Friday, August 24, 2012

Broad on educational bureaucracy

If there's one thing the Broad Foundation has learned from a decade grappling with urban education,  it's that there are a lot of bureaucratic obstacles to success.  At least 75, according a just-published list of  "75 Examples of How Bureaucracy Stands in the Way of Students and Teachers."

Among them:  Waste, fraud and abuse can keep taxpayer dollars away from classrooms.  Expensive technology goes unused for lack of training.  Teachers don't get enough support from principals and central offices,  while principals are bogged down by paperwork and regulatory burdens.  Top teachers are not properly recognized and rewarded,  leading many to leave the profession.

The litany of complaints is a change of tactics for a foundation that's best known for training superintendents and celebrating the best urban districts  (you may have heard that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools won the 2011 Broad Prize).  Foundation officials say all that work led them to realize the problems of urban schools go deeper than anything teachers, parents or even superintendents can solve alone.  A more systemic approach is needed,  they say.

Spokeswoman Erica Lepping said Thursday the long list can be overwhelming,  but it's intended to spark public discussion and action.

"It's going to take public will to fix this problem,"  she said.  "We recognize it's a monumental hurdle,  but we feel hopeful."

Heath Morrison,  a Broad-trained superintendent who took the helm of CMS on July 1,  had a team from the Council of the Great City Schools in Charlotte last week working on an  "organizational audit"  that's designed to identify bureaucratic obstacles and inefficiencies. The team,  made up of senior administrators from other large districts,  brings a good working knowledge to the advice they'll give him for moving forward,  he told the board in a recent update.

So what do you think?  Are there items on the Broad list that ring true here?  Or actions Morrison can take to make sure central offices are helping students and teachers, not hindering them?


Anonymous said...

The packing of classrooms with almost 40 students by the school is one thing. On the other hand the central office is eliminating computers in technical education classes to 25 per classroom with the expectations of one computer per one student. Now, it doesnt matter who is wrong with this scenario because the losers are the students and classroom teacher.

Anonymous said...

Classic Broad obfuscation. Muddy the criticism by deflecting the fact that Broad money and values created much of this educational pablum over the last two decades. A textbook example of shift the blame.

Anonymous said...

I say Amen to the point in the article that expensive technology goes unused because of lack of training. We currently have in place a pilot program that gave teachers a headstart on technology before beginning with the kids this year in those pilot schools. But if, or when, that goes well and they open it up to the entire district it will not be mentored the same way. Quite likely there will be no training, teachers will be told to BYOT, and it will be an unmitigated disaster. It is imperative that the technology and training be supplied to the teachers first. If this isn't the plan and we don't have the resources then why bother with the pilot plan?

Anonymous said...

No mention of what I think is one of the biggest problems of "urban education"--the sheer size of many school systems. Add in ever increasing gov. mandates and you can't help but have a bureaucratic nightmare. The bigger the system becomes the more impersonal it becomes.

Anonymous said...

Excuses for a foundation to blame someone else since they are failing. Broad should hire one of their own Pete Gorman to turn around their negative spin.

Christine Mast said...

Sorry, at first I thought the headline read:

Broad EQUALS Educational Bureaucracy

Wiley Coyote said...

Is there an echo in here?

Waste and fraud.....waste and fraud....waste and fraud....

75— The media focuses on a small handful of these issues, but
misses the real story: entire school systems must be
transformed. I say again and again...

Ann Doss Helms said...

Wiley, it's a historic moment here: I think you and the Broad Foundation would be in total agreement on that last comment!

Christine Mast said...


I'm probably not going to get anywhere with you (again), but I'll try (again).

You want to transform the school system? Why not split up CMS into smaller, more cost-effective and accountable Independent School Districts?

What better way than to break it down into smaller, more MANAGEABLE pieces, whereby the financials would be more transparent, and the new "bosses" in charge would have shorter terms in office, to be voted out quicker if they don't perform.

Title 1 money would still flow to the schools that qualify for it. No one's losing any current funding from the Federal Government.

EC money would still flow to the students that qualify for it. No one's losing any current EC funding

If the new ISD decides to continue WSS, then that money continues to flow to those students.

If the new ISD decides to continue Strategic Staffing, then that money continues to flow to those students.

