Dayton Public Schools is never at fault

There is something very wrong with this front page article in the Dayton Daily news today:

The gate receipts from five Dayton Public Schools home football games over the past two years are missing, according to an audit the school district completed this year. DPS internal auditor Randall Harper says $9,209 in cash ticket sales from four games last fall “has been misplaced,” with no documentation that the deposits were ever picked up. That led Harper to review the 2014 season as well, where he found a fifth missing deposit, bringing the total to $14,312. Asked if there could be even more money missing, because some documentation was improper or missing, Harper said the audit didn’t test all athletic department receipts, so “that may be a possibility.”The district is investigating to determine how the money went missing and who was involved, but there were mixed signals from district officials Friday. Harper said he has “no clue” where the cash went, saying that’s part of the probe led by Jamie Bullens, DPS director of safety and security. Bullens was not in the office Friday, and Harper said police are not involved at this stage.

But school board President Adil Baguirov said two employees have been identified as being “primarily responsible” for the missing money. He did not identify them by name. “No one has been fired so far. It takes a certain time to complete the full investigation and have all the details,” Baguirov said. “I think the primary responsibility is with the (athletic) department. That would be the first line of defense. Secondary would be the treasurer’s department. And after that, all the way to the school board, because that’s where the buck stops.”

…Dayton Public Schools Director of Athletics Jonas Smith on March 4 announced his resignation, effective this summer, citing a desire “to serve as a district athletic director at the building level,” rather than running a six-high school district. Both Smith and Baguirov said the resignation was not tied to Harper’s audit. Baguirov said Smith was not pressured to leave, and Harper said the athletic department was “very cooperative” during the audit.

“This is really unfortunate and I wish it wouldn’t have happened. We’re putting procedures and systems in place so it won’t happen again,” said Smith, who last year served as president of the OHSAA’s board of directors. “As district AD, I don’t handle athletic funds, but I have many employees who do. The procedures and systems that I inherited 11 years ago seemed fine. Nothing ever looked suspicious to me.

”Asked Friday whether the missing money was the fault of the athletics department, treasurer, school board or others, Harper said, “There’s a wide variety of people who could have noticed the missing deposits.”

David Lawrence, DPS chief of school innovation and Smith’s direct supervisor, said no one has been fired, demoted or reprimanded in the case. Lawrence called Harper’s report professional and unbiased, and said it presents an opportunity for DPS to get better, as it considers dozens of applications received for Smith’s AD post.

“There is significant interest in this job,” Lawrence said. “We are looking forward to taking the next chapter in Dayton Public Schools athletics and moving on in a positive direction.

”‘New sheriff in town’

Baguirov said the audit is a validation of the school board’s decision to hire an independent auditor, at a salary of $98,000 per year, reporting directly to the school board.

“We anticipated that we’ll be able to find cases like this, and by intervening early we’ll be able to recover the money, and also send a very strong message that business as usual is not going to happen any more,” Baguirov said. “Anybody who is a potential fraudster is put on notice that you can’t do this. You have a new sheriff in town in the form of the internal auditor.”

Baguirov acknowledged that DPS’ reputation will take a hit among some with this news, but he hoped that more would see internal audits as a positive step. “Now we’ll be able to prevent it almost completely. We’ll be able to give a 99.9 percent assurance that(fraud) is not happening,” Baguirov said. “We do want to be the best district we can possibly be. That’s not BS. It’s not just something we’re saying.”

Source: Dayton Public Schools looks for missing money

First, the fact that fraud was possible, says a lot. Where are the controls? Where were they?

Secondly, even if we don’t know who did it, we do know the chain of command, and apparently several were asleep at the wheel.

But, ultimately, while Baguirov says the buck stops with the school board- their combined pay doesn’t equal that of the superintendent, who is the person in charge.

That person, Lori Ward, isn’t really in charge right now anyway, with a contract in flux. This too is the board’s fault. Their indecision has the entire district in limboland.

In the grand scheme of things, $14,312 is rounding error for the district. And spending $98,000 to hire an auditor to find this theft sounds ludicrous, but, the real question is: Can the people who allow things like this to happen, be trusted to spend at least $20 million on the one-to-one computing initiative?

In the meetings I’ve attended as a member of the Technology Steering Committee, I’ve yet to see a cogent basic description of the products they are purchasing, the sources sought, the rationale for their choices or the projections of continuing costs. All things that would be the norm in the business world. And, we’ve not even begun to discuss the training needs for teachers in the classrooms or disposal strategies at end-of-life, or expectations for students’ achievement with these new tools.

This city, this school board, this region, abhors strong leadership. For whatever reason, we rebel against anyone who steps up with a vision without a herd of followers. The sign at the city limits should read “Welcome to the Dayton Region” (because we can’t associate ourselves entirely with the central entity despite it being the only thing on the map that counts) “Iconoclasts not welcome.”

The Dayton Public Schools are horribly broken. There is no clear-cut vision to take us anywhere but into state receivership. There is no one willing to call anyone out for their failing at anything from poor test scores to lost funds. It’s almost a joke that Baguirov claims there is a new sheriff in town, because the auditor is really only a deputy, and like Barney Fife, is only trusted with one bullet. Let’s hope this wasn’t the best he could do.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in Dayton Public Schools

Lori Ward Superintendent of Dayton Public schools?Gee thanks Dayton Board of Education. It’s been about a month since you decided not to renew the contracts of Superintendent Lori Ward and Treasurer Craig Jones.
Usually, bold moves like that have the next step of hiring a replacement. In an organization that’s failing as absolutely as yours, this lackadaisical approach to naming the next superintendent and treasurer is only achieving one thing: FUD. That’s Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt- a great strategy for failing organizations.

This is the time of year, when other districts are looking to hire for the next school year. Without a person in charge, the smart people (the ones you want to keep) either think they have a line on the top job- or, they start to entertain offers. Either way, considering DPS was unable to fill 30 teaching positions this year (an indication of failing leadership if there ever was one) every day we go without a decision, is another day that the kids lose, the staff loses, and the city loses.

The old adage if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen still applies. And, even if this board can stand the heat, it’s not proven if any of them actually know how to cook. The latest flurry of sideshow distractions like reconfiguring the district to bring back middle schools, the 1-to-1 computer rollout, and the ongoing racial tensions over security and guilt by association, make observers wonder if the board has any idea of what a functioning board should be doing.

When Trotwood pillaged DPS last year and stole top teachers, principals and administrators it should have been a serious wake-up call  about the superintendent’s grasp and connection with staff. Retention of top people is a good indication of competence.

If the board, led by the young Ph.D., can’t figure out a plan of action, maybe turning in resignations might be the right move. Inaction isn’t action. And, twiddling your thumbs while the district hangs in the lurch is unacceptable.

Make a decision. Either renew a contract, or audition and name a replacement- but do it soon.

The clock is already ticking to the state takeover.

Time for some sunshine in DPS meetings

Sunshine law cartoon

Columbia Tribune: Sunshine John Darkow

Ohio has open meeting laws, commonly called “Sunshine laws”– which are to protect the public from public officials doing things behind closed doors. When you are elected, you are not in charge, you work for all the people who elected you, and as such, except for a few key things like legal disputes, contracts, personnel decisions, you do it where the public can watch.

It’s a weak law, with even weaker consequences. No one gets rich catching politicians acting badly thanks to the low fines, and high court costs. If we really believed in this, instead of electing a coroner or a county engineer, we’d elect a chief ethics officer whom you could turn to and they would take care of things like this.

While the Dayton Public School board only has one new member, John McManus, all the rest of them should have taken the Sunshine law class offered by the secretary of state. I know for a fact that board VP Sheila Taylor has taken it and knows enough to know right from wrong.

Recently, the DPS board has been receiving a lot of flak- mostly from African American activists in our community. First it was the “School to Prison Pipeline” then the “cops at basketball games” and most recently, for the non-renewal of the two top administrators who are black, by a board that is majority white and led by two white people. Dr. Adil Baguirov’s move to limit speakers to 1 minute instead of the normal 3, had security forcibly removing people from the podium over the basketball game issue.

So, this little item, had it been on the agenda, would have had a ton of people wanting to talk about it, protest it, and generally knock some sense into a board that seems pretty insensitive to the community it was elected to serve.

Meeting Mar 01, 2016 – Strategic Planning Meeting
Category: Resolution
Subject: Resolution – Hate Groups
Type: Action, Information

Whereas the Dayton New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam are recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups as hate groups,

The district shall not participate in events that promote or attempt to legitimize nationally recognized hate groups.

