Red Apple Mom

November 21, 2011

FCPS Survey

Here is the FCPS survey released today – would love to know what you think!

 

FAI2 Trust and Confidence Survey Results_2011-11-15 SB

Advertisements

November 20, 2011

FCPS Survey Results Cost How Much?

On Monday, Superintendent Dale is releasing the results of a survey about public trust and confidence in the Fairfax County Public Schools.

I’m sure you can guess where this is going to go.  Cue the cheerleaders and the band.  Several sources sent me a copy of the FCPS survey results, but I won’t  post the full report until after Dale’s press conference on Monday.   Here are some details I will share:

Focus group comments from the 2011 survey results (slide 29) show that stakeholders are concerned about the following areas of improvement for FCPS:

  • Concerns that FCPS is becoming a business and not a community-parent based institution.
  • Some initiatives go under the radar such as the decreasing honors program in the district.
  • Too much trimming on the budget and parents do not know how decisions are being made on these items (this includes the thought process for and not only who is making decisions)
  • Schools are not being treated equally in terms of funding, programming and class-sizes

The FCPS survey was conducted by the District Management Council.  This is the same consulting group that surveyed FCPS stakeholders in the fall of 2009.   DMC’s  survey findings at that time showed “a lack of confidence in the Administration’s ability to allocate resources.”  It’s interesting that the focus group comments detailed above seem to indicate the public still has a lack of confidence about FCPS’ resource allocations.

Think the press will ask the tough questions about these results tomorrow?   Or will they parrot back FCPS’ carefully crafted press release?  I’m betting on the latter.  But just in case, here are some questions the press should consider asking the Superintendent.

1.  How much did FCPS pay to the District Management Council (DMC) for this survey?

2. Does FCPS have a consulting contract with the DMC – and if so, for how much?    DMC has done a lot of work for FCPS the past couple of years and lists several case studies about their work for FCPS on their website.  Here’s one called:  Improving Budget Communications with the Community:  Fairfax County Public Schools.  DMC doesn’t list their consulting fees on their website.  But earlier this year, Lancaster County in Pennsylvania paid the DMC $75,000 for help in improving its schools.  One Lancaster taxpayer posted a comment saying, “Wow – these administrators are being paid top dollar at the taxpayers expense to run the school district and they have to hire a firm to tell them how to do it.”  Lancaster is a small district compared to Fairfax County, so what are we paying?!

3.  In the interest of transparency, will FCPS release all the raw data for this survey?  Will newly elected School Board members who campaigned on the issue of transparency have access to the raw data?

4.  What is FCPS’ plan to address the needed areas of improvement as identified by the surveyed stakeholders?

Related Articles:

Price Tag for Ann Arbor Public Schools Consultant:  $441,130 (June 14, 2011 – AnnArbor.com)

Seminole Schools Spend a Bundle on Education Consultants (August 31, 2010 – Orlando Sentinel)

Boston Schools Seek Pricey Consultant (September 26, 2011 – Fox 25 Boston, MA)

$1 Million Survey on Newark Public School Reform Proves Inconclusive (January 6, 2011 – Dana Goldstein-The Nation)

More Consultant Spending Approved at January PEP Meeting (January 25, 2011 – NYC Public School Parents Blog)

Stimulus Leads to Frenzy of Demand for Consultants (January 28, 2011 – Edmoney.org)

The District Management Council Homepage

November 9, 2011

The Post-Election Review…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Red Apple Mom @ 11:04 am

The school board election results are in and one thing is really clear – in Fairfax County, it’s good to be an incumbent and it’s good to be a Democrat.  The new school board is now 10 Democrats and 2 Republicans.  All the incumbents were re-elected.

Congratulations to all of last night’s winners.

Obviously, the overall results for me were a disappointment after having worked so hard to get reform-minded candidates from both parties elected.  The public has made their choices and I respect that.  This election was an uphill climb.  I knew it going in and I gave it my best shot.  Only two of the reform-minded candidates made the cut – Megan McLaughlin (Braddock-Democrat) and Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield-Republican).   Louise Epstein lost to 18-year incumbent Jane Strauss in Dranesville by 4% of the vote -almost 1000 votes.  That is a tough loss!

The At-Large races were also tough losses, but running countywide as a Republican or Independent in Fairfax County is a Herculean task. I’m particularly surprised our ethnically diverse county chose not to elect at least one of the two Latina, At-Large candidates.  Voters also didn’t choose the only candidate in the At-Large race who brought special education expertise to the table and another who has led the fight on discipline reform.  These truly were missed opportunities.

