Monday, March 12, 2012

Were LIFT school visits out of line?

After two Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members made an unannounced tour of Project LIFT schools recently, colleague Rhonda Lennon says it's time for a public discussion of the proper way for board members to deal with CMS staff.

Lennon added the discussion to Tuesday night's agenda, with the support of members Eric Davis, Tim Morgan and Amelia Stinson-Wesley.  "We need to as a board address where the line is -- how do we behave in public, what we're supposed to be doing," Lennon said today.

On March 1,  board members Richard McElrath and Joyce Waddell visited schools in the new Project LIFT Zone, asking principals and teachers what they think of the effort to improve nine west Charlotte schools with private donations.  The board voted unanimously in January to approve a contract that gave the philanthropic board an unprecedented role in running those schools,  but McElrath said he still has questions and concerns.

“I’m just trying to get my head around the real focus of this program. I’m just confused about the long-term plan,”  McElrath said,  adding that he's especially concerned that it focuses on supporting  "segregated schools in segregated neighborhoods."

Lennon said board members have to realize that even if they're voicing personal concerns,  employees see them as the voice of authority.  She said the board needs to talk about a perennial question:  How to voice dissent without undermining board decisions.  "If we have a 9-0 vote, should someone be out in the community saying they don't support it?"

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Project LIFT - you can't fix stupid!

Anonymous said...

Rhonda remember you voted FOR LIFT and were excited about the cash infusion? Of course you had no idea how it was going to be used or the meaning for which the program was based. (normal for you) Richard and Joyce live/work in the districts that will be receiving these funds in the title 1 schools and for them to want to learn more about how CMS sold their district out is noble of them. LIFT is also going to be a very large part of the re-election campaign in a few years. That is something if I were in your fat shoes would not spend much time on. I seriously doubt their is going to be alot of voters for you up north or in the R party. Richard is correct in the fact that is will segregate schools no doubt about it. Joyce is just looking for supporters and knowledge about what is happening. Rhonda for you to think that you have a "voice of authority" is frankly shocking since you have done nothing except make a fool or yourself and D-1 since you were elected. Fool us once , but not again good bye.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, Rhonda, nobody views you as a voice of authority. Morgan either, but that's because he won't communicate with anyone.

Anonymous said...

McElrath confused? Shocking..

Anonymous said...

But it's all for the childrens.

Anonymous said...

12:10, your comments/ interpretation of Richard's vist is puzzling to me. By law, there are no segrgated schools in CMS. By practice, there are no segregated schools in CMS. I feel sorry for the schools and staff in Richard's district because he is stuck in the 60's. The teachers need help and support. He just wants to grandstand.

The better questions to ask are about how LIFT is going to interfere with CMS's mission to teach in these schools. It seems now the LIFT folks are going to approve or disapprove of who is to teach in these schools. That is very unfair because many are there because they have the heart for these kids and have been sweating blood for years here. These kids have too many strikes against and grandstanding by Joyce and Richard is not helping. They have been needing for a long time to get in there, realize the current spending direction is not working and make some changes. But they are too shallow in their thinking and too caught up in blaming "the white man".

The "white man" has been writing nearly infinite checks for them to fix their problem but they refuse to take any responsibility for themselves. Continuing to blame the teachers is so juvenile and so irresponsible.

Joyce and Richard, get with the program or get out of the way.

Anonymous said...

Were LIFT school visits out of line?

Soo now these are no longer CMS schools and we, the taxpayers no longer need to fund them at the ridiculous and no return (ROI) on our investment in these kids?

Wiley Coyote said...

This should be fun....

A Board of Education circular firing squad is always entertaining.

Anonymous said...

"If we have a 9-0 vote, should someone be out in the community saying they don't support it?"

Um, Rhonda? Where or when did Joyce and Richard say that they "don't support it?" I never knew that asking probing questions equated to not supporting an issue. And since when is it BAD for a Board member to make an appearance at a school in his or her district?

And Ms. Stinson-Wesley, I'd be careful who I "got into bed with." First you joined forces with Rhonda and Tim to decry the deconsolidation movement, before ever meeting with the creators... now you're questioning other Board members' actions... have you talked to them about it before having this put on the agenda? I won't even ask if Tim did, as a prior poster already said... 'he doesn't talk to anyone.'

A BOE circular firing squad... love it.

Elizabeth B said...

