Plan? What Plan?

We have seen that, having suffered the lowest average reading pass rate and the second lowest math pass rate in Virginia, Richmond this year “requested” a “division-level academic review.”

§ 22.1-253.13:3.A
                                                      * * *
When the Board of Education determines through the school academic review process that the failure of schools within a division to achieve full accreditation status is related to division-level failure to implement the Standards of Quality or other division-level action or inaction, the Board may require a division-level academic review. After the conduct of such review and within the time specified by the Board of Education, each school board shall submit to the Board for approval a corrective action plan, consistent with criteria established by the Board setting forth specific actions and a schedule designed to ensure that schools within its school division achieve full accreditation status.

On November 17, 2016, the Board of Education approved the request.  The minute is silent as to the “time specified” for the review.  The agenda item for that meeting provides an expectation (that was not submitted to the Board for approval) but no deadline:

A division-level Memorandum of Understanding and Corrective Action Plan are expected to come before the Virginia Board of Education by June 22, 2017.

Today (May 8, 2017), Richmond replied to my Freedom of Information Act request regarding the Plan:

  • They do not have a suggested model or list of items or format for the Plan from VDOE;
  • They have no schedule for conducting the division level review;
  • They have no plan or schedule for obtaining the required public input; and
  • The do have a draft “template [that] has not been vetted with RPS administration nor has it been presented to the State Board of Ed[ucation].”

One need not suffer beyond the first few elements in the template to see that it is not a Plan.  It is a list of items to go into a Plan. 

For example, the “Essential Action[s]” on the “Academics and Student Success” page include:

  • Create, implement, and monitor a comprehensive plan to ensure alignment between the written, taught, and tested curriculum.
  • Develop and implement a plan for division leadership to conduct instructional walkthroughs at all schools, analyze data collected on walkthroughs, and use the data to make decisions on how to support schools.
  • Develop, implement, and monitor programs for students with limited English proficiency compliant with state requirements.

And on and on.

Thus, we see that, in the 172 days since November 17, Richmond has done nothing but create a laundry list of issues to go into a Plan.  If they somehow manage to “vet [this or some other document] with RPS administration” and subject it to public comment and have it approved by the School Board, all by June 22, they still will have nothing more than a plan to create a Plan.

But, what the heck!  The Board of “Education” that is vested with “supervision of the public school system” does not know how to fix bad schools.  Indeed, they admit it (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48).

It is merely an outrage that we are being taxed to support this sterile (and lethargic) bureaucratic exercise. It is something beyond an abomination that, in the meantime, Richmond continues to victimize many of its schoolchildren.

Graduate or Not

When looking at the cohort graduation rates, I tend to look at the 4 year rate.  After all, four years is the normal time in high school.

The helpful reports on the VDOE Web page also include five and six year data.  For the class of 2016 (cohort of 2012-13) there can only be a four year report.  For the class of 2015 (cohort of 2011-12), however, the extra year opens the door to calculation of both a four and a five year rate.

So I pulled the Class of 2015 data.  The rates below are the actual (standard and advanced diploma) rates, not VDOE’s inflated “on time” numbers.

For a start, here is a chart of the division five year vs. four year graduation rates.

image

Richmond is the gold square (sigh!).  The red diamonds are, from the left, poor Petersburg (notwithstanding over twelve years of “help” from the State Board of “Education”) and the peer cities of Norfolk, Hampton, and Newport News.

The R-squared of 98% tells us that the two rates correlate: Divisions with a high four year rate have high five year rates and those with low, low (see Petersburg and – help us, Lord! – Richmond). 

Notes on the data:

  • Highland County is omitted.  They had only eleven in the cohort and fewer than the cutoff (ten) in each category (VDOE suppresses data where there are <10 students).
  • In many cases, the five and six year cohort sizes are different, apparently reflecting cohort members who leave or return during the fifth year.  Thus, Cumberland County shows a 1.6% decrease in the five year rate, reflecting the same numbers of diplomas but an additional two students in the five year cohort.
  • That sad point between Petersburg and Richmond is Covington.
  • The two divisions at the upper right are Falls Church and West Point.
  • The Richmond rates were 70.6% and 73.1%.  Both are appallingly low.  The (welcome) increase comes from thirty-eight kids who did not get diplomas in four years but now have them.