If the new ISD decides to try a different approach, or a different funding method for its own unique student body, then that's how its student body would get funded.

But most important to each ISD, is knowing who their customers are. If one ISD needs more help in ESL, then they'd strategically funnel more help to ESL. If one ISD needs more help in reading, then they'd strategically funnel more help to increase reading levels.

Bill Stevens said...

Ann, Ann, Ann. WC and Broad may be in agreement that transformation is needed but I assure you they are in opposite directions. Broad and many others still believe almost nothing is done for the urban students. They still ignore spending is 2 to 3 times that of suburban students and continue to hold the position that until suburban and urban students are of the same academic performance, the mission of public schools is incomplete.

WC disagres with you about splitting up the district. He is looking at political reality as to how this community will fight that. He believes gettign the race and diversity focus out fo public schools is a starting point. He believes giving the kids extra help that need it but using the fraudulent FRL numbers is ridiculous. I could argue that getting race and diversity out of CMS has as high a potential as splitting the district up. In otherwords, between slim and no chance and slim has left the room.

Me, I am for making programs prove they are benfiting the kids and if they are not, they are cut. However, more scrutiny of CMS data is needed. The misleading Strategic Staffing data is a major point right now. The Byers improvement has nothing to do with Strategic Staffing. I do not know if it is a case of those analyzing the data are just that ignorant or it is a dleiberate case to mislead the public and politicians. It borders on criminal in my mind.

Anonymous said...

I think that they certainly don't need other educators or bureacrats to help them solve efficiency problems. If the want help along those lines, go to private industry. For fraud and abuse? They might start with Ericka and that trip to London.

Anonymous said...

Really? How many teachers have said this over the years? How many times have teachers been on TV and said this only to be discounted due to "sour grapes" labelling by CMS and the media?

The reality is that the present educational system works for those in positions of power. Their children will receive the best education possible at the best public, parochial, or private schools. They have the means to make this happen. The rest is a big "shake-out" as we head full steam into a two tier globalized economy. As a long term educator, when I used to make this statement a lot of folks said I was crazy etc; but after over a decade of decline in the middle class and the median wage, the chickens have come home to roost!

The "sideshow" of pitting various middle class and working class socio-ethnic groups against each other is just another way used to maintain the status quo. Same can be said with the charter school debate- some are better and some are worse than the original public school- it just depends which side of the "shake-out" you and your children find yourselves.

More than ever IT IS THE AMOUNT OF QUALITY EDUCATION, NOT JUST EDUCATION, THAT WILL DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND ECONOMIC POWER that a person will possess. A two tier economy demands a two tier educational system. Just because your second tier student plays "angry birds" on an "official" CMS iPad,this will not "open up" first tier educational and economic opportunities in the future.

Looking forward to Monday and helping faciltate success in students who have been labelled and miseducated into the second tier break out and flourish so they can achieve a first tier lifestyle that all Americans SHOULD have the opportunity to achieve!
God Bless

Anonymous said...

Sure am glad CMS is the 2011 national Broad Foundation award winner ! What a award to proudly achieve. Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...


First of all, there is no guarantee that splitting up CMS will result in cost effective entities. Other school districts have tried it with negative results.

The FACT is - and everyone knows it but refuses to talk about it - is that race, different agendas, judges legislating from the bench, income and zipcodes are the major reasons why public education is in the toilet.

Teaching 2+2 is NOT rocket science and never has been. You will get the same answer in any of the three districts you want to split into.

We've been trying to work within the same model of educrat/political educuation system since busing and it hasn't worked because anyone who dares tell the NAACP to either shut up or put up and other like groups are labeled racists and bigots.

I have no problem calling it like it is.

FACT: CMS is 67% MINORITY yet we keep talking about diversity/race/income and where Little Johnny lives.

Get the hell over it.

Let teachers teach and hold parents and their offspring accountable and right there you've increased success beyond what we have now and you haven't spent a dime splitting up CMS.

I have dealt with the same education crap since 1968 in one fashion ot another and it's been the same ever since.

For those of you who think not, you're incredibly naive or drunk on progressive Kool Aid.

Regarding Title I, I beg to differ in that low income students in probably two of those districts would be diluted and the district may not meet the minimum percentages required for the funds.

You already know the School Lunch program is a total sham, hence the waste and fraud.