Motion by Joseph E. Lacey, second by Adil T. Baguirov, Ph.D.
Final Resolution: Motion Carried
Yes: Adil T. Baguirov Ph.D., Joseph E. Lacey, John S. McManus, Sheila J. Taylor
No: Hazel Rountree, J.D, Ph.D.
Abstain: Ronald C. Lee
Not Present at Vote: Robert C. Walker
For the record, the bottom three members are African American, the first four are white.
The real question is, why wasn’t this on the printed agenda? And when did they actually vote on it?
A friend told me this:
“The resolution was not on the agenda handed out to community observers at the beginning of the meeting, and was not presented until after the executive session, which means all community members were gone.”
Executive session rules have been bent, twisted and misapplied for years in Montgomery County, and don’t even get me started on the gray area of “work sessions.” If we had a real chief ethics officer, with power, the public would see a new level of transparency that would make their heads spin, but that’s wandering off on a tangent.
To go into executive session, you must announce it in a regularly scheduled public meeting. You must, explain before hand the reason it’s called, then go into session, and then only discuss the matter at hand. When returning from executive session, you announce that you stuck to the stated item and close the meeting. You do not come back in and take a vote on something that was not the topic of discussion- as they did on March 1.
The law is pretty specific about resolutions being adopted in an open meeting- one where the public is still there- and are informed about it via the agenda:

8 (H) A resolution, rule, or formal action of any kind is invalid unless adopted in an open meeting of the public body. A resolution, rule, or formal action adopted in an open meeting that results from deliberations in a meeting not open to the public is invalid unless the deliberations were for a purpose specifically authorized in division (G) or (J) of this section and conducted at an executive session held in compliance with this section. A resolution, rule, or formal action adopted in an open meeting is invalid if the public body that adopted the resolution, rule, or formal action violated division (F) of this section.

Source: Lawriter – ORC – 121.22 Public meetings – exceptions.

The question really becomes why did the board do this now, in sneaky fashion? What is the urgency to ban both the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panthers? Who gave the Southern Poverty Law Center the divine right to judge for us in Dayton? Has the SPLC ever heard of “Racial Justice Now”? Would they be a hate group? Although their site is far from as sophisticated or informative- I see some of the same language there that I see on the New Black Panther site.

Going to the SPLC site- to their “Hate Map” I grab their definitions:

All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.

If we look at the first statement- I’d think the Dayton Board of Ed should be passing a resolution against Donald Trump before wondering about NOI or the NBPP.

And looking at the second, how they segue from “criminal acts” to “marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing” which are all, the last I checked, activities protected by the First Amendment.

In fact, the grouping of the local NOI and NBPP groups with the national- is in fact maligning an entire class of people- based not on actual facts or actions, but, guilt by association. I would say the local Montgomery County Democratic Party, which pressures people not to run, sends out smear mail about opponents, and engages in closed-door screening of candidates by a secret group- is more a danger to our community – especially since they have control of half the board of elections, than either of these local groups.

I sent an email to all the members of the Board of Ed this morning to ask them to admit or deny the way they handled this resolution- with the quote above about the agenda- exec session.

I received 2 responses- from Dr. Baguirov and John McManus. I am closing with their statements. You decide if this resolution was necessary, needed, racially motivated, legal, done out of fear….

Agenda of the meetings often is slightly amended, as it was nearly every month in the past years, and as it was on a couple of occasions at the March 1 meeting: item that was marked subject “A – Review of Report Cards” was moved to be discussed after other subjects and became Subject E – last in line. No objections to that it seems, even though printed agenda shows it as Subject A. So yes, the agenda was further adjusted with one more item in the end, on hate groups, and all was done fully in line with the law and board policy. Board meetings are public, advertised, and open, and after executive sessions there is some action taking place sometimes, as it happened on February 23, just a week prior. Thanks.


Let me be clear that I only speak for myself here, as it is against board policy to speak for the board.
“Personally, until it was introduced, I was unaware that we would be voting on any kind of resolution of this nature. I listened to the discussion, though, and did vote for it in the end. After the article in the Dayton Daily News that stated that the groups had been classified as hate groups, I didn’t think I had a choice. With that being said, though, I have had the opportunity to meet many of the leaders and members of the two local groups and I don’t think that they personally have any hate in their hearts. They’re donating coats and shoes to kids who can’t afford them. That’s love, not hate. There is so much healing that needs to be done in this community, and I just hope and pray that it happens sooner rather than later.”
~McManus (and yes, apparently he writes in quotes)





Dayton School Board doesn’t automatically renew contracts

Starting on Feb. 4, readers have known my position on the Superintendent. And on Saturday, Feb 20, I suggested a plan of action for the school board.

Last night, it became official- the contracts weren’t going to be automatically renewed, and there will be negotiations:

Dayton’s school board decided Tuesday night not to renew the existing contracts of Superintendent Lori Ward and Treasurer Craig Jones for next school year, but they left open the possibility of bringing them back under new terms.

School board President Adil Baguirov called the vote just “a procedural step” that can begin a negotiating process. Asked whether the board would try to bring back both Ward and Jones, Baguirov said, “We can’t comment on that.”

