Friday, May 01, 2009

Winston Brooks has grown weary of the celebration

I went to the Celebrate the 8! "conversation" at Del Norte HS.

Perhaps Winston Brooks was just
having a bad day, but his enthusiasm
seems to be waning.

He gave his entire presentation with
his hands in his pockets
and very little apparent enthusiasm
for the spin he has spun now
more times than he can count;
I would imagine.

I have found a list of the 8 district goals that we are celebrating;

1. Three-year academic plan - Brooks wants to develop the plan with measurable targets by the end of the 2010-11 school year. He wants to focus on improving student achievement, narrowing achievement gaps, increasing graduation rates and improving attendance. Administrators will work out the plan and present it by the end of September.

2. Build confidence in APS - Brooks wants the administration to improve relations between the school district and the community, media, other organizations, business and government. The plan for that is due by mid-October.

3 (tie). Create a communication plan - Brooks wants the administration to develop a communication and evaluation plan between the district and the community, media, school board and others. The plan for that is due by mid-October.

3 (tie). Schedule board training workshops - Brooks wants to train the school board on the role and responsibilities of a school board, creating a more student-focused organization. The first workshop is due for mid-November.

5. Review and enhance facility upgrades - Brooks wants plans for facility upgrades to be completed and publicized by mid-October.

6. Improve the district's money management - Brooks wants a "transparent, sound and effective financial stewardship plan" with well-documented processes in place, with reports due every quarter starting with the 2008-09 school year.

7. Transition APS from site-based management to district-based management - Brooks wants the plan to include fair distribution of resources. The plan is due in the spring.

8. Enhance school crisis plans - Brooks wants a template for crisis management provided to all school and non-school sites, and wants those sites' administrators to create and file a crisis plan based on that to the district offices.

In defense of Goal 1;
Brooks pointed to the class schedule that he has forced upon district high schools, over the vehement objections of at least one high school, HHS, that was forced to abandon an alternate schedule, with which they were entirely happy.

In defense of Goal 2;
Brooks shares an anecdote about a lady he ran into that thought APS high schools were "out of control". Brooks says he has visited every high school and not found one that he thought was "out of control". He uses the phrase very specifically and over and over. You have to wonder if he is splitting hairs on the amount of "out of control" that there really is.

I believe that if the district's Research, Development, and Accountability Division surveyed teachers, they would find that many teachers feel that many aspects of their schools, are out of control. This is the reason that the RDA doesn't survey teachers about the "out of control" in their schools.

If community confidence in the APS has increased,
it has increased as a result of data spin, not data.

In defense of Goal 3;
Brooks points to efforts to fix the APS website. He offered that it is one of the two worst websites that he has ever seen; the other being the Albuquerque Journal's website.

Worth noting; I had always presumed that the "evaluation component" of improving district communications, represented an opportunity for stakeholders to "evaluate" all of the district's components and efforts. According to APS Executive Director of Communications, Monica Armenta, I was wrong. Stakeholders will be allowed to evaluate only the district's communications effort.

Months into the goal; there is still no opportunity for stakeholders to evaluate even that component of the district. Armenta allowed that maybe, when (if) the APS website is ever upgraded, there might be an opportunity for stakeholders to evaluate the communications efforts.

Although the million dollar communications effort still has not managed to enable stakeholder evaluation of anything at all, they did find the time to whip this baby out; link.

In defense of Goal 4;
The board went to a training in Houston. This was such a no brainer, and so easy to accomplish, one has to wonder why it even showed up as a "goal".

Perhaps Celebrating the 7 sounded to much like shooting craps. wikilink

In defense of Goal 5;
The goal has been met; the district has managed to publicize plans to upgrade and maintain facilities.

In defense of Goal 6;
Winston Brooks is representing that there is transparent accountability in APS' Finance Division. There is not.
  • Within the Finance Division, there is the Audit Division.
  • Under the Audit Division, there is the Audit.
  • Within the Audit there is a claim to a whistleblower program that meets federal regulations.

The claim is false. The evidence bears investigation.

The Audit Committee refuses to discuss that evidence,
even though they are required to do so according to their own
board policy. The are required, specifically, expressly, and
ethically to afford due process to legitimate allegations of fraud.

They will not. Their choice is to deny due process
to legitimate complaints. It is their deliberate choice to hide
the truth from stakeholders.

Does that sound like transparent accountability to you?

In defense of Goal 7;
The district has ended the meaningful participation of
stakeholders at school sites. The goal has been accomplished.

In so doing, 70,000 years of teaching experience among the
district's teachers, is being completely ignored.

By its own admission, the RDA has never surveyed teachers
to ask them what they think is keeping them from success.

In defense of Goal 8;
There are school crisis plans enough to meet the goal.

The other thing the RDA will not survey is a survey of students
asking them if they feel safe at school.

The bottom line; the leadership of the APS will discuss none
of this in any situation where they will have to respond to follow
up questions.

They will not respond in any situation where they are compelled
to tell the truth.

And they are celebrating it.

photo Mark Bralley


Anonymous said...

Thank you Ched, for the honest reporting that the media will never do. I really appreciate your take.

Anonymous said...

It takes a lot out of a person to be a consistent incompetent dumbass I suppose. He seems like a nutt!