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    « CUEA's Full Release on Strike Vote | Main | Espinosa's Letter to Teachers *Updated »

    April 19, 2010


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    Proposal for Reform:
    Ideas for the new Superintendent
    (A fictional letter based upon the reform theories by Chester E. Finn, Jr.)

    Welcome to Capistrano Unified School District! We need a new superintendent, a visionary to help us reorganize and restructure our current situation so that we can advance into the 21st Century and compete with the growing global economy. We need a superintendent who is invested in our district, one who can lead us into the future so that we can prepare out students to be contributing members of society. When we elected this Board of Trustees, each of whom ran upon a platform of “reform” and “accountability,” we had hoped they would be able to re-form our district and ensure that each and every child would receive a good education. We hoped that they would have been able to be creative and innovative and bring in a number of school choices, schools like the following:
    *Magnet Schools with distinctive themes that meet the developmental needs of students with special gifts
    *Charter Schools that offer imaginative and innovative programs for disabled youngsters, or cadres of similarly typed students who learn differently; schools that could offer expeditionary learning, military training, or Montessori and Waldorf type models; schools that could help children of illegal immigrants gain citizenship
    *Tech Prep schools where the last two years of high school joined with community colleges or private businesses to train 16-19 year olds in a specific field of interest, certifying them to enter the work force upon graduation or to pursue more professional expertise
    *Virtual Schools or Hybrid schools where students learn via technology, but participate in public school programs.
    *Minischools where size does matter; schools that would be encouraged by philanthropists where enriched programs or college-level courses could be offered to those ready to attempt them.
    *Traditional Public schools that, well, look like ones in CUSD, only without the students who attend “other” schools.
    Had our Trustees instilled a sense of confidence in them, we could have then developed some of these models to meet the needs of the constituents in CUSD. Some schools could teach religion or philosophy in the morning or evening (not during the core instructional day that is financed by the tax payer). Catholics, Mormons, Christian Scientists, Budhists, Muslims, atheists, liberal or fundamentalist, could form schools of choice. Hispanics (as long as they were committed to learning English), African Americans, Native Americans, Whites, Jewish people, and Asians could each have developed a charter school where cultural values, languages, and mores were preserved through morning and evening teachings. “Brand-name schools” run by sophisticated private firms both for and non-profit could have evolved and eventually spread to other locations in California and the United States. A student, any student who attended this Brand-Name institution would then be able to move and seamlessly transfer into another school somewhere else ready to start lessons on the first day of attendance.
    If our Trustees had given us reason to rely upon them, we could have supported their endeavors to restructure these schools through a re-organization of tax dollars. Schools would have been financed by vouchers and run more like businesses. Citizens would have been able to invest directly into their child’s education by choosing the right school for their sons and daughters, and no school that received tax dollar would be able to deny admittance of any student. (If the student later showed an unwillingness or inability to learn, s/he could be transferred to another, more appropriate school.) At least, this would be a start. Revenues from federal and state taxes could have provided incentives to encourage the entrepreneurial side of education. As schools developed into businesses competing with other schools, they might desire more venture capital to improve programs. This could be solved by making schools marketable and selling them, allowing private individuals or companies to buy portions of the school. School-businesses could raise money from investors by selling them a stake in the school-company. Since stockholders would now have an investment, the school-business would no doubt strive to make their students do well on standardized tests so that stakeholders continue to invest, thus driving up the value of the school-business and the need to produce students who are high achievers.
    Of course, the internal structure of schools would have had to be reformed, as well. It would be de-regulated (at least by government agencies) and focus only on measurable, quantifiable results. Certified teachers would be allowed, but would evolve into contracted employees of the new businesses, thus eliminating the need for unions. Schools could then have choice, too, on whom they hired and fired. Teachers would be accountable to train their students to perform well on exams; bad teachers could be discharged if test scores threatened to damage the interest of stakeholders. Administrators would be replaced by CEO’s and CFO’s, managers, consultants, and salespeople. Initially, there might be some problems with the conflict of interest regarding venture capitalists because they traditionally get significant control over a “school’s” decisions in exchange for the high risk that they assume by investing in school-companies that have little or no history in the profit market. And this might lead to the emergence of the bête noir - management falsifying those measurable, quantifiable results so that the stakeholders continued to contribute to the “schools,” thus lining the private pockets of management and driving up the costs of education. BUT, since such problems are anticipated, these problems could easily be prevented or worked out as they manifest themselves. For example, an independent business that audits data would be responsible for honest reporting on student, school, and district performance. Also, an “authorizing body” could approve and monitor schools. To protect against conflict of interest, they would not act as both providers of educational services and regulators. Those would remain two different entities. All of this could be outsourced to state/multi-state/national bodies.
    To hold this reformed, restructured system together, solid curricula, effective instruction, and quality testing would be developed, and, because it would be so successful, influence state and national standards.
    Common goals, metrics, and benchmarks would be tracked, and performance would be compared to other systems. Eventually, each “school of choice” would become an Uber school. Magnet schools, Charter schools, public schools, tech-prep schools, mini-schools would each be held to national standards. Parents would place their children in high performing schools; safe schools where all children would receive a good education.* The USA would once again be a top contender in the world of education.
    But the vision of such a possibility was destroyed when this Board of Trustees tried to strong-arm its agenda on the CUSD. Alas, where finesse, tact, professionalism, and time were needed to adroitly lead us into the new educational possibilities, gaucherie, haste, and amateur bullying bred suspicion, dissension, and opposition.
    Thus, we struggle to regain our hope that you, as the new superintendent, will have the expertise and the diplomacy to reform the Capistrano Unified School District. Our district has historically been a good district, but we are evidently not as good as we think.** Come November, we will vote out those who have corrupted our faith and disappointed us, so don’t base your opinion of us by their duplicitous actions. We welcome your leadership if it will bring us the reformation and restoration we so desperately need.
    *We aren’t sure what we would really do with the students who are hard to educate or students who lack parental involvement. Such troublesome youngsters might be placed in a kind of “alternative school” like Serra Continuation High or a Correctional Education School such as ACCESS. At least they would have the choice to try one of the more innovative programs. Hey, you can lead a horse to water…
    **Reference to Pacific Research Institute’s book/movie about the CUSD.

    hey future!

    Great satire. I hope others "get it"!

    Bryson and Chester ( and Bryson's husband Bill Evers ) really are committed to this type of "reform". Parents and others, this is what is in our future if we don't remove these people now!

    Private schools, fire at will, everything run like a "business" just like Wall Street is run. Branding schools and selling the brand to other Districts. When Winsten says he wants to "reform" CUSD this is what he is talking about.

    Brsyon says she is with the "Board of Education". Actually Anna you were elected to the "Board of Trustees".

    You don't even know what organization you were elected to!

    Typical "PR" BOT statement. The teachers, the union leadership and the union are one in the same.


    so very wrong and misleading. you are very wrong in that statement

    I am greatly concerned about the spin that the District continues to post on its website, and through its press releases. The parents that I have talked to have seen past their "spin factor", and will continue their support the teachers. They understand why teachers willing to stand up in the short-term ensures the best education for their kids in the long-term. It is up to all of us to continue to help the public understand the facts behind the issues at hand so that each citizen can come to an informed position without being misled. The facts show clearly how the Board has not supported public education. The Board has repeatedly shown that they do not welcome public comments from their constituents. And they refuse to recognize the negotiator's recommendations. This was the impartial party that the Board selected to come to a fair agreement. And the list goes on...

    The Bryson-Evers connection is very imporant

    I wonder why the body of Anna's letter is put in quotes? Could it be that she wants us to be sure that those words are hers? Isn't that a given in a letter format such as this? Is she insinuating that these are her words only and do not represent the entire board? Or is she hoping that perhaps one day the entire letter will be referenced in a source of inspirational quotes? Are her words worthy of Shakespearean reverence?

    I have never seen the entire body of a letter put in quotes before.

    Just wondering...

    As a parent of two CUSD students, a husband of a CUSD Teacher, and a Pastor who preaches truth. I am so in prayer for this BoT. I know the Union, they are the Teachers and my wife is one of them. She has always agreed teachers need to take a cut, a 10% plus if needed. As a voter, what gives you the right, that out of our whole State of California, you should have the right to force these cuts permanently? Why you? Why in our district?

    Why could the BoT not come back to the table and negotiate another cut if the economy lost another trillion? The teachers are willing for that language too. Attorneys or your agenda?

    I also heard John and Ken on KFI, "Kentucky Fried Ignorance" that Bryson, suggested to John and Ken the CUSD is broke? According to the fact-finder, there is a balanced budget under their findings, the teachers agree.

    I was shocked, Ms. Bryson could not give an answer at the town meeting on how much the fact finder cost? The most important mediator in the history of the CUSD District and the CEO and Actor, Bryson, let it be known, could not tell us how much the fact finder cost. How dare you spend my children's future on something you never were going to accept? My son has been playing on a piano for the play "Curtains" on a 50 year old piano, the money you spent on the fact finder could have bought 10 pianos. I as a voter want, no demand to see how much money you have spent on PR, Attorney's, Fact Finders, and Lawsuits?

    If you would tell us the voters how much the fact finder cost? As a CEO of 7 Companies, how could you not know your Board's Agenda for the meeting the next day? With this type of agenda, I don't expect answers from the Bot but nails in my back.

    The BoT should reserve the right to come back to revise the contract and the Union should agree if the economy worsens, the teachers would need to take another temporary cut. My wife agrees? John and Ken agreed and said CUSD is broke? No that's not true from the report I read from the fact finder.

    Lastly, since only Ken Maddox has been the only one to return my e-mail with his "justification." I want to help you Ms. Bryson as in gossip I hate to hear, as the book of Matthew tells us to follow. Since you wont return my e-mail directly, is your husband Williamson B. Evers? Is he the one on U-tube "Standards and Competitive Rigor-Evers? Did your husband sell the District math text books and profit on them? If anyone out there knows the truth, share it or stop the gossip as that's the very thing that hurts the Union cause.

    I invite the BoT to a special prayer time, TBA during a possible strike, for I too have made error's in judgement and force my flesh agenda on my TLC school.

    PS. Don't tell my wife I wrote this, she is at school teaching with all her might. She is already stressed out. Never mind, she seeks only the truth also.

    Praying for CUSD and Union Peace!

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