On the upside, many of these newly elected and incumbent school board members made a lot of campaign promises to reduce class size and to hire an independent auditor.  They have four years to prove this wasn’t empty campaign rhetoric.  Let’s hope the PTAs, PTOs and public holds them to their word.  Kids, teachers and taxpayers are counting on it!

I extend deep thanks to the thousands of FCPS teachers, parents and taxpayers from both parties who joined together to push for reform this campaign.  So many of you stepped out of your political comfort zones and took great professional risk to speak out on issues we all believe in.  You all are an inspiration because you were willing to speak out and you worked to effect change.  That is a very difficult and brave thing to do.  Particular thanks go the Fairfax Education Association and the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.  I am so appreciative of the support you extended to all of the “reform” candidates.  THANK YOU!

We now have a” status quo” school board again, but that doesn’t mean it will be business as usual.  Our community is now better informed than ever about the issues and I’m hopeful these newly elected and re-elected school board members will respond accordingly.  Let’s give them our support and encouragement to do what is best for ALL our kids and teachers on class size and budget priorities!

RELATED ARTICLES:

Even in Defeat, Fairfax School Board Candidates May Force Change – Washington Post, 11.9.11

November 7, 2011

Voter Guide for Fairfax County School Board

It’s going to be an exciting week.  By Tuesday night, we’ll know who our next school board will be.

How will you vote?  

Do you value the status quo that ignores community and teacher concerns?

– OR –

Do you value a new dynamic that engages the public as true partners for making improvements to our public schools?

The Washington Post values the status quo.  They’ve endorsed a nearly straight Democratic party ticket.  Actually I should say “She” has endorsed a nearly straight Democratic party ticket.  Contrary to popular belief, these Washington Post endorsements are not issued by an objective editorial “board.”  A single person at the Washington Post makes these endorsements – and she doesn’t even live in Virginia.  Weigh the value of a Washington Post endorsement with some skepticism.

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) also values the status quo.  They have stated they want a full Democratic-endorsed slate of candidates elected to the school board.  They only care about party – not effectiveness or qualifications to serve.

Don’t the Washington Post and FCDC realize that Republicans and Independents send their children to public school too?

Are we to assume that if a parent is a Republican or Independent, their child doesn’t matter to Fairfax County Public Schools?   They don’t seem to matter to the Washington Post or the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.  And if a whole slate of Democratic-only endorsed candidates is elected, how will they represent you and your child if you aren’t an anointed, partisan Democrat?

You know who isn’t focused on party affiliation as the marker of a good School Board member?  Parent and teacher groups.  Parent and teacher groups are focused on talented candidates who have ideas for reform – irrespective of party label – so that we have officials advocating for the community instead of  rubber stamping the superintendent – reform that will lead to the hiring of an independent auditor so the public can find out why administrative spending has so grossly outpaced student enrollment growth and reform that will lead to data-based, decision-making instead of a system that hides the ball and ignores the facts.

The parent and teacher endorsements matter the most because they come from the people who have been observing and interacting with FCPS officials for years and they don’t have a political agenda guiding their choices like FCDC.

I’ve taken a lot of hits this campaign season.  I’ve had my blog comments inaccurately parsed and not put into context.  I’ve been personally attacked by many anonymous posters on community blogs and I am unfairly taking heat for campaign “activities” that I am not in the least way involved in.

But that’s what happens when you take on the status quo.  They will defend their turf no matter what it takes to keep their power.  When you dance with fire, you have to expect some flames will be thrown your way.

The status quo, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee and the Washington Post have all postured themselves to defend the Gatehouse castle.  They don’t want reform.  They like the incumbents and are pushing for their re-election at all costs.

Voters, you are the ones with the real power.  FCDC doesn’t get to vote.  The Washington Post doesn’t get to vote.  But you do.

Do you want leaders who will go the distance and fight for the community’s concerns?

Do you want leaders who are ahead of the curve on issues of concern to the public so that parent and teacher groups don’t have to drive change?

Do you want leaders who want to engage the public and teachers as true partners?

– Or –

Do you prefer incumbents (and some new candidates) who have sat on the sidelines for years defending the status quo because they ARE the status quo?

You decide.  Your Vote Matters.

Here are my picks:

Voter Guide for School Board

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: