Why there is no hope for Dayton Public Schools

There were two Dayton Day-Old News reporters sitting in on the Tuesday night business meeting of the Dayton Board of Education. I was there with camera rolling. There was Mario Gallin, the best candidate in the last election that the citizens chose not to pick. And there was the school board, minus the Treasurer who is on vacation, and Sheila Taylor, who apparently is dealing with some family issues.

Had Sheila been there, I would have called it Snow White (Lolli) and the Seven Mental Midgets. But, alas, we can’t call Lolli Snow white- we can just call them the Seven Mental Midgets.

At the warm up meeting they held last week, Lolli wasn’t there. John McManus asked about the $475K expenditure for some kind of silver bullet training program from the University of Virginia. They turned to Lynsa Davie, the new Chief of Schools Special Projects, who is making $117,040 for answers. I posted about this last week, using Mario’s summary from Facebook.

It was obvious that there would be questions coming at the business meeting. Davie had a week to prepare. Before we get to what happened a week later, let’s talk about presentations and DPS.

I’ve watched their own people go up and present the failings of the district to the board and public. I’ve seen incompetent presenters, meeting after meeting who use their slides much like a teleprompter- reading the content from the screen. I’ve seen every format known to man- with no brand consistency, no brand voice. I’ve seen videos that didn’t run. I’ve seen #PresentationFail so many times, I’ve almost gotten used to it in the DPS board room. I’ve even made a presentation to the Tech Steering committee about Pecha Kucha– and how the rigor of using a format of 20 slides, 20 seconds each- can put constraints on that force people to make the best of their presentations.

And, in my business (advertising), deals are won and lost with presentations. I recently spent almost 80 hours preparing a presentation for a prospective client, pulling together research, videos, facts, stats and visuals to sell them on our skills and value to their organization. The presentation ran 2 hours. I rehearsed, I wrote and rewrote parts, and the night before, I’d tested the whole thing with a dry run in real time. Presenting in business is serious business. Just having a typo on your slides can blow your credibility. In advertising we call it the pitch, and there are people who specialize in it. There are books written about how to do it.

For DPS, “Dr Davie” (Rev Dr Harris called her Dr- so she must be one) didn’t even try. Like clockwork, Jocelyn Rhynard called for the item to be voted on separately. McManus who was doing the treasurers job as pro tem, was busy taking notes. Lolli called Davie to the podium. This mess begins about 46 minutes into the DPS Facebook stream video. I’ve not had time to upload mine yet. DPS hasn’t uploaded to Youtube yet. She began her presentation with a colorful slide with 4 points:

University of Virginia

UVA Partnership

  1. Leadership Development
  2. Support and Accountability
  3. Talent Management
  4. Instructional Infrastructure

Purpose: to grow leaders to impact underperforming schools through professional experiences.

University of Virginia UVA Partnership Leadership Development Support and Accountability Talent Management Instructional Infrastructure Purpose: to grow leaders to impact underperforming schools through professional experiences.

Nice template.

Ok, first slide, it’s a template. Why the people from UVA weren’t here to pitch their process bewildered me, they’re the ones who will be collecting close to a half a million dollars. You’d think they have a canned presentation for this.

Let me also point out that all four of those things are things most districts expect their superintendent and staff to handle. That’s why you pay them the big bucks.

Slide 2 comes up.  Davie doesn’t present like a professional. She’s reading the slides.”Transforming Practices” all about the entire planning year.
Let’s be clear, if you need a year to plan how to teach, it’s called your student teaching year, and you’re an intern. A bootcamp for central office leaders is what we get for the first years installment. Really- we’re paying these “experienced professionals” to go to bootcamp? That’s where you send the rookies.

Oops- failed title. Your perfect slide title

And this one is titled “your perfect slide title”

Planning year, Summer Programs. Yet- year 1 is only 6 days and year 2 is only 3 days. Wow.

I’m laughing. Others are gasping. The board and superintendent- paying attention and eating every word.

The next one is the coup d’grace

#Presentationfail by Lynsa Davie to the Dayton Bored of Education and your presentation

It doesn’t have any real information it’s all template. No content. Davie says “I can’t see, how that look, it’s kinda small for me” and continues.

No one stops her and says, “do you have the right slides?” Or, maybe you should come back when you’re better prepared. Nope, they let her meander on, and we never really get to the stage 3 or four- because the next slide is also titled “your perfect title slide” and incomplete.

Presentation Fail

A photo you never want to be in.

In my business, you’d be fired. You’ve just failed. Your career is done.

At DPS, we go to Q&A- and then vote. 5 yes, McManus abstains, and Lolli gets to pay others to do what she’s supposed to do- for only 5 schools, for the next three years.
The two DDn reporters talked about the money, but they failed to mention Davie made the district look like amateurs. So it’s left to me.

