Is your psychiatrist doing his part?

VA Choice program fails vets for psychiatric careEvery day in America, 20 veterans are committing suicide.

You can blame the VA all you want, until you realize, that this country is incredibly short psychiatrists. And, no, it’s not because we’re less crazy than the rest of the world.

Psychiatry has gotten short shift by our “free-market, capitalist health care for profit system” – the one where insurance companies decide on what to pay and what not to.

Psychiatrists make less than almost any other specialty. We have a health care system that often treats dental, vision, hearing and psychological as somehow not quite fully medical insurances problem. Really. As if you can’t eat because of bad teeth- the rest of you will be ok?

The Dayton VA is trying to hire 3 psychiatrists right now. They can’t find them.

My formerly homeless veteran needs an appointment- they can’t comply in a timely manner, so he was approved for “Choice care”- the ability to go to a private doctor on their list of providers. The problem, the list is really short, and if you look up the reputation of a few of the providers I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to them.

The problem is that to be able to be a “Choice care” provider, you have to have your computers talk to the VA computers, and apparently, not everyone wants to do that. So, his appointment is made- in September!

There is a NYTimes article today about the stupid political answer- which is to abolish the only good health care system in America, and replace it with the market driven one as a solution. That’s not going to solve the problem. Vets have special issues, and the VA system is built to deal with them.

Two years after a Department of Veterans Affairs scandal involving long wait times at veterans hospitals, an official report has found that the veterans’ health care system suffers from “profound deficiencies” despite billions of dollars spent in recent years to overhaul it. The report says that the hospital system needs sweeping changes, including a program that would pay for all veterans to see private doctors.

In a document nearly 300 pages long released late on Tuesday, the 15-member Commission on Care, created by Congress after the scandal, contained a list of recommendations to improve the nation’s largest public health care system.

“Although care delivered by V.A. is in many ways comparable or better in clinical quality to that generally available in the private sector,” the report concluded, “it is inconsistent from facility to facility, and can be substantially compromised by problems with access, service, and poorly functioning operational systems and processes.”

Source: Care by Private Doctors Among Big Changes Urged for V.A. Health System – The New York Times

Here is the simple answer for the immediate problem: allow private psychiatrists a way to file reports with the VA system via a translation portal- ie. get their output from their current systems and build a port program. And, start denying them access to medicaid and medicare patients if they don’t join the choice care program. You want government money, you have to be willing to take on veterans.

Secondly, for psychiatrists that work for hospitals- that currently get money from the feds- also require them to accept choice care patients.

We can’t afford to lose any more veterans, just because a computer program isn’t compatible, or there is more money not working for the government.

Dayton will need to raise taxes to pay off the panhandlers lawsuits

In the “told you so” file-

The city of Dayton is considering new panhandling rules because its current regulations are likely unconstitutional and unlawfully restrict free speech.

The Dayton commission today is expected to introduce an ordinance to amend, replace and eliminate some regulations on solicitation that the city’s law department believes do not pass constitutional muster.

Recent court decisions have concluded that asking for money or expressing a need for assistance is protected free speech, and the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office recently challenged Dayton’s rules on this basis.

Dayton is looking at eliminating the requirement that people who engage in solicitation register with the city. The city also is considering eradicating a prohibition on soliciting before sunrise or after dark.

“I’m glad to hear that Dayton is taking a good look at its ordinance,” said Joseph Mead, cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Ohio, which challenged the constitutionality of the city of Akron’s “anti-panhandling” ordinance. “Hopefully the city takes steps to avoid the litigation that Akron faced.

”In April 2015, the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office filed a motion to dismiss some solicitation charges that were pending in a Dayton Municipal Court case involving Clayton Peck. Peck has been arrested more than 200 times for panhandling.

Angelina Jackson, assistant public defender, argued Dayton’s panhandling rules are unconstitutional because they prohibit certain types of speech based on content.

Jackson said the city also was inappropriately restricting First Amendment rights by requiring people to get a permit to solicit. Prosecutors dismissed the charges before a judge issued a ruling.

But today, Dayton’s own law department says the city’s ordinances on solicitation are unlikely to survive a legal challenge because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz.

In that case, the Supreme Court clarified how laws that restrict the topic or content of free speech are unconstitutional.

Since then, federal courts have ruled against municipalities’ “anti-panhandling” laws for violating the free speech of poor and homeless people, according to advocacy groups.

“In the wake of that decision, a number of federal courts have invalidated panhandling laws that imposed more regulations on begging than on other forms of speech,” wrote the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

The Reed v. Gilbert case has cast doubt on the constitutionality of laws like Dayton’s that seek to restrict charitable solicitations, said Mead, the attorney.

Source: Panhandling rules could change

and go back to…

With a serious shortage of police on the street, no new hires in sight, we’re going to make holding a sign up on the corner illegal? Really?

Besides the slight problem with the U.S. constitutional protection of free speech, the city is going to “fine” or “incarcerate” panhandlers? Why not just give them minimum-wage jobs cutting grass on vacant lots instead? Between the wasting of time of valuable police officers making- oh around $30 an hour, and the cost of paperwork, court time, jail- the fines that will be levied and not collected…
Laws that can’t be enforced are laws we don’t need. The legal defense on this one, when the ACLU steps in, will cost the city thousands.

Let’s just think about this for a minute- is wearing a shirt that says “I’m homeless please help” illegal too?

Source: Dayton panhandler law- it’ll cost us. – Esrati

Naw, don’t elect Esrati, don’t listen to him, move along, nothing happening here.

Congratulations to Clayton Peck who may now get a very big check.

Too bad we can’t sue politicians for doing stupid things…

My new favorite places to eat in Dayton

I’m still lamenting the loss of “Olive Dive” on the corner of Wayne and E. Third Street almost a year after they said adieu. Yes, the prices kept going up, but it was Dayton’s first and best farm-to-table restaurant.