Here is the breakout of the Richmond data.

image

I think that last entry is “Economically Disadvantaged anytime.”

And here are the division data.

4 year 5 year
Division Cohort Adv. Std. Cohort Adv. Std. 4 Year 5 Year Difference
Accomack County 328 166 114 326 166 115 85.4% 86.2% 0.83% 1
Albemarle County 996 646 264 997 648 270 91.4% 92.1% 0.71% 8
Alexandria City 853 320 318 851 323 321 74.8% 75.7% 0.88% 6
Alleghany County 231 106 86 232 106 90 83.1% 84.5% 1.37% 4
Amelia County 145 58 67 145 58 67 86.2% 86.2% 0.00% 0
Amherst County 307 118 139 306 118 143 83.7% 85.3% 1.58% 4
Appomattox County 184 103 64 184 103 65 90.8% 91.3% 0.54% 1
Arlington County 1440 916 357 1444 917 371 88.4% 89.2% 0.79% 15
Augusta County 810 416 298 810 416 307 88.1% 89.3% 1.11% 9
Bath County 46 24 12 45 24 12 78.3% 80.0% 1.74% 0
Bedford County 835 402 307 833 402 320 84.9% 86.7% 1.76% 13
Bland County 81 19 53 81 19 53 88.9% 88.9% 0.00% 0
Botetourt County 402 229 144 402 229 145 92.8% 93.0% 0.25% 1
Bristol City 167 60 71 167 60 71 78.4% 78.4% 0.00% 0
Brunswick County 160 29 93 160 29 97 76.3% 78.8% 2.50% 4
Buchanan County 268 82 150 268 82 150 86.6% 86.6% 0.00% 0
Buckingham County 154 72 62 154 72 64 87.0% 88.3% 1.30% 2
Buena Vista City 95 36 39 95 36 40 78.9% 80.0% 1.05% 1
Campbell County 654 295 263 652 295 265 85.3% 85.9% 0.57% 2
Caroline County 292 90 139 294 90 148 78.4% 81.0% 2.53% 9
Carroll County 291 134 117 290 134 121 86.3% 87.9% 1.68% 4
Charles City County 57 20 29 57 20 30 86.0% 87.7% 1.75% 1
Charlotte County 177 89 56 178 90 57 81.9% 82.6% 0.66% 2
Charlottesville City 305 130 108 304 130 112 78.0% 79.6% 1.57% 4
Chesapeake City 3156 1824 950 3159 1827 970 87.9% 88.5% 0.64% 23
Chesterfield County 4710 2627 1560 4708 2629 1602 88.9% 89.9% 0.97% 44
Clarke County 167 105 52 166 105 54 94.0% 95.8% 1.77% 2
Colonial Beach 42 21 17 42 21 17 90.5% 90.5% 0.00% 0
Colonial Heights City 214 124 58 214 124 60 85.0% 86.0% 0.93% 2
Covington City 60 24 18 60 25 18 70.0% 71.7% 1.67% 1
Craig County 56 19 29 55 19 29 85.7% 87.3% 1.56% 0
Culpeper County 553 282 203 553 282 203 87.7% 87.7% 0.00% 0
Cumberland County 111 62 38 113 62 38 90.1% 88.5% -1.59% 0
Danville City 444 132 198 442 133 205 74.3% 76.5% 2.15% 8
Dickenson County 165 39 91 165 39 93 78.8% 80.0% 1.21% 2
Dinwiddie County 349 110 155 351 111 165 75.9% 78.6% 2.70% 11
Essex County 118 39 59 118 39 59 83.1% 83.1% 0.00% 0
Fairfax County 13760 8672 3674 13766 8682 3777 89.7% 90.5% 0.78% 113
Falls Church City 168 138 26 167 139 26 97.6% 98.8% 1.18% 1
Fauquier County 915 530 288 911 532 302 89.4% 91.5% 2.15% 16
Floyd County 135 62 60 135 62 60 90.4% 90.4% 0.00% 0