Source: DPS superintendent’s contract not renewed

Ward calls it “just business” – but, it’s more than that.

We will see what happens. My prediction is that the Treasurer isn’t rehired, and that if Ward does come back it’s on a 1-year contract (for which there is really no need to sign a contract) because the school board is too chicken to fire her. Anything less than a 3-year gives her a hint to start looking for another job.

Considering that the state will make her job disappear in 2 if she continues with her next two years following the course of the last 6, why bother?

For Dayton Public it’s fourth and 1, with 1 play left- and 98 yards to go-

time for a Hail Mary.


Decision time for Dayton Public Schools

Contract renewal time for the Superintendent, Lori Ward and the Treasurer, Craig Jones. There may be others, but these are two key contracts. Last contracts were three years.

Considering we’re probably two years away from a state takeover of the district, it doesn’t make sense to offer anything more than a two-year contract.

There is no time for an outside search at this point- the Board of Education waited too long. Even if an outsider were brought in, it would be too little time to assess, manage and implement strategy as well as earn the trust of the community, the staff and the students.

Before any contract is offered to Ms. Ward, who has little to show for her last 6 years at the helm, the board should consider the existing staff with superintendent’s licenses and ask them each to come in and give a 20-minute presentation on what their vision would be, what changes they would make, and what they think they could achieve in the next two years.

The possible candidates (if I missed anyone- let me know)

  • Robert Buchheim- the newest guy on the list, he’s the “Executive Director Curriculum.” Probably doesn’t know the district well enough.
  • Sheila Burton- the current “Associate Superintendent”
  • Erin Dooley- Principal of Stivers- the only school in the district with an A grade.
  • David Lawrence- “Chief Of School Innovation” I’ve written about him before.
  • David White- left the district for Trotwood after being offered a raise, he was the turnaround guy at Belmont and then Ponitz. Knows the district.

The board is scared of the “optics” of a white lead board firing a very well liked African American superintendent. Burton and Lawrence qualify for minority status. Lawrence is a Dunbar grad. Sadly, it’s 2016 and we’re still talking about the color of people’s skin.

Either way, the board could use the ideas that are presented to sharpen their direction of the district, which still seems to struggle with getting focused on what is really important.

It’s not police in schools, it’s not suspension rates, it’s not computers, it’s about providing an excellent education and learning environment in every building.


DPS sleight of hand by doomed superintendent Ward

Changing the district’s school configurations is a distraction from the real issue at hand- leadership.

With the superintendent’s contract up for renewal, after 6 years of running the ship in circles, this “reconfiguration” as part of the solution, along with the rushed implementation of “1 to 1 computing” are just moves to distract the board from the fundamental problem- Dayton Public Schools are headed for a state takeover in 2 years, and the current superintendent is incapable of making any real improvement in test scores, retention of students or staff, or quality of education. Even the “Improved graduation rates” are still embarrassing. The third grade reading guarantee will result in half the students repeating the third grade.

Changing back to a middle school model for only some of the schools is just a magician’s sleight of hand trick to distract and give false hope that this “revelation” requires the keeping of the captain of this sinking ship.

Reshaping more than a dozen schools this fall is “a must,” according to Dayton Public Schools leaders, who say seventh- and eighth-graders have major academic and discipline problems in the current school configuration.

Joe Lacey and Adil Baguirov are the only school board members who had the sense to vote no- and abstain, from this sideshow. Other members of the board should be wondering how this became the solution of the day- and why they fell for it. Normally, program changes as drastic as this involve a careful communications strategy, a lengthy preparation plan, and building a cadre of leaders to explain the change.

However, DPS doesn’t have a communications team. This is because the current superintendent is incapable of firing grossly incompetent, or even marginally competent people from her team. The good ones leave for other districts- where they are paid more, respected and have real professional development programs. What’s left are the die-hard educators who refuse to let go of their ideals, and those who would never be hired by another district, or if they are- wouldn’t keep their jobs long.

Forty minutes later, the school board approved a resolution to reconfigure the grade makeup at 15 of the district’s 28 schools, meaning that more than 1,000 students and dozens of teachers and staff likely will make an unexpected move this summer. The plan removes grades 7 and 8 from most existing PreK-8 buildings, creates three middle schools at the existing Wright Brothers, Wogaman and E.J. Brown elementaries. It adds grades 7-8 to Meadowdale High School. No existing schools will close, and no new schools will be built.

Why change?

