Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Charter School salaries are up on APS' award winning website.

When Winston Brooks and the Journal were celebrating "Brooks'" online publication of APS employee salaries, link, they tried to cast Charter Schools in a negative light for not having beaten them to the punch, link.

Well, less than three weeks later, Charter Schools salaries are posted, link, and neither Brooks nor the Journal editors uttered one word of acknowledgement that Charter School salaries were posted in a timely manner and that, the Charters weren't dragging their feet after all.

Another school board running amok.

The Rio Grande Sun comes with a piece, link, on more public school leadership running amok.

In a nutshell, APS Supt Winston Brooks' counterpart in the Española Public Schools, link, just like Winston Brooks, wants to control the spin on the truth about the public interests in the public schools. She, like he, thinks it is up to her to decide which truths will and will not be shared with the people who own them.

Española Public Schools Supt Evelyn Maruska would like control access by requiring Sun reporters to submit their questions in advance, for her to "approve or disapprove".

Sun News Editor Lou Mattei pointed out that if the Supt is allowed to approve or disapprove questions,

"... no one would know some students in the District were still without textbooks, that the District had not been reimbursed for over $300,000 in improper federal Title III expenses, or that a BB gun was brought onto an elementary school campus."
It begs a question; from where exactly, does the superintendent of the Española Public Schools, get the authority to approve or disapprove questions about the public interests or about her public service?

The only answer I can think of is; she gets it from the same place Winston Brooks gets the authority to hide from public knowledge and criminal prosecution, evidence of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators; with his de facto "disapproval" of questions about the Caswell Report.

She gets it from the same place School Board Member Marty Esquivel gets the authority to create a "banning letter" against dissidence and deploy APS' publicly funded private police force to enforce it.

They usurp it.

The usurpation will not go unnoticed in Española because they have a Managing Editor Robert B Trapp, who is manifestly ready, willing and able to investigate and report upon the spending of public power and resources in the public schools and the executive and administrative abuse of privilege and power.

Citizens in Albuquerque, unfortunately, do not.

Instead of investigating and reporting on the cover up of corruption the Journal first exposed, link, our managing editor Kent Walz gives out hero of transparency awards instead, for covering it up, link.

photos, Walz and Trapp frame-grabs Mark Bralley

Monday, November 28, 2011

APS success story

For the second time in three years and for the fifth time in a decade or so, APS' Nursing Program, link, at the Career Enrichment Center, link, has seen 100% of a graduating class pass their national licensing exam on the first try, link.

They can be rightfully proud of completing a "rigorous" two year training, and especially proud of their graduating class, all of whom passed a test hard enough to fail more than one in seven nationally.

They have three to four times as many applicants for the program every year, as they have openings.

I have never understood why we can't offer the same kind of opportunity to all of the non-college students. Why are we still denying all those students real "vocational" training, and expecting them instead, to devote their energy to preparing for NCLB tests instead of preparing for life?

That, or drop out entirely.

Pounding, and the law

There is an old trial lawyers’ saying, link,

“When the facts are on your side, pound the facts.
When the law is on your side, pound the law.
When neither is on you side, pound the table.”
It occurs to me, there is another kind of pounding that goes on when ethics are not in play;
When neither the law, nor the facts are on your side,
pound on the complainant.
It is the kind of law practiced by the leadership of the APS by and through their lawyers.

Proof? The Council of the Great City Schools Audit found;
"... a culture of fear of retribution and retaliation ..." against complainants.
A culture!

Not an isolated incident, not a pocket of, not an occasional lapse into; they found that the "the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge which are transmitted and reinforced" by the leadership of the APS created (and still create) a culture of fear over the filing of complaints against corrupt and incompetent administrators.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Willful ignorance on the board

First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.
Mohandas Gandhi

I am given to believe that APS Board Member Lorenzo Garcia said, the reason he is part of a denial of due process for the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication Petition, is that he has never seen it (or words to that effect). I wasn't there, in accordance with Marty Esquivel's unlawful "banning letter" and APS' award winning website has no archive of committee meetings. I have been misinformed; I will bow to the controverting truth.

If Lorenzo Garcia really has not seen the petition; after it was presented to the board during a public forum, and after it was copied and distributed to board members at least once (my bet is twice) by the board staff, then a question is begged; why not?

Before anyone runs for the board, they are asked if they have time enough to do the job; to read the paperwork the board staff hands them to read.

If a board member is too busy to read the paperwork put before him, if he is too busy to read the paperwork placed in his lap in public and on the record, is he too busy to serve?

If Garcia has not been too busy, then has he been too ... what?

too distracted?
too overwhelmed?
too confused?
too misguided?
too complacent?

too complicit?

The window of opportunity to claim legitimate ignorance has closed; they have had their noses rubbed in it too many times in public and on the record, to continue to claim they've never seen it. Their ignorance at this point, is manifestly willful.

They can't laugh at the petition, because it is legitimate on its face.

They have only left to fight it, and that's a fight the people will win.

photo Mark Bralley

Houston pulls APS cop's commission

Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston, according to the Journal, link, has revoked his commission for an APS police officer.

In an environment where "... violent outbursts from students have increased in frequency and intensity" an APS police officer is accused of making an "unacceptable choice" in handcuffing a student who was out of control and violent.

We don't know the whole truth about what happened that day, and it is likely we never will, given APS' modus operandi in dealing with inconvenient truth.

Apparently Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston agreed with APS Supt Winston Brooks' calculation that the officer's actions were beyond the pale, no matter the circumstances. He pulled the commission he gave the APS police officer, that gave her authority as a "police officer".

Houston did not pull the commission of APS' (in secretly promoted) Chief of Police Steve Tellez, who gave the order and set the example for the use of force to remove peaceful protestors, for holding up posters in the background of a public meeting.

Unlike the officer who handcuffed the autistic student, Tellez had a lot of time to think before deciding what he was going to do when he was ordered to remove peaceful protesters. There was no threat of any imminent harm to anyone or anything.

It wasn't confusion, or anxiety, or ignorance that guided Tellez, it was a deliberate plan they had a long time to hatch.

Tellez is far more deserving of a revocation of his commission than some poor cop, in over her head in a poorly defined situation.

Yet Houston isn't going to do anything about Tellez' use force to stifle dissent, anymore than he is going to do anything about the fact that Tellez is hiding evidence of the felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators using Sheriff's Department computers, link. Just like the Journal.

For (indefensible) reasons of their own, Kent Walz and the Journal aren't going to investigate and report on Tellez' unjustified use of force on peaceful protestors, and they're not going to investigate and report upon Tellez' suppression of evidence in a felony criminal case. They are happy to "investigate" and report upon some poor cop caught in the middle of a situation far beyond her control.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pepper spray in schools counts as a vegetable.