Fluvanna County 306 151 123 305 151 126 89.5% 90.8% 1.28% 3
Franklin City 79 33 27 78 33 28 75.9% 78.2% 2.26% 1
Franklin County 558 242 224 555 242 229 83.5% 84.9% 1.35% 5
Frederick County 995 510 384 997 510 388 89.8% 90.1% 0.22% 4
Fredericksburg City 232 116 69 233 116 76 79.7% 82.4% 2.66% 7
Galax City 103 52 38 103 52 39 87.4% 88.3% 0.97% 1
Giles County 213 47 131 212 47 133 83.6% 84.9% 1.34% 2
Gloucester County 415 175 202 417 175 208 90.8% 91.8% 1.00% 6
Goochland County 187 111 62 188 111 63 92.5% 92.6% 0.04% 1
Grayson County 152 78 46 150 78 47 81.6% 83.3% 1.75% 1
Greene County 211 126 75 211 126 76 95.3% 95.7% 0.47% 1
Greensville County 169 62 75 169 62 76 81.1% 81.7% 0.59% 1
Halifax County 406 142 178 406 142 180 78.8% 79.3% 0.49% 2
Hampton City 1545 564 717 1545 564 747 82.9% 84.9% 1.94% 30
Hanover County 1417 871 431 1417 871 434 91.9% 92.1% 0.21% 3
Harrisonburg City 343 180 114 343 180 122 85.7% 88.0% 2.33% 8
Henrico County 3682 1806 1335 3675 1809 1377 85.3% 86.7% 1.39% 45
Henry County 494 215 200 494 215 206 84.0% 85.2% 1.21% 6
Hopewell City 293 97 127 290 97 134 76.5% 79.7% 3.20% 7
Isle of Wight County 438 233 159 440 233 163 89.5% 90.0% 0.50% 4
King George County 317 174 121 316 174 123 93.1% 94.0% 0.93% 2
King William County 162 79 57 162 79 60 84.0% 85.8% 1.85% 3
King and Queen County 46 21 19 46 21 20 87.0% 89.1% 2.17% 1
Lancaster County 82 36 31 82 36 32 81.7% 82.9% 1.22% 1
Lee County 265 60 139 265 60 143 75.1% 76.6% 1.51% 4
Loudoun County 4793 3424 1092 4791 3430 1110 94.2% 94.8% 0.54% 24
Louisa County 343 177 115 343 177 118 85.1% 86.0% 0.87% 3
Lunenburg County 105 42 43 106 42 43 81.0% 80.2% -0.76% 0
Lynchburg City 636 246 247 637 246 253 77.5% 78.3% 0.82% 6
Madison County 146 83 48 145 83 49 89.7% 91.0% 1.31% 1
Manassas City 517 212 214 519 212 220 82.4% 83.2% 0.84% 6
Manassas Park City 207 77 99 207 77 100 85.0% 85.5% 0.48% 1
Martinsville City 157 55 65 156 55 69 76.4% 79.5% 3.05% 4
Mathews County 114 54 44 114 54 45 86.0% 86.8% 0.88% 1
Mecklenburg County 347 143 162 347 143 163 87.9% 88.2% 0.29% 1
Middlesex County 95 51 36 95 51 36 91.6% 91.6% 0.00% 0
Montgomery County 732 361 263 731 361 265 85.2% 85.6% 0.39% 2
Nelson County 143 65 47 143 65 47 78.3% 78.3% 0.00% 0
New Kent County 245 121 101 245 121 102 90.6% 91.0% 0.41% 1
Newport News City 1876 726 894 1852 726 925 86.4% 89.1% 2.79% 31
Norfolk City 1747 653 693 1720 654 743 77.0% 81.2% 4.17% 51
Northampton County 96 35 39 96 35 39 77.1% 77.1% 0.00% 0
Northumberland County 109 51 48 109 51 48 90.8% 90.8% 0.00% 0
Norton City 58 26 29 59 26 31 94.8% 96.6% 1.78% 2
Nottoway County 173 63 74 173 63 78 79.2% 81.5% 2.31% 4
