issue 50 and 51

This is another B.B. and if you need to ask what that means you need to leave office and go back to school! It is sad that our teachers jast don’t teach any more they don’t school teachers as long ago they are tought to had out paper to kids in school and do as little as possible? they even try to lower the time it taks to earn tenuer. As I see it and I do from my child home work they have mom and dad to teach the lessions and hope that mom and dad are able to do the teachers work! this I find bad they dont teach kids not even with math and have then learn times tables from 0 to 12 when I went to school we used our minds we practice all reading and math out load and in class now they make it a must that kids have machines to do thinking for them? what is that? our mind is the fastest cuputer we know all is needed is teachers to show our kids to work our minds not just learn how to push a ten key for a simple job!
I teach my kid what all I know when I feel she is ready to learn things such as math reading skills construction tools and how to ues her mind and have oen writing skills My wife is a teather and has and still does comm. Ed with adults trying to pass there theises in OSU !! so if not forme and kids mom she would be so far behind as so many kids are not all kids have moms and dads that know or even have the time to help in home work! this again is sad that is what we pay taxes on for the schools to teach our kids not sit on there Ass and had out paper and say do this and have done by monday? so I will Vote NO! on both issues and if some how my vote online is changed or just not put in I will find out! have a great day and teach your kids because our schols do not!

 

Citizens Against Issues 50 & 51 Call for CCS Report

STATEMENT TO THE PEOPLE OF COLUMBUS
October 16, 2013

CITIZENS AGAINST ISSUES 50 & 51 today announce our opposition to the proposed Columbus City Schools ballot issues.

We are standing here today as a group of long-time Columbus community leaders, in solidarity with the other citizen and civic groups who oppose this proposed wasteful spending of public dollars. We stand in support of It’s Okay to Vote No; No Cheaters, No Charters Columbus; and other groups of school-involved parents and residents who are urging votes against these ballot issues. As taxpayers and citizens, our group demands accountability first, from what appears to be a scandal-ridden and corrupt school system.

We stand here as supporters of our public schools and our children, but after research and deliberation we are certain the 24 percent property tax increase for Columbus City Schools is unfair and inappropriate for citizens of Columbus, and the need for the vague and untested Columbus Education Plan is not justified by the facts.

The Columbus City Schools have a budget of $1.3 billion – averaging over $26,000 per student, which is more than the cost of room and board at Ohio State University. We receive more money per pupil than any other school district in central Ohio, but we have the worst educational outcomes. That fact is not solved by an infusion of more money: we have tried that approach and it has not worked. We cannot continue to justify pouring new money after old, we must work wisely within our fiscal constraints.

Issue 50, a highly-divisive levy proposal that seeks to increase school property taxes by 24%, creates an unnecessary intergenerational conflict between the young and the aged. We object to the disparate impact this property tax hike will have upon some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens: our senior citizens living on fixed incomes.

Two years ago, Columbus residents supported an income tax increase, and are being hit in succession this year with a state sales tax increase, county sales tax increase, and now the biggest – the proposed 24% property tax hike for schools of Issue 50.

We are disturbed by this levy request for a huge increase for an organization that is in chaos — Columbus City Schools that appears to be scandal-plagued and corrupt — and that remains under a cloud of investigation by state and federal auditing and law enforcement offices.

Over the past 18 months, we have learned that for a decade Columbus City Schools has been manipulating data to mislead the public. For years, the schools have released data claiming improvement, but we now know the data was falsified and the performance was over-stated.

This is an issue that needs accountability that the Board of Education has been unwilling to provide to the public.

We have learned through the Internal Auditor’s report that the Board of Education was alerted to this fact in November 2004, but took no action to address it. But even after the data scandal went public in the summer of 2012, we are disturbed by the Board of Education’s subsequent actions to hide the details from the citizenry:

1. The Board met in private to discuss data scrubbing with its attorneys, was enjoined by the Court of Common Pleas from doing so, yet is prepared to go to trial over this very issue in an effort to avoid transparency.
2. The Board has hired an attorney to review all documents requested by investigators – an act that delayed investigation and resulted in the Auditor of State issuing subpoenas and securing the records from schools under police escort.
3. The Board has encumbered one million taxpayer dollars to hire attorneys to try to defend the indefensible, and to delay and frustrate investigation.

In the face of all this, the Board of Education – through a million dollar sales campaign featuring children and local celebrities as the Board’s surrogate spokespeople — now seeks an unprecedented 24 percent tax hike. We will not be fooled or overwhelmed by glossy mailers and “feel good” radio and television advertising: we object to these ballot issues. Public agencies must be accountable to the public, and the time for accountability is now, around this levy and the election of Board members. It is the responsibility of the public to hold powerful agencies accountable, and we stand to do that this election.

We call for the rejection of this levy because of its unnecessary and exorbitant expense and its impact on our seniors, our low income neighbors, cash-strapped homeowners, and renters who will face rent increases. We call for the rejection of this levy because all investigations of the scandal-plagued district are not yet complete, appropriate indictments have not yet been issued, and prosecutions have not yet begun: there is a cleaning house that must happen to begin the process of restoring the public trust in what appears to be a corrupt school system. We call for the rejection of this levy because the Board of Education has broken the public trust and shown little interest in promoting the common good.

We call on Board President Carol Perkins and Vice President Shawna Gibbs to immediately redirect attorney Robert “Buzz” Trafford from his work defending the district and hiding its misdeeds, and to have him align with the interests of the people of Columbus in promoting transparency and an understanding of what went wrong over the past decade.

Thus, we call today for Ms. Perkins and the school board to direct Mr. Trafford to compile a comprehensive report to the public on behalf of the Board of Education about the data scrubbing and other misdeeds over the past decade. This report should detail exactly what went wrong, who was responsible, what the consequences were, and what has been put in place to ensure this breach of the public trust never happens again. Complete disclosure to the public is a necessary precondition before a return to the ballot once Issue 50 is rejected.

We ask for Mayor Coleman to support our call for complete transparency from this scandal-plagued and corrupt school system, before he advocates for any more money from the citizens of Columbus. We note that the sense of crisis being promoted is one that is more invented than real – that the education of children in the district has not changed dramatically for the worse, but that the Department of Education merely changed its method of rating the state’s school systems. We further note the recently announced school district budget surplus, and that there is no financial crisis created by rejection of this proposed levy and a return to the ballot in 2014 or even 2015 to maintain the current operating expenses of the district.

Finally, we note that Issue 51 does not create an “Independent” Auditor, but an auditor beholden to five politicians – some of whom have conflicts of interests in the current investigations. An Independent Auditor would be elected by the people of the district, just as the City Auditor is elected by the people of the City, the county auditor is elected by the people of the county, and the state auditor is elected by the people of the state. The current Internal Auditor, Carolyn Smith, has performed admirably in her position by exposing the district’s misdeeds to the Board of Education and thus to the public. We see no reason to change the one position that appears to be working well within Columbus City Schools.

This statement is submitted on behalf of Citizens Against Issues 50 & 51, by:
Pastor Dale Snyder (Bethel AME Church)
Clarence Lumpkin (South Linden area leader)
Pastor Frederick LeMarr (Family Missionary Baptist Church)
Rev. Joel L. King, Jr. (Union Grove Baptist Church)
Cecil Ahad (Men in the Movement)
Byron L. Potts (Attorney)
Bob Fitrakis (Attorney)
Kahari Enaharo (Activist)
Tyrone Thomas (Activist)
Jonathan C. Beard (Activist)

In Solidarity With the Positions of:
It’s Okay to Vote No
No Cheaters, No Charters Columbus

For More Information Contact:
Tyrone Thomas
Tyronetho@msn.com
Tyronethom@sprint.blackberry.net
614-668-4837

 

Questions for Columbus City Schools

CITIZENS AGAINST ISSUES 50 & 51
AND
NO CHEATERS, NO CHARTERS COLUMBUS
QUESTIONS OF TRUST AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR COLUMBUS CITY SCHOOLS

We believe there are two things a public entity should demonstrate before going to the ballot for a levy: trust and merit. The public entity should earn the trust of voters through complete transparency, and the public entity should present a ballot proposal that has obvious merit. With Issues 50 and 51, we have questions about both those prerequisites.

It is beyond obvious that the Board of Education has taken a low profile during this levy campaign, and the public has not heard directly from the Board, but from a million dollar advertising campaign organized by the Mayor’s Office. However, it is the Board of Education that should be held responsible for previous transgressions, and for levy promises. There has been much solid reporting on the transgressions, but no media has been able to nail the Board of Education down to some obvious inconsistencies in its response.

We ask that the Columbus news media pursue solid answers to these questions from the Board of Education prior to the levy, so that voters can have complete information prior to casting a vote.