What astonishes me is the apparent ignorance of so many commenters regarding the goals of Project Lift. Finding ways to close the achievement gap and building a top-notch teaching staff are worthy goals. This is what we should be striving for in all of our schools. I am eager to follow this story and hope that it will prove to be a model of best practices that can be replicated throughout CMS and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Voice of authority. Babble of nincompoops.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth B- I as a concerned parent of white children have gone and listened to Ms. Watts the creator of LIFT speak prior to CMS engaging to bring her back to the system she left (for good twice). In the meetings the project plan is as follows. To raise $ 55 million in the black community or from white people who will give it too them. In turn to provide after school care , discounted dental services along with doctors visits. Buying iPads and selecting the teacehrs Ms. Watts feels fit to teach in the black title 1 schools. This money will be spent in black owned business's by black people. Her words not mine. It has no measurement and surely will be a failure. The program has a 5 year funding level at best if all the money is raised. This LIFT is the result of the school closings and test results falling far behind the others. Kojo has demanded it and CMS cannot go against him again for fear of a revolt.

Wiley Coyote said...

Elizabeth,

You're just now "eager to follow this story"? Where have you been for the past 6 or 7 months?

So for decades, CMS has done nothing, spent no extra funds in these schools or had quality teachers in them?

This is $55 million dollars of private money being spent over 5 years.

Those of us taxpayers who question giving up a large chunk of our tax monies and control to these 9 schools and what LIFT will use their money for, such as lobbyists in Raleigh, are ignorant?

Or that other LIFT funds are being spent outside of the schools on "parent & community support" to the tune of $5.6 million?

STRATEGIES

Increase parent participation in school events.

 Utilize a variety of incentives to increase parents’ participation in school events.
 Increase and enhance opportunities for parental involvement and education.
 Regularly provide opportunities for parents to visit the school and meet with classroom teachers through open school nights, parent conferences and an open door policy.
 Encourage parents to volunteer and find meaningful ways to engage them in school activities.
 Provide opportunities for parents to provide anonymous feedback on their school through an annual survey.
Provide solutions to meet the medical, social, and emotional needs of students.
 Provide students and parents with access to a mobile medical clinic.
 Explore opportunities to build community schools by providing in-house access to social services offices at Project L.I.F.T. schools and/or better coordinating existing services
 Access additional resources needed to meet the immediate socio-emotional needs of students.
 Establish partnerships to provide ongoing, consistent


Furthermore, based on the last test results, the "achievement gap" between Blacks & Whites won't be equal for at least another 15 years at the rate CMS is going.

Much of the success of this program lies in external factors, mainly the home. This is the same issue CMS has fought for years in these same schools.

Maybe more "social dollars" is what it will take?

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

Anonymous said...

Rhonda is a dope. She is led around by the incompetent one, high royal lowness, Tim Morgan. Now it seems where 3 were sharing 1/4 of a brain (Morgan, Lennon, Davis) and even less integrity - now there are 4 with Stinson-Wesley joing the omnipotently impotent incompetent triumvirate.

Perhaps Rhonda and Tim and Eric and Amelia could actually go out into the schools, spend some time and actually gain an understanding of what actually happens in the classroom.........naaaaaahhhhhhhh that'll never happen, those bozos are already smarter than everyone else.

Christine Mast said...

Does anyone know if the 9 Project LIFT schools will continue to receive Weighted Student Staffing funding in each of the next 5 years?

Or can we take that "extra" money and return it to other schools?

So a school like Torrence Creek, who only had $4,487 spent per pupil in 2010-2011, when the STATE allocation was $5,142? And that's withOUT the funding due to them from the County!

Anonymous said...

Realize that 25% of the achievement gap closing last year was from bringing the top end down. Clearly the cheapest, easiest and most effective strategy to implement.

Wiley Coyote said...

Christine,

Since I'm a betting man, I'll wager there will be no reduction in any funding of any type from CMS.

Why would they? That's money in hand on an ongoing basis.

Elizabeth B. said...

I found this document to be very informative regarding the selection of schools, objectives, implementation and evaluation of Project Lift: http://www.projectliftcharlotte.org/uploads/project_lift/docs/Project_LIFT_Strategic_Plan_021212.pdf

I believe it is essential that we invest in these schools and communitities if we want to build a stronger and better future for all Charlotteans. Project Lift looks to me like it's a big step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, the basic question is whether families should raise chidlren or should society raise children?

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth - LIFT at best is a band aid and gets Ms. Watts out of the house and off our public dollar. Its a temporary program with a 5 year end date at best. It will affect a few lives for the better. The funds are limited and private. If we as a society made parents more accountable ie. no welfare or unemployment if the kids not a B average hold folks up to be good parents. Its not always the kids fault I agree with that statement. Your missing the point that Ms. Watts has left CMS a few times as a "quitter herself" so she has 0 experience implementing a strategy like this. It really scares me that she will measure none of the elements that this program will produce. So in the end 4-5 years from now you wont have a clue whether this is a positive program or negative. Their is a reason she wont measure it.

Wiley Coyote said...