Orange County 356 156 153 358 157 161 86.8% 88.8% 2.03% 9
Page County 274 135 128 274 135 128 96.0% 96.0% 0.00% 0
Patrick County 198 85 85 198 85 88 85.9% 87.4% 1.52% 3
Petersburg City 289 56 116 286 56 121 59.5% 61.9% 2.37% 5
Pittsylvania County 730 312 329 729 312 337 87.8% 89.0% 1.22% 8
Poquoson City 193 136 45 194 136 45 93.8% 93.3% -0.48% 0
Portsmouth City 930 309 449 933 309 463 81.5% 82.7% 1.24% 14
Powhatan County 339 197 112 339 198 114 91.2% 92.0% 0.88% 3
Prince Edward County 175 54 86 175 55 87 80.0% 81.1% 1.14% 2
Prince George County 478 189 206 476 193 209 82.6% 84.5% 1.82% 7
Prince William County 6187 2945 2477 6185 2947 2542 87.6% 88.7% 1.11% 67
Pulaski County 326 137 123 325 137 126 79.8% 80.9% 1.17% 3
Radford City 121 50 55 122 50 56 86.8% 86.9% 0.11% 1
Rappahannock County 73 37 29 74 37 30 90.4% 90.5% 0.13% 1
Richmond City 1420 384 619 1425 385 656 70.6% 73.1% 2.42% 38
Richmond County 82 42 32 81 42 32 90.2% 91.4% 1.11% 0
Roanoke City 882 298 384 882 299 399 77.3% 79.1% 1.81% 16
Roanoke County 1118 591 431 1119 591 438 91.4% 92.0% 0.54% 7
Rockbridge County 251 115 104 250 116 105 87.3% 88.4% 1.15% 2
Rockingham County 878 394 383 879 394 394 88.5% 89.6% 1.15% 11
Russell County 320 109 174 320 109 174 88.4% 88.4% 0.00% 0
Salem City 345 207 108 345 207 108 91.3% 91.3% 0.00% 0
Scott County 269 136 106 269 136 107 90.0% 90.3% 0.37% 1
Shenandoah County 487 254 188 487 254 189 90.8% 91.0% 0.21% 1
Smyth County 344 133 173 344 133 175 89.0% 89.5% 0.58% 2
Southampton County 194 73 88 194 73 92 83.0% 85.1% 2.06% 4
Spotsylvania County 1844 987 643 1843 988 652 88.4% 89.0% 0.59% 10
Stafford County 2320 1400 714 2320 1401 746 91.1% 92.5% 1.42% 33
Staunton City 189 97 75 189 97 78 91.0% 92.6% 1.59% 3
Suffolk City 1026 441 413 1024 442 425 83.2% 84.7% 1.43% 13
Surry County 78 35 29 77 35 30 82.1% 84.4% 2.36% 1
Sussex County 83 27 35 83 27 36 74.7% 75.9% 1.20% 1
Tazewell County 437 130 201 436 130 207 75.7% 77.3% 1.55% 6
Virginia Beach City 5289 2883 1698 5270 2887 1774 86.6% 88.4% 1.83% 80
Warren County 422 210 161 422 210 166 87.9% 89.1% 1.18% 5
Washington County 519 235 234 519 235 238 90.4% 91.1% 0.77% 4
Waynesboro City 232 94 85 233 94 86 77.2% 77.3% 0.10% 1
West Point 64 43 20 64 43 20 98.4% 98.4% 0.00% 0
Westmoreland County 121 53 44 121 53 44 80.2% 80.2% 0.00% 0
Williamsburg-James City County 860 491 269 860 492 280 88.4% 89.8% 1.40% 12
Winchester City 288 138 113 285 138 114 87.2% 88.4% 1.27% 1
Wise County 438 179 200 439 180 206 86.5% 87.9% 1.40% 7
Wythe County 295 126 133 295 126 137 87.8% 89.2% 1.36% 4
York County 991 621 301 991 621 305 93.0% 93.4% 0.40% 4
Highland County 12 < < 12 < <


Still a Scofflaw?

We have seen that Richmond had the lowest secondary attendance in Virginia last year: 88%.  This happened in a context where Richmond earlier was ignoring the requirements of the state law regarding truancy and the Board of “Education” was ignoring its duty to require Richmond to obey that law.

Inquiring mind wants to know whether all that truancy last year was again exacerbated by Richmond’s defiance of the law:

Subject: Records Request
From: John Butcher
Date: 03/03/2017 08:57 AM
To: Angela Lewis — RPS FOIA

Ms. Lewis,

Please share with me the public records of the Richmond School Board that set out the following data for Richmond Public Schools for the 2015-16 school year:

The number of students with five or more unexcused absences;
The number of five absence truancy plans;
The number of students with six or more unexcused absences;
The number of six absence conferences scheduled;
The number of students with seven or more unexcused absences;
The number of CHINS complaints filed as to students with seven or more unexcused absences;
The number of proceedings instituted against parents of students with seven or more unexcused absences;
The summary of outcomes of the CHINS complaints and/or the proceedings instituted against parents;
The number of students with ten or more unexcused absences;
The number of warning letters sent to parents of students with ten or more unexcused absences.

If the School Board has begun to attend to its duty under Va. Code 22.1-258, there doubtless will be multiple records responsive to each portion of this request.  Please do NOT send me all of those; a single record responsive to each request (or a smaller number of records responding to multiple requests) would be plenty; an email with just the data, without production of the underlying records, would be even better.

With thanks always for your kind and good work,

John

Where Have All the Students Gone?

The 2016 Superintendent’s Annual Report sets out, at Table 8, the elementary and secondary attendance data by division for the year.

Here are the elementary data.

image

The yellow bar is Richmond.  The red bars, from the left, are the peer cities Norfolk, Newport News, and Hampton.

The Richmond elementary datum is merely discouraging.  The secondary attendance is appalling:

image

The yellow again is Richmond.  The red, Norfolk, Hampton, and Newport News.

Va. Code § 22.1-258 requires an attendance plan after the fifth unexcused absence and a conference with the parents after the sixth.  Upon a further absence, the statute requires either a prosecution of the parents or the filing of a CHINS petition against the student.

When I asked RPS for data on compliance with this statute for 2015, they reported 13,046 five-day attendance plans and 61 CHINS petitions.  They had NO RECORD of the number of five, six, or seven day absences and NO RECORD of prosecutions of parents.

We do have some data from earlier years:

image

Of course, our State Board of Education Fecklessness did not fire the Superintendent or sue the School Board over those wholesale violations of a law the State Board is required to enforce.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Looks like I’ll have to ask RPS for those data for 2016.

Educational “Leadership”

I have pointed out that our Board of “Education” knows how to identify broken schools but does not know how to fix them

We get confirmation, and a partial explanation, in the Times-Dispatch this morning.  The former President of the Board writes:

The solutions offered in the past have been new teachers, new principals, new math programs, new reading programs, leadership development and more. None of them have (sic) worked.

There you have it in microcosm: This former leader of the Board understands that the Board has failed but does not understand subject-verb agreement. 

(For a contrary view of “none have” see this.)

No wonder they can’t fix anything.

Absent at VBOE

Never mind a statutory duty to enforce the mandatory attendance laws, the Board of “Education” did not even attempt to adopt a truancy regulation until 2011.  They botched that one so terribly that they withdrew it

The next try yielded a wordy concoction that ignored part-day truancy (the kind that killed Justin Creech in 2005).  As I said at the time:

[W]e are obliged to read the statute to accomplish its purpose: every student must attend school for “at least 180 teaching days or 990 teaching hours.” Staff’s narrow reading of the [statute] would lead to a regulation that is manifestly inconsistent with the will of our General Assembly.

Indeed, having officially interpreted the statute to apply only to full day absences, the Board would be challenged to later expand the reach of the regulation to part day absences. Further, the regulation as reproposed does not even require the reporting of part day absences. The Board thus seeks to codify its failure to enforce the mandatory attendance statute as to such absences.

The feeble regulation took effect Nov. 30, 2016, 5+ years after the first attempt.

To the good, the regulation requires some reporting regarding compliance with the requirements of Va. Code § 22.1-258 (notice to parents after five absences; conference after six; prosecution of parents or CHINS petition after seven).

So I went looking for the Board’s data reporting requirements. 

The VDOE Data Elements (xls; also available as a pdf) for the 2016-2017 Student Record Collection were last revised on August 8, 2016, before the Nov. 30, 2016 effective date but well after the May, 2016 adoption of the truancy regulation.  Only two of these data elements refer to truancy:

  • Item 47, Truancy Conference Flag (Conference scheduled with parents when student has six or more unexcused absences); and
  • Item 68, Unexcused Absences (Cumulative number of unexcused absences)

VDOE reports to the public (under the heading “Student Truancy”) only the count of conferences (that the report calls “Truancy Count”).  These numbers are interesting, but only mildly so in the absence of the count of 6-day truancies.

VDOE does not explain why it suppresses those totals that could measure the extent to which a division has met the conference requirement of § 22.1-258.  Could it be that the Board would be embarrassed because these data would show widespread failure to comply with this requirement the Board is obliged to enforce?

As of Feb. 5, 2017, this “Truancy Count” report for the 2016 school year has not been posted (Never mind that we are seven+ months into the 2017 school year).

More to the point, the Data Elements have not been revised to include the requirements of the Board’s truancy regulation.  Looks like we get to go yet another year without any measure at all of the Board’s failure to discharge its duty to enforce school attendance.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Those Petersburg Elementary Data

We have seen recent improvement in the overall pass rates of the Petersburg elementary schools, with AP Hill and Walnut Hill being accredited this year.

image

image

image

A deeper dive into the data produces the following:

image

image

Indeed, the Hills (AP and Walnut) have improved nicely.  But twelve years of “help” from the Board of Education have left Stuart and Lee mired in failure.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Doubling Down on Failure

The Times-Dispatch reports the election of the Chairman of Petersburg’s School Board: for a tenth time.

The paper further reveals that our State education bureaucracy calls this Chairman an “indispensible and tireless partner.”  They brag on an improved graduation rate and the recent accreditation of two of the six Petersburg schools.

Indeed, Petersburg’s cohort graduation rate has increased in recent years (as the cohort size his withered).

image

Test performance is another matter.  On the reading tests, the elementary school scores have improved but the high school scores continue to slide and the middle school scores have reached even lower lows after being clobbered by the new tests in 2013.

image

(“EOC” is “End of Course”).  Given that an increasing fraction of Petersburg’s high school students are flunking the End of Course reading tests, we have to wonder where the improved graduation rates are coming from.

As to the math pass rates, the elementary schools again have improved; this year they are within sight of the state average.  The middle schools, however, continue to marinate in failure while the high schools this year climbed half way out from an eighteen point drop in 2015.

image

Hmmm.  You can see that drop in the graduation rate but the 2016 recovery in the graduation rate is contradicted by the only partial recovery of the math pass rate and the continuing decline in the reading rate.  There is something fishy here.

As to the accredited schools, both are elementary schools (no surprise there).

image

The poster child for the problems in the Petersburg system is Peabody Middle School.  (Accreditation level is the red line).

image

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Petersburg has compiled this record of failure while operating under Memoranda of Understanding with VBOE since at least 2004 (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30) .

