 55,000
    5/27/10 Parker & Covert (to 6/11) $300,000
    2010 CSBA-Trustees and Superintendent: $ 10,000
    TOTAL $ 395,000
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2009: $1,041,000
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2008: $901,200.00
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00*
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2006: $849,717.00*
    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel: Total $ 18,317 *

    * JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent the power to
    APPROVE OUSD Travel Requests taking this item OUT of the PUBLIC AGENDA

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2005: $978,300.00
    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total
    (beginning 8/2008): $37,720.00*

    * The Godley Retirement Bonus presented here is an estimate of the amount in “bonus retirement” accrued since the Superintendent’s retirement on 6/30/08 using a 6% lifetime formula calculated here at $1210 a month since 8/08. The actual retirement plan the former OUSD Superintendent opted to take is not public information and the figures presented are only as an estimate of the taxpayer costs after the OUSD trustees voted against an amendment to exclude Godley from the retirement program. The on-going estimated figure is presented as a reminder to the community of the high cost in educational tax dollars the OUSD Board vote to allow the former Superintendent to participate in the 6% retirement incentive cost the OUSD education community in tax dollars. Godley retired from OUSD on June 30, 2008 after he worked for the school district for a little over five years.

    Next OUSD Board Meeting Thursday May 12, 2011. For more information

    Work Study Session 4:30-5:30 OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 5:30 PM,
    Regular Session: 7:00 pm

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD
    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/
    “Independent Local Insight”

    Sunday, May 08, 2011


    The Fairytale continues: California releases API Scores

    The Fairytale continues: California releases Academic Performance Index for 2010 standardized test scores

    Standardized testing season has started in California. To coincide with the start of the testing season, last week California released the Academic Performance Index (API) numbers for last year’s California Standards Tests. The API index includes two scores. The first number is the school’s Statewide Rank. That ranking is based on a formula that is calculated based on the schools Base API score. The second number is the Similar Schools Rank. For the calculation of this number, the state ranks a school by comparing them to 100 schools “determined” to be similar based on “certain school, student, and teacher comparisons”.

    The problem with the comparison rankings which the state openly acknowledges, but the mainstream media ignores, and it is doubtful the vast majority of the public understands, is that because the state uses a statistical ranking known as a decile system, ten percent of the schools statewide will always be in each (1-10) decile. That means that the because of the nature of the statistical formula, even if every school was performing equally, 10 percent would always be at the top, and ten percent would always be at the bottom, with the rest scattered evenly in ranks of 10. Put another way, regardless of how well California schools perform, under the current decile ranking system, 10 percent must always be at the bottom. If this same system was used as a grading system in a high school honors class, or a high school AP class, or a baccalaureate class, 10 percent of the students would always be at the bottom – or put another way-always failing regardless of how well they were doing.

    Eight Orange Unified Schools achieved a top score of 10 ( 10 is high, 1 is low) in one of their rankings: California E.S. – 3/10 ; Chapman Hills E.S.-10/8; Crescent E.S. -10/2; Nohl Canyon E.S.- 10/5; Villa Park E.S. 10/7; El Rancho Charter M.S. 10/6; El Modena H.S. 3/10; and Panorama E.S.- a perfect 10/10.

    Panorama, the small private-like Orange Unified school, has often been labeled a “fairytale” school by the watchdog Greater Orange Community Organization. The school only had 252 students included in the 2010 API tests, of those the only statistically significant sub-group was the 155 white students (a student group must number 100 to be statistically counted).

    Panorama's student statistics include 3 African American students, 44 Latino, 27 Asian (plus 4 Filipino) students; 28 “English Learners” (don’t assume they are all Spanish speakers at this school!);30 students labeled “Socioeconomically
    disadvantaged”; and 16 “Students with Disabilities”. As the education bureaucrats- “Educrats”, continue to look for the “holy grail” magic “best practices” to wipeout the statistically significant racial testing differences that have persisted since the beginning of testing years ago that the educrats euphuistically referred to as the “achievement gap”, that statistical racial, cultural and social "gap" can be easily seen even at this fairytale 10-10 school. Panorama's 27 Asian student's 991 API score was 63 points above the 928 school wide score of the white students; 101 points above the 44 Hispanics 890 score; 96 points above the 890 score of the 30 students labeled “Socioeconomically disadvantaged”; 94 points above the 897 score of the “English Learners”; and a whopping 264 points above 727 score of Panorama’s 16 “students with disabilities”. Yes this is a 10-10 school.

    Compare those numbers to Prospect E.S., one of OUSD’s two 1/2 API ranked schools. Prospect’s 264 students fall into 3 statistically significant subgroups; 219 Hispanics; 237 “Socioeconomically disadvantaged” students; and 162 students labeled “English Learners” (yes-at this school it is Spanish). In addition, they have 7 Asians, 25 whites and 45 “Students with Disabilities” – almost 3 times more than Panorama’s 16. Prospect’s school wide 683 API Score is 245 points lower than Panorama’s 928 API Score. However, to call Prospect a failing school, would be akin to calling Panorama a failing school for its Asians scoring 264 points above that schools “Students with Disabilities”.

    The truth is simple. The racial, economic and mental divided is real and cannot be bridged as long as we have linguistic, economic, emotional and cultural diversity in California. By bashing public education and public teachers that deal with the everyday realities of that diversity with skewed bureaucratic statistical rankings the educratics are trying to support their very public fairytale quest of finding the magic solution to the “achievement gap”. Like the mythical quests of the past that governmental leaders have wasted scarce resources on- the quest for the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth, the Arc of the Covenant, the Seven Cities of Gold, and the Northwest Passage- the 'holy grail" solution to close the achievement gap will continue to allude the governmental educarats as long as they continue to believe in fairytale endings and continue to insist that educators, like the Emperor, wear new clothes.

    Panorama’s API Score information-CLICK ON: FAIRYTALE SCHOOL

    Prospects API Score information CLICK ON: PROSPECT

    Orange Unified API Score information for all schools CLICK ON:

    Tuesday, May 03, 2011


    OUSD Special Session Board Meeting

    Orange Trustees to meet in Special Session to approve Michael Christensen’s contract as new OUSD Superintendent

    The Orange Unified School Board Trustees will meet in Special Session on Friday May 6, 2011 to approve an employee contract with OUSD Deputy Assistant Superintendent Michael Christensen as the new Superintendent when current Superintendent Dr. Renae Dreier retires at the end of June. The announcement of Christensen’s appointment at the April 21, 2011 Board Meeting was met with cheers from the board room audience.

    Since the announcement Christensen’s appointment has been greeted with near universal community enthusiasm. The watchdog group Greater Orange Community Organization in an email to its members called the OUSD Board’s appointment “a grand slam of good wisdom, good faith and good business”.

    The Special Session will begin at 6:00 pm with public comments then will go to Closed Session for the contract vote.

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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