Elizabeth,

The Charlotte Observer ran a story on LIFT back in January and they touted results from the "Boston Project", a similar philanthropic endeavor of $27 million dollars.

Here is what the Observer said:

A look at what's happening in Boston shows how. Boston launched a similar public-private partnership two years ago. Several major philanthropic organizations gave $27 million to a partnership to accelerate student achievement across the city. The money was given to groups providing services such as early education and after-school programs.

A report in September outlined early signs of progress. Students passing Massachusetts' version of end-of-grade tests rose from 66 percent in 2008-2009 to nearly 77 percent in 2010-2011, surpassing the group's goal of 75 percent. The dropout rate declined to 5.7 percent from 7.3 percent during the same period.


The problem with those numbers is that the wonderful gains in test scores and decrease in dropout rate happend the year BEFORE and the one year of data attributed to the $27 million showed less than a 1% increase in scores.

In the Boston Project report, here is a little gem everyone needs to be aware of because LIFT is headed in the same direction:

Strive, a national network of communities working to create the civic infrastructure to unite stakeholders around shared goals,
measures and results in education. Boston has been named a
“Cradle to Career” community by Strive


Cradle to Career.... remember that..

Anonymous said...

Did the visits of two Board of Education members to schools under CMS auspice net any insight? Did the Board members see, feel, smell or taste anything different about the LIFT schools? Maybe the whole Board should meet in these schools to learn the difference between pretty Southside schools and the LIFT Zone schools! They are different. Run schools like a zoo and what will you get? Seems like Rhonda and her follower are a little jealous that two concerned Board members actually visited schools. This could start a trend.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Ms. Rhonda Lennon gets a bee in her bonnet anytime someone else has a idea or does not check in with her first prior to sneezing. She is complete immoral board member and the only reason she is on the board is due to Larry not deciding to run again. Cry Cry again RHonda you whining leopard print fool !

Anonymous said...

Our BOE is so ghetto.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this great: CMS staff can speak here without getting fired! But I guess the Board members are not supposed to speak to staff. Those who hide the truth are destined for exposing their hind end. That be the one they use to think with. The new superintendent is not supposed to have a say in key decisions either. Beware of grey haired old white educrats. They are addicted to the paycheck and do not give a rats behind about education.

Anonymous said...

Hey Richard, here's a thought. Do like Dr. Gorman did and talk to the parents dropping off their kids. I heard the interview with Dr. Gorman after he had just done this. He was dumbfounded that the parents, (actually only the baby mommas), said, they had done their part, getting the kid to school, the rest was up to him.

There is a parent that does not get it and there is the reason these kids, most of them, will not get reached.

Figure that one out!

Anonymous said...

7:03, the addiction is not limited to the white ones.

Anonymous said...

Spend the $10 mil to either replace or properly train the New Leaders idiots who are creating havoc in the neediest schools!

Anonymous said...

Why is it that these Board members only visit LIFT schools? You never read about them going to a suburban school... I think they are afraid if they saw what a school could look like when the kids behave and the teachers can teach, they might have to face the fact that all of the LIFT or TFA or etc. fad of the week isn't going to change a dang thing until the CULTURE changes!!

Anonymous said...

The problem with L.I.F.T is that they didn't ask teachers what they thought or brainstorm ideas WITH teachers and parents. It seems that PARENTAL INPUT/PARTICIPATION should be MANDATORY for this kind of funding! The issue is that 20% of the students at Ranson ruin the students who are wonderful and are there for the right reasons. We wouldn't need all of the money if administration would emphasize discipline and parental involement--don't allow the 20% to run the school--empower teachers and get rid of the teachers who don't work hard (this is coming from a teacher!). Stop penalizing teachers who have discipline by telling them they write too many referrals. Even students want to feel safe in school! Money will not change the 20%

Anonymous said...

Stop putting money and start instilling discipline!! Worry about the student and the specific behaviors--not the race. Enforce ZERO bullying and students WILL RISE to what is EXPECTED of them!! I hope LIFT requires students to rise instead of making more excuses!

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that people can come on here and comment on things they have no clue about. If you knew the story around the visits that those two Board members made you would be appalled. Basically they attacked and blamed teachers for the state that the schools are in. They went to challenge the notion that these schools are "Hard to Staff". If you do not have all of the facts behind a story you should ask questions.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say it was the TEACHERS fault for some of the LIFT schools lack of discipline--I have work in one. Its just that there is a lack of discipline--students are allowed to act crazy and allowed not to learn even when the teacher tries his/her heart out to teach them. There is no support--there should be support for teachers and admin to get the 20% who come to school for the sole purpose of socializing/disruption/fighting to a different learning environment or get them in line!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:03
Since CMS staff can speak here freely the Board can too (as you probably know). The question is how the Board speaks to staff. Those CMS teachers did not disrespect the Board by talking over them and cutting them off in conversation. So those Board members should be reminded not to do that to teachers. It's called respect. We must all learn it and live it. You can disagree without being disrespectful. We try to teach our students that, but sometimes adults need to be reminded as well.

