Via Doug Belshaw

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2013/07/39762/

It’s time to break up Los Angeles Unified

It’s time to break up Los Angeles Unified, argues Dropout Nation, which sees an anti-reform turn on the school board. There are 32 cities within the giant district. “L.A. Unified’s bureaucracy has proven long ago that it is impervious to change,” writes RiShawn Biddle.

Superintendent John Deasy threatened to resign if pro-union Richard Vladovic, a former teacher, principal and superintendent, became president of the Board of Education. Vladovic became president last week. Deasy backed down.

Time-wasting bureaucracy expands to charters

The “pathologies and pettifogging bureaucracy that so hinder district schools” are being forced on charters, writes Rick Hess. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education is demanding that 44 charter schools in Washington, D.C. prove they’re training teachers to serve students with diabetes — even if they have no such students.

Schools must provide:

. . . a “specific, narrative response to each of the complainants allegations;” “the school’s policies and procedures on, and narrative descriptions of, the school’s practice applicable to, the care of students with diabetes, including all relating to the provision of diabetes-related services;” “a description of–and all methods relating to–the method by which the school identifies students who have diabetes;” “copies of the section 504 and all other health plans for each school student with diabetes;” “the number of school staff knowledgeable about diabetes, including registered nurses, who are present at the school and the settings in which such staff are required to be present;” “diabetes-related training the school has provided or arranged for school staff during the 2010/2011 and the 2011/2012 school years;” and oodles more. The complaints included allegations that some schools did not have “adequate numbers of properly trained staff to monitor and administer medication” to students when they’re transported to and from school or during extra-curricular activities and field trips.

It’s usually safer to let juvenile diabetics manage their own medication than to let an unfamiliar adult take over. But this isn’t just about diabetes, Hess writes.

. . . multiply this little Kafkaesque exercise by all the imaginable complaints about every category of special need, every statute and regulation relating to public funds, every conceivable complaint that some special interest or grudge-holding group can surface, and expect schools to bulletproof themselves against all of that, and you realize how easy it is to prevent educators from actually focusing on education.

Compliance isn’t really about safety. If teacher training doesn’t guarantee teachers will  be prepared to teach multiplying fractions, I doubt spending some of that time training on diabetes, asthma, allergies, juvenile arthritis — and all the other medical conditions that might or might not occur — will turn teachers into competent paramedics.

School board lessons

After five years as a school board member, Peter Meyer summarizes what he’s learned on Ed Next. Among the lessons:

. . .  there are no absolute victories and no deafening defeats in the land of education governance; just the constant hum of the bureaucracy trying to control the flow of information and—if you’re lucky—the shouts and murmurs of the “the people” complaining. Unfortunately, there is simply no alternative to eternal vigilance, but it must be vigilance in the interests of freedom and equal opportunity.

There are plenty of reasons for wanting to leave “the people” out of it. They gum up the works, for one. They are lazy and apathetic for another. But what are the alternatives? I believe it was Churchill who also said, “Americans always get things right—after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.”

“We have to get back to making democracy work again,” he concludes.

 

Vee must haff your peppers

Via Instapundit, we have a chronicle of the absurd: a student is denied access to a prescription inhaler during an asthma attack because his parents didn’t sign a form.

School leaders called Sue Rudi when her son started having trouble breathing. She rushed to the office and was taken back to the nurse’s office by school administrators and they discovered the teen on the floor.

“As soon as we opened up the door, we saw my son collapsing against the wall on the floor of the nurse’s office while she was standing in the window of the locked door looking down at my son, who was in full-blown asthma attack,” Rudi said.

Michael Rudi said when he started to pass out from his attack, the nurse locked the door.

The Blogfather quips, “I’m beginning to think that sending your kids to public schools is starting to look like parental malpractice.”

Apparently no one even bothered to call 911.

Simple sabotage

In Teachers’ Unions as Saboteurs?, Andrew Gillen quotes the Simple Sabotage Field Manual published by the Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the CIA) during World War II. It includes advice for indirect sabotage in “General Interference with Organizations and Production.”

(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences…
(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.”
(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
(5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
(7) Advocate “caution.”
(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon…

It sounds familiar, writes Gillen. Yes, indeed. No wonder we won the war.

Edujobs: Harmful, not just wasteful

Spending $10 billion on edujobs isn’t just a waste of money, writes Rick Hess. It’s “flat-out bad for K-12 schooling.”

“For more than a half century, we’ve spent more dollars on K-12 schooling each year than we did the year before,” Nobody’s been forced to “reexamine old priorities, to create a leaner culture focused on productivity and performance, and to increase the likelihood that new dollars will be spent smarter.”

In my experience, the majority of districts are careless about deploying talent, undisciplined at the negotiating table, lax about pursuing operational efficiencies, and generally in need of a severe belt-tightening. This is not just about making sure resources are better used. It’s also about the lethargy that takes root in bloated bureaucracies, and how leaner, efficiency-hungry organizations create an environment that attracts and energizes talent.

Two years of education bailouts have subsidized the status quo and made it hard for school leaders to set priorities, Hess argues.

Union leaders will make no concessions on salaries, benefits or pensions if they think the bailout drawer might be open.

If we can’t change now, he argues, we never will.

The Education Department has rushed the edujobs application form, as promised. State can apply now for the money.