But, no worries, two other Olive’s have popped up. Both on the same street- but only one that I’ve tried. Olive Mediterranean Grill is on North Dixie just north of Needmore, just before the drive in. It’s run by two brothers who work long hours and cook up some amazing middle Eastern food. It’s open late most nights, till 1:00 am, and you can easily get dinner under $15. They’re Muslims, so no alcohol, and occasionally, they’ll let people smoke a hooka in the dining room- which ticks me off no end, but the kufta is the bomb. For those of you who don’t know what kufta is- it’s a seasoned ground beef kabab. Their kibbe is also amazing- but, more times than not, they are out of it. The place isn’t somewhere you want to take a date for a romantic supper- it’s a former Milano’s- but if you just want good food, friendly service and not spend too much- head on over.

Olive Mediterranean Grill 6129 N Dixie Dr Dayton, OH (937) 264-1455
The Texas Beef and Cattle Company is open in Wright Dunbar. It’s run by my friend James Nunez, a Navy Veteran and proud Texan. I’ve been eating James’ slow-cooked meats for years and if you are looking for some brisket or pulled pork, you’ve come to the right place.
You’ll spend about the same amount as you would at Olive for dinner- but you’ll recognize everything on the menu. They are still working out the kinks since they just opened up, but I had a sample plate of brisket, sausage and pulled pork the other day and all three were amazing. They are open till 10pm.
Texas Beef and Cattle Company 1105 W 3rd St, Dayton, OH 45402 (937) 344-4376 no website, but you can find them on Facebook, where they have a ton of likes. Parking is easy, and they have a nice little fenced in patio on Williams street- and I’m assuming a liquor license is coming soon.
Going upscale, which isn’t something I’m doing a lot of right now- Chef Dana Downs, has finally put something in the old Lincoln Park Grille space worth going to. Park City Club is a cross between a private club menu and comfort food with panache. You’ll pay double what you’ll pay at either of the above places, but this is somewhere to take a date, especially before you have tickets to a show at the Fraze. Full disclosure, my firm, The Next Wave, did their website and some of their printing, but, I wouldn’t recommend a place I don’t like- it’s not the way I roll. The last few times I’ve been, I’ve seen at least 4 people I know at tables less than 20 feet from me, go figure. Reservations are recommended, or you may have a long wait.
Park City Club, 580 Lincoln Park Blvd, Ste. 105 Kettering, OH 45429 937.949.3048
My other go to places are still Linh’s Bistro, Ginger and Spice, Quincy’s, CJ Chan’s, Sushi Cafe, The Pine Club, Coco’s Bistro, Carmen’s Deli, Chicago Gyro’s and Dogs, Pizza Factory and South Park Tavern, Charlies Imports, Pasha Grill,  The Corner Kitchen and Taqueria Mixteca.

Signals crossed: Mayor vs School Board for Dayton Tax hike “for the kids”

Earlier this week, the Mayor and her minions started testing the waters for a .25% income tax hike, raising Dayton’s rate to rival Oakwood’s highest in the County 2.5%. Oakwood, with the best schools, the lowest crime, perfectly kept streets and backyard trash pickup. A place where public parks look like Disneyland- and even have public bathrooms “that don’t even smell” (that quote from a DPS student who was amazed at Orchardly Park while helping me with a hoops Dayton video).

Part of that money is to go to pay for comprehensive pre-school.

DAYTON — Under the threat of a state takeover, Dayton Public Schools Board of Education members agreed during a work session Saturday to draft a resolution of necessity, the first step toward placing a levy before Dayton voters in November.

The levy plan being forwarded is a temporary five-year, five mills levy targeted toward improving after-school and summer programs with possible technology components, said Adil Baguirov, board president.

“In the long run it’s more prudent and much cheaper to invest in early childhood education and summer programs and after-school programs and educational technology than it is into prisons and all kinds of remediation later in life,” he said.

Without showing improvement on its state report card, the district runs the risk of being operated under an Academic Distress Commission within the next two years. New funding could pull the district back from the brink, said Joe Lacey, a board member.

“We need to try to do something – an additional program, if you will – over and above what we’re doing to try to bring us out from under the threat of academic distress,” Lacey said. “We’ve seen some successes with that at our schools, specifically Ruskin (Elementary School).” Baguirov said the levy is not permanent and not meant for general operating funds.The measure, however, is headed toward the same ballot as a Dayton income tax increase proposed by the city. Voters in November will be asked whether to approve a 0.25 percent increase on income earned in Dayton to help close a projected budget shortfall, fund police and fire services and pay for universal preschool.

Source: Levy proposal for Dayton schools pushed forward | www.mydaytondailynews.com

Whoa, hold on there. If we just wait 2 years for the State takeover, we don’t have to worry about paying for the schools at all- it’s the State’s problems- so isn’t a 5 year levy a bit much?

And, maybe because the Mayor didn’t even bother to come to the meeting where the three Superintendent candidates were presented to the public- we might infer that coordination between the two political bodies has broken down? Both coming to tax payers “for the kids” at the same time is a monumental recipe for disaster.

Dayton already spends more per student than any other district in the county, with the worst results. Noted, they also deal with the most special needs students, an 85% poverty level population, and has to compete with charter schools that don’t have to meet any of the same requirements for hiring teachers, testing, certification etc.

So, what should tax payers really ask for in terms of change?

David Esrati Campaign literature from 1993

It was 11×17, both sides, a lot to read- too bad not enough did.