Superintendent Lori Ward said she knows the move will be disruptive to many, but said the district has to make changes that it thinks will help the most children succeed.“We find ourselves very, very challenged to make sure seventh- and eighth-graders are ready for high school,” Ward said. “I will tell everybody in this room, we’re not bringing it, as a district (on that front).”

Ward said seventh- and eighth-graders now have some of the highest suspension rates in the district and are roughly 30 percentage points behind state peers in most subjects.

There is no admission from Ward that the original change to K-8 schools was highly contested by the teaching staff that knew that mixing 8th graders with 3rd graders was a recipe for disaster. Top performing schools like Horace Mann, slipped- parents who knew better pulled their kids out.

Other districts have dedicated 9th grade buildings- for the very reason that this is the key failure point for teens, who are struggling with the move from K-8 grades that mostly don’t count, to the real world of High School.

Other districts that have attempted to fix poor performance- have moved to year-round schools- to fight the proven “summer slide” where kids lose about 20% of their skills each year. One of the reasons for all the new buildings was air conditioning- which would make year-round schools possible. Was this idea even discussed? No.

Wyetta Hayden, DPS chief of school improvement, said grouping all seventh- and eighth-graders into eight schools — rather than the current 17— will allow the district to cluster appropriate staff and offer better academic options. That means making algebra and career tech courses available to all of those students, with the hope of adding marching band and middle school sports.

She also said it ends the practice of having kindergartners in the same hallways as eighth-graders.

If it’s such a good idea, why is your top performing school (and the only one that’s worth 2 cents) Stivers 7-12?

And what’s this “hope of adding?” To quote master Yoda, “do or do not, there is no try.”

DPS Curriculum Director Bob Buchheim, a former middle school teacher and principal, called the switch a win for all elementary students, and “a must” for middle schoolers.

If this this is a win and a must, why are we keeping Stivers and Belmont 7-12? We won’t talk about Longfellow- because, well, no one talks about Longfellow. It’s sort of like Area 51 of the Dayton Public Schools. It’s where we keep the aliens.

Strong opposition

The school board vote on the change was not unanimous. Board President Adil Baguirov first suggested delaying the decision a week, then abstained from the vote.

Board member Joe Lacey was the lone vote against the move, arguing that the district just dropped the middle school system less than a decade ago, when the district’s overall performance index was the worst in the state. He also warned of possible fallout.

“We are in a competitive environment. We had a school called Patterson-Kennedy on Wyoming Street and we closed it because we had too many schools,” Lacey said. “Just a few years later, Emerson, a charter school, opened (blocks away) and became one of the highest-performing schools in the city.

“You can’t treat people like this and not expect… people to leave Dayton Public Schools.”

Joe Lacy understands. There are options, customer service is important. Giving the few remaining dedicated parents in the district the finger by springing this on them at the last minute is the action of desperation. Note, we’re still the holder of the worst performance index in the state- for a district that hasn’t been taken over…. yet.

Even some in favor of the plan had concerns. Teachers union President David Romick was upset that teachers had little notice and no involvement in planning. Ruskin Elementary teacher Karissa Jobman worried the plan would have to be thrown together too quickly and called for a task force to make sure it is done right.

The district posted a timeline on its website saying parent meetings would be at affected schools in the next two weeks. Burton said the district will begin to send notifications of 2016-17 school assignments to parents next week, giving them about three weeks to respond before open enrollment begins March 1.

Teachers’ deadline to file school transfer requests is Feb. 15. DPS Human Resources Director Judith Spurlock said she is beginning talks with the teachers’ union about staff needs.

“I want this to be successful. I think it could turn this district around,” said school board member Hazel Rountree. “It’s the move that we need. We can’t keep doing little baby steps and expect change.”

Source: Schools’ revamp stirs emotion

Ms. Rountree has been on the board for 2 years. Ron Lee, Reverend Walker, Sheila Taylor, have been on much longer. John McManus is the new guy- barely finding his way to his very expensive board seat (he spent around $30K to barely beat Nancy Nearny- (Full disclosure: I printed some of his materials at my business). To think that this idea of middle schools is a good idea as the ship is going under- and a lifeboat move at best- says that none of these people belong on the board.

These are issues that should have been brought up long ago, and discussed publicly, before making this move.

It’s time for new leadership. Effective leadership. Leadership that will clean house, communicate effectively with all stakeholders and get results. No more smoke and mirrors, no more parlor tricks.

Fire Lori Ward now. Reconsider the reconfiguration. Stop the distraction of 1-to-1 computing.

Hire someone from within the district who can clearly tell the board what their vision is, their assessment of current staffing and personnel, what their plan would be, and how they would engage stakeholders to join them with the execution of  the transformation of the district.

