A model for rebuilding Dayton Public Schools

I had a conversation with Dayton Daily News Editorial board member and former school reporter, Scott Elliott about my “strangely bad ideas” including where he scoffed about Sinclair Community College taking over Dayton Public Schools.

He did agree that the DPS brand is beyond tarnished, but, told me there was no precedent, or reason for it to happen.

I point you to the Boston University/Chelsea Partnership- where I guess someone else had a “strangely bad idea;”

The Boston University/Chelsea Partnership is the only example of a private university accepting responsibility for the day-to-day management of a public school system.

Boston University provides managerial and educational expertise to oversee and rebuild an entire urban school system and to construct a model for the reform of urban education. The challenges faced by the partnership in Chelsea are typical of those faced in economically disadvantaged urban areas throughout the United States. In June 1989, Boston University accepted the invitation of the Chelsea School Committee to manage the Chelsea Public Schools under a unique ten-year partnership agreement.

By unanimous vote of the Chelsea School Committee in 1997, that agreement was extended an additional five years. In June 2002, the School Committee once again voted to invite Boston University to extend the partnership, this time through June 2008.

The Boston University Chelsea Partnership remains the only instance in which a private university has accepted responsibility for the overall day-to-day management of a public school system. The University receives no monetary compensation for its work; rather, it provides managerial and educational expertise and oversight in order to rebuild an entire urban school system and to construct a model for the reform of urban education.

The challenges faced by the partnership in Chelsea are typical of those faced in economically disadvantaged urban areas throughout the United States.

via BU | School of Education.

Although Sinclair isn’t a 4 year school, with an education department (hello, Wright State and University of Dayton) Sinclair is already a partner with DECA, ISUS and the new David Ponitz High School which is grades 9-14.

With a City Commission that votes 5-0 almost always, and has only had a few 3-0-1 votes in the last four years- it’s a wonder any new ideas ever come to the table for discussion. Without floating ideas like this, how will we ever know what could be? In a conversation with the esteemed Dr. Ponitz, he shared his believes in the need for “creative dissonance” which help elevate the level of the discussion.

Apparently in Boston, someone floated my idea long ago- and it’s still working. Yet, Scott Elliott has no ideas of his own, nor is he willing to sign his name to a hatchet job in the editorial. Read my plan– share your thoughts, then try that on Nan Whaley’s or Joey D. Williams‘s sites.

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15 Responses

  1. Hall October 8, 2009 / 9:01 pm
    What does the voting record of the city commission have to do with this subject ? The city doesn’t run the school system.
  2. David Esrati October 8, 2009 / 9:05 pm

    @Hall- under provisions in the State of Ohio, the Mayor can take over a school district. Then you hire Sinclair to run the district. However, it doesn’t have to be by force, or with any arm twisting- it’s just that the perception of our school district is one of the factors hurting our city that we need to address.

  3. Hall October 8, 2009 / 9:18 pm
    Never heard of that….. Reference ? I just found a story from ’97 mentioning the Ohio HR given Cleveland’s mayor this sort of authority but it sounds like it’s just for this instance.
  4. Molly Darcy October 8, 2009 / 9:31 pm
    What the hell does Sinclair COMMUNITY COLLEGE know about primary education?  They certainly are good at robbing us blind in property taxes, but seriously David, that’s another brilliant idea.  That’s like saying hey, Brian Gregory, you’re a hell of a college basketball coach, why don’t you go play quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, they could really use your help?

    Nice one David. 

  5. Rahn Keucher October 8, 2009 / 10:19 pm
    I think the point that David is trying to make is that many things are broken and doing the same shit day after day is only going to get you the same shitty result. Any ideas, even the crazy ones, deserve to be dicussed. Crushing creative ideas and critical thinking is what got this town – and DPS – in the slide we are now witnessing.
  6. truddick October 8, 2009 / 10:23 pm
    Let’s get specific.
    The BU-Chelsea project has ended, and results were mixed.
    http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2008/06/30/chelsea_schools_hit_crossroads/
    Meanwhile, without burdening Sinclair, DPS has managed to achieve many of the same improvements.  DPS graduation rates are WAY up, their test scores continue to improve (and look–the state’s testing is ridiculously bad to start with, so that’s not necessarily a valid measure).
    Citing DECA, ISUS, and the Ponitz Career Academy is evidence in favor of focused partnerships.  BTW, DECA is at UD, didn’t you know?  The secret that you don’t know is that well administered early college programs have succeeded wherever they’ve been implemented, including Ohio’s dual-enrollment and PSEO programs.  But those programs are not for the middle 80% of students, they’re for the students who are academically and emotionally ready for adult education.
    You want to burden Sinclair with responsibility for another 17000 students at a level for which they are not designed.   Bad idea, David.  It’s like saying that Bank of America should take over Merrill Lynch and Countrywide.  How did that one work out, David?
     
    Bottom line: as a city commissioner, you would have no authority over education.  What you ought to be talking about as a candidate is how you would cooperate with DPS on property and safety issues.  Those would be your bailiwick, not educational administration.  Promoting your entirely sensible ideas about regionalism–including a county-wide Board of Education–would be a worthy sideline.  But take this idea and file it in your “discarded creative thinking” category.
  7. David Esrati October 9, 2009 / 6:47 am

    @Truddick- and how exactly do you plan to get new people to move to Dayton and put their kids in a public school system? The premise of a k-14 program is a unique differentiatior.