I find this image of peaceful protestors being maced by their government in response for exercising their Constitutionally protected human right to free speech; profoundly disturbing.

Perhaps we should count ourselves as lucky, that despite the fact that they are using force to eject people from school board meetings for asking questions, APS' Praetorian Guard has not yet begun macing them.

Given the cover they get from the Kent Walz and the Journal, the encouragement they get from APS' leadership, and the tacit approval they're getting from the Sheriff who grants them the authority they are abusing, it cannot be ruled out as a tactic to be employed when it suits their interests.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"You can't legislate ethics!"

Those whose mantra that is, believe that you cannot pass a law that will make politicians and public servants behave more "ethically".

They believe that you cannot pass a law that will fundamentally change the character and courage of human beings.

Why are legislated ethical standards expected to change human nature, while legislated legal standards are not?

Neither legal standards nor ethical standards change human nature. All they do is draw lines between the acceptable and the unacceptable. Human beings will always make their own choice on which side of the line they walk.

The purpose of a standard is, to provide a clear and unequivocal articulation of expectations. The ideal standard is black and white; pragmatic standards allow some working room in the interests of justice, leeway the corrupt and incompetent politicians and public servants exploit to protect their own interests.

Those who oppose raising the standards of conduct for those who hold the public trust and treasure, argue that "ethics" can't be defined.

I agree, ethics cannot be (finally and completely for all time) defined.

Instead of waiting for some final resolution of the concept, let's start with what we know; any higher standard of conduct than the law requires, truth telling.

According to the law, lying is prohibited. The next higher standard of conduct prohibits lying and not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the ethically redacted truth. The next higher standard of conduct requires candor, and forthrightness, and honesty.

Telling the truth in politics and public service means the record of the spending of public power and resources, belongs to the people. Some part of that record is kept from public knowledge for good and ethical reasons. The part is separated according to the expressed will of the people.

There are only two legitimate bodies of governmental truth; the record the people get to see; and the record the people don't get to see.

In practice, corrupt and incompetent politicians and public servants hold another part; the record the people have a right to see, but that they don't want the people to see.

An illustrative example;

the Caswell Report on public corruption in the leadership of the APS and their Police Department.

It is a public record the people have a right to see, but corrupt and incompetent politicians and public servants don't want them to see.

APS Supt Winston Brooks doesn't want to explain why no heads ever rolled, and why evidence of felony criminal misconduct has not been turned over to the District Attorney before statutes of limitation expire.

He and his nefarious self interest, as is often the case, enjoy the aid and abet of his cronies in the establishment media; Kent Walz and the Journal for one.
We surrender control over a great deal of power and resources to politicians and public servants protected only by our trust that they will not abuse the power and squander the resources.

If we must trust them, then we have a right to expect them to be held honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, under systems over which they have no undue influence, and, that are powerful enough to hold them accountable, even against their will.

Truth telling is fundamental to every aspect of Democracy. Our legitimate questions are entitled to candid, forthright, honest and timely responses.

We can write a law establishing the right of the people, to draw the line between the record that is published and the record that is hidden. We can write a law establishing meaningful penalties for politicians and public servants who hide the truth in violation of the (spirit of) law.

We can in fact, legislate ethics.
"Because we cannot write every higher standard at once,
does not mean we cannot write one higher standard at once.

unk derived

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

AG gives APS a pass

I filed a complaint with the manifestly feckless, link, NM Attorney General's Office.

I thought it must be illegal for the APS Police Department to investigate their own felony criminal corruption, link, and then hide from the District Attorney, all the evidence that they gathered, until statutes of limitation expire.

According to Attorney General Gary King, by and through the Director of the Investigations Division Earl A Holmes,

"... we find no criminal misconduct identified."
They expressed their regrets that they
"could not provide more substantive help."
Me too.

photo Mark Bralley

"... exclusionary discipline does not contribute to improved learning outcomes."

I went looking for data about the affects of student discipline on learning outcomes.

I didn't spend a lot of time looking; but it looks like reliable research will be hard to find. I did stumble across one study, link, that concluded;

"... exclusionary discipline does not contribute to improved learning outcomes."
The research is fundamentally flawed by the failure to define "exclusionary discipline". If you mean a kid standing in the hall outside a classroom, or sitting in the Office waiting for an administrator, then yes, exclusionary discipline is not improving learning outcomes.

Except for the learning outcomes of the rest of the kids in the classroom, whose progress is no longer being disrupted.

Also within the realm of possibility; exclusionary discipline that includes the application of every available resource in an effort to fundamentally change the way the kid behaves, and then putting him back in the classroom.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where is the PowerPoint presentation on student discipline?

At the last of the District's "Goal Setting" meetings, I asked APS Supt Winston Brooks why "student discipline" is never on the table for discussion.

I didn't get the impression, from his response, that Brooks thinks student discipline is much of a problem.

Classroom teachers, assistants, custodians, cafeteria workers, clerks and every other non-administrative adult on campus, I think, would disagree.

Where is the survey of those who work at the educational interface everyday, face to face with students? Where is the input their education, expertise and experience justify, quantified? Why aren't teachers and educational assistants being asked for their input? Where is the survey of APS campus aides and police officers?

Why is data not being gathered?

Why do we never talk about student discipline?

A recent audit of the leadership of the APS by the Council of the Great City Schools, found; APS administrators "routinely falsifying crime statistics" in order to protect the reputations of their schools.

The dots connect themselves.

The first step in solving a problem is telling the truth about it, candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

photo Mark Bralley

Does Houston own a piece of this?

The police officers that are being used to suppress dissidents and dissidence at public meetings, hold commissions from Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston. If he didn't give them commissions, they wouldn't have the badges and guns they are using to abuse peoples' civil rights, link.

According to the MOU between the APS and the BCSD, Houston is supposed to get a "morning report" on any use of force by APS police officers. I doubt that he did.

I don't think APS Police Chief Steve Tellez can even identify all the people he and APS Supt Winston Brooks had arrested that night. Except for me, of course.

If the leadership of the APS violated the MOU (almost before the ink dried) by failing to file a report on a use of force, they should be held accountable. We'll see.

The MOU apparently does not stipulate that, the officers Houston commissions cannot be used to violate the civil rights of the people they are supposed to be protecting.

Perhaps the next MOU will.

One would hope.

photo Mark Bralley

Board Member to be tested

The District and Community Relations Committee is meeting tonight.

On the agenda; a public forum.

Authorized to decide what citizens
can and cannot use their forum for;
Board Member Lorenzo Garcia.