It’s time.

To renew, or not to renew, is that even a question? DPS Superintendent Ward’s Contract

The Board of Education seems to be putting their elbows in their ears and saying “Nah, nah, nah, nah” while ignoring the upcoming deadline to review, renew or take action on Superintendent Lori Ward‘s contract.

Coming due next month, Ward is paid almost $200,000 a year- and has been at the helm since taking over from Kurt Stanic in March of 2010.

The district is two years away from state takeover.

In today’s paper- we find out that:

The top Dayton Public School was Valerie PreK-6 School, at 44 percent, earning a D….

(in Graduation rates) Dayton Public’s high schools earned an A (Stivers), a B (Ponitz), and four F’s (Thurgood Marshall at 73.5, Dunbar at 66.7, Belmont at 59.1 and Meadowdale at 50.0).

Source: Charter schools fail in K-3 Literacy

The board met at a retreat on Saturday, and went into executive session- but no mention was made of the contract or plans to either retain or replace Ms. Ward.

With scores like these, the decision should be pretty clear.

Dayton Public Schools gets an “F” in reading but didn’t fail

The news for the tiny Jefferson Township district was good- they got an “A” on K-3 Literacy improvement. They are the only ones locally – at least that’s the way the Dayton Daily news reports it. But, let’s be real- the entire district is 450 students- split that up by 13 grades- and you get 19.5 students per grade- or 78 students you are rating. There shouldn’t even be a Jefferson Township school district.

When it comes to Dayton, the DDn reports:

Dayton Public Schools was the only local district to receive an “F,” and it trailed most of the state’s other large urban public districts.

Source: Jefferson Twp. leads way in reading

It’s real easy to say that Dayton Public Schools is failing. Point the blame at teachers, principals, superintendents and the school board- or on standardized testing, state funding, or poverty.

That’s pure horseshit.

Let’s blame exactly who is failing little J’onee, Otis,  La’quarius and LadonnaMae- the parents, or in most case, single parent. It’s the parents responsibility to teach their kid to read. Not Sesame Street, not “My little professor” or some other educational toy.

If your kid can’t read. shut off the TV. Cancel your cable. Get a library card- and get books for FREE, every week and read with your kids. Problem solved. Unless of course the problem is that the parents can’t read either- because, well, they went to Dayton Public schools as well.

Every single preacher in this city needs to have an after school literacy program at their church (if their flock can’t read the bible, they aren’t going to keep their job very long). Every neighborhood needs to organize reading circles. Instead of the Mayor being on TV at ribbon cuttings- start doing what Mayor La Guardia used to do- reading to kids on the radio. The NAACP needs to start worrying about illiterate kids just as much as they seem to be worrying about black on black crime.

The schools do need to take action as well. Every single student who is failing reading- there should be a home visit- and the first question should be, “where is the bookshelf in your house” and the second should be to get them a library card (most Dayton Public Schools don’t even let kids bring home their text books anymore btw). The home visit should include directions to the nearest library, the hours, and a lesson in how to check out books and return them on time. If the parents are unable to get to the library, it’s time for the schools to partner with the library system for home delivery of books. And, a reading buddy should be identified for every kid that’s failing- this can be a relative, neighbor, or even older kid in the schools- who can stop in and discuss the books the failing reader is working on.

There is no excuse for getting an F in reading that can be assigned to any one entity. If it takes a village to raise a child- the whole city flunks when a kid can’t read. That we don’t hold parents responsible and provide them with support mechanisms to fix this- is our fault.

This problem can be solved. But only when we all work together.

The cost of stupid

There used to be a time when facts presented without empirical evidence weren’t called facts. Now, we’re inundated with unsubstantiated statements that are shared and talked about – without paying any attention to the source, validity, or even common sense.

It’s a world gone mad.

Or it’s just entropy on steroids.

The arguments against gun control in this country make no sense. People actually believe you are safer if everyone had a gun. Seriously.

People believe that our health care system is the best in the world, yet every other industrialized country with universal health care has better medical outcomes and longer life expectancy.

The costs of a college education have skyrocketed in the last 25 years, while a motivated individual with a computer and an internet connection can self teach almost anything. Pay for college graduates has stagnated or dropped.

We believe our “Democracy” and “Democratic system” to be the model of government- yet, it’s become clearly evident that “pay to play” is the de facto standard- and legislation is bought and sold like a commodity. I remember being taught about the inefficiencies of doing business in countries like Russia when bribes were the norm- as if that never happened here (and I believed that).

America still proudly proclaims itself the “land of the free” when facts say we imprison more of our population than anywhere else. Sure, we don’t run Gulags or Concentration Camps, but, why is it that our prisons are filled with poor minorities. Also, we seem to have a serious problem with killing people without judge or jury in the name of justice. Isn’t that what happens in third world banana republics? Not at Walmart in Beavercreek?

There was a time in history when insanely bright people were respected and consulted. Leaders were chosen for their integrity, intelligence, and track record. Now, it’s more like a popularity contest where your Q-score counts almost as much as your bankroll. Climate change scientists are routinely called heretics by people with zero scientific training.

Speaking of scores, we’ve been going round and round with what testing tool is appropriate to judge student achievement on something we now call the “common core.” There is a different educational strategy coming out daily. Hell, I even have one or two of my own. Yet, when you look at the evidence, one factor determines educational outcomes in the United States more than any other- poverty. Yet, fixing that one would require a shift in wealth distribution- and that just isn’t “the American way.” We continue with the fallacy that poor kids have a chance to make it in the NBA, or become a rapper- when the odds are way better that they get shot, imprisoned or become just another poor family.

When we talk about selecting our next president, we don’t even realize that the system doesn’t provide for a way for a single office holder to really change anything in our system- he needs a whole network of elected helpers to make things happen. So even if we elect Trump or Sanders- neither, will have the votes to make the changes they promise. The system was designed that way. It hasn’t changed, even with all the corrupting influences.

And of course, this post is full of unsubstantiated statements presented as facts- because, well, you know, the academic rigor it would take to find, evaluate and cite would take too long, and I’m intellectually lazy.

But, you know I’m right. Right?

Our future rests in the hands of people who believe that if they saw it on Facebook- it must be true.

The costs of ignorance are high. It affects us in so many different ways. Fundamentally, our democracy relies on an educated and informed electorate, yet we now know that’s been tossed out the window. What else is left?

More and more, George Orwell had it right in both “Animal Farm” and “1984”- and we’ve done nothing to stop it. Both of these books were required reading for me in high school. I wonder if they are still being taught- or only to rich kids?

When we look at the cost of incarceration, of social systems to support our underclass, of the checks and balances like Title IX or Equal Opportunity lending, or quotas and all the systems put in place to shore up a house of cards built on trust in government and our economy and our social structures- there is only one real investment that fixes so much of it- smarter constituents.

Only when we have an enlightened electorate will we see the change that makes sense, that is definable, substantiated, and effective. Fixing our education system has to be our first priority if we ever hope to tackle the rest.




Dayton public schools suffer from incompetent PR

Yesterday, I had lunch with Dayton Board of Education member Adil Baguirov, Ph.D.. The first thing I preambled the conversation with is “Jill Moberly is incompetent.”
Full disclosure- this is damning to me and my business, although my firm hasn’t done work for Ms. Moberly for several years, we did at one time. She is their “Public Information Officer” and should have been fired or replaced long ago. She used to proudly state that she’s outlasted 11 superintendents. She needs to go either before or with our current superintendent, who has had 3 years to solve these easily solvable PR issues- that damn our school system to laughing stock and fodder for humiliation.

And, yes, I’m calling for the non-renewal of Superintendent Ward’s contract, despite liking her immensely. With less than 2 years to go before the district gets taken over by the state, change isn’t happening fast enough, or with the force needed. Frankly, she’s paid $200K which isn’t enough, but, when faced with losing her best high school principals to other districts over $10K a year- it’s time to take a pay cut and tie her future with her leadership team.

Poor concept for Dayton Public Schools billboard- "We don't teach" should never be on a school billboard

“We don’t teach” – ’nuff said

The first recent clue is the billboard campaign I just saw- “We don’t teach, we transform” – uh, no. Most people would stop after the first three words and say “yup.” This is just another failed campaign in a long line of failed PR. At least the building blocks aren’t in the logo on this ad. Those never should have been part of the logo.

But- the faux pas in today’s paper- with quotes from my friend David Lawrence, instead of the Superintendent or the PIO- were so badly positioned as to cause me to cringe. First the story in the paper- which focuses attention on the brawls- and the dangers of attending Dayton Public School high school basketball games:

Dayton schools could ban spectators at games

Dayton Public Schools issued what officials termed a pre-emptive measure Monday, announcing that any altercation on the court, in the stands or at the dismissal of a boys high school basketball game would result in the next City League boys contests to be played without spectators. Only players, coaches and officials would be present at affected games.

“Because community support is important to our teams, we are taking some bold steps to send a message to those who would attend our games for reasons other than supporting our players,” David Lawrence, chief of school innovation, said in a statement.