Strategic Staffing is a joke as we have seen.

Put programs in place to ensure ALL students have the opportunity to succeed. THAT is all public education and CMS is responsible for, nothing more, nothing less.

Your last bullet point proves my argument.

Educrats in public education have failed to identify who it is they really need to help. We don't need to split up CMS to find that out, we just need someone who has half a clue to fix it and so far we haven't found anyone, Morrison included.

Look at LIFT. CMS salivated over $55 MILLION yet they are doing the SAME THING - spending big bucks to get the "best quality teachers" like Strategic Staffing and if it failed once, it will fail again.

What's that old definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?


Is that the definition of stupidity? I keep getting them comfused because both fit the definition.

Wiley Coyote said...

I will also ask the question again:

How did 200 African Americans graduate from West Charlotte last year and 173 did not? It's great that 200 DID graduate.

I have yet to hear the differences as to why. They all attended the same high poverty school, had the same FRL benefits, same teachers, lived in the same proximity to the school.

Also, the graduation rate has increased for the last three years WITHOUT LIFT.

Again, target the funding and know who it is you need to help.

Anonymous said...

Educating students requires dedicated teachers who are up to the job---not the top administrators who actually do NOTHING but oversee the schools and make matters worse for teachers. Students who want to learn will learn. Their social environment and their home life plays a great deal in their success. Everyone with any common sense knows that. I don't care if a student goes to West Charlotte or Myers Park, or Charlotte Catholic, a student will learn if HE/SHE wants too. That is a fact!!! CMS needs to build several vocation schools in order to improve their graduation rate and their test scores. Give students the education a great deal of them need: a VOCATIONAL education. NOT all students are collegebound nor were they meant to be. We are not an "island" within ourselves. We need carpenters, hairstylists, electricians, garbage collectors, plumbers, sales associates, etc. The educational system wastes so much money it is patheic. Given the proper educational environment and the proper teachers, and the proper "tools for learning" most students will WANT to learn. Let TEACHERS TEACH AND STUDENTS LEARN and quit all of the BS about BROAD, LIFT, EC, BLACK, WHITE, YELLOW, ASIAN, LATINO, ETC. All of us are human beings and each of us deserves the best possible education there is for EACH OF OUR CHOICES IN LIFE. Students have to be encouraged in their education and it is up to educators to give them all of the encouragement they can because so many don't get it from anyone else. Stop the feuding and TEACH and encourage the students. President Obama's first thing on his job was to bail out the banks, the car companies, and left us ---the ones who elected him---out for foreclosure, no jobs, a lower middle class, and the poor getting poorer. We have to help these students. The three R's: reading, writing, arithmetic!!! They are OUR future!!! GIVE THEM A CHANCE. Stop the BS with the education. Get rid of the inept TEACH FOR AMERICA and LATERAL ENTRY programs and hire REAL teachers who will make a difference in a student's life. They are NOT teachers!!! Being a TEACHER is a called profession--just ask any veteran teacher. It is a job that one is gifted with by GOD!!! It is a CHOSEN profession by him and him alone.

Anonymous said...

Wiley , The only thing LIFT is good for is lifting the economy if they spend that money in Mecklenburg County. Frankly , I hope it saves a few students and increases the graduation rate. I dont see a way to track it nor do I think they will show a negative tracking number. CMS salivated over the money and was backed into thier "den" by closing the schools 2 years ago. I simply LOVE yesterdays positive news that we have 100 new mobile classrooms for 2012. Real positive spin on a doublewide for students/teachers. Keith W. Hurley

Urban Educator said...

The Broad Foundation isn't inherently evil but It does appear to make those who participate in training lose key components in relating to those they serve. These include communicating openly and honestly, getting feedback (and using it) from those in the trenches, using all data and not bits and pieces, respecting parents, teachers and principals. CMS could be great but that won't happen unless serious changes are made in how business is done. Are the zone superintendents in place really the people who can make this happen? They seem to be at the root of most dissatisfaction. Just saying...

Jim said...

Anonymous 4:48 p.m. says "Students who want to learn will learn."

That's the ENTIRE schooling story! Perhaps a skilled teacher can awaken a desire to learn in a previously unmotivated young 'un but no teacher, system or educational philosophy can install learning in a kid who wants only to impress others with how cool, bad, hip, respect-worthy or entitled he/she is!