I go back to my campaign literature from 1993 when I was running for the seat that eventually was Dean Lovelace’s entry to the dais:

Neighborhood-based Schools
“It takes an entire village to raise a child”
African saying

An entire VILLAGE, people, not an entire City. If we return to neighborhood schools the parents can get involved again. The chief reason for Dayton’s decline is busing. It is The Problem. As your commissioner I will spend at least an hour a day in one of our public schools.

I also proposed, long before our new buildings with A/C were built,

The year-round school

To combat the suburbs, and to keep our kids out of trouble, I recommend we move to year-round schools over the next 12 years. We aren’t farmers, our kids don’t work the fields in the summer. Learning is a lifelong experience, we need to reinforce that with a year-round learning environment.

Subsidized Day Care

An innovative day-care program is needed to attract new busines and new citizens to the city, as wellas to put our high percentage of single parents back into the work force as productive taxpayers. This would be a high-quality 24-hour service, that would provide long-term benefits to our citizens and make your investment in Dayton grow.

Hmmm, and no one took me seriously? We decimated our parks programs, filled in the swimming pools, and the school year remains the same as everyone elses, despite having a tougher challenge.

What DPS needs to do to improve test scores and keep kids out of trouble is move to a longer school day, with a longer school year, add an additional 20 days to the 180 day school year, with a 4 day school week  for most of the year except for leading into testing weeks.

The school day would be 8:30 to 5:30, but actual academic instruction time would be limited to 4 hours a day. The other hours would be doing art, music, phys ed, home ec, extra curriculars, and individualized guided learning. You want to be a programmer- you go hang out with the computer club, you want to be a social worker, you volunteer with a social service agency, you want to be a teacher, you tutor younger kids. Teachers have more time to plan, and to guide students in their personal passions- be it genealogy, chess, quilting or gardening. And, every school should be raising it’s own food- as both a hands on learning biology and agronomy, but as a business model as well. Hire Lisa Helm from Garden Station to lead the charge- since Nan and friends are evicting them from their gift to our community.

Yes, negotiating the new teacher contracts will be tough, but most inner city teachers aren’t there for the money, especially since Dayton doesn’t pay well. And we need to take a new look at transportation- no more door to door- but have neighborhood stops, on roads built to handle buses- and ways to get kids in a community to know each other. We need to find ways to build relationships back into the neighborhoods- since when you get right down to it- people are always what make a city, what make a neighborhood- not the buildings and certainly not the politicians.

I was talking about the cost of summer and the summer slide 25 years ago. Here’s a bit from an article from the New York Times about “The families that can’t afford summer” – which is most of Dayton:

Most American schools take a 10- to 11-week break during the summer. The assumption that underlies summer vacation — that there is one parent waiting at home for the kids — is true for just over a quarter of American families. For the rest of us, the children are off, the parents are not. We can indulge our annual illusion of children filling joyful hours with sprinkler romps and robotics camp or we can admit the reality: Summer’s supposed freedom is expensive.

In 2014, parents reported planning to spend an average of $958 per child on summer expenses. Those who can’t afford camps or summer learning programs cobble together care from family members or friends, or are forced to leave children home alone. Self-care for 6- to 12-year-olds increases during the summer months, with 11 percent of children spending an average of 10 hours a week on their own. In July 2014, a South Carolina woman was arrested when she left her 9-year-old in a park while she worked. Parents afraid of being at the center of a similar incident may be more likely to park their kids in front of the TV.In summer, the lack of affordable child care and the achievement gap collide for lower income families. Most kids lose math skills over the summer, but low income children also lose, on average, more than two months of reading skills — and they don’t gain them back. That puts them nearly three years behind higher income peers by the end of fifth grade, and the gap just keeps getting wider. Researchers credit the summer slide for about half of the overall difference in academic achievement between lower and higher income students.

Source: The Families That Can’t Afford Summer – The New York Times

Arguments can be made for a 5 day school week with year round school until DPS comes out of academic emergency- but, moving to a full, real world work world for teachers would be a monumental struggle. There is a beauty to the four day work week- look at what Dayton did with trash collection savings. When you have a Tues-Friday schedule- all those national holidays except the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas and New years- all become standard days off.

We need a radical fix for Dayton Public Schools. Anyone who thinks more money is going to fix it is delusional- because you can’t sell the same inferior product with a higher cost to voters- they will vote with their feet, just throwing Dayton deeper into the hole.

As to the City levy- the only way I’d support it if it included a rescission of all property tax abatements for companies with employees making more than $250K a year. We’re not subsidizing the rich on the backs of the poor anymore- and this goes for non-profits and schools as well. When you realize that half of the income for the hospitals is tax dollars for medicare, and the universities are heavily subsidized with grants and loans for students- it’s time to stop padding pockets into the stratosphere on the backs of the little people. The Brexit vote should be a good clue to politicians world wide that the working class is fed up with the redistribution of wealth and the widening gap.

We’ve been sold Sinclair as our savior against kids unprepared for the workforce for years, instead of making sure a high school diploma still meant something.

It’s time to reinvent our idea of school, and of how to help the poor get a real chance at not following in their parents footsteps- neither the city or the DPS tax plan will do anything to substantially revamp the equation, nor spells out actual mechanics of making it happen.

Look at my old campaign literature- and realize you missed out on 25 years of forward thinking and let’s get busy making real changes happen.

 

 

When cops make their own rules

It’s legal for someone who has been on the terrorist watch list to buy an AR-15. Range is over 400 yards- think four complete football fields. The gun nuts talk about this weapon as crucial for “self-defense.” It can empty a 20 round clip, even as a semi-automatic, in under 20 seconds, accurately, in the hands of someone with good training.