1. Background: Columbus City Schools has been unclear on its beliefs about data scrubbing. On the one hand, CCS has said it is taking action and that 8 of the 14 persons responsible for the data scrubbing scandal have resigned. On the other hand, CCS has repeatedly said that data scrubbing was allowable under unclear Department of Education rules, and in a court filing (Case No. 13 CV 1323, supplemental disclosure of witnesses) of August 19th, CCS seems to imply data scrubbing is acceptable, citing Toledo and Cleveland (other data scrubbers identified by the Ohio Auditor who ODE is requiring to re-submit unscrubbed 2010-2011 data) as its witnesses in the lawsuit. There appears to be no consistency in CCS’s positions, as it appears CCS says one thing to the public and another thing to the court. Is CCS lying to the public, or is CCS preparing to engage in perjury to the court?

Question: Was the practice of retroactively withdrawing students without documentation an approved activity of the school district that complied with state law, or was it the outlaw behavior of a few individuals?
• If it was an approved and lawful activity, why were individuals pressured to resign?
• If it was the outlaw behavior of a few individuals, why has CCS issued public statements saying it was allowable and why does CCS appear prepared to defend it in court?

2. Background: To date, CCS has appeared more interested in hiding information about past misdeeds from the public than in disclosing it and being transparent. To date, the only reports issued have been reports of monitored activity from the Ohio Auditor of State and the CCS Internal Auditor. These reports did not get into the behavior of the management of CCS. Attorney Buzz Trafford has been engaged to review requested documents prior to submission to the State Auditor and other investigators. The Board has not released a comprehensive report that explains what happened over the past decade, who was responsible, what was done about it, and how have changes been made so it can never happen again.

Question: When will CCS take ownership of the misdeeds of the past decade by issuing a comprehensive report on what went wrong from 2004 when initial allegations were made, to the present?
• Did former Superintendent Gene Harris know about and approve the data scrubbing at any point prior to the allegations becoming public knowledge?
• How can CCS claim “A New Day,” when it is not willing to publicly acknowledge the past, identify any wrong doers, pursue remediation, and set clear plans in place so this never happens again?
• Why did CCS not follow the Internal Auditor recommendation to report people suspected of breaking enrollments to the Offices of Employee or Labor Relations, and why instead is CCS keeping its investigation of employees it pressures to resign out of the public domain by avoiding Labor Relations and claiming attorney-client privilege?
• Does CCS’s refusal to maintain all documents as public records not create suspicion of a cover-up and evidence a lack of willingness to be accountable to the public?

3. Background: Issue 51 proposes to create an “Independent” Auditor, who would be hired, supervised, and/or fired by five politicians serving on the “Selection Committee” — 4 of whom will have schools subject to the auditor’s jurisdiction to audit. Specifically, the proposed “Independent” Auditor would audit CCS schools and would be subject to oversight by the School Board President who would be a member of the Selection Committee, also the Auditor would audit City-sponsored charter schools established pursuant to HB 167 and would be subject to oversight by the Mayor, City Council President, and City Auditor. Under HB 167, it takes four votes to dismiss the proposed Independent Auditor, which is exactly the number of members of the Selection Committee whose schools would be subject to the Auditor’s review.

Question: When the stated rationale for the Issue 51 position is to give the auditor independence, how does putting the Auditor under the control of more audited entities create more independence for the Auditor, rather than more control over the Auditor?
• How does Issue 51 change the fact that the auditor would still be overseen by representatives of the very entities s/he audits?
• The Columbus Education Commission’s Plan compares this position to the City Auditor position, but the City Auditor position (and County Auditor and State Auditor) is an elected position accountable to the electorate. Why did the CEC not propose a truly independent auditor accountable to the electorate, which is the model it cites?

4. Background: Columbus City Schools suffers from a lack of trust, yet many of the same people responsible for that lack of trust are now presented as part of the solution. Specifically, City Council President Andrew Ginther would serve as a member of the Issue 51 Selection Committee, though it was his failure to follow up on whistle blower information during his tenure overseeing the Internal Auditor from 2004-2006 that led to the expansion of data scrubbing. Mr. Ginther also participated in the firing of Internal Auditor Tina Abdella, as she was set to begin investigating attendance and enrollment practices. Stephanie Hightower is featured in radio commercials in support of Issues 50 and 51 and served on the Columbus Education Commission – yet Ms. Hightower fired Internal Auditor Abdella during her tenure as school board president. School Board President Carol Perkins was chastised by the Auditor of State for putting pressure on the CCS Internal Auditor to wrap up her investigation, yet she is proposed as a member of the Selection Committee that would oversee the proposed “Independent” Auditor.

Question: Should Columbus City Council enforce accountability for everybody involved in the data scrubbing scandal by requiring Andrew Ginther to release a public statement detailing why the Board of Education’s Accountability Committee he chaired did not respond to whistleblower allegations of data scrubbing from 2004-2006, prior to his being appointed Council President in 2014 when he would oversee another school auditor?, or should accountability be limited solely to CCS staff?

5. Background: Issue 50 proposes a fund to attract and retain teachers. Levy supporter say Columbus is a training ground for teachers who then leave for the suburbs. Levy supporters say that pay differentials between the suburbs and Columbus encourage mid-career teachers to leave the District for the suburbs. This fund proposes to address that issue, yet there does not appear to be much definition to this area of proposed school board spending.

Question: Are there studies that document the extent to which teachers leave for the suburbs because of pay scale?
• How many teachers leave each year under those conditions?
• Are those the most qualified teachers with the best student outcomes?
• If passed, in the event a great teacher was prepared to leave Columbus, how would this fund prevent that?
• What are the specific elements of this fund, how much money is allocated to each, and how would they be implemented?
• Do high performing charter school teachers typically earn more, or less, than Columbus City Schools teachers; and if they typically earn less, does fact create inconsistency in the strategy to expand the use of charters at the same time complaining of wage competition from suburbs?

6. Background: Issue 50 provides additional funding for high performing charter schools. Charter schools can set their own admission policies.

Questions:
• When you are paying for performance, how do you not create an incentive for charter schools to skim and only admit higher performing students?
• If Charters are already performing at an A or B level with the existing state payment, why should Columbus taxpayers give them more money to do what they are already doing?
• Would charters be able to use Columbus taxpayer payments for sports programs and other extracurricular activities, or would it be restricted to academics?

7. Background: Issue 50 proposes to expand the District’s Pre-K program. Right now, Columbus has 31 pre-K sites, including 14 nationally-accredited sites. To date, CCS has not provided any information to the public about the effectiveness of its existing pre-K sites.

Question: Can the District provide data showing the effectiveness of Pre-K for children in its current Pre-K programs?
• Please provide data from existing CCS pre-K program that shows children in Pre-K do better than those who did not have Pre-K.
• Please provide data showing that any benefits of Pre-K extend until 3rd grade and show up in proficiency test results.

8. Background: The private sector has invested considerable sums of money in this campaign to increase taxes, but has not yet appeared to commit money to invest in the schools. The Columbus Education Plan calls for a $30-50M per year public-private innovation fund.

Question: What firm commitments have come from the private sector to support that fund?
Have any corporations committed to permanent funding, as the School Board is requesting of the taxpayers?
• The Columbus Education Plan calls for City contributions to an innovation fund. What financial commitment has the City of Columbus made to this public-private partnership fund?

9. Background: The Board of Education is the entity that can place a school levy on the ballot, not the Mayor. However, not a single commercial or advertisement has focused on the Board.

Question: Why is the Board taking such a low profile, when money is being raised for its activities?
• Is this downplaying of the Board of Elections amount to misleading advertising?
• Are the Board and the Mayor engaged in race-baiting by having commercials that talk about “the color of [a child’s] skin” on Black radio but not on mainstream media?

10. Background: A 24% property tax increase for schools has a disparate impact on low income and elderly, fixed income residents of Columbus.

Question: Were any seniors a part of the Columbus Education Committee or the CCS Millage Committee?
• How did CCS balance the needs of children against the reality that many Columbus residents, including seniors, are struggling to pay their bills?

 

League of Women Voters Host City Schools Issues Forum

Columbus City Schools Ballot Issues Forum

The League of Women Voters has invited Jonathan Beard, a member of “No Cheaters, No Charters Columbus,” to participate on a three person panel, presenting the “NO” side of Issues 50 and 51.

Sam Gresham will also be on the panel.  A representative of Reimagine Columbus Education (Pro 50/51) has not yet been identified.

Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 7:00 pm – 9:00 pmWhetstone Library 3909 N. High Street Columbus, OH 43214 map

Interested in finding out more information about the Columbus City School Levy and Auditor issues that will be on the November ballot?

Join us for a forum and hear pro’s and con’s on each issue.

This event is free and open to the public!