DPS said more school administrators and security personnel will be present at all games, and Dayton police officers will be assigned to oversee dismissal following all games.

The boys basketball season started Nov. 27. Toward the end of last season, boys City League games were rescheduled for Sunday afternoons, beginning Feb. 1, following several disturbances at the conclusion of Friday night boys games. Freshmen boys games that were scheduled for 5 p.m. on Fridays and all remaining girls games were not affected.

On Jan. 16, an officer told a dispatcher an estimated “100 kids” were involved in a fight at the Ponitz Career Technology Center on West Washington Street after a boys game against visiting Thurgood Marshall. No athletes or coaches were involved, and no one was arrested.

Ponitz defeated Thurgood 56-48 that night. Earlier in the season Ponitz defeated host Thurgood for the first time in program history.

City League boys games began this past Friday without incidents. There are two 8 p.m. (varsity) games scheduled for Friday: Belmont at Dunbar and Thurgood at Meadowdale. Stivers’ next City League boys game is Dec. 18 against visiting Thurgood and Ponitz’s next City League boys game is Jan. 5 against visiting Dunbar. All City League boys schedules include freshmen, reserve and varsity games.

DPS is in the process of informing parents, students and community members about the consequences should a disruption occur at any game.

Unlike previous years, there are no double- or tripleheader City League boys regular-season games scheduled for the University of Dayton or Fairmont’s Trent Arena. There were no reports of after-game incidents that involved City League football teams at Welcome Stadium this past football season.

“We appreciate our fans who come out to cheer for our student athletes and look forward to a great season of high school basketball,” said Lawrence.

Source: Dayton schools could ban spectators at games

I talked to David Lawrence earlier today- my opening comment to him was “We will rule with an iron first” said in a bad actors foreign accent.

He told me they had worked on this for six months – and I said that it’s too bad that they didn’t have competent PR advice.

How this should have been framed.

Lawrence played basketball and ran track at Dunbar- positioning him with a unique voice of authority in handling this matter. Using the words “preemptive measure” is the first mistake- since it implants the idea that these fights are a foregone conclusion. An opportunity for a teaching moment lost.

Here is the statement and plan a competently advised spokesperson would have given:

My name is David Lawrence, I’m the chief of innovation for the Dayton Public Schools, but before that, I was a Dayton Public Schools athlete and graduate. My track records are still are on the wall at Welcome Stadium, and I played basketball at Dunbar. I am proud to have played with other Dayton leaders like Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams, proving once again, that athletics are an essential part of building tomorrows leaders.

I take great pride in our young athletes, who are some of the best in the state. Their coaches are also some of the best in the State. And, we believe in athletics as a key component in character building, teaching sportsmanship, and representing the values of pride, respect and excellence that have been a mainstay of our programs since before I was a high school athlete.

Last year, some people came to our athletic events and seemed to think that fighting was a part of our program. It’s not. If you want to see fights, may I suggest you buy tickets to the Dayton Demolition Hockey games, or go to a boxing match or MMA event. There will be no fighting at, or after Dayton Public Schools athletic events this year. The following warning will be posted, and given at every sporting event. If any fights do break out, the protocol will be as follows: the game will be declared a forfeit for both teams. It is up to our athletes, the coaches and the school administration to make it clear that we don’t tolerate fighting in, after or surrounding any sporting event. The battle is in the arena- on the hardwood floor, between those who have earned the right to represent their schools.

If an event is besmirched by the conduct of those attending a game, fans of those schools, for the remainder of the season, all of their games, no one under 18 will be allowed to attend without an adult chaperon. To enter the event, ID’s will be scanned, and those adults will be held criminally liable for the actions of those under their care. There will be no second chances. If another fight breaks out surrounding a game with one of these teams, the remaining games of the season will only be open to players, coaches and the families of team members. I would hope this makes it crystal clear to all participants. If for any reason there is another fight- a single punch thrown, the season for that team is over.

We are also announcing a new pricing policy: all tickets are $10, but with a free ticket for adults when accompanying a student.  Revenue will go into a fund for the entire season, to be split evenly among schools at the end of the season. Any team that has an event forfeited, will not be eligible for collecting any ticket revenue for the season. This is a change in event pricing, to encourage more adults to chaperon their kids. We’re proud of our athletic programs and want to see our community take an interest in their kids. New season pass pricing is available to alumni and adult fans who don’t have kids to chaperon, with a one time $50 ticket available that gets you into all DPS ticket sporting events.

We look forward to increased attendance and the best basketball of the season. I hope to see you there.

Dayton Public Schools, and the people of the city of Dayton deserve better. It does make a difference on how you say things.