You don’t have to be very brave, strong, smart or even very skilled in a crowded environment to kill a lot of people. I was trained in the military to use one, for war. Warriors have now come out against the sale of these types of weapons to the general public. These are weapons meant for a “well regulated militia” the forgotten part of the 2nd amendment. Gun nuts also quickly ignore the logical extension of the “right to bear arms” not including arms such as hellfire missiles, tanks and nuclear weapons.

My feelings about the 2nd amendment are fully explained in this video:

There is a huge difference between a black powder muzzle loader and an AR-15. There is also a difference between a gun and a knife, and the knife Rambo had in “FirstBlood”, and a pen-knife.

So when I went to the Federal Building on Friday to help my friend, the formerly homeless veteran Sean, I left my 2″ Swiss Army knife at the office, because they have a rule against carrying weapons in a Federal Building. I use that knife several times a day, to open boxes, to tighten screws, to open bottles, to cut down basketball nets etc. And while it is a “knife” and I could probably kill someone with it with a very lucky stab to the chest avoiding the ribs and getting to the heart and yanking hard, or carefully slicing both main arteries in the crotch, or the easy access ones in the neck, it’s still not that easy and it requires skill, speed and serious intent. Slicing someones throat isn’t as easy as Dexter made it seem (and he usually used surgical scalpels).

What I didn’t leave at home was a 1.5″ Swiss Army manicure knife that’s attached to my keys.

Swiss Army Pen Knife banned by US Marshals

This isn’t a deadly weapon.

Nothing worse than federal marshals with guns making the law up as they go along. At the Dayton Federal building they made me it off the property to be able to access the building and the social security offices. As in they even suggested that I walk it across the street and conceal it somewhere in the alley for future retrieval. Of course, I protested, they already knew who I was because I also had to present a photo ID and most of them are former Dayton cops.

But, as always, I question authority, especially when it seems stupid. The FAA had changed the rules on stuff like this last year and I was pretty sure they weren’t taking away nail files, and sure as shit weren’t taking away metal barrelled ball point pens, which make fine tools to sever the jugular vein or serve as an emergency tracheotomy tube.

I go upstairs, whip out my phone and look up the LAW- and it says knives have to be over 2.5 inches.
I go back down to push the envelope. Asked to speak to a supervisor- after being threatened to be taken off the property for protesting my rights- and two guys acting like mercs, come out- one of them wearing desert jungle boots and an OD T-shirt, looking like he’s ready for action in Afghanistan.
I cited the law, which I had pulled up on my phone- they said they have “policy.”
That’s not the way this works fellas.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/930

Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities

“(2) The term “dangerous weapon” means a weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2½ inches in length.”

Read it and weep.

We are a nation of laws for good reason. You can’t shoot someone in the back and say you were threatened under cover of law, oh, wait, I’m out of examples…

Cops who make their own rules are dangerous.

I have the name of the local supervisor, but instead, I’m going to push this up the chain of command. The reality is, this “policy” is just another way that those who are supposed to protect and serve, instead harass and discriminate at will. The fact that so many people are turned away from the Social Security offices by “security” personnel is a good reason to move that office out of the Federal Building into an office where the people can have full and unfettered access to their government (the guards tell hundreds of people a week, if not a day, to go to the office on Hoover that doesn’t require ID.

To serve and protect, means to adhere to the laws that are in place. Cops are never supposed to be judge, jury and executioner, they are supposed to be the epitome of the law.

No one elected these Marshals to make the law for good reason. It’s time that someone we elect step in to stop this chicanery in the name of security. After all, no one asked me to remove my shoes and we all know how lethal shoe bombers are.


Dayton to try to raise income taxes, because there isn’t anything else left to tax

The reason Dayton had the highest tax rate in the county with the exception of Oakwood was because the tax mostly affected people who couldn’t vote for it. Non-resident workers downtown were subjected to a 2.25% income tax, meaning if they lived anywhere else with an income tax, they used to get an exclusion from paying anything under. So only the poor stiffs in Oakwood who worked in Dayton had to shell out the extra .25% to Oakwood.

Now- almost every suburban community is raising to 2.25% since State funding dried up- and some of them have the gall to say, sorry, you still have to pay our income tax, even if you work in Dayton too.

Ouch. So now, Mayor Nan, who can find half a million to buy at least 3 buildings for which there is no public use- and give away huge tax breaks to big corporations like GE and Emerson- says- we need to raise our tax to 2.5% even though they’ve already hit us with a street light tax, a trash and water increase and the police department is running record leand.

The city of Dayton plans to ask voters to approve a 0.25 percent income tax increase that supporters said will help close a projected shortfall, fund police and fire services and pay for universal pre-school.While Dayton voters will decide if the increase takes place, the tax is paid by people who work in the city.If approved, the tax rate would climb to 2.5 percent for a period of eight years.

Source: Dayton to seek income tax increase | www.daytondailynews.com

Folks, remember the big meetings to stop the city/county merger? They were just the warm up act for this mess.

If it weren’t for Caresource downtown adding federally funded jobs like feral cats procreate in South Park- the city would have been broke long ago. Now, you have to wonder- how long will they want to pay that extra .25% on Pam Morris’s $3M a year paycheck? Will they need to move their HQ to Austin Landing too- where only the little people get taxed?
Is there a clause in it that excuses the hike for white collar workers?

We could ditch all 28 municipalities in the county, get rid of the urban township tax havens, have one regional government, and charge a flat 1.5% local income tax and come out way ahead, but then the Monarchy of Montgomery County couldn’t keep their friends and family on the plan. So, let’s raise taxes and make sure that every business left looks to leave.

A note to Rhonda Corr Saegert, future superintendent of Dayton Public Schools

Dear Ms. Corr-Saegert,

I’m the one who asked you about school grade alignment changes in the middle of the ship sinking, and yes, I’m also from Cleveland (Cleveland Heights) and will be glued to the game tonight.

In your first meeting with DPS staff, you mentioned that a blogger had criticized you for leading with your adoption story and poor powerpoint skills. That would be me.

You weren’t the only candidate who read my blog, doing your homework on DPS, Daniel Schorer not only read it, he accosted me in the hallway to the bathroom that night with an outstretched hand- and introduced himself. I didn’t want to introduce myself to him because of my bias to Mr. Lawrence being IMHO the best candidate to solve our problems, but as I heard my name slipping out of my mouth- he said “I read your blog, and I want to sit down with you if I’m selected.”

I would suggest you do the same. You are about to undertake a monumental challenge, with very little actual institutional knowledge about our city and how it works. There are 2,494 published posts on this blog, and literally 10x that in comments, over the last 10 years. This is the blog that covers Dayton politics, it is well read, by friend and foe. I will give you the unvarnished realities of Dayton and the challenges that you are facing. Many of them will depend on competent communications practices- something DPS has struggled with.

Even in researching the candidates it became really obvious that DPS doesn’t fare well compared to Beavercreek, where the boards first choice worked. Searching for Susan Hayward brought up a competent page on the Beavercreek Schools site– searching for David Lawrence or Greg Roberson and you get a cabinet page, with a link to their email, instead of their credentials (Most people end up on my blog for Lawrence which ranks higher than anything else he’s been published in locally).

As to your presentation, while you may believe your adoption was the defining moment of your life, I don’t think you had anything to do with it. If you think that makes an iota of difference in your ability to turn our district around, I’d like to hear your rationale. You had limited time to sell yourself, and that was time wasted. I’ve had discussions with David Lawrence about how to sell your vision of the changes needed for DPS and I’ve advocated for a Pecha Kucha style presentation- 20 slides, 20 seconds each, that clearly and forcefully layout a plan. This presentation format leaves no room for excess, for ancillary ideas, it’s a globally accepted format to challenge people to change their thinking- and it brings a rigor to presentations. Not only should you have a PK to presentation, you should integrate it into the curriculum, setting a challenge to students with their new Chromebooks – have a district wide competition, to present their ideas with confidence.

You will need to turn to outside sources to work with your rebranding efforts. You will need to find a company that has the tools and smarts to re-position this district as anything other than the worst school district in Ohio. I own one such ad agency. I believe my firm has the tools and skill set to help you do it, but, by no means just take my word for it, do a search of “Dayton Advertising Agencies” and see if The Next Wave comes up in the top of your organic search. Look for the post Agencies That Aren’t The Next Wave — The Next Wave and start reviewing sites. Look for content that teaches and informs, look for discussions of how to do effective marketing, branding, building a brand voice. Narrow it down- interview the creative leaders of the four or five that you think fit your vision of communication strategies. Ask them how much they think it will cost a year for their services, and how much it will cost to effectively change the culture and brand perception of Dayton Public Schools? Ask what their first steps would be? Ask what they’d do if they were you and had no budget? Find out who would be their point person on the account, and what kind of access you’d have? Ask for before and after case studies of changed perceptions for their clients. Then hire someone. Push it past the board as a non-negotiable. Stanic did.

You took a contract for one year, for $140K. We both know that’s a low number for a huge challenge. The one year contract on a two year problem doesn’t exactly show they had the full confidence in you. Hopefully, there is a big performance bonus in it, or at least a healthy renewal built in after the one year training wheels come off.

Stanic rented an apartment downtown. Not that you will get to see the inside of your abode much this first year, but, if you really want to make a statement, buy a house. In the district. I’m going to say in Historic South Park, but that’s personal bias. The number one problem we’ve faced for the last 30 years I’ve been in this neighborhood is that young people buy here, but leave as their kids turn 5. You need to meet them, hang out with them, come to our Porch Patio and Deck parties (you missed the one last night), and figure out how to stop that trend.

I’ll also throw in this idea- hire Dan Schorer right now. Put him in charge of hiring 100 new to the district teachers. Have him go out and talk to the community and sell your vision while you sell it internally. Bring his political glad handing skills to the district. He’s already liked by the board, and you’ll need help. Base his compensation partially on minimizing the amount of money the district pays to outsource teachers. Have him work on making sure the teachers we have, come to school.

You have one year to prove yourself. You see yourself as a Michelle Rhee and must be prepared for the same kind of love/hate she’s engendered over her career. Look to your staff carefully and figure out who are the doers and who have ridden in on the “friends and family plan” that has allowed the Peter principle to flourish within the district. Ask hard questions. Those who can, will have answers, those who can’t answer, find their replacements quick. Having rot within the organization just spreads rot.

Last but not least, if we are going to roll out 1-to-1 computers, that cost $200 each, stop treating them and like some kind of Tiffany ring. Give them to the kids, teach responsibility, accountability and pride in ownership. Don’t spend $1500 on locking carts- spend it on proper carrying cases. Don’t give them the keys to the universe- only in school, let them take them home. Set up programs where kids can work to earn money to pay for damage they did, don’t sit and make excuses like “parents won’t pay.” It’s bad enough we stopped letting kids take textbooks home as if they were also works of art- don’t make the same mistake again. The internet, the computer, is the key to personal pursuits of knowledge, give our kids an equal chance. This is the one issue on the Technology Review Committee that has me livid. You can fix it.

And if you want the rest of my ideas on how to help you succeed, you should be able to figure out how to contact me, my LinkedIn is up to date (is yours?).

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Saint David Lawrence

The headline is in jest. There are few subjects that I’ve written about that have generated so many comments full of vitriol and hate.

Saint David Lawrence, Chief of Innovation, Dayton Public Schools

David Lawrence, Chief of Innovation, Dayton Public Schools

Polarized audiences are nothing new to me. But some of the comments made on the most recent posts about my friend David Lawrence who also happens to be the “Chief of Innovation” for the Dayton Public Schools- who was passed over as a finalist by a divided Board of Education- have him as the singular reason for the failings of the Dayton Public Schools.

It wasn’t as if I haven’t heard it before. A fragile teacher, who has tea party leanings, told me a few years ago that he blamed Lawrence for causing his mental breakdown when Lawrence was the chief academic officer and principal of the Dayton Regional STEM school. If someone can cause you to have a mental breakdown, trust me, you’ve got other issues or lack coping skills.

Reading the comments, you’d think Lawrence is solely responsible for the entire breakdown of Dayton Public Schools.
The vitriol is there for you to review on the following posts:

And, note, there are a few positive comments there as well. Most of it comes from just a few people, but they have plenty of “Brilliant” thumbs up. Personally, I discount all comments from people afraid to post under their real name. If you can’t face someone and say they are incompetent, a fraud, dangerous- to their face, then you are as much a part of the problem.

From math teacher at Meadowdale, to assistant principal at Stivers under superstar principal Erin Dooley, to taking over Thurgood, recruited to the STEM school and then recruited back to DPS the resume doesn’t sound like a failure. If there is one thing that’s beyond believable it’s that Erin Dooley would recommend her assistant principal for a promotion if he wasn’t competent. That’s not how she works. Before the STEM school opened, I suggested Lawrence as the principal to Dr. Hopkins over lunch- and after the first principal decided to return to academia, Hopkins told me he should have listened to me the first time- and was quite happy with his hire of Lawrence. This was back when I still thought Dr. Hopkins was making good decisions, before he drank from the Dayton Development Coalition kool-aid.

Let’s talk about the one success attributed to Lori Ward- improved graduation rates of DPS students. What you don’t know can be summed up in this letter from Sarah Darden of the Dayton Urban League:

“Mr. Lawrence was the first teacher, class advisor, and curriculum advisor to invite me to provide spring and summer OGT support while a teacher at Meadowdale High School during the 2005-06 school year.

When he became principal of Thurgood Marshall High School in 2008-09, he was the first principal to pay his own teachers to provide OGT summer support and at the same time he sent all juniors and sophomores to my OGT summer boot camp at the Urban League Center.”

Back in 2005, he realized that once seniors had failed the last OGT of the year, having to wait the summer to go back in the fall and test again, was suffering from the summer slide that causes all students to regress. Lawrence found funds to set up 4 teachers at the Urban League to do intensive test prep and administer the test in the summer. Voila- more graduates.

Upon arrival at Thurgood Marshall- the reconstituted Col White- there were serious discipline problems and low test scores. From 2009 until 2011 police calls went from over 45 to under 10 per year, the performance index rose from 64 to 82 and the graduation rate from 64 to 79 percent.

Need to see the actual scores:

  • 2007-08 under Mr. Davis  PI 64.9
  • 2008-09  Mr. Lawrence PI 79
  • 2009-10 Mr. Lawrence PI 78.
  • 2010-11 Mr. Lawrence PI 82.1

No other Dayton Public School has had that kind of elevation in scores over a short period.

Throw in three students winning Gates scholarships, adding a STEM lab, the basketball team went to State finals twice, the football team was undefeated in his final year, it was 2-8 when he arrived. I remember him fretting over a decision to remove the winning basketball coach- he thought that there was a better way to build character and respect and brought in Darnell Hoskins, who took the team to an even higher level. (Ironically, Hoskins was recruited by Middletown to replace Mark Baker who had been offered the DPS Athletic Director position by Lawrence only to have the Board overrule Lawrence).

Lawrence built relationships on WPAFB to bring in AFIT scientists to work at the school. I recently received an email from the engineering instructor who isn’t leaving for Springfield as I had erroneously reported:

“I invite you to stop by and visit our state-of-the-art engineering lab which is equipped with a range of prototyping capabilities: 3d modeling software–Autodesk Inventor, 3d printers, CNC routers and milling machines and a laser engraver.  Our students are currently earning Sinclair college credit for three courses (two mechanical engineering and one for architectural modeling with Autodesk Revit) and a fourth credit opportunity is in the works.  Last year our students in grades 9-11 earned 109 semester hours of college engineering credit which is transferable to any college.  We also compete every year in the Tech Prep Showcase.  A recent project was a microcontroller-based programmable Smart Cane for visually impaired people.”

None of that would be there had not Lawrence been principal.

While he was at Thurgood Marshal he also started a teachers academy.

As Chief Of School Innovation a few numbers to look at- suspensions have gone from 6,800 in 2012 to 3,500 in 2015, while scholarship money has gone from under $12 million to $22 million. He lead multiple initiatives including a principals institute, restorative justice practices, and bought into the latest trend, college credits for high school students (which I still believe to be a financial shell game- putting more money into Sinclair’s pockets and lessening the value of the HS diploma).

But according to “Angry DPS employee” who now tells us he’s leaving the district- Lawrence is a disaster- even alluding to rumors that Lawrence “couldn’t pass his Praxis test” – something you have to pass to get a teaching license, or a principals license in the State of Ohio. Lawrence has both, plus a superintendents license. There is also insinuation of Lawrence filing some kind of “wrongful termination suit” against DPS- yet, he was never fired.
One wild claim is that Lawrence had 30 teachers at Thurgood put in for transfer- he laughs because he wished he had 30 teachers there.

The David Lawrence I know has always been someone who wants to discuss how to transform schools through innovation. He’s a workaholic. He’s driven to excellence, and has been since long before I met him. Need proof- go look on the wall in Welcome Stadium of the records for the facility- his name is still up there for his 1984 track accomplishments. Funny thing is, I know another name up there- Dick Mann, from Cleveland Heights High School is on the wall for a lifetime achievement award- he was my gym teacher back in 1979, we used to snicker about his name.

Lawrence also served in the US Army. I think that’s what got our original discussions going at the Y downtown. Mid-college, he joined the Army reserve, going to Ft. Benning GA to become an 11 Charlie (an infantry man who fires a mortar). He did 10 years in the reserves. Just one other thing that sets him apart from the other candidates- something our school board wouldn’t give any extra credit for- but, I would. The military changes most people- and in a good way. Considering it’s one option for many of our graduates, having someone who can say, “been there, done that” is a good thing.

And that leads me to the main reason I think David Lawrence was the right candidate- besides his institutional knowledge, his achievements to date, his ties to our community, his knowledge of the players, and the incredibly short 2 year window for the magic to happen.

I’ve actually met with most past superintendents, been hired to do work for DPS on a few occasions, sat through numerous meetings with high level employees, and been in the schools. I’ve served on the “Technology Review Committee” for the last 3 or 4 years. I’ve had to listen to candidates for school board “campaign” for years, and I’ve knocked on doors, talked to kids, parents, teachers.

We haven’t had a real leader in the Superintendents office for a long time. Dr. Stanic was the closest we came to a professional, and even he was a stopgap measure. He had the board so wrapped around his fingers that he was able to grant a no-bid consulting contract to his buddy who got him the job– without any performance measurements in place- and they rolled over for him.

If you are counting on a school board to make the right decision in this case, one has to wonder how we got to where we are today? The fact that they once again passed over an internal candidate who was an obvious transition, just goes to show how out of touch they are- and if they feel strong enough to pass him over, my advice to anyone looking for an outstanding superintendent candidate, you should know that Lawrence is the real deal.

It comes back to “A” people hire “A” people, “B” people hire “C” people, and our board of education has been failing for a long time.

The three ring circus for Dayton Public Schools Superintendent

A full house at Rivers Edge PK-8 for DPS superintendents presentationsCitizen participation is something we love to do in Dayton. Groupthink is rarely the way you solve difficult problems. A quote from Ross Perot has stuck with me for a long time, “Whenever anything is being accomplished, I have learned, it is being done by a monomaniac with a mission.”

Leadership isn’t about appeasing the masses, it’s about invigorating them, selling them a rally cry, focusing their efforts on what needs to happen first, second and third in order to reach the ring. And, you better make the ring something they want.

So when the Dayton Board of Education trotted out their three candidates for our next superintendent, you’d expect a real sales pitch- not about them, where they were born, not about what they’ve done, but about what their vision is for the Dayton Public Schools and how they are going to do it.

What we got was three, mediocre, uninspiring presentations- that frankly could have been about any school system USA. There was no rigor, there was no delving into the real issues we’re facing. The candidates went in alphabetical order, a resume was handed out, a 6 question survey- which didn’t have a space for notes, and a comment card. They were color coded for each candidate- and collected and tallied before the Board went into Executive session to discuss who knows what.

This wasn’t a room full of professionals evaluating real plans, this was more like a high school class president election, with a lot more at stake and slightly more time allotted to each speaker.

Rhonda Corr began with how she was adopted. What that has to do with running our district I’ll never know. Does Dayton have a higher percentage of students who are adopted than other urban school districts? She talked about growing up in Cleveland, her work there, including her bi-lingual skills. When she talked about her successes- instead of having clear graphs, showing actual test data- she had the horrible Microsoft powerpoint clip art. The deck looked like PowerPoint 101 – first assignment. She glossed over her experience in Chicago- again- no real, hard facts, and described her termination there as being one of those things where bad things happen to good people- guilt by association, declaring her innocence. Was I inspired? Hardly. She was locked down behind the podium, almost like a lecturer.

Dr. Greg Roberson had a much better looking deck. It had to look good, because what he was selling was Dr. Seuss concepts to a NASA convention of astrophysicists. In the room, were most of the DPS principals- who had come out to support the candidate that didn’t make the cut- who was observing from the back wall. These are the instructional leaders of Dayton Public Schools. These are the people who manage the buildings where education takes place. As the only internal candidate, he should have been selling these folks his plan- grown out of his 10 months on the job at a cabinet level position. Instead of wowing them insight into the specific problems facing DPS, he comes up with his big idea, supported by his ridiculous data analysis- “if you look at our failing test scores- and just remove the kids who miss more than 10 days of school a year, you go from failing to passing.” He comes up with his little mnemonic for everyone to chant together- and there you go. We just need to have more truancy officers, interventions and a feedback loop to make sure kids come to school and we win! Yeah.

Really?

I had the gall to ask him to name the principals and their schools- or acknowledge them individually for coming out tonight- and got booed. Apparently asking someone to know 28 of the leaders of your organization of which you preside over is too much of a test. I’m sorry- if you want to lead our schools, and you already work there, I think it’s fair to ask that you know who reports to you. Also, I used to see former Ruskin Principal, Devon Berry on my street often, looking in to get one of the Crouch boys to school. Just showing up on the doorstep isn’t enough. Maybe, if we had schools that offered stuff that kids thought was worthwhile- like extra-curricular activities, or arts, or computer programming- they might be more interested, oh, yeah, and they weren’t hungry, or dealing with other more basic problems.

I’m pro-military, and generally think there is a lot that a veteran brings to the table. However, of all the candidates, on paper, Roberson is the least experienced by far. Bringing that up apparently isn’t fair either.

While I was at the mic- the battery on my camera’s hard drive died- and I didn’t pick it up until part way into Dan Schroer’s presentation. Maybe the battery was protesting my treatment. Maybe, there should be some other video of all this, done by someone from DPS.

