In a recent LFCUG council meeting, the city council approved 4 of the 7 proposed measures to redefine what property owners can do with their property in Fayette County. The four measures defined such things as boarding houses, congregate living, and fraternity and sorority houses.
But, as the Lexington-Herald Leader pointed out, the most contentious measures have yet to be decided – most notably redefining family and functional family. A functional family, according to this measure, would be anymore than four people unrelated by blood living in the same house. This definition probably affects more student housing than anyone realizes. In order to have four or more unrelated people living together, this “functional family” would need to apply for a conditional use permit.
Joe College is moving in with his buddies in some off campus housing. Everyone works and is in school full time so they want to keep their rent low by getting five guys to live together. Joe learns that in order to do this, he needs a conditional use permit. Yes that’s right, Joe has to get permission from the LFUCG to rent a place to live while he is in school and paying incredibly high out of state tuition.
So Joe and his buddies go to the next Board of Adjustment hearing which is held the last Friday of every month. When Joe and his friends get ready to make their case in front of this panel for why they should be able to rent a space to live, they see that they are on camera. Yes that’s right. These meetings are televised on GTV3, public access television where everyone in the Fayette County area can watch Joe and his buddies plea with the city to live together.
How embarrassing. How many college students do you know that have the time, money, and willingness to plead in front of city officials for a living space? This isn’t right.
Give me a break.
Instead, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House—even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill.
Audit of 10 schools raises as many questions as answers
Last Friday, the Courier-Journal reported that 10 schools across Kentucky, including six in Jefferson County, were undergoing “Leadership Audits.” The article said the audits, “Could result in major restructuring, including replacing the staff or closing the school.” The article reported that this was a result of a new law, House Bill 176. That bill was rushed through the legislature in January 2010.
Back in mid-January when HB-176 and a supporting emergency regulation were passed, Kentucky Department of Education News Release 10-004 clearly stated that designation of schools as “persistently low-performing” under the new act’s rules would not start until after this coming spring’s Kentucky Core Content Testing was complete and released to the public sometime this summer. Thus, the sanctions in the act would not begin prior to that time.
Thus, the confusion began.
Additional confusion came from testimony at a well-publicized meeting of the House Education Committee during hearings on the bill.
Education Commissioner Terry Holiday reported that 12 schools would be identified under the legislation as the state’s “persistently low-performing schools.”
Now, suddenly, the Courier claims that accountability has already begun, and a list of 10 schools – not 12 – had been drawn up by the department.
Adding even more confusion, there is a disconnect in the article regarding statements from the Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross and educators from Louisville.
The article quotes Gross as saying, “The districts are being audited this year because they wanted to be eligible to receive up to $1.5 million in federal School Improvement Grants this year. These schools were only eligible to receive the money if they agreed to participate in the leadership-assessment process this year.”
So, the department says the schools volunteered for the audits.
But, comments from Louisville educators present a different picture. For example, Fern Creek principal Houston Barber reportedly said he was surprised to find his school listed among the state’s lowest performing.
It’s hard to understand how Principal Barber could be surprised if he had volunteered for the process.
Even more to the point, it’s hard to understand how a principal would volunteer for a process that is supposed to have one of these four outcomes:
• External Management Option — requires that the day-to-day management of the school be transferred to an education management organization that may be a for-profit or nonprofit organization that has been selected by a local board of education from a list of management organizations
• Restaffing Option — requires the replacement of the principal and the existing school-based decision making council unless audit reports recommended otherwise; screening of existing faculty and staff with the retention of no more than 50 percent of the faculty and staff at the school; development and implementation of a plan of action that uses research-based school improvement initiatives designed to turn around student performance
• School Closure Option — requires the closure of an existing school and the transfer of its students to other schools within the district that are meeting their accountability measures and reassignment of the school’s faculty and staff to available positions within the district
• Transformation Option – includes replacing the school principal who led the school prior to commencement of the transformation option and replacing the school council members unless audit reports recommended otherwise and instituting an extensive set of specified strategies designed to turn around the identified school
Note that all four options result in the principal’s replacement. What principal is going to volunteer for that?
Anyway, I did track down some facts with some help from Ms. Gross.
First, the real program involved isn’t the HB-176 Race to the Top accountability program. Instead, the program is the separate School Improvement Grant program from the US Department of Education, and the rules are slightly different.
That explains why only 10 schools, not 12 were identified.