Anonymous said...

3 in 3.

Anonymous said...

Got our packet of back to school info. From the PTA-"Being a member enables you to know what is happening at XXXXX so that you can be involved in your child's education." This is blackmail. Unless you pay the $6 membership fee you will not be included in emails to what is going on at school. How can they get away with this?

Anonymous said...

9:12- because CMS allow this to happen. Share he letter with Mt. Tom Tillis or your state representative. Better yet scan a copy to your district rep on the school board to have the PTA reprimanded. They cannot keep information from you. I doubt the PTA i furnishing any infromation aboutyour school other that the financial needs of it , but you do have a privacy right. I have hd solicitations from the PTA for private businesses sent to my email and called them on it last year. Since it was one of the PTA members business CMS just called it a mistake and it stopped. Look for the PTA's within CMS to become fund raising machines for CMS in the future.

Wiley Coyote said...

They "get away with it" just like they get away with the pay to play sports extortion program.

The ACLU should sue CMS for charging these fees, just as they did in California.

Schools Can No Longer Charge Fees for Sports, Cheerleading

A ruling that California schools can no longer charge students fees for activities like sports, cheerleading, science and art projects will force changes in those programs throughout the district, though it’s not yet clear what those changes will look like.

“Frankly, it’s as clear as mud,” said Martinez Unified School District Superintendent Rami Muth about a letter from the state outlining the December settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union. “At this point, there is still some work to be fleshed out in terms of implementation.”

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned that “the zone superintendents seem to be at the root of most dissatisfaction”. What “Zone Superintendents”? Teachers and their students are the ones in CMS still being victimized due to the decisions of the last Superintendent. Teachers document everything… from not having working computers in your room, to not having one Code of Ethic Book and proper forms to share with your students. Make a list everyday that you and your students are made to go without that which impacts student learning.

Anonymous said...

to 10:36-its a school in south charlotte so all they do is raise money. Funny thing is-they NEVER say what they are doing with the money or tell us the results of the fundraisers. Sounds fishy. I've been referred to the PTA website for information-but that sit refers you to the bullentin board in the school. I check it and it was blank! They don't want people outside of their group to be involved-9am meetings? Whatever. the principal allows this-yet the teachers have to beg for paper. I give up. I do not support the PTA-just my child's teacher.

Anonymous said...


STRIKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

You have been slapped around long enough. The measly 3% does not even pay for the bonus money that was promised years ago!

You have lost thousands in benefits and salary that will never EVER be made up unless you protest NOW. If you settle for 3% then your retirement will never revover from inflation.

Anonymous said...

Hell the teachers dont need to strike the great ones have left and the good ones are waiting out retirement. Way to go Gorman, Broad, Morgan, Morgan, Mcrory, Lennon, Hattabaugh , Perdue, Tillis, Davis, Waddell, Richard Mc-busing. Hope your proud of your work and may voting season come soon. Schools, teachers and CMS in general has failed , because of you. Look at the idiots on board now. Thats really what its become a laughing stock of the community.

Anonymous said...

I am a CMS teacher of 3rd graders at a Title 1 school. Already this week - fist week - I have had a large number of students not complete their homework. (read and do a simple math sheet) Over the years I have found this to be typical results. Most of the kids who are not doing thier homework are the very ones who are reading below grade level. I realize that these parents are dealing with basic survival issues, however, their child is in great need. I can work them every second of the school day but I need them taking out 30 min. a day at home to show their child that school matters . . .and even more important that their child matters. I would do away with homework if that was acceptable but it isn't. Plus, I need my kids reading as much as they can to improve. Parents need to step it up!! Most teachers I know spend so much time on preparing lessons and grading papers that if you figured out their hourly wage it would be below the minimum wage. This is a disgrace! I encourage all of you who are not in the classroom on a day to day basis (especially our out-of-touch board members) to actually go to schools in all the zipcodes to actually see first hand what is going on before commenting. So much of what is said on this blog is utter hogwash! Please talk to real teachers and students! Go on a tour and actually peak in the rooms. How about this ----ask questions to an actual real CMS teacher who is experiencing what you are concerned about. Now that would be interesting to blog about!