    I know full well DECA is tied to UD- and that DPS killed it’s part of the bargain in a budget cut. That instills faith- cutting what works.

    You may be an expert in educating- but you know nothing about branding and changing perception.

    The main thing is- you, and almost everyone else in this town, can’t even discuss possible change without personal attacks, negativity, and a lot of attitude.

    Creative thinking in Dayton stopped somewhere around Kettering’s time apparently.

  8. Larkin October 9, 2009 / 11:54 am
    David,
     
    Truddick makes several good points– and I don’t see where “personal attacks, negativity and a lot of attitude” were ever a part of it. I think Sinclair is an eyesore (from an architectural point of view) and don’t see where they provide anything that any other community college wouldn’t provide. Why on earth would we put them in charge of primary education, and why would they even want that?
     

    You say to “truddick” that he may “be an expert in educating- but you know nothing about branding and changing perception.” We’ve had enough of “branding” and “changing perception”  in school systems. In fact, that may be part of the problem– changing the perception without ever changing what is happening at the core level.  We need more people who understand how to educate children, not more people who can give parents and taxpayers the same old crap in a pretty new box.
    And as for “branding and changing perceptions,” you’ve got two weeks to convince Dayton that you can be an effective city commissioner, who can bring your good ideas to the table and listen to the ideas of others and  be a positive instrument for change.  You need to focus on that, and stop alienating your base.
     

     
     
     

  9. David Esrati October 9, 2009 / 12:02 pm

    @Larkin- I didn’t say the core changes don’t need to be made- and are being made, as I’ve pointed out at Thurgood Marshall. http://esrati.com/?p=824

    I was mocked by a reader then, saying that I was full of it for that as well.

    I present ideas- I open the floor for discussion- as to the Sinclair brand- it’s stellar. Why wouldn’t applying it to DPS be a good idea- and why can’t we have oversight from people who are experts at preparing the workforce of the future?

    Sinclair is the only State institution with zero debt. It has the lowest tuition. It produces graduates that get jobs. It’s well regarded nationally- as well as internationally- can you suggest a better way to reposition our school system?

    And, I hardly see what the style of architecture has to do with the quality of learning. MIT has some amazing Frank Gehry buildings that people think are ugly as hell- but, they seem to still turn out amazing grads.

    Harvard has some several hundred year old buildings- hasn’t hurt them either.

    Good teachers can educate in a straw shack if need be… the bad ones, complain about the lighting.

  10. Drexel Dave Sparks October 9, 2009 / 1:11 pm
    Here here to the death of branding.
    I’m not seeing the personal attack there, other than you taking truddick’s constructive criticism personally.
  11. Lynn October 9, 2009 / 4:44 pm
    “The main thing is- you, and almost everyone else in this town, can’t even discuss possible change without personal attacks, negativity, and a lot of attitude.”
    Was this line meant to be a joke?  You’re accusing others of negativity and personal attacks?  My jaw dropped.
    David, personal attacks and abrasive personality define you.  It’s who you are.  It’s what this site is.  And that’s how the community views you.
    You may live in a different world, running a race from a blog populated by angry white men (as blogs overwhelmingly are) but the voters see what you are and that’s why you’ll be losing by double digits.  The newspaper has its faults, but they nailed your personality.
  12. Larkin October 9, 2009 / 4:53 pm
    Sorry, David, I’m not preparing my son to be “the workforce of the future.” Is that what you think the students of DPS are worth? Vocational school. You’re off base here.
  13. Larkin October 9, 2009 / 4:54 pm
    Oh, and no doubt one of the reasons that Sinclair has so little debt is that the people of Montgomery County support it with property tax revenues. I’d rather support Antioch, but that’s not an option. I know you think Sinclair is just swell– that doesn’t mean the rest of us agree.
  14. David Esrati October 9, 2009 / 5:54 pm

    @Larkin- you do realize that students can also take the first 2 years of a 4 year program at Sinclair- saving a ton of money, and transfer to UD and WSU?

    You also realize that almost 70% of the jobs available today- are not 4 year degree jobs?

    You can send your son anywhere you’d like, but- to give Dayton a competitive edge over suburban school districts including the extra two years would help us repopulate Dayton. That is the goal here, correct?

  15. Larkin October 9, 2009 / 7:51 pm
    The point of a Liberal Arts education is that you become educated. Not so that you can become a plumber or an electrician or an advertising executive or a doorman or a doctor. It is so you are an Educated Person. With that education, you can then decide to be whatever it is that strikes your fancy– or perhaps  you can “be” several things in one lifetime if you are so lucky as to have a lengthy one. If you are only interested in saving money, Ohio State seems to be quite a bargain . . . and if you don’t think that those “few” employers that care about college degrees don’t care where those degrees came from, think again.  Dayton will never have a competitive edge over suburban school districts, EVEN WHEN THE SCHOOLS IN DAYTON SCORE HIGHER, because the suburbs are populated with people who will come up with whatever justification they dream up to cover for their fears.

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