Will supporters of the Citizens Advisory Council be allowed to speak freely and to petition their government for redress of a grievance based on the Board's denial of due process for a legitimate petition.

Will they be allowed to demand an open meeting and a roll call vote on their petition?

Will they be allowed to speak freely by means of poster?

Or will he have poster holders forcefully ejected from the meeting by their Praetorian Guard?

Will the Journal continue to ignore the rowdies and their petition?

photo Mark Bralley

The essential failure of Democracy

... as practiced; is that politicians and public servants no longer have to climb up on stumps and defend their public service.

APS Supt Winston Brooks ordered his publicly funded private police force to forcefully eject people from an open meeting, for holding up posters. The posters, ironically, had to do with the wrongheadedness of the denial of basic due process.

As an APS administrator, Brooks doesn't have to stand up on a stump and defend his public service. He cannot be compelled to defend his used of force to silence peaceful decent.

As an elected School Board Member, Marty Esquivel doesn't have to stand up on a stump and defend his public service. He cannot be compelled to defend his unlawful "banning letter" denying me the opportunity to exercise Constitutionally protected human rights to speak freely and to petition my government.

That there are no longer stumps where they have to defend their records, is an essential failure, not on the parts of politicians and public servants, rather, it is the failure on the part of the people, to demand honest accountability for the spending of power and resources that belong fundamentally to the people.

Corruption and incompetence are made possible only by the sanction we provide.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, November 21, 2011

APS School Board, what are they thinking?

The APS School Board is sitting on a petition submitted by the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication.

They're not talking about it because their position on the Petition is indefensible. The only defense for an indefensible position is to hide it. They are stonewalling.

If you push them hard enough in public, they'll talk about it but don't make much sense. Board Member David Robbins for example, expressed his concern that if the Board gives due process to the CACoC petition and petitioners, he would have to do it for everybody, and might end up with 35 meetings a month.

If you read the petition, link, you will find no petition for any meetings with the board at all. We ask for;

1. The assignment of a senior administrator having firsthand experience with previous councils, to act as a temporary liaison between our group and the leadership of the APS.

2. A presentation and “workshop” conducted by the aforementioned administrator and staff, on forming successful and productive Citizens Advisory Councils.

3. Publication on the District website, of all records pertaining to previous councils; including but not limited to agendas, minutes, membership lists, publications and newsletters.

4. Access to one of the District’s community rooms for meetings outside the workday and perhaps the work week.

5. The provision of independent professional facilitators to run and record meetings including District assistance in making audio and video recordings of the meetings for posting on its website; much as is done with regular school board meetings.
Where in there does it say, we want to be on David Robbins' schedule?

Board Member Kathy Korte attacked the Petition tangentially. She spoke for some time about how few parents participate in schools. Then she tied the denial of due process for the Petition to the difficulty in finding parents who are willing to serve on committees and councils.

Where in the Petition did we ask Korte for help in building our membership?

Thank you very much Ms Korte, but our problem is not that we are short on participating members. We have more than enough people to;
"facilitate open and honest two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve."
Our biggest problem; the only thing keeping us from "facilitating open and honest two-way communication" is the manifest unwillingness of the Board to give due process to a legitimate petition and more than a hundred petitioners.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Calling Brad Winter's bluff.

City Councilor and APS Chief Operating Officer Brad Winter said; if I file a request for public records, he will surrender a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending on the John Milne Boardroom at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

Ever since they built a still to be justified new Boardroom, I have been trying to find out how much money they spent. I've heard rumors that the chairs that board members lounge in for two hours two times a month, cost taxpayers $800 each. It could be that everyone that tells the story adds a hundred dollars. Or it could be that they actually did spend that much, or more.

It's not so much, the amount of money they spent, as it is, what they could or should have spent the money on instead. At the time they were building and furnishing their board room, elementary school students at Susie Rayos Marmon were going to class in out dated and leaky portable classrooms. At the same time they were building their board room, they had eliminated fire safety inspections in schools as "a cost saving measure".

The first time I asked Winter for a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending on the John Milne Boardroom, he wrote;

"I will get you the information."
'We will pull the information for you and have by Friday.
(emphasis added)
Brad Winter"
Well that was more than three years ago. It was January 9th, 2008.

So I called him on his stonewalling; in public and on the record.

He said he would surrender the information if I put it in the form of a formal request for public records.

Every other person who attended the same District Goals meeting at Manzano High School was given a completely different option, they were told;
If you have a question, write it on the green card in front of you and we will get back to you.
No fuss, no muss.

No green card for me. I have to make a "formal" request; disparate treatment under the law.

It means that I now have to "prove" I have the right to see the public records of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd. I have to go to Rigo Chavez' office in person, to inspect or copy the records. In so doing, I will expose myself to harassment the APS Police Department, and be accused of "stalking" (by) Monica Armenta. I will have to pay for copies at an unjustifiable cost or bring my own scanner.

Winter finds himself in a jam; the leadership of the APS will never surrender public records against their self-interests. It is Winter's job to hide the truth. If pushed, they will dip into their unlimited litigation budget and pay their lawyers to litigate for them, an exception to the law.

Right now, they're burning up dollars that could be spent in classrooms, to pay lawyers to argue that the Caswell Report, an independent investigation of corruption in the APS Police Department, (paid for with more funding otherwise destined for schools) is not a public record.

They and their lawyers will keep the Caswell Report from public knowledge. They will continue to hide the identities of APS senior administrators who committed felony criminal acts. And they will continue to hide the identities of the senior administrators and board members who are covering it all up.

It's the way they roll.

Bottom line; I called Winter's bluff. I filed a formal request for the public records of spending on the board room.

If they respond like they routinely do; I will receive snail mail from Chavez a day after the three day deadline to respond has expired, acknowledging my request and informing me that they will take the "15 days allowed by the law" to surrender the records. The law "allows" 15 days only if necessary. Under the Inspection of Public Records Act, they are required to surrender immediately available records, immediately.

If I complain, I will be reminded that I am free to sue them to recover the truth about the spending of our power and our resources.

photo Mark Bralley

Update; to date, 5/17/13 those records are yet to be produced.

"Fear among the rank-and-file

is one of the major clues that a department is rotting."

So wrote police expert Neal Trautman in a paper entitled; How & Why a Department or Jail Becomes Corrupt.

The Alibi comes with a story, link, about an investigation into corruption and incompetence in the Albuquerque Police Department. It appears that the investigation into the problems was cut short and then the results misrepresented in a report to incoming Mayor Richard Berry.

Trautman also pointed out that symptoms of rot include;

"... a departmental attitude of keeping corruption out of the media. Avoiding bad press, Trautman writes, becomes more important than addressing and disciplining corrupt acts.
I don't know how much the APD spends on "communication", but APS spends a million (otherwise classroom bound) dollars every year to avoid bad press rather than addressing and disciplining corrupt acts.