Anonymous said...

BOE members visit schools every day. The issue is - What did Joyce and Richard say to the staff? There is protocol to follow regarding school visits. Do we really want a repeat of the Velma Leake era? Rhonda is right on this one.

Anonymous said...

If Rhonda was right she would be 10 feet under in Lake Norman my friend. She cannot fix light bulb issues in her own district let alone visit a title 1 she has no influence over. Face it she was mad Richard and Joyce got some air time that she did not.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:07 could you please provide proof that BOE members visit schools every day as you claim?

Quite frankly, if these people were visiting schools and spending meaningful time inside of classrooms every day as you claim, there is no way they would be as collectively clueless as they repeatedly prove.

Anonymous said...

THE problem with LIFT, and the reason it is going to fail (now let's go on the record now because LIFT will fudge the numbers and claim a rousing success only to have some concerned citizens investigate the numbers and prove they were cooked to look better than claimed) is because throwing money at problems money can't solve has never and will never be successful.

Time to start having meaningful, solutions based conversations about the elephant in the room people.

Anonymous said...

As I said earlier, what you have now is Richard and Joyce grandstanding. They are finding they are less and less relevant with the undercover influence Kojo and his ilk are exerting behind the scenes.

We all know the teachers have been "thrown under the bus" by the administration and the teachers suffer from lack of support from incompetent principals. Teachers are just the easy target for them and the NAACP. Ivory tower people do not have to work hard to find the real issues and solve them.

Anonymous said...

Rhonda L. anything you are in agreement with scares me. We all remember how you laughed and joked on your face book, the night parents begged and wept for their children. Go take a pill and shut your d mouth. You have no integrity. In fact STEP DOWN!

Anonymous said...

Anon March 13, 2012 9:55 AM .. you nailed it!

Anonymous said...

I think Ericka Ellis Stewart current chair is in need of some LIFT education ! She is complete stooge along with Lennon and Morgan its a hat trick of IDIOTS.

Anonymous said...

Here's what's really happening:

Project LIFT is an attempt to employ charter-school-like methods on failing public schools. The LIFT schools will be freed from the shackles typical work rules. They will have a lot more freedom to evaluate their staff, reward star performers, and remove those who don't measure up.

The LIFT model is a direct threat to the status quo at CMS. Therefore we can continue to watch as the anti-reform wing of the BOE seeks to undermine the LIFT program. I fully expect people like McCray and Tom Tate to join McElrath and Waddell in blocking this initiative.

Anonymous said...

6:32 oh really? How do they intend to get around state law? Pete tried that twice and failed; how will LiFT do it?

Anonymous said...

A+ on Ronda's new look. You go, girl.

Anonymous said...

There must be a little more to this story than is being reported. I fail to see how it is out of line for board members to visit school staff and ask what they think. Perhaps McElrath and Waddell have learned they don't get the unvarnished truth from the spin doctors in the central office.

Anonymous said...

Haven't watched the entire board meeting tonight but from what I've seen a short time ago board relations are awfully frayed. The chair has been rude and condescending and seems to be playing word games.

Anonymous said...

The truth is that they interrogated teachers about the conditions of their schools. When they did not hear what they wanted to hear they started to talk down to the teachers and questioned their reasons for working in the school and with the students. It was really disgraceful. They disagreed with teachers whom stated that their schools had a hard time filling vacancies because of the challenges in those schools.

Anonymous said...

The only LIFT will be in the money Watts will receive in perks and salary.

Anonymous said...

After watching the Board meeting I am so disappointed in our Chair. Her comment "If that's what you heard" was so condescending. As a black woman, I am heartbroken that she did not set a good example and her behavior today during that discussion furthers the stereotypes. SMH.

tracy said...

i clicked this link to find out more about the LIFT program and what i found is a bunch of comments by 'anonymous' that defame and insult whoever 'he' disagrees with.

"a dope" "you whining leopard print fool" "complete stooge" "a rotten apple, rolled in a turd and wrapped in road kill" (did someone's third grader write that last one??)

seriously?

i'm all about civil disagreement. everyone is entitled to an opinion. however i'm not in favor of maintaining anonymity to bash someone's character and name call.
i won't be reading this blog again because it's been reduced to cowardly childishness...

thank you wiley coyote and elizabeth b for having the courage to sign in.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Tracy, I agree that last one went over the line; it was posted while I was covering the school board meeting so I didn't take it down until this morning. I give folks a lot of leeway in commenting on public officials, but name-calling doesn't add anything.