In this context, our Secretary of Education says “we have successfully engaged with local leaders to tackle a variety of serious issues.” 

Notice he can’t say they’ve fixed Petersburg, just that they’ve “successfully engaged.”  Indeed, Board of Education members admit (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) that they don’t know how to fix bad schools.

In sum: Happy talk; lousy schools; educrats who don’t know how to fix those schools.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Bedden Takes Out an Insurance Policy

Richmond’s public schools have a spectacular record of failure. 

image

Before the new math tests in 2012 and the new English and science tests in 2013, the Richmond pass rates were merely awful.  Since then, the rates have been perfectly appalling.  Indeed, since the advent of the new tests, only Richmond’s reading scores have improved vs. the state average but even the reading pass rates remain behind by 19.9%.

image

The history & social science scores have dropped, both before and after the new tests in the other subjects.

image

Our new Superintendent had a chance to shine in 2015: His predecessor had failed to align the curricula to the new tests.  Simply by doing his basic job, Superintendent Dana Bedden had a chance for a bounce in the scores. 

Bedden started here in January 2014, so we can look for the Bedden Bounce in the ‘14-15 numbers.  The data above perhaps show a bounce in math that year, undone by a drop in 2016; otherwise no bounce.  More details here.

Bedden points out that change is disruptive and, in the short term, the disruption will look like failure.  For sure, the current numbers look like failure. 

This year, Bedden suggested and our (soon to be former) School Board requested a “division-level review” by the Board of Education.  That Board granted the request.

To place that request in context, we should notice that our Board of Education has a spectacular record of failure in achieving compliance with the Standards of Quality

The paradigm is Peabody Middle School in Petersburg.  Peabody has been failing since at least 2002; Petersburg has been operating under Memoranda of Understanding with the State Board since at least 2004 (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30).  Peabody still is unaccredited. 


The Board of Education has the authority to fire a superintendent for cause and to sue a school district for failure to meet the Standards of Quality.  It has never done either, even in Petersburg.

We now know why.  Consistent with their record of failure, they don’t know how to fix broken schools (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48).  If they were to sue, they would have to tell the judge what the school division must do to meet the standards.  Since they don’t know, they wisely don’t sue.

Thus, Bedden’s brilliant ploy.  There are two possibilities here:

  • I.  Richmond’s schools improve and the division achieves accreditation.  Bedden takes credit for getting needed help and fixing our broken schools.  He demands a raise.
  • II. More likely, Richmond’s schools continue to fail.  Bedden points out that even the State can’t fix our awful schools and he’s done everything humanly possible.  He demands a raise.

That’s a win-win situation. 

Good move, Dana!

Accountability for Thee . . .

But Not for Me!

The proposed 2016 Annual Report of the Board of Education uses the word “accountability” twenty-two times.

Two of those are in reproduced statutes; the other twenty are in the draft report. 

The report has the Board modifying its view of accountability (at p.6, repeated at p.14):

image

This talk of “interventions aligned to need” and “encourage[ment]” of improvement is all about inputs, not effectiveness.  Even the “indicators of school quality” are meaningless if nobody is accountable for the improvement, or lack of improvement, of the quality of education.

As well, the draft report is silent as to the Board’s authority to compel compliance with the Standards of Quality.  Indeed, the Board has never exercised that authority.

As with the two instances quoted above, none of the twenty-two instances speaks of “accountability” of the Board for the effectiveness of its $105 million budget (not counting the $7.46 billion for direct aid to public education)

All this silence is understandable in light of the Board’s record of failure: This Board has been exercising its “accountability” regime in Petersburg since at least 2004, with the result that four of the six Petersburg school remain unaccredited.  As a paradigm of the Board’s ineptitude in this respect, here is the history of Petersburg’s Peabody Middle School:

Indeed, this is the Board whose members admit (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) that they don’t know how to fix bad schools.

But, by golly, they do know how to talk and talk and talk about “accountability.”