Can someone tell me WTF Lolli is getting paid to do?

Because this is unacceptable. She hired this fool for $117,040 and she can’t check her presentation first?

And how these fools on the board- are trusted with your children’s education?

And here’s the kicker. All this stupid woman had to do, was go to the UVA website- and download their “brochure” which is really a 16 page powerpoint- give or take- and use that for slides. But, she’s incompetent.

thumbnail of UVA_School_Turnaround_Program_Brochure

PDF from Darden School. Click to download and view

We voted four new people onto this school board. We should demand our money back.

DPS Chaos and the secret agenda Lolli won’t tell you about

Interim Superintendent Libby Lolli likes to show projections of declining enrollment predicted by consultants as the driving force for “rightsizing” the district.

Don’t believe a word that comes out of her mouth.

If you want to know why enrollment is dropping, and will plummet after her grand plan is implemented (if it even can be) is that the parents are tired of being shuffled around like playing cards.

I’ve said it before, the enrollment drop started when outgoing Superintendent reconfigured buildings at the last minute to create the three middle schools. Parents at high performing K-8 Schools like Horace Mann, Eastmont, Wright Brothers, Eastmont, Valerie were unhappy about having to send their kids to the three new middle schools: Wogaman, EJ Brown and Wright Brothers. Then we added 7-8 to Belmont and Meadowdale HS. Then, the next year, we went to 4 bell times- screwing with bus times for parents with multiple kids in different schools. No warning, no planning, no discussion. You could have to get kids ready at 4 different times. Hello?

Lolli obviously likes Junior High Schools- because she’s willing to gut both the Girls academy and Dayton Boys Prep- by scrapping their 7-8 as well.

The only school and parents she’s wise enough to leave alone is Stivers.

But, that’s only half the crazy-train.

Obviously, Lolli doesn’t understand how we managed to lift the deseg order- with open enrollment. Now, she’s going to start by closing Valerie Elementary- move it over to the Meadowdale elementary building, rename it Valerie, and then scrape Valerie. OK- no problem with that- except, she’s going to tell Meadowdale parents- you have to send your kids to the building closest to your home- while, not? telling that to Valerie parents? Can we say discrimination? Or, tone deaf? Take your pick.

We knew from the get-go that Valerie was a goner- it’s the oldest building in the district except for Stivers- that needs major renovation. And, closing it isn’t the end of the world, nor is the middle school plan- except that it probably guarantees losing at least another 500+ students overnight to charters or moving out of the district or vouchers.

CJ is saying THANK YOU very much.

But, the other moves- closing Jackson Center, which the district just reopened to move the Longfellow kids to, is a flat out handout to the Dayton Metro Library who just found out the people who own the former Delco site across the street aren’t giving them the land for free. $50K an acre hurt their pocketbook too much– so they’ll just move across the street to Jackson Center site- and pay to scrape the building for the district. Remember, library director Tim Kamblitsch was on the task force… now you know why.

The other plan is to move HQ from Ludlow 1 to Ludlow 2. Ostensibly, this is because Ludlow 1 needs $2m in HVAC repairs and is too costly to maintain. Sheila Taylor was almost in tears about losing the “community room” – board room, which DPS employees built with their own hands. Hint- you wouldn’t need such a big room if you didn’t keep screwing up and causing the entire community to come down to scream at you.

Moving the 150 odd people across the street will still have costs, but, don’t worry, just like Jackson Center, they’ve got someone who wants that land and parking lot behind the building… can anyone spell S-I-N-C-L-A-I-R. I can. And you can bet your last dollar that they get it for a steal. As to parking for DPS staff, don’t worry- the district owns the lot down Ludlow past 3rd Perk and the old Avenue Lounge- a block away.

And, we’ll move the 20 or so hard core troublemakers who were doing drill and fill online “learning” as an alternative to suspension, into Ludlow 2 with the HQ staff should keep things interesting. Considering Ludlow 1 implemented key card access on the elevators to the upper floors- for security, how wise is it to bring our most troubled kids into the HQ?

Speakers at the meeting tonight all got to talk as long as they want, except me. Rev Harris thought he’d try to infringe on my 1st Amendment rights and interrupt me and called for my removal. Director of Security Richard Wright made a show of coming out to do Harris’s dirty work, but as a former Dayton Police Officer who knows the law, and knows my record on winning lawsuits, didn’t take it past belly bumping. Kudos go to new School Board Member Jocelyn Rhynard for stepping up and saying she’d like to hear me out, and that I should have the right to speak. A teacher told me that Al-Hamdani also said something to that effect, but I didn’t hear him. Rhynard scores points. McManus, who should know better just sat there like a stupid caricature from central casting as a stuffed suit. Very disappointed in the man who wanted to be president and is vp.

Standing in the back of the room was Brian Wildermuth, the board lawyer who is managing my case and billing them out the wazoo. He was probably there to meet with them in Executive session to discuss his loss in the former treasurer Craig Jones case. The board will have to decide to appeal, to pay Craig, or to hire him back. Wildermuth will tell them to appeal so he can keep milking his cash cow.

Lolli making a presentation on rightsizing the Dayton Public Schools District with input from the illegal task force

Lolli tells everyone that the Task Force weighed in on the issue

Judge Skelton set a hearing in my case for Thursday at 3pm. The only two issues to be addressed will be is the task force a public body that had input and did they have a secret meeting. Considering Lolli put up slides including the task forces input, the first issue is now resolved. The second issue has video tape- and unlike the tape of the Dunbar Thurgood brawl, this video is crystal clear. Wait for the ruling that they violated the Sunshine laws- and then apply this rule to the issues of “Right Sizing:”

From ORC 121.22

(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.

Section F:

(F) Every public body, by rule, shall establish a reasonable method whereby any person may determine the time and place of all regularly scheduled meetings and the time, place, and purpose of all special meetings. A public body shall not hold a special meeting unless it gives at least twenty-four hours’ advance notice to the news media that have requested notification, except in the event of an emergency requiring immediate official action. In the event of an emergency, the member or members calling the meeting shall notify the news media that have requested notification immediately of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting.

The rule shall provide that any person, upon request and payment of a reasonable fee, may obtain reasonable advance notification of all meetings at which any specific type of public business is to be discussed. Provisions for advance notification may include, but are not limited to, mailing the agenda of meetings to all subscribers on a mailing list or mailing notices in self-addressed, stamped envelopes provided by the person.

They will fail the above tests, and the whole process will be dead in the water. And the question is if the next level penalty will be applied:

(4) A member of a public body who knowingly violates an injunction issued pursuant to division (I)(1) of this section may be removed from office by an action brought in the court of common pleas for that purpose by the prosecuting attorney or the attorney general.

It is my hope that Open Government Unit of the State Attorney General decides that the actions of the elected officials who continued to meet, despite multiple warnings, warrants their removal and Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Jeff Mims, William Harris and Robert Walker all find themselves out of office.

Time will tell.

 

 

 

A Dayton candidates night and a voters fright

Last Wednesday night, instead of working, or doing something fun, I went in for a two hour reminder of why Democracy no longer works in America.

(full disclosure- my firm has done some work and printing for the following candidates or their businesses, Jocelyn Rhynard, Shenise Turner-Sloss, Darryl Fairchild, Karen Wick-Gagnet)

When this country started, it was easy to pick people for elected office. You’d have a town hall of all the white male property owners, they all knew each other, and they chose the people based on personal knowledge and it was done.

Now, we just let anyone on the ballot, at least anyone that can make it through the political parties barricades and hurdles enforced by the board of (S)elections, and then to raise as much money as possible to run for an office that very few of the candidates and even fewer of the voters really understand.

Both the Dayton City Commission and the Dayton Board of Education positions are limited in their actual scope and power. This is by design. They are only allowed to hire a few people, and are there as a corporate board, to guide and review the performance of the leader they hire, be that person called a City Manager or a Superintendent. Instead, we’ve got ego-maniacal demi-gods running who think they not only steer the ship, but also are the guys running the engines, standing guard duty, manning the radar, cooking the food and even scrubbing the decks- all for a mere pittance on the school board and on a salary way richer than it should be for the city commissioners, who only have to show up for one meeting a week.

That said. Sorry about the audio in this video. The PA provided by the City of Dayton at the Northwest Recreation Center badly needed a new XLR cable, but, we’re too busy giving away millions to downtown investors to spring for $15 for a new cable (or less if you go to CCT). I’m even sorrier for what was recorded.

Of the school board candidates, only one actually talked about what we might need to do to change the way we deliver education in the classrooms to move achievement forward- that from Mario Gallin, a former school member who works at Ruskin for East End Community Services and still attends every board meeting. The Ruskin/EECS educational delivery method is based upon the Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone model of comprehensive wrap around services. The only other candidate to mention anything of the like was slate member Paul Bradley who spoke of the Oyler school in Cincinnati which he knows about because his fiancee worked there.

The seating and speaking arrangements were telling. First came “the slate” from the left, then the soloists, who have their own alignments, and the sole incumbent, Joe Lacey who cited parenting duties for calling him away and leaving early. Then the Commission candidates, less Joey Williams. In an unprecedented concession, Priority Board Chairman David Greer allowed Jeff Mims to have Williams time allotment, which judging by Mims reactions to questioning the city’s loss of funds due to internal errors, was a mistake. Mims got defensive and blamed the mess on former planning director Aaron Sorrel, which Darryl Fairchild was quick to call him on. Somehow, despite massive failures in her past, City Manager Shelley Dickstein always gets a hall pass, no matter how much taxpayer money is wasted, and the city commission is never to blame either.

The “slate” is four candidates running together for the school board. Insiders believe them to be hand-picked by Mayor Nan Whaley. Mohamed Al-Hamdani, William E. Harris Jr., Paul Bradley, and Karen Wick-Gagnet have hired a campaign manager (Nan’s old campaign manager) Uriah Anderson, who works for the ever popular Burges & Burges out of Cleveland. They are the folks Sinclair and the Health and Human Services levies both hired (hence the dual billboards around town). This kind of money, power and help hasn’t been seen since the “Kids First” slate ran in 2001 with the sole goal of putting a ton of money into the hands of demolition contractors, construction companies, architects and adding a $645 Million jolt to an ailing Dayton economy.

If you want to read an interesting excerpt on Kids First, follow this link. They spent over $200K on a campaign where all their opponents collectively spent $13,000 between 5 candidates. Note that the four seats that are up this time- were filled by unopposed candidates (Lacey, Roundtree, Lee and Baguirov). The last cycle, we had 4 candidates for 3 seats, and newcomer John McManus spent north of $35K to unseat Nancy Nearny by a mere couple of hundred votes forcing an automatic recount, while the other incumbents Walker and Taylor waltzed on in.

When asked (by me, via Chairmen Greer) why the slate hired an outside consultant, and how much they paid them, the room seemed to turn on Mohamed Al-Hamdani who tried to pass off the question with “we haven’t paid them anything yet” – while defacto saying their campaign manager worked for Burges. The slate is keeping quiet about how much they’ve raised or spent, and because the first reporting deadline isn’t until Oct 28th- the voters will have very little time to learn who is buying their candidates and for how much.

Needless to say, if you look back to the Kids First promises, and the whys, the district is in the exact same sorry shape now as then. Still at the bottom of the barrel for educational achievement, yet with a much higher staff turnover, more turmoil, a third less students, funded by an ever shrinking property tax base (often thanks to Nan Whaley and her love of tax abatement as economic development). The only difference between that slate and this one is that the Kids First slate actually would openly embrace charter schools, while anyone running for school board now has to categorically blame them for the failing of the district.

I still plan to listen to the candidates again, yet, I threw up a little when I heard Reverend Harris saying that he was going to concentrate on truancy as his platform. This is the simpletons solution to educational improvement- and why I also laughed at Dr. Roberson’s entire presentation of his case for why he should be superintendent. The other single issue candidate seems to be Jo’el Jones, who thinks all of our problems can be solved by the office of family and community engagement rising from the ashes. I agree it’s needed, but, it won’t solve the problems of this sinking ship.

While there is no doubt more to Jocelyn Rhynard than her four kids in the district, and her involvement in her kids school, River’s Edge, I didn’t feel she had a fully formed plan and was way too nice in her response about how she’d work with current superintendent Rhonda Corr. Going back to being on the campaign trail with former Dayton City Commissioner Dick Zimmer, it’s always bothered me that procreation counted as qualification for office- he’d start out with “I was born in Dayton, grew up in Dayton, had 9 kids and 19 grandchildren” – as if he chose where to be born, grow up. Mim’s also tells the same sorry story about how he told his family to move to Dayton when he was 3 months old. Rhynard, like Gallin, actually attends school board meetings regularly. Jo’el Jones is also sometimes there. I’ve never seen any of the slate attend.

We need more than platitudes and feel good stories- which is also part of Mohamed’s approach. He’s got a great story to tell of how he came as an immigrant and Dayton’s been good to him, but, he moved back into the city the same day he filed to run, a part he conveniently leaves out.

Hopefully, in the Wednesday night Dayton Education Council candidates night at Ponitz High school (741 W. Washington Street) – starting at 6pm we’ll here speeches sounding more like cogent solutions to stop the turmoil, turnover and terrible achievement scores instead of homilies and grand standing.

If any candidates need an example of what a plan to improve school/student performance looks like, I offer this video I made last December to make a case for a trans-formative plan to discussion. Of course, since no one on the board cares about anything except their own agenda- it was never discussed.

If you are looking to research candidates online- here are the websites I can find:

Of course in most of my searches, more shows up about many of these folks on esrati.com.

Thanks for reading.