I felt a lot better cranking out those posts yesterday. They are still just a fraction of what I am eager to write about but they prompted two emails which were most gratifying. The second one came this morning:
On Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 12:21 PM, *** ****** wrote:
Am a big fan of your blog and would be in the dark with out it. Without you and Art there would be no democratic process or discourse. Hang in there, ***
To which I replied:
And Thank you. Writing in my blog often feels like writing into a great void. I know I’ve got readers but they don’t often comment.
The first came last night and was a follow up on some earlier email correspondence. Here’s my reply:
I’m putting my replies in your text .
Admittedly, I’m a little late to the party when it comes to all things school district business. If I remember correctly, somehow the district/JCI convinced a judge that the paperwork, contracts, promises etc were JCI’s private property and not subject to FOI requests? No one appealed this?
That was JCI’s claim and a very weak one it was. That, however, was not the substance of the lawsuit. We claimed that they violated the law (court case law) by getting a no bid contract. Our attorney was removed from the case because there was an appearance (that the Judge himself noted was not demonstrated in fact) that he had a conflict having talked to a school board member while he was representing the suing party.
My anger with this situation is fresh since I am late to the party…It is also my understanding that Glass, Johnson, Martell and you have all filed FOI requests that are being ignored? (Illegally?)
FOI (Freedom of Information) is federal. In Minnesota, its Data Practices Act law. I don’t know where to begin. The Timberjay Newspaper up north won a Minnesota Supreme Court case recently confirming that JCI’s data should be public but also ruling that since the St. Louis County School Board hadn’t noted that law in its contract with JCI for its building plan the law couldn’t be enforced.
I’m not sure Gary Glass did quite the right paperwork to insure the data he requested would have to be handed over. Art Johnston is following his attorney’s procedures but is still waiting for data. In effect our Administration has for seven years has operated under the principle that it will provide data when a majority of the Board is willing to vote to make it public.
What is even more disconcerting is the prevalent apathy about all this. Really?!?? Eighty-four MILLION dollars is unaccounted for, and no one cares? As Rosie has put it countless times, “This is all ancient history. These questions have been asked and answered.” Unfortunately, these things are NOT ancient history. They are current policy and liability. Just look at your property tax bill. Does that appear to be ancient history? The latter part of her assertion is only half right. These questions have been asked. They have NOT been answered.
The “$84 million” is in JCI’s hands and we would have to request that they turn it over. That might take a lawsuit by our board but currently they are more interested in spending litigation money to remove Art from the Board.
I agree about the ancient history. However, removing Art Johnston is pretty current and although the majority of the Board would deny it Its apparent to me that his ouster is about 90% related to his incessant Red Plan questioning.
Mr Gronseth believes: “Research shows that intervention, rather than retention (which means repeating grades or courses) is more effective in raising achievement, he said.” Unfortunately, this is a completely reactionary policy. The new “What I Need period” sounds helpful in theory. I’m not sure how it works, but does each student have access to a teacher in the particular area that is deficient? What if there are more than one area? How about employing a more proactive plan where the students actually learn as they go along, and don’t move on until they do. I know, I know. There are financial issues. Policies that reflect upon funding. Figure it out!
I have to cut everyone in Public Education some slack on kids learning at different rates including Superintendent Gronseth. I love the No Child Left Behind rhetoric and accept its principle that kids must be kept up with their peers to the best of our ability. In the past schools just shrugged their shoulders at kids who struggled. NCLB ended that. We don’t shrug anymore but it’s still not easy. I would, however, repeat my biggest complaint about the Red Plan where kids are concerned. We used staff reductions to pay for brick and mortar. That was a crime and kids are paying the price.
Finally, I am retired from the ******* ****. I have time on my hands. I am also ***********************************, but to the extent that I am able, I am free to help. If you need research done or just about anything, I am free and willing. I want to be involved, and there seems to be a pitifully small group trying to fight the good fight. Thank you for all you do.
There is a school board election this fall and that is my only hope for an grown up school board. We will need all the help we can get and I’ll be grateful for any help you can provide. I’ll be in touch.