As to fear among the rank and file; an audit of the APS conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools found "... a culture of fear" of retribution and retaliation that prevented employees from exposing executive and administrative corruption and incompetence.

When I asked APS Director of Communications and Custodian of Public Records Rigo Chavez, for any public record that proved the leadership of the APS had responded to the audit finding by changing any policies, rules or regulations, I was told, they have no public record responsive to the request.

They cannot point to a single concrete change they've made in the years following the audit, to ameliorate or mitigate the fear they instill in subordinates to keep their complaints to themselves.

And why should they? Things work just fine the way they are, and there's no consequence for doing nothing.

There is no good and ethical reason to make subordinates fear the consequences of exposing administrative and executive mis, mal, or non-feasance. There no excuse for instilling or allowing that fear to exist. It doesn't exist except under corrupt and incompetent leadership.

If one really wants to measure the health of an organization, the quickest measure is morale and in particular, the fear of retribution and retaliation for exposing superordinate misconduct.

The next most easily measured markers of institutional health are, high standards and honest accountability.

Every scandal proves the system was incapable of, or unwilling to, prevent that corruption from taking place. Corruption exists because we allow it to. Casino security on government would end the corruption. All we have to do is make corruption and incompetence impossibly difficult to hide.

Every exposure proves the people who run the system were incapable of, or unwilling to, prevent corruption.

Unwilling means corrupt, unable means incompetent.

In any organization where subordinates live in fear of retribution and retaliation for exposing corruption and incompetence, there is corrupt and incompetent leadership.

In any organization where there is not manifest, honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, there is corrupt and incompetent leadership.

I don't know if the leadership of the APD will ever be held accountable for their corruption and incompetence. We'll have to wait and see what the establishment media does with the Alibi's expose. If they make a big deal of it, heads might roll, who knows?

If the establishment media were willing to investigate and report (candidly, forthrightly and honestly) on APS' executive and administrative unwillingness and inability to provide accountability to high standards of conduct and competence, heads would roll.

The people would see to it, if they knew.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Journal backs APS Board in due process dispute

Journal Managing Editor Kent
Walz is aware that more than
100 citizens signed a petition
for standing as the Citizens
Advisory Council on
Communication. He knows that
the school board has denied due
process to the petition and to

If he is not aware,
it by his own deliberate choice;
willful ignorance, the lawyers call it.

He knows that APS Supt Winston Brooks had at least three fully armed police officers (his publicly funded private police force) manhandle a half dozen good citizens and eject them for holding up posters in a meeting whose expressed purpose was to encourage "communication".

By any reasonable standard of Journalism, the story is more newsworthy than the least newsworthy stories they routinely publish.

If pressed, the editors would admit I think, they won't cover this story because I am the one who keeps tossing the turds in their punch bowl;

  • the cover up of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators
  • the denial of due process to hundreds of APS whistle blowers
  • the leaderships abandonment of their obligations as role models of the student standards of conduct, and
  • their refusal to allow an independent audit of administrative standards and accountability.
I've written such rotten things about them for their ongoing failure to investigate and report upon credible allegations and evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, they're getting even.

Either that or they really are willing participants in the cover up.

In fairness, they're betwixt a rock and a hard place; how can they report credibly on the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, without somehow first explaining, denying, or at least acknowledging, their failure to do so heretofore.

framegrab Mark Bralley

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brooks rolls his Praetorian Guard on petitioners

More than a hundred citizens signed a petition for standing,
for the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication.
The petition was handed to the school board in August and, with the exception of an unlawful thank you note from Board President Paula Maes, has been completely ignored.

Last night, more than a dozen supporters of the petition went to the last District Goals meeting to protest the denial of due process for their petition. They had taken Maes up on the offer she made in her thank you note;

Again, thank you for your desire to improve communication with the district. We look forward to your continued ideas and participation at all cur community meetings.
They chose to participate by respectfully holding posters, and were promptly arrested by (in secretly promoted) Chief of Police Steve Tellez and a handful of his minions.

Petitioners were exercising their Constitutionally protected human rights to free speech and to petition their government. The only disruption of the meeting was caused by Winston Brooks, who interrupted the meeting to have petitioners arrested by his publicly funded private police force.

We violated no rule, no law, and no standard of ethics.

The main subject of the meeting was ostensibly; establishing communication with the community. By which they mean; a one way stream of (mis)information which interest holders are simply to accept without question.

If you insist upon asking legitimate questions about the public interests and about their public service, expect to be arrested for your efforts.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On handcuffing seven year old students

An APS Police Officer used her best judgement (I am supposing), when she slapped handcuffs on a second grader.

"Best judgement" is part of a weasel clause that permeates administrative standards of conduct and competence. It allows administrators and board members to ignore written policies and create solutions to problems on a "case by case" basis. The clause breaks the surface rather candidly in the Student Behavior Handbook, page 2, link;

Nothing in the following is intended to prevent a ... principal or other administrator from using his/her best judgment with respect to a particular situation.
Later in the Handbook, specific consequences for misconduct are spelled out in a minimum mandatory consequences matrix. Whatever else the matrix provides, it gives the adults some assurance that if they turn a kid over to the principal for some consequences, the kid will receive a consequence of some consequence.

Those kinds of consequences are loathe to many administrators. They don't like having to deal with parents who are pissed off because their kid is being punished. They don't like the phone calls from central office telling them to quit pissing off parents. So they use their "best judgement" and put chronically disruptive students back in classrooms where the lack of resources and support guarantees the problems will get worse.

The officer involved will find out the administrative weasel clause doesn't apply to her. She will be expected to have followed poorly written guidelines to the letter.

When the situation got to the desk of APS Supt Winston Brooks, he laid down the law, link;
It is unacceptable to ever use handcuffs to restrain an elementary school student, even if that student is at risk of harming himself or others.

Rather than allow a student to harm others, I would be inclined to handcuff them. There is a continuum of restrain that runs the gamut from verbal admonition to lethal force. It makes perfect sense to insist that any situation be handled with as little force as is practical. If it is necessary to handcuff a kid to keep him from hurting himself or others, and no lesser response will control him, then handcuff him.

It remains to be seen if the officer involved did anything wrong. So far, we only have the APS spin, link. Once again, the APS Police Department is in charge of investigating its own alleged incompetence/corruption. The investigation ought to be done by an outside agency in order to prevent another cover up. Maybe Sheriff Dan Houston will step up.