Dan Schroer was very different than the other two. Before we even got started, he was glad handing like a politician. I tried to make it past him to go to the bathroom before the whole thing got started and he almost blocked me in the hall, demanding to shake my hand and know who I was. When I said my name, he responded that he has read my blog. I tried to dismiss him with I was in favor of the candidate who didn’t advance, and he came back with that if selected, he looks forward to meeting with me. If that doesn’t rule him out, I don’t know what would.

His presentation was also generic. No specifics. But, I gotta say the guy is likable, friendly, took the time to shake every questioners hand, asked their name. He’s the kind of salesman the district, hell, the city, the region needs. Give him good material to go out and sell a turnaround- and he’s your guy. He could charm the business community into engaging the district, he could help sell a levy, he’s Mr. Personality. He has practically no urban experience and when asked what he’d do about fights at athletic events, it was more police- even after I said the community was looking for alternatives to criminalizing behavior.

The candidates all came back with a 2 minute wrap up. What was really needed was a discussion with the board about the real issues we were worried about. The principals know what the problems are and so did some of the people in the audience. None of these candidate had a plan.

Here’s what a competent plan would have addressed at a minimum:

We have a “Catch 22” with Human Resources in DPS. We are short about 100 qualified teachers going into next year, our pay is low, our moral is horrible and because of the distinction of being the worst in the State- it’s incredibly difficult to recruit teachers. We’re also losing teachers at a ridiculous rate. Its a huge cost penalty we face in turnover, and it’s a major distraction when almost every day we’re short staffed by 20%. Forget kids in school, if the teachers aren’t there, we’re going straight into the States hands.

The communications part of DPS sucks. We’re going to be into July, before we have the new Superintendent on board. Corr said she’d spend the first 90 days listening. Damn, she won’t even start working on the problem until schools been in session for a month. None of the three presented the way they were going to transform perception, improve moral, right past wrongs, figure out how to sell the turnaround. Corr did mention PR in her presentation. Roberson had a bad type logo of DPS Proud in his. Only Schroer had the skills to sell a plan in my estimation, but, he didn’t have one to sell.

Transportation has been a constant nightmare at DPS. If you can’t get the kids to school, home visits and truancy officers don’t even become an issue. This is a constant complaint of almost all parents. There are solutions to this. Not one of the three even knows it’s a problem.

Connecting schools to the community is also a problem. With our desegregated/resegregated, magnetized/demagnetized, neighborhood/zone schools there is not a real working infrastructure to building relationships with parents and the community. Throw in the impending hail mary of converting three schools into middle schools into the middle of this mess and you’ve just added more complexity to an already dysfunctional school system. When I asked Corr her feelings on restructuring- she said it’s already the boards decision, but when pressed, she said she prefers PK-8 as an organizational model.

I didn’t see much to address any of these issues in these presentations. What I saw was a three ring circus without lions, ringmasters, elephants, clowns, or any of the regular parts of a real show. As mentioned in comments on another post- I did see Clayton Luckie parading around- and heard him say he was going to make a comeback, just like Marion Barry I thought.  He said he’d beat me if I ran against him- and that David Lawrence will never be DPS Superintendent, apparently in retaliation for the district allowing Jonas Smith (Clayton’s uncle) to retire as Athletic Director.

City Commissioners Jeff Mims and Joey Williams were in the audience. Mayor “City of Learners” Whaley wasn’t. Her pal Tom Lasley, Dr. Education himself, was there- in support of Lawrence.

We now wait for the Board of Election to make up their minds on which one of these candidates will lead the district into the State takeover and eventual switch to an all charter system- like what they did in post-Katrina New Orleans, where Ms. Ward will be ready to roll with her charter management company (some have observed that Ms. Ward is probably more of a charter person than a public school person).

Others are talking about running a slate of candidates to replace some people on the board. The last time a slate was advanced it was the infamous “Kids First” group of 4 woman, who were backed by Reynolds and Reynolds with a $200K campaign. They helped pass a levy that made the construction companies a lot of money building new schools- and they bought the Taj Mahal downtown from Reynolds for a ridiculous price making their election one of the best political investment of all time.

My bet is the Board will want to hire Corr, and either choke on her price, which will probably be in the $200K or more price range of Ward- or they’ll end up with Schroer, who will come for considerably less and doesn’t scare any of them. Corr could also end up going somewhere else if they don’t lock her in quick. With just two weeks before the outgoing superintendent departs, they are cutting things awful close.

More shenanigans circling DPS board

At the three ring circus on Friday night, where the three “finalists” gave their dog and pony shows, a few other things were in process.

Image supporting Mark Baker for DPS athletic directorThe search to replace the athletic director had completed, and Dunbar grad, OSU standout and NBA player Mark Baker had been offered the job. He had resigned as the head coach of Middletown High School. And while Mark Baker would seem a perfect fit, after spending many years running tutoring programs and being involved in coaching young people, the board decided to meddle, rescind the contrat and offer it to a guy out of D.C.

Once again, apparently having a diploma from DPS discounts your value.

In the audience at the event, disgraced former School Board Member and State Rep, Clayton Luckie was strutting like a peacock. I’ve known Clayton since he was a junior banker at National City Bank. He used to claim that all he needed to win an election was his huge family to get out to vote.

He made a point of telling me David Lawrence will never be superintendent, and that he would run for office again, just like Marion Barry, and he’d “beat me.” And I’m sure he would, Dayton has no problem electing the selections of the Dem Party, or people of limited moral and ethical character. Former DPS AD Jonas Smith- is one of Luckies relatives. Missing money seems to be a family trait, there is a reason I call it the “Monarchy of Montgomery County.”

There is a group planning to protest the new hire at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. It won’t be pretty, if Dr. Baguirov is left to run the citizen participation part.