As a note, the entire list of 10 schools was forwarded to me by Ms. Gross today and includes:
Leslie County High School
Lawrence County High School
Metcalfe County High School
Caverna High School
In Jefferson County:
Fern Creek Traditional High School
Shawnee High School
Western Middle School
Robert Frost Middle School
Western High School
Valley Traditional High School
The fact that this accountability program and the money involved IS NOT from Race to the Top explains why the program started now. The schools could only get the School Improvement Grant money if they volunteered to undergo a leadership audit this year.
But, some questions remain unanswered.
Did the schools really volunteer for this program?
Have the truly lowest performing schools have been identified? I raised similar questions about Henry High School when the first list of 12 schools came out?
Are all of these schools Title I schools (Race to the Top requires a mix of Title I and Non-Title I schools to be identified)?
Based on discussions I had with Ms. Gross today, does the School Improvement Grant program also allow a fifth option where the principal does not get replaced in the school? If so, will all the schools get to skate with this shadowy fifth option, or are some educators about to see their school assignments abruptly ended for cause?
And, what’s the ever-aggressive Jefferson County Teachers Association, where most of the schools in trouble are located, going to do about all of this?
Stay tuned for more on all of that.
One last note: It sounds like the people doing the actual audits may have their act together very well. They are really looking at what goes on in these schools, and, in the interests of finally doing something for the long-suffering students in these very low performing schools, that is exactly what needs to happen. It remains to be seen if the reports will match the field activities of the audit team and if the recommendations will actually be implemented.
President Obama tells Kentuckians the time for talk is over on health care is over.
John Fleming, R-La., a family physician elected to Congress in 2008, analyzes the White House health care summit and says he’s shocked at the way the Obama administration has ignored others’ input.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it. What? NO! We have to live with it. Understanding comes before voting in the real world.
And Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., responded to David Axelrod, President Obama’s top political advisor, on ABC News: “The American people are getting tired of this crap.”
Graham got it right. The details go on the table under the bright lights and the spin goes where the lights don’t shine.
The consequences and impact on Kentuckians of this Washington March madness game played with the mouth and in the dark is sickening.
Our new analysis indicates cheating didn’t happen and the firing was a bad mistake for kids
The Herald-Leader reports Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday recently issued a letter (confirmed elsewhere as on February 1, 2010) concerning the official investigation that fired Booker T. Washington Academy Principal Peggy Petrilli cheated on CATS assessments.
Holliday’s letter says there wasn’t enough evidence to establish the charges, and the investigation has been closed.
The letter has been posted by another blogger but the story goes deeper than coverage there or in the paper.
For one thing, the most recent state test results tend to bolster Petrilli’s case that she not only didn’t cheat at Booker T, but rather she actually produced remarkable progress at this very troubled school. Furthermore, she did it within two years of taking over.
(Source: Kentucky Performance Reports and Interim Performance Reports for Booker T. Washington)
Prior to Petrilli’s assignment to Booker T. Washington in the 2005-2006 school year, this elementary school had very low and unsteady performance in the key Kentucky Core Content Test subjects of reading, math, science, social studies, and on-demand writing. The year prior to Petrilli’s arrival at the school, proficiency rates declined in every subject but math, which remained flat from the previous year. By any measure, this was a very troubled school when Petrilli was asked to go in and turn it around.
Once Peggy Petrilli arrived, the school’s performance solidly changed. Proficiency rates rose notably during her two years at the helm.
Even after she was fired, there appears to have been a “Petrilli Halo Effect” in the subjects of writing and math, which continued to show improvement for another year.
This halo effect is significant. It is highly unlikely that halo effect would be present if Petrilli had been cheating. Instead, all scores should have fallen dramatically right after her departure.
Sadly, by 2009, the halo effect ended as all scores in Booker T. Washington declined.
Furthermore, some unfortunate issues are surfacing about the formal investigation.
Petrilli and her lawyer inform us she was never officially notified that this investigation had been initiated at the Kentucky Department of Education. She only received some specific requests for information which never identified why that information was being requested. Also, six weeks after the letter closing the investigation was issued to Fayette County superintendent Silberman, Petrilli has not been informed that this case – which could have damaged her career in education forever – had been closed.
That seems remarkable considering the huge amount of public exposure this investigation generated.
Right now, it looks like the Fayette County School District fired a highly effective principal who was doing exactly what she had been asked to do, and doing it well.
Petrilli has a legal action pending about the firing. Things like the test results above coupled with the recent finding of innocence from the department of education could make it really hard for the district to withstand that suit.
Ultimately, the taxpayer may wind up footing another big bill because too often our education establishment doesn’t know how to identify, manage, lead and support really exceptional educators.