Worth noting; if you look at the picture the mother took of her wayward son's wrists, they show marks that appear to be caused by excessive pressure between the handcuffs and skin. If you look at the apparent diameter of the welts, you will see that they are much larger than the diameter of the wrists; the pressure was applied by the student, not by the handcuffs.

That said, should a second grader ever be handcuffed?

The fundamental problem is two-fold; Brooks thinks student age is a meaningful discriminator, and, APS lacks any coherent approach to handling student discipline and chronically disruptive students.

Age is an arbitrary discriminator; we use it because it is easily measured. What is the difference between an out of control seven year old and an out of control eight year old; between a fifth grader and a sixth, between an eighth grader and a ninth? Age does not play. The only consideration is; is there another more acceptable option? If there are no other options, then handcuffing is appropriate among last resorts.

Perhaps this incident will call some attention to the issue of student discipline in the APS. It is a huge problem that never gets talked about. Brooks and board won't talk about student discipline and chronically disruptive students because their best efforts make barely a dent in problem. They are simply hiding their failure to enforce discipline policies in schools by never talking about the problem.

Effective and enforceable policies rest on sound philosophical foundations, or not at all.

APS discipline policies rest on no foundation at all. The leadership of the APS, by their free admission, has no written Discipline Philosophy.

How can you write good policy on the use of handcuffs without having taken the time to establish a philosophical justification for the policy? Even as simple a concept as; do you punish willful misconduct, or do you give the kid another second chance, and another, and another, until someday you end up slapping handcuffs on him?

The Journal printed Brooks spin on the front page, link, and
chose to not dig deep enough to expose any of the underlying issues.

As usual.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Last "Goal Setting" meeting, tomorrow night

APS has conducted a series of meetings with the public, ostensibly for the purpose of blending public input into the creation of a new set of goals for the District. The District currently has eight goals, link, some of which have been reached and at least one of which (open and honest communications with interest holders) has seen no real progress at all.

The meeting tomorrow evening will be the seventh and last meeting. Each school board member hosted a meeting in their District.

School Board Member David Robbins will "host" the meeting. He will give a short introductory speech in which will reiterate the importance of board members "listening" to constituents.

He will not respond to questions about;

  • the board's decision to deny due process to whistleblower complaints, or
  • why the board is hiding the Caswell Report on an investigation of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators, or
  • why he will not tell the truth about the board's refusal to publicly discuss their decision to not have a role modeling clause in their code of conduct, or
  • why he will not tell the truth about administrative and executive standards and accountability, and
  • why he will not defend their refusal to conduct an independent and impartial audit of their standards and accountability.
Most importantly, he will not defend his denial of due process for the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication Petition; a petition with more than a hundred signatures on it.

Robbins was challenged on the denial of due process a month ago. He promised the group he addressed, that he would "get back to us". A commitment upon which he has reneged.

Robbins claimed he had never seen the petition, and that the board had never discussed it. He did maintain that School Board President Paula Maes was authorized to write a thank you note in response to the petition, in place of due process. That authorization if it truly exists, could have come only from deliberations that included the entire school board, in a public meeting with a published agenda.

No such meeting took place.

Just like no such meeting took place when school board enforcer Marty Esquivel decided to create an unlawful "banning letter" authorizing their publicly funded private police force to arrest me if I attempt even to attend a school board meeting. The snap here is of Esquivel ordering me to stop the recording of their unlawful act.

After we had been ejected, Robbins admitted on the record that he had no authority to eject us, but did so never the less. He slandered me, on the record, repeating groundless allegations as justification.

If you ask Robbins why he won't stand and deliver candid, forthright, and honest responses to legitimate questions, he will recite some mumbo jumbo about board members not being able to answer questions about anything that isn't on a published agenda. He will not take any follow questions on his misrepresentation of the requirements of the law.

There is no law that prevents him from standing up and answering legitimate questions about the public interests and about his public service.

The only thing that prevents him, or any other member of the leadership of the APS, from telling the truth is his own lack of character and courage.

The truth is that he simply lacks the character and the courage to answer legitimate questions candidly, forthrightly and honestly. It is as simple as that.

I took this shot of Robbins unlawfully ordering their Praetorian Guard to arrest me for being "part of a group" of people, one of whom had ignored a previous unlawful order that people/press turn off recorders.

He and the board made the decision to eject us during an executive session, though it was not on the agenda and could not even have been discussed legally, much less acted upon.

Esquivel photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bullying in the Albuquerque Public Schools

KOAT did a piece on a bullying incident in the Rio Rancho Schools, link. Their emphasis was on the victim and his mother, and not on the underlying roots of bullying in schools. Though the incident happened in Rio Rancho, it could have just as easily have happened in the APS. It does, in fact.

Perhaps KOAT will seize the opportunity to investigate and report upon the overall executive and administrative failure in dealing with bullies.

APS does deal with victims; they're offered all manner of help in coping with their injuries.

Bullies, on the other hand, are enabled by feckless discipline policies that don't require them to stop bullying, and by a blind insistence that bullies stay in the general population, with their victims.

If KOAT asked teachers, they would find very few who felt that the board and administration are taking care of business with respect to chronically disruptive students. They will tell KOAT that students are in control on (some?, most? all?) APS campuses (the data is not available by the deliberate decision of the administration).

The bullying is a manifestation of a lack of respect.

We used to teach kids what respect means, and why it is important.

We also used to teach them why following rules is important, and caring, and fairness, and responsibility, and trustworthiness.

We no longer teach students that their character counts. We no longer teach them why they should not bully nor tolerate bullying. We no longer teach them that making a video for YouTube is less important that telling an adult about the fight.

The abandonment of Character Counts! education in APS has not been justified, defended, or even acknowledged by the board members and administrators who engineered its quiet demise; rather than be held honestly accountable as role models of higher standards of conduct.

Perhaps KOAT will investigate and report upon APS' abandonment of any concerted effort to help kids understand the importance of character and courage and honor.

Or is that not newsworthy?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Online learning and NCLB rigidity are on a collision course.

A long time ago, the only source of knowledge in a classroom or one room school house was the teacher. The model hasn't changed; the teacher is still an "essential" element in funneling a world of knowledge into empty heads.

Except that there is now the internet, and the world of knowledge is a mouse click away (all but public records anyway).

The vast majority of kids without legitimate learning disabilities, don't need teachers. They need data, explanation, and someone to keep them from acting like children (or worse) when they're supposed to be learning.

It is a statistical certainty that there are children who function best in cemetery seating; five rows of six kids doing exactly the same thing, at exactly the same time and at exactly the same speed. In a system where the goal is to meet individual needs, the need to learn communally would be recognized.

If we allow children to learn at their own speed; if we allow children to learn as fast and as much as they want, will we expect them to still learn in the same direction at the same time? Why?