 

Columbus To Create a High Performing Schools Working Group – 9/14/13

At Council, Monday, September 16th, Council will have a first reading of a proposed creation of the High Performing Schools Working Group.  The proposal is sponsored by Andrew Ginther, who was one of the first CCS Board members to hear of the data scrubbing allegations in 2004, but who did nothing to effectively investigate or prevent it from continuing.
Importantly, there is little to no clarity or specificity about how members to this unelected and unaccountable group are to be determined, keeping alive the working method of removing decisions and information from the voters and putting it into unaccountable hands.
This body is proposed to be formed, develop standards, and cease to exist by December 31, 2013.
Title
To authorize the creation of the City of Columbus-Columbus City Schools High Performing Schools Working Group to recommend standards for replicating high performing District schools and partnering community schools, and for City sponsorship of community schools.
Body
WHEREAS, the City of Columbus understands that for our city to continue to prosper, our community must provide high quality public education to our children; and
WHEREAS, in December 2012, the Mayor and the President of Columbus City Council created the Columbus Education Commission with the charge to develop specific recommendations that would enable all of our children to succeed in the city’s vibrant, growing economy; make Columbus a global leader in developing the highly skilled, creative, entrepreneurial workforce that will propel economic growth in the 21st century; and leverage the resourcefulness of our entire community to meet these goals; and
WHEREAS, in April 2013, the Commission issued a final report including 55 recommendations to improve the education of our children; and
WHEREAS, in June 2013, the Ohio General Assembly passed enabling legislation which allows for the implementation of three (3) of the Commission’s recommendations, including: the creation of an independent auditor to provide oversight of school district operations; the sharing of local property taxes with certain high-performing community schools; and, granting the City of Columbus the authority to sponsor community schools; and
WHEREAS, the Columbus Board of Education has placed on the November 2013 ballot two (2) ballot issues which if approved would establish a 9.01 mill capital and operating levy, a portion of which could be shared with partnering community schools, and create the position of the independent auditor; and
WHEREAS, the City of Columbus and the Columbus City Schools agree that the best way to develop standards for replicating high performing District schools and partnering community schools, and for City sponsorship of community schools, is to engage the public through a diverse working group of community leaders and encourage a thoughtful, public process; NOW, THEREFORE:
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF COLUMBUS, OHIO:
Section 1.  That in conjunction with the Columbus Board of Education, there is hereby created the High Performing Schools Working Group consisting of 15 members appointed jointly by the Mayor of the City of Columbus, Columbus City Council and the Columbus Board of Education to recommend standards for replicating high performing District schools and partnering community schools, and for City sponsorship of community schools. The working group shall make a final report of recommendations on or before December 31, 2013, and upon issuance of this final report, cease to exist.
Section 2.  The City of Columbus and the Columbus Board of Education will consider these recommendations when adopting policies and procedures regarding: the Board’s efforts to expand or replicate high performing District schools, and to increase the number of students attending these schools; the Board’s efforts to attract, expand or replicate high performing community schools in underserved neighborhoods, and to increase the number of students attending these schools; and the City’s efforts to sponsor high performing community schools to meet the neighborhood or career needs of students within the City of Columbus.
Section 3.  That this resolution shall take effect and be in force from and after the earliest period allowed by law.
 

What Are Next Steps?

These are my ideas on what needs to happen going forward:

  1. Organize to defeat this levy/bond (Issue 50) and the “Independent” Auditor function (Issue 51).
  2. Put together a status quo “do no harm” 2 year Emergency levy for the spring 2014
  3. No local funded charter school proposal
  4. No construction levy
  5. No expansion of food programs
  6. Expand CCS Internal Auditor staffing as has been requested
  7. Renew current Internal Auditor Smith’s contract for three years
  8. Ensure resignations of at least 3 board members from 2012-2013 by Primary election
  9. Ensure Carol Perkins resigns, or is not Board chair, in 2014. Resignation strongly preferred.
  10. CCS School Board must unequivocably admit there was unlawful data scrubbing.
  11. CCS should voluntarily amend its data submissions to ODE from 2003-2011, so the citizens can see the truth
  12. CCS should
  13. CCS should support indictments of those culpable in the spring of 2014
  14. CCS should begin claw back proceedings against those administrators and staff who were unjustly enriched by data scrubbing

What do you think?  Add your comments below.

 

Time to Organize!

What do you think?  Should the citizens start talking about how to get good messages out to our fellow citizens?  What are those messages, grounded firmly in reality, versus the expensive pipedreams proposed by the Columbus Education Commission and Reimagine Columbus Education.  Who is willing to step up and take leadership? … you’ve got my support.