At some point, school has to mean something to employers. A high school diploma has to mean that the bearer has certain skills that employers need. That point, is the only point where students need to be at the same place at the same time with the same bare minimum.

How they get to that place can really follow any path, can it not?

Individual educational paths are diametric opposite to the requirements of standards based testing. The most fundamental premise of standards based testing is that students have to be in the same place at the same time.

The premise is fundamentally wrong. It flies in the face of everything we know about children. It tests only ability to herd kittens without ever questioning whether herding kittens should be a goal at all, much less the primary one.

The goal is to create independent lifelong learners.
The objective is to create them as soon as is possible.

eLearning is not the future of education, it is the now.

NCLB standards based assessment is anathema, now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Williams Stapleton brouhaha raises question

Give the Journal credit for calling out APS Supt Winston Brooks on the handling of Rep Sheryl Williams Stapleton's compensation as a legislator/administrator, link.

They're right and wrong on at least two points; per diem is not the same thing as salary, though the editors conflate the two when they argue that if compensation for jury duty has to be surrendered in place of full salary, then per diem should also be surrendered. Per diem is not compensation for service; it is compensation for legitimate expenses incurred by legislators who live some distance from the roundhouse. If jurors received per diem in addition to compensation, they would not be compelled to surrender it. Whether the per diem is unrealistically high or low, doesn't play. Compensation for service and per diem are apples and oranges.

The editors also argue that APS employees should use up sick leave and holiday pay while they serve in the legislature. It is unclear how an employee could use holiday pay on any day that wasn't a holiday, when the legislature is not in session anyway. The forfeiture of sick pay would violate any policy that requires sick leave to be used for sickness. Would the editors give their stamp of approval to ignoring that rule, but not others?

The editors glanced off the real problem with administrator Williams Stapleton being an administrators and a legislator. Are there full time administrative slots that can lay empty for weeks a time? Are there APS administrators getting full time pay for part time jobs? Why, so they have time to serve in the legislature?

In her own defense, Williams Stapleton asserted categorically; she fulfilled all her APS responsibilities in addition to her legislative obligations; that taxpayers have not been shortchanged.

The editors did strike one nail squarely on the head; what about students in classes where there are substitute teachers for fully one third of the year? Granted, some of these subs are "long term subs" and more highly qualified to take over classes long term, but all in all, that many days of substitutes really cannot be in students' best interests. If teachers want to serve in the legislature; they should not have class loads at the same time.

Hopefully, this will spark some discussion about our "citizen legislature" and the advantage it gives to people who are independently wealthy, or who work for the APS. And the advantage it gives to the school districts that can afford to send administrators off to lobby for them in the Roundhouse.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Is Williams Stapleton the mystery lawmaker?

KRQE investigative reporter Larry Barker, link, didn't accuse Rep Sheryl Williams Stapleton outright of being the "unknown legislator who;

"... appears to have slipped a couple of sentences into New Mexico’s $2 billion budget bill in 2008 that authorized the (Sheryl Williams Stapleton) center to receive $349,000 a year through the State Fair." "A special appropriation that was put on the backside of legislation slid into a large piece in order to benefit a particular group.”
But one doesn't have to read too far between the lines to get his drift.

Barker's report gave no indication that he had asked Williams Stapleton, seen here at the dedication ceremony for the building bearing her name, if she was, in fact, the mystery legislator.

Not that she would have answered his question. She already shut a door in his face once, link, rather than answer his questions, and that points to a certain unwillingness on her part, to stand and deliver candid, forthright and honest responses to the legitimate questions that have been raised.

The most troubling aspect of the whole thing is that a legislator, whether it's Williams Stapleton or not, can apparently change legislation without going through any of the usual change processes; public debate, voting, etc.

Erase a line, add a line, who's gonna notice, who cares?

It would appear that were it not for the Larry Barkers of the world, there are few controls on what goes on in the legislature and state government except for blind trust, and I find that profoundly disturbing.

photos Mark Bralley

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hispanic graduation rates up at UNM

I read with interest, any stories about educational institutions that claim increased performance by minority students. I read them with a preconceived notion that minority status doesn't have a direct influence on performance.

Minority students carry baggage that can be tied to race. For example, minority students are more likely to be poor, and poverty does have an effect on the likelihood of success. But, it is the student's poverty that is operating, not their race.

If you read the article in the Journal this morning, link. you will find UNM's race specific interventions are not race specific at all;

"UNM’s efforts to better engage Hispanic students include programs that identify academically at-risk, first-generation college students, create specialized curriculums (sic) for them and help them navigate their freshmen year, when the highest number of students drop out."
Which of these interventions apply only to Hispanics?

Which students of any race would not benefit from identification as at risk, specialized curricula, and emotional support?

One wonders, if we just started paying individual attention to students and their individual problems (as opposed to grouping them arbitrarily and applying group remedies), wouldn't they all succeed at higher rates?

Likely we will never find out because there's money to be made in establishing and staffing programs that cater to "minority" students, one minority at a time. You can create an office of equity and inclusion and pay a hundred grand a year for a Vice President of Equity and Inclusion (for minorities) to head it up.

The need is to stop looking at students in groups of anything, and focus our attention instead on individual students and their individual strengths and weaknesses, and then take advantage of the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses individually.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Grading the graders

Journal editors, link, give APS Supt Winston Brooks

... an “A+” for going beyond requirements in the Sunshine Portal Transparency Act.
However you look at it, putting already available public records online is not an extraordinary effort. It is not far beyond the requirements, it barely exceeds them. In the overall picture, is it a feckless gesture of more public relations value than actual value in holding APS administrators and board members accountable for their conduct and competence within their public service.

Yet the editors gave Brooks an extraordinary evaluation; an A+ for effort.

Grades for effort is the justification for promoting students beyond their ability. Giving students A+'s for average work is why we graduate students who aren't prepared for college.

The editors have raised a question about their ability to assign grades (to anything), and consequently public perception of their ability to do so, candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

Charters called out

APS Supt Winston Brooks, no fan of charter schools or the threat they pose to his existence, would like to cast them in a negative light.

The Journal editors decided to help him out, link.

Together, they would like to create the perception that Charter Schools are dragging their feet in publishing their employees' names and salaries.

APS was "first" with a disingenuous data dump, and now they and the Journal want to jump on Charters for not beating them to the punch.

I fully expect the Charters will publish their public records. Either that, or they will drag their feet. Either way, that would be the time for the editors to pile on with Brooks, not before they've even had a chance to respond.

Neither the Journal nor APS, by the way, has or will, publish the details of their financial arrangements. Just how many "education" tax dollars flow through the leadership of the APS to the Journal?

Perhaps they could publish that, and then jump on the Charters for their alleged lack of transparency.

Brooks gets an A+ for transparency

It was given to him by Journal Editor Kent Walz and his fellow editors, link.

I am reminded of a movie scene. The bad guy is in "jail", a pit in the ground covered by bars. He is waiting to be hung. A man walks up and announces it's lunch time, and he has some good news and some bad news. He tosses a shovelful of horse manure through the bars and says; the bad news is you're having horse shit. The good news, is there's plenty of it.

APS Supt Winston Brooks and Walz, would like people to get the impression that Brooks is transparent based upon the size of the pile of already available public records, he has had published.

The proof that he is not transparent at all, is manifest in his relentless refusal to answer legitimate questions whose answers might make him look bad.

  1. How much did we pay for the board room? Are Board Members really sitting in chairs that cost $800 apiece?
  2. Why won't you release an ethically redacted Caswell Report?
  3. Why aren't you honestly accountable as a role model?
  4. Why are hundreds of whistle blower complaints being denied due process?
... just for starters.

The Journal is in a jam. How can they report credibly on the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, without first reporting credibly on their failure to report credibly on the scandal heretofore?

The editors have known about public corruption and incompetence in the leadership for a long, long time - long enough for statutes of limitation to expire on felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators, link.

And they have done nothing to expose it. It has been by their deliberate decision, that the truth has been kept from interest holders for five years.

How can they tell the truth now, without someone at least wondering why they haven't been investigating and reporting upon the scandal all along?

How can Kent Walz report on Brooks' cover up of an ethics and accountability scandal, without someone pointing to the fact that he (and Marty Esquivel) just gave Brooks a NM FOG Dixon Award for being a "hero of transparency".

Their only hope is that this will all blow away before there is widespread public knowledge of their cover up.

It's good ol' boy thinking; any day you don't lose, you win;
even if ultimately, you can never win.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Is the Journal in cahoots with Brooks?

APS Supt Winston Brooks has a need to make APS "look good". He allocates nearly a million (classroom) dollars a year to APS public relations effort under the guise of "communications".

The Journal's conflicting obligation is to tell interest holders the (unvarnished) truth about the spending of public power and resources in public schools.

As it is essential to democracy, the obligation could hardly be more sacred.

Every month, Managing Editor Kent Walz and the Journal give Brooks an opportunity to evaluate his own administration and then report his impressions in print and without contradiction. It's an op-ed presented as news.

This month, Brooks examines his transparency and finds he is doing a great job.

His op-ed will be published on APS' award winning website; again, without opportunity for contradiction. (It was, link)

The Journal tacitly supports Brooks' claim that the amount of information he dumps is the measure of transparency. The real measure of transparency is; can you get to public information that he and they might want to hide? The answer is not a percentage. The answer is yes, or no.

If you ask Brooks, how much money did APS spend on an unjustifiable new board room, while students at Susie Rayos Marmon Elementary School were sitting in ancient and leaky portable classrooms, he won't tell you. If you ask him how much money they spent on that board room while at the same time they stopped doing fire safety inspections as a cost saving measure, he won't tell you.

You have a right to know, but he won't tell you. He won't tell you, not because you haven't the right to know, but because a candid, forthright and honest answer would make them all look self-serving at the expense of student best interests.

His actual, honest transparency grade is no, yet the Journal will allow him to create and maintain a contrary impression. They allow him to deliberately mislead stakeholders. They allow him eschew candor, forthrightness and honesty.

Kent Walz steadfastly refuses to put the board room question to Brooks. Just as he steadfastly refuses to ask him about the role modeling scandal in the leadership of the APS, or about the denial of due process to hundreds of whistle blowers, or about why they're hiding the Caswell Report on felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS and its Police Department.

Yeah, I'd say Walz and Brooks are in cahoots; in league, collusion and conspiracy, to hide the inconvenient truth about the administration of the public interests in public schools.

What other explanation is there for the Journal's refusal to investigate and report upon credible allegations and evidence of an ethics and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS?

photo and frame grab Mark Bralley

CoGCS membership pays for APS?

APS belongs to a group called the Council of the Great City Schools. APS Supt Winston Brooks is in fact, the Chairman of their Executive Committee.

APS responded to pressure about whether the dues (that taxpayers pony up) are well spent. Brooks thinks they are, as does the Council's Executive Director Michael Casserly. He wrote an op-ed that the Journal happily published. APS also published his op-ed, on their award winning website, link.

The gist of their argument is, without the Council's help, APS would not have received millions in federal grants. Nor would they have benefited from the Council's expertise on all things educational. I think both points are debatable, but not here and not now.

If you ask a teacher to point to the greatest barriers to education; high on their list will be chronically disruptive students and their impact on the efforts of other students. If you look on CoGCS' website for any mention of their study of the problem or how to deal with it, you will find nothing; they haven't done one.

I rest my case.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The status of policy revision

The Policy Committee will meet tomorrow, link.

On the agenda;

II. Status of Policy and Procedural Directive Revision Project (Discussion)
Presenter: Carrie Menapace
It has been more than two years since then freshman School Board Member David Robbins put the "role modeling clause" on the table for discussion.

The board removed the clause from their own code of conduct in order that, they could not be held actually and honestly accountable as role models of the student standards of conduct.

The clause they removed used to read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
The commitment made them accountable as role models of the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct. So they removed it.

The coward David Peercy, link, chairs the police committee. He tabled discussion of the role modeling clause, claiming he didn't want to interfere with the rewriting of all the policies; a process he has been working on at "full speed"for more than two years.

If you go to the bottom of the agenda, you will find all the tabled issues.

One of them used to be, discussion and action on restoring the role modeling clause to adult standards of conduct. You will note, it is no longer on the list.

According to Roberts Rules, a tabled item doesn't fade away through board inaction; it cannot be removed except by board action.

It wasn't removed by board action.

It was removed discretely and in blatant violation of yet another rule they claim to respect, because there isn't a one of them with the character and courage to discuss administrative and executive role modeling of the student standards of conduct, openly, honestly, in public and on the record.

photo Mark Bralley

Williams Stapleton's APS side

Rep Sheryl Williams Stapleton works in APS' ivory towers. You can find her office in Research, Deployment and Accountability.

She makes $68,862.14 a year (+ considerable as yet undisclosed benefits) to be the Coordinator of Occupational Education. If you go looking for her or "occupational education" on APS' award winning website you will find how little there actually is.

If there is a most abject failure to point to in the APS, it is their failure to provide for the needs of non-college bound students, link. Where was Williams Stapleton when Supt Winston Brooks decided to give APS' non-college bound, NCLB test poor performers, short shrift? I don't remember her getting on TV and demanding respect and adequate funding for a huge number of disproportionately minority students who are leaving school essentially unemployable.

Are those students' interests better served by having an "administrative coordinator" of their educational disaster, or by hiring two teachers who could give them an immediately useful skill set, and reasonable hope that they can become happy and productive members of their communities.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The cost of "leadership" in the APS

Taxpayers pay APS' leadership team nearly two million dollars a year in salary alone. APS did not release the value of their benefits packages.

Taxpayers are paying ten thousand dollars a day for administrative decision making, in the hope that it will enable APS to successfully educate 80-90 thousand of the community's sons and daughters.

By any reasonable measure, they have failed as often as they have succeeded.

It raises legitimate questions regarding the money we spend on administration and the success it enables. Are we spending enough? If we had twice as many senior administrators, would we have any more success? If we had far less administration and more teaching, would that be better?

The theory upon which APS administration is built is;
there is an administrative solution for any problem; put enough administrators on a problem and it will get fixed.

They are completely unfazed by the abject absence of any empirical proof of their premise. Where is the school system graduating nearly all of its students, and using the all knowledge flows from on high model?

Education is like no other industry in that those with the greatest education, expertise and experience, have the least power in guiding their endeavor. They don't have a seat at the table where decisions are made despite their overwhelming qualification and right to be there.

Students have a seat, supposedly.

APS Supt Winston Brooks gathers together a couple of dozen students on a regular basis and "listens" to their advice.

He will tell you, it's invaluable.

It is, but only for its PR value;
building the impression that the leadership of the APS is actually communicating with interest holders.

A few of those exceptional students got together and wrote a letter to the editor, link. The letter itself speaks to their exceptional intellect and interest. It would be wonderful if all APS graduates were half as articulate.

The subject of the letter is nothing new; they believe they are entitled to a seat at the table where decisions are made that affect their interests. Brooks has them hoodwinked into thinking they have real input in his decision making process.

Shared decision making in the APS has never carried any weight. There has been every kind of decision making body set up, from student councils to school restructuring committees including teachers and parents. The bottom line has always been, the final decision on any decision lies with the site administrator. It is subject to neither question nor review.

Nothing APS does, ever, is intended to "prevent a site administrator from using their 'best judgment' in any situation". No matter what they decide, they're covered. Best judgment cannot be challenged.

APS hearing officer; Did you use your best judgment?

administrator; Yes I did.

... case closed.
The leadership of the APS has never really shared decision making power with teachers or anyone else. APS' teachers, who between them have more than a hundred thousand years of current experience in the classroom, have no real decision making power.

The leadership of the APS will not survey teachers, or anyone else who works with students face to face, and ask them what the problems are. They will not allow them to evaluate the administrative impact on their efforts. There is no such thing as meaningful subordinate administrative evaluation.

Administrators (and school board members) are largely unaccountable to anyone but each other.

Consider the current brouhaha over legislator and APS Administrator Sheryl Williams Stapleton. Winston Brooks thinks it's a great idea for the state's largest urban school district to have it's own paid lobbyist working on the floor of the House. Therefore, he has decided, he will not hold her accountable for violating school district policy while collecting her APS salary while she was legislating APS interests.

If this is the educational and ethical "leadership" that two million dollars a year buys, a question is begged;
Are we getting our money's worth?

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, November 05, 2011

APS leadership team makes nearly 2 million a year

From APS' data dump, link, the leadership team, link, pulls down nearly two million dollars a year in salary, not including perks and benefits. The team; alpha by last name

Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta $106,755.55
Superintendent Winston Brooks $256,000.16
APS Foundation Director Phill Casaus $88,123.35

Chief of Staff Joseph Escobedo $89,000.08
Asst Supt School and Community Support Diego Gallegos $117,300.14
Assoc Supt Elem Schools Diane Kerschen $117,300.08
Exec Dir of Instr and Acct Roseann McKernan $106,775.55
Chief Financial Officer Don Moya $165,000.16
Assoc Supt Elem Schools Raquel Reedy $117,300.14
Chief Information Officer Tom Ryan $106,775.55
Asst Supt Human Resources Andrea Trybus $117,300.14
Chief Academic Officer Linda Sink $136,680.12
Assoc Supt Elem Schools Eddie Soto $117,300.14
Chief of APS Police Steve Tellez $89,040.14
Chief Operating Officer Brad Winter $136,680.12
Executive Director of Board Services Brenda Yager $104,300.14

Friday, November 04, 2011

Tellez protecting phantom employees

APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez
is a bit camera shy.

All the other members of the APS
Leadership Team have their
photographs posted on the
leadership webpage, link, but not Tellez.

It turns out that the recently in secretly promoted Chief, is paid more than $89,000 a year, link, to provide, link;

"... a safe learning environment for the district’s 90,000 students and a safe working environment for its 15,000 employees; twenty four hours a day, seven days a week."
That, and for his aid and abet in covering up the public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS and its publicly funded private police force.

He claims he is protecting 15,000 employees, though the District claims only 11,500. The difference, 3500 employees, can be chalked up to the difference between spinning the truth and simply telling it.

... for the better part of $90K a year.

photo Mark Bralley

Brooks' Disingenuous Data Dump

APS' hero of transparency Supt Winston Brooks will bask today in the warm glow of Journal coverage of a supposed data roll out, link. (I say supposed, because at the time of this writing; the link to APS salaries doesn't actually lead to them.)

Update; the salary schedule made it up on APS' award winning website at approximately 9:30 am. link

If you are like most people with more than a passing interest in public schools, you will probably look up a few salaries; Winston Brooks', Monica Armenta's, and perhaps your child's teacher.

Of the 11,500 discreet bits of information in the data dump, you may be interested in three.

Brooks and the Journal aren't pointing dump's actually useful percentage rate of .0026%. They would rather you focus on the haystack and not upon the needles which may, or may not be buried deep inside it.

If APS were transparent, you could search for a needle; the cost of the board member chairs in the new board room; did they really pay $800 dollars apiece for chairs that they sit in twice a month for an hour or two?

If APS were transparent, you could look up the cost of the board room itself; a still completely unjustified major expenditure; somewhere around a million dollars, at a time when students were still being educated in dilapidated portable classrooms, and when APS, as a cost saving measure, stopped doing fire safety inspections of schools, link.

The true measure of transparency is the facility with which every last bit of public information can be secured; anything else is just a smoke and mirrors.

Brooks managed to get in his parting shot at charter schools; sicking the Journal on them for not beating APS to the punch in the roll out of largely useless employee salaries.

If they are at all recalcitrant in joining the stampede; expect Brooks and the Journal to get very worked up over